gift card promotion ideas

Gift Card Promotion Ideas: 15 Ways to Get Back by Giving

Justin Calderon

Justin Calderon

14 min

It’s no secret that the gift card market is booming in the United States and around the world. Every day, more businesses catch on. Armed with the right gift card promotion ideas, businesses have proven that they can greatly increase sales by tapping into this market, with 90% of shoppers saying that they spend more than the gift card value. 

The gift cards market was worth $884.7 billion in 2021, according to Next Move, a leading strategy consulting firm. They expect the industry to grow by 8.3% CAGR to become a $2.1 trillion industry by 2030. 

One of the driving forces behind this growth is the United States market. US consumers often prefer to let the recipient choose their gift instead of imposing one on them, so much so that 93% of people have either received or given a gift card

Source: Gitnux

Businesses have tapped into this booming market. 89% of them now use gift cards as rewards for their employees while some now offer gift card sales as an add-on service. 

Also, businesses use them as part of their sales promotions in a bid to gain new customers, encourage current customers to buy more, or reactivate the interest of dormant customers. We have seen gift cards (especially digital gift cards) as part of loyalty, referral, and giveaway promotions. 

If your business wants to win new customers, retain old ones (and get more sales from them), and awaken dormant customers, then you should also consider gift cards as a promotion strategy. 

In what follows, we will look at 15 gift card promotion ideas that other businesses are using and explain how you can also use these ideas as part of your gift card advertisement strategy.

But before we begin, let’s consider why gift card promotions have proved effective. 

[Do you want to start using gift cards as part of your sales promotion strategy? Sign up for Reloadly or learn more about how our gift card API and plugin integration can benefit your business.] 

4 reasons why gift card promotion is so effective

Consumers’ freedom

Gift cards are known as the “perfect gift” because they give the recipient the freedom to buy what they want

With traditional gifts, recipients are locked into what the giver has purchased. But what if the giver doesn’t know what the recipient wants? 

This can result in strained relationships, according to Dan Horne, Associate Dean for the School of Business at Providence College. As he puts it, “gifts are a communication about the state of the relationship. So when you give me a gift I don’t want, it says in part that you don’t know me.”

gift card promotion ideas

Gift cards solve this problem. 

In fact, Mageplaza, an e-commerce technology firm, found that 50% of their respondents bought gift cards because it gave them this freedom.  

Source: Mageplaza

It is for this same reason that they have been effective in e-commerce sales promotion. Instead of giving customers a fixed gift, a gift card allows them to choose from multiple options from the same business

Free money and gift

Who doesn’t like free money and gifts? 

Gift cards tap into both worlds. A gift card is ‘free money’ since it can be used at the recipient’s discretion (within limits), but it’s also a gift because it’s not physical cash. 

Gift cards can thus produce a sense of appreciation that coupons, discounts, or cash-back rebates don’t.

Similarly, most people don’t like to miss out on freebies. This can then encourage them to make purchases they might otherwise not make (an impulse buy) especially given that gift cards have expiry dates. 

And if they don’t purchase before expiry (leading to unused gift cards), the business loses nothing, especially for digital cards.

In essence, giving consumers gifts can help a business generate better results.  According to Doug Guyer, Co-Founder and President of IDR Marketing Partners, gifts can help businesses gain a competitive advantage:  “Though offering a gift with a purchase does not significantly alter the way consumers are ordering online today, retailers who do offer this extra incentive have a clear competitive advantage over those that don’t.”

gift card promotion ideas Doug guyer

Ease of usage

Digital or virtual gift cards are especially easy to use. Recipients can get them in their email and activate them when they are ready to make a purchase. This also makes gift cards effective for sales promotion. 

And as the chart from Mageplaza above shows, it’s the second-biggest reason why people like gift cards (25.7% of shoppers).  

Spending more

In 2022, 90% of shoppers were willing to spend more than the value of their gift cards and this trend will continue, according to Black Hawk Network, a digital reward company. 

This single statistic shows why gift card promotion works for businesses. It spurs more sales as customers are encouraged to spend out-of-pocket in addition to the gift card amount.  

