Gift Card Marketing Outside of Retail is the Key to Success

By Tim Pechmann, Co-Founder and COO, and Kelly Solko, Senior Global Print Buyer 

Consumers have countless choices for holiday gift-giving each year. While gift cards remain one of the top requested gifts, the explosion of gift card brands in the marketplace has made gift card marketing more challenging – and more important – than ever. 

The question that many brands ask is “how can I make my brand stand out at retail”? While it is important to consider how many pegs your brand is awarded or where on the display your card is placed, many brands still get lost in the hundreds of options at retail. Additionally, some brands go after retail signage on the gift card display, however, that option is limited to a small number of brands, can be expensive, and has varied return on your investment.

Where does that leave your gift card marketing strategy if marketing at retail isn’t priority number one? The answer is outside of the retail doors. If your brand finds ways to market your gift card program outside of the retail walls, then the consumer will be more likely to choose your gift card when they shop.

Onsite Marketing

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many brands miss out on this opportunity to market and bring awareness to their own gift card on their homepage. An onsite campaign is an integral part of introducing gift cards to your consumers. While gift cards don’t need to be the main focus of your landing page, they need to be easy to find on your site. It is recommended that all brands include a link to gift cards on their top navigation. This could link to a place to purchase eGift or physical cards on your site or provide a list of retailers where consumers can purchase your card. From time to time, it is also wise to include a banner calling out any promotions, gift-giving messages, and/or new retailer launches.

Starbucks has a widely successful gift card program. On their landing page, they prominently feature a link to their gift card on the top navigation.

Starbucks website banner marketing gift cards

Email Marketing

Email blasts offer another touch point to market your gift card. Emails can be a key tool to leverage and drive sales. When deciding if this is the right marketing tool for your brand, first decide the goal that you want to accomplish. Are you looking for brand awareness, new customers/subscribers, purely sales driven, or to bring back existing customers that haven’t shopped with you in while? Make your message clear and personalized. Last and most important; don’t forget a call to action. Let your customers know where to shop for your gift card or if there is a limited promotion.

These email blasts from Uber showcase two types of messaging. On the left, their email blast featured a promotion to generate new users. On the right, the email focused on awareness and gift-giving for the holiday.

Uber email blast marketing gift cards

Social Media Marketing

Connecting with your customers on social media is a great way to bring awareness to your gift card program. These are customers that already follow you that may have forgotten or don’t know that you offer a gift card. Periodically post on your companies Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to tell your customers about a promotion, where to buy, or to buy now. Find ways to be disruptive on your customers news feed. Photos are great, but videos are better.

Netflix, one of the major streaming companies that has impacted the gift card industry, created an animated short film called “The Worst Gifter” featuring the Netflix gift card.  Netflix then posted the video on their social media profiles and launched a competition; viewers were tasked with sharing an image of the worst gift they’ve ever received. The “winners” of the competition received Netflix gift cards as a prize – and as an act of justice. 

Influencers

Influencers have the power to influence the perception of your potential consumers. In marketing, an influencer can help present a new audience to your brand. Examples of influencers are bloggers, YouTubers, or even talk-show hosts. To be successful, influencers must possess: reach, contextual credibility, and salesmanship. To be successful in this kind of marketing effort make sure to select your influencer carefully. Ensure that they can reach a large group of people (i.e. they must have a large group of followers). The influencer(s) you partner with need to have a level of authority on a topic/category that fits with your brand. Lastly, they need to be a great communicator and someone that you could trust to represent your brand image.

StubHub partnered with The Ellen Show to be a part of her 12 Days of giveaways. Their giveaway was a gift card, which helped not only promote their gift card program, but their brand in general.

Hopefully one or more of these gift card marketing initiatives will help your brand gain awareness in a sea of gift options. Want to learn more? Join our email list by filling out the form below to get regular updates on the gift card industry and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram!

Kelly Solko is the Senior Global Print Buyer of Topps Digital Services. Leads sourcing, global print production and marketing for Topps Digital Services. Kelly has been in the gift card space for 10+ years with experience in both 1st party and 3rd party programs.

Tim Pechmann is the Co-Founder and COO of Topps Digital Services. Focused on corporate development, client success and leading TDS global distribution teams. Tim leverages 20+ years of retail and gift card experience to help clients develop global prepaid strategies that drive brand awareness, customer acquisition and revenue.

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