- Customer Acquisition
- Customer Loyalty
- Customer Retention
How to Create a Loyalty Program: The Key Features of an Effective One
Megan Wenzl | Feb 20, 2024
Dec 18, 2020 | 9 minute read
If you love gift cards, you’re in good company. Millions of people buy gift cards every year, and that number is only continuing to increase. In 2017, approximately $320 billion was spent on gift cards around the world, but that’s predicted to keep on rising to reach $510 billion by 2025.
Gift cards are simply the ultimate gift. They are more personal than handing over cold cash, which is too businesslike for a present that’s meant to express a connection between two people. But they are also more flexible than any other type of gift, because the recipient can go to the store and choose what they want for themselves.
There’s no need to worry that you’ve bought the wrong color, the wrong size, or the wrong version of your gift. And when digital gift cards entered our lives, things just got even better. Now you can give a gift instantly, wherever you are. If you totally forgot about your partner’s birthday until you were about to leave work, your loving gift card will still be home before you are.
On top of that, distance is no object for e-gift cards. You can send one to your godchild on the other side of the world in a click of a button, and you won’t have to worry that it might get lost in the mail.
For business owners, the power of gift cards doesn’t stop there. Gift cards can and should be part of your overall marketing and sales strategy. Here are just a few examples of the ways that digital gift cards can help further your business goals:
As you can see, gift cards can play a key role in business goals like pushing sales, reducing customer churn, opening up new sales channels, and increasing your brand recognition. Here are five ways you can turn digital gift cards into a pillar of your business strategy.
Digital gift cards can be works of art, and gift card marketplaces are like your art gallery. Online forums like giftcards.com present dozens of digital gift cards from multiple companies, side by side in a single location.
Consumers love them because they can browse through a number of different gift card options in a single place. That’s why Giftcards.com alone has sold over eight million cards, and counting!
And business owners love them because they help your brand reach new potential customers. Everyone who visits a gift card marketplace is looking to buy a gift card, so you know that they are ready to make a purchase. Make sure that your card stands out among the crowd, and don’t forget to include branding elements like your logo, brand images, theme colors, fonts, and slogan.
These marketplaces include cards for different occasions, like Grandparents’ Day, Hanukkah, or graduation day, so you can and should design various versions of your gift card to cover different gift-giving opportunities. They also group cards by category and by mood, like Happy, Party, or Pampering, so think carefully about what associations you want people to make with your brand.
Loyalty programs aren’t just for Starbucks any more. On the contrary; every small business should run a loyalty and rewards program that encourages customers to return again and again, and gives them a reason to recommend your business to their friends and relatives.
But it’s important to set up your rewards programs the right way. You need a loyalty and rewards program that is straightforward and easy to use. Fortunately, digital gift cards help you build one. It’s incredibly simple to redeem points on a digital loyalty or rewards gift card; the customer just uses it like a regular credit card to make purchases online or in store. Shoppers can easily check their balance on your website or shopping app, plus you can send them push notifications through Rise.ai to let them know about unused credit waiting to be spent.
You can use Rise.ai’s automated workflows to automatically add more points to a customer’s account as soon as they make a purchase, meet a certain threshold, or match any other behavioral or purchase trigger that you set. For example, you might want to reward VIP customers with an extra $20 of credit whenever they spend more than $200 in your store in a single month. Rise.ai adds the credit instantly when the customer passes the $200 mark.
Discounts are a classic tool for driving sales, especially when revenue is low and people are reluctant to make purchases. A discounted gift card is a great way to tempt shoppers back to your store when they are feeling impoverished after the winter holiday shopping season, for example.
Discounted gift cards can also work to improve your customer experience. For example, an unhappy customer who had a bad experience with your sales process and is about to leave your store in a huff can be appeased with a discounted gift card as an apology for their inconvenience.
You can combine discounted gift cards with a gift-card-based loyalty and rewards program to make them even more powerful. For example, you might want to set up automated tiered discounts on gift cards for VIP customers, so that someone who spends $100 a month is offered a gift card worth $60 for the price of $50, but someone who spends $200 a month gets a card worth $75 for the same price.
Automated workflows make this smooth and effortless. You can set them up to send a discount gift card whenever certain triggers are hit.
Finally, many large corporations buy gift cards in bulk at a discounted price, and use them internally as sales incentives or for employee gifts.
One of the best things about digital gift cards is that people can buy them literally anywhere, and that includes social media. Rise.ai has a couple of useful integrations that turn your Facebook and Instagram accounts into direct sales channels, so that consumers can buy gift cards in a single click, from their mobiles, laptops, tablets, or any device.
Mobile sales are increasing, so it’s important to find ways to make it easier for people to buy from your business on the go. Plus we use social media for everything these days. It’s not just about keeping up with friends any more; it’s also the place to go to search for a job, adopt a kitten (because cat photos are what keeps social media going!), or buy a used car. Social media stands alongside your website, your Etsy shop, and your bricks-and-mortar store as a platform for sales, and your competition knows it.
With Rise.ai, you can add a “Buy gift card” into your Facebook business page or in Facebook ads that target leads. Consumers don’t even have to fill out forms or move your website; Rise.ai makes it a one-click process that converts at a high rate.
The Instagram integration works in a similar way. Add gift card stickers to your Instagram Stories posts and encourage your loyal followers to promote them on their own feeds. You could even offer a free egift card to followers who share your stickers.
Most businesses dread having to process refunds or returns, but when you deal with them the right way you can actually use them to secure customer loyalty and improve customer experience.
If you make it frictionless and simple for someone to request a refund or return a product, you can impress them and convert them into repeat customers even if they were displeased with the product they bought.
It’s all possible when your returns system is driven by gift cards. Use automated gift card workflows to process returns and add the refund amount to the customers account. Their credit is available instantly, and they won’t have to stand in line, wait on the phone, or answer a lot of questions before they receive it. Bear in mind that your branded digital gift cards also help raise your brand awareness, far more than a single credit line on their bank statement.
On top of that, automated workflows allow customers to request and receive a refund anytime and anywhere. That’s how you make new customers and win brand ambassadors. Of course, they’ll also have to return to your business to spend their refund credit, which is another positive way to drive customer retention.
Digital gift cards make business owners happy as well as last-minute gift-givers. Your beautiful branded e-gift cards can help raise awareness about your company, add more sales channels on gift card marketplaces and social media, boost customer loyalty and smooth out the returns and refunds process. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without them.
Neomi Avron is the Marketing Manager at Rise.ai, the first proactive branded currency solution for Shopify stores, providing gift cards, rewards and store credit programs, as well as incentives that automate re-engagement. With Rise.ai, merchants can distribute real, stored value credit in real time, based on automated or manual rules and triggers, maximizing engagement and building customer loyalty.
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