Similarly, Card Source, a card printing company, says that 67% of shoppers end up spending 38% more than the gift card’s value. 

Source: Card Source 

“When a gift card feels “free,” people are more inclined to spend some of their own money to get higher-end loot,” said Gift Rabbit, a leading gift store. 

15 gift card advertising ideas to consider

Now that we know how effective gift cards can be as a sales promotion technique, let’s look at some gift card marketing ideas that we can learn from. 

1. Holiday campaigns

The holiday season is one of the periods where gift card usage increases. 55% of users find gift cards to be the most convenient holiday gift.

Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and Memorial Day are all holidays that give your brand the chance to offer promotional gift cards to customers. Black Friday is another example that has emerged recently.

Below is an example of an Easter gift card promotion from Shapermint, a seller of women’s underwear. 

By shopping during the Easter holiday, customers get access to a $10 e-gift card that they can use on their next order. With most of their products being above $10, this ensures that customers spend more than the gift card’s value on their next order. 

2. Special days campaign

There are other special days that are not necessarily holidays. Valentine’s Day, celebrated on February 14, is an example. We also have Halloween, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day, among others. 

Businesses can create gift card ads to tap into these special days.

Below is an example from Stor Edge, a facility management software. They sent an email to their leads on Halloween, offering an Amazon gift card if they request a demo by filling out a form. 

While this is a customer conversion mail, businesses can also send a special-day-themed gift card offer to existing customers as part of their customer retention strategy. 

Halloween is big business in the US, with spending during the holiday hitting a record $10.6 billion in 2022, according to the National Retail Federation. A themed gift card is an excellent way for businesses to tap into this consumer activity to attract new customers during this festive season.

3. Special occasions campaign

While there are generic special days like Christmas and Thanksgiving, individuals also have their special days, such as birthdays or wedding anniversaries.

Businesses have been rewarding customers on their birthdays for years. More recently, some of them have been using gift cards as a reward. 

Below is an example from EQVVS, the clothing store: 

These kinds of campaigns can increase customer loyalty in new ways by striking a chord with them on a personal level.

Now imagine adding a gift to the birthday message. Not only is the customer impressed that you’ve remembered their special day, but they get a freebie out of it, too.   

4. Contest reward

Organizing a contest and rewarding successful entries has been a common way for businesses to get traffic to their website or encourage the use of their product or service.

As gift cards have become popular, some businesses are now using them as rewards for these contests and giveaways. 

For example, PC Perspective, a game-review website, once organized a contest for its readers with a $100 Steam Card and two $50 Steam Cards as rewards. This card allowed the winner to purchase their favorite games from Steam. 

Thousands of visitors entered the contest and three were rewarded. For just $200, PC Perspective was able to pull huge volumes of traffic to their website. 

If done right, such traffic leads to long-time visitors or email subscribers. 

5. Survey reward

Survey companies are recognizing the need to reward their users and some are using gift cards to do so.

Swagbucks is one such company. They provide various gift card options for users willing to complete surveys and perform other activities, like playing video games and searching the web. 

Users accumulate points and when the points have met a minimum threshold, they can redeem them for different types of gift cards. 

With this incentive, businesses can increase traffic to their website and gain useful insights from the surveys.  

6. Reward for tasks

Shopkick is an example of a website that uses gift cards to reward users for engaging with their partner shopping stores. 

Some of the tasks that users can complete include walking into a store, scanning a barcode, making a purchase in-store, buying online, watching videos, and browsing content on the Shopkick app. 

Users accumulate rewards that they can then redeem for a wide variety of gift cards. 

Like survey rewards, these kinds of rewards can bring in new customers and drive customer engagement on the platform

7. Referral program

Gift cards have also been used to encourage customers to refer their friends and family to a business.

Rad Power Bikes is an example. As seen below, they reward every successful referral with a $50 gift card while also giving the same amount to the new customer. 

This kind of sales promotion strategy increases the number of customers while also encouraging current customers to spend more. 

According to Convince and Convert, a marketing blog, referral programs are one of the ways a business can turn customers into brand ambassadors. Not only do they gain new customers, but they also enable existing ones to promote the brand on their behalf. 

“Nothing’s as good as a referral,” said Ignacio Aranda Morea, Head of Growth and Partnerships at BONOXS, a gaming gift card seller. “The power of a customer-centered product, a good UX, and word of mouth is the best.”

gift card promotion ideas Ignacio Morea bonoxs

8. Customer retention program

Retaining current customers is more important than winning new ones. 

Just as businesses try out gift cards for business promotions, they must also explore gift card promotion ideas geared toward keeping current customers. 

Park Mobile, a company that helps customers pay for parking space from their mobile is a good example. Below is an email they sent to their customers reminding them that they have been gifted a $30 gift card:

Customers can redeem these cards for various products and services at Note that the aim here is not to increase sales directly. Rather, it is to keep a great relationship with customers which will result in increased sales down the line. 

Retention is so important that “if your retention is poor, nothing else matters,” says Brian Balfour, CEO of Reforge, a product and growth school. 

gift card promotion ideas Brian Balfour

9. VIP Customer Program

VIP customer programs are specific rewards for customers who meet certain criteria, such as the number of sales, the amount spent, and the amount of time as a customer. 

Wod Bottom, a store selling athletic apparel for women, gave a $5 gift card to its loyal customers with a thank-you note for their constant patronage. 

These loyalty programs can go a long way toward strengthening customers’ loyalty to the brand as it reinforces the fact that you care about them. “Showing genuine appreciation by thanking your customers can move mountains for your relationship,” said Sameer Khan, a digital marketing expert. 

gift card promotion ideas sander khan

10. Re-engagement campaign for dormant customers

There are times when customers go for weeks and months without purchasing from a brand. 

Some brands often assume that this is because they don’t need the product or service during that time. However, they may be trying out other brands.

In this case, a re-engagement campaign can help bring your brand back to the forefront of their minds and encourage them to use the product or service. 

Alien Outfitters once did this. They sent $10 gift cards to segments of their email list that had not engaged or made a purchase for a while. 

According to Rise, the company that organized this reward, this email had a 15.8% Click-Through Rate (CTR) compared to the average 0.8% CTR of previous campaigns. Also, 18.9% of revenue during this period came from this campaign and Alien Outfitters made a 264% ROI. 

11. Cart abandonment campaign

Cart abandonment differs from the previous campaign in that it targets a specific case of a buyer abandoning a purchase before payment rather than a dormancy. (For example, a buyer might abandon a particular cart but complete the checkout for another product in a week’s time.) 

Ashley and Co., a company selling home perfume and scents, used this type of gift card advertisement recently. The company was having a contest and the reward was a gift card. So, for every customer who abandons their cart, there is a pop-up that informs them how they can win $500 in the contest. 

Some businesses have also found success in offering gift cards (or other promos) for abandoned carts through emails rather than on the website.  

12. New program campaign

When introducing a new program, businesses often use a sales promotion strategy to make it worthwhile for consumers to explore this new option. 

Amazon is an example of a company using promotional gift cards to increase the usage of a new program – the Amazon trade-in program. 

With this program, users can trade in used phones, tablets, and other electronic devices (even non-working items) for Amazon gift cards (and up to 25% off a new Amazon device). 

Paying for these items with an Amazon gift card instead of cash is a way of ensuring that the money from these items will be used on the website. 

Selling these unused items will also encourage some to buy their replacements, which will involve spending more than the amount on the gift card. 

13. New customer incentive

MyPoints is a similar company to Shopkick – offering gift cards as rewards for carrying out certain shopping tasks. 

Our focus here is the way they use gift cards as an incentive for new customers: they offer them $10 gift cards for their first purchase. 

Winning new customers is hard; but sales promotion strategies like this can provide a great incentive.


14. Social media giveaway

Influencers have embraced gift card promotion as a way to improve engagement on their social media pages. 

Learning how to promote gift cards on social media can also be a powerful marketing tool for business owners. 

Below is an example from Love’s Travel Stop, a convenience store chain in the US.

Here, they are offering a $100 Love’s gift card to selected followers. To qualify, these followers have to engage with the company’s post. 

Gift card programs like this can enhance brand awareness and engagement on social media, which can lead to higher sales in the future.

Furthermore, Convince and Convert (quoted above) list social media engagement as one of the key ways to improve customer loyalty. Customers are more likely to trust a business they can directly engage with including taking part in non-business-related conversations.

15. New collection

When retailers start selling a new collection of products, they can use gift cards to incentivize customers to consider that new collection.

Style Bop is an example. Here we see how they used $50 gift cards to encourage customers to try out the SS15 collections which just arrived. 

The gift card makes it more likely for consumers to try out the new and untried collections they would otherwise be unwilling to look at.

How to use gift card advertising ideas for your business

Having considered 15 different gift card advertising ideas, let’s highlight some important points that every business considering this path should embrace. 

The importance of email marketing

Notice that most of the campaigns we have seen are email marketing campaigns. When you are trying to reach leads (potential customers) and customers, email is the best way to do it. 

As you are attracting visitors to your website, ensure you sign them up to your email list. Also, make sure you segment your email list between leads and customers so you can send the appropriate email to each demographic.

Gift card email marketing is all about sending the right offer to the right people. 

Diverse campaigns for diverse goals

Secondly, notice that there are gift card campaigns for different purposes – getting new customers, retaining current customers, reactivating dormant ones, and increasing engagement on a website or social media. 

Using gift cards for business promotions is not a one-size-fits-all all. 

Consequently, your gift card advertising ideas must be diverse enough to achieve all these goals. You can run campaigns directed towards these goals consecutively or simultaneously; what matters is that you are clear about who each campaign is targeting and what you want to achieve. 

This clarity will help when it comes to measuring the success or failure of your gift certificate promotion ideas. 

Furthermore, your gift card captions must be simple. Recipients must easily understand what they are getting and what they have to do to get it. 

Expiry dates

Expiry dates create a sense of urgency. There is something about last-minute offers that compel action. And, as we have seen, the desire to not lose free money propels most people to use their gift cards before it expires. 

It’s not surprising, then, that most of the gift card programs above are limited-time offers with expiry dates. 

Encourage further spending

Most of the gift card promotion ideas we have seen give an amount that will still make the recipients spend more. 

You can also choose to reward loyal customers with an amount sufficient to buy certain goods or services. However, for leads and first-time visitors to your site, this pattern of offering something that will still make them spend their money is apt. 

Design is important

Whether the gift card campaign is done via email or on your website (or even social media), the design has to be top-notch at all times. 

Your designs can affect your marketing efforts. Therefore, you should put efforts into designing creative gift card ads across all media. Even as a small business, you can use free design tools that provide easily-customizable templates to create beautiful gift card designs. 

Be open to opportunities

“In order to generate a boost in sales, it is difficult to generate waves on your own, but you can be ready to surf a coming set of waves,” said Ignacio. “Be relevant and talk to the right audience, in the right moment, about the matter that is in vogue for them. Speak your customers’ language. Capture genuine attention, and then offer an incentive.”

All of the promotion ideas we have seen captured important moments and then offered gift cards as incentives for action. This ability to recognize these moments is crucial to the success of any sales promotion idea. 

gift card promotion ideas Ignacio more bonoxs

Starting your own campaign

At Reloadly, we aim to make it easy and convenient for you to execute your gift card marketing campaigns. 

By integrating our API or WordPress plugin on your website, you will be ready to deliver gift cards to your leads, customers, and first-time buyers in just a few seconds. 

We also provide access to more than 14,000 gift cards from 300 brands, allowing you to choose which one will best serve your marketing needs.  

[Are you ready to start giving promotional gift cards as part of your sales promotion? Sign up for Reloadly or contact us to learn more about how we can help you get started.]


  • Businesses have tapped into the booming gift cards industry to reward employees or as part of their sales promotion strategy. 
  • Gift cards can be used as a sales promotion tool to gain new customers, keep current customers, and reactivate dormant customers. 
  • Businesses who have embraced gift cards for advertising have realized it’s very effective. 
  • When matched with good designs and sound email marketing, a gift card marketing strategy can help you boost sales and improve cash flow. 

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