5 ways to leverage a reloadable gift card program
As the owner of a small-to-medium-sized business (SMB), you're probably familiar with the benefits of a gift card program, even if you don't currently use one. Those benefits are pretty clear: new and existing customers return to your store, potentially spending more than the card gift value—all while carrying around a billboard for your business, your brand, right in their wallet. There's another type of gift card that enhances those benefits for you and your customers.
Reloadable gift cards offer the same benefits above, but they offer a few extra, powerful ones if you get creative. For the uninitiated, a reloadable gift card allows stores and/or customers to add to the balance of the cards.
Why is this important? Motivating customers to spend. As the business, you encourage additional or repeat business by reloading the cards. This is especially important when the initial gift card balance reaches the near-zero point. That's the point at which a customer can leave the card dormant or, worse still, discard it completely.
How to motivate customers with a reloaded card:
There are several ways you can use gift cards to engage customers and boost repeat visits. If you want customers to reload their cards themselves, you have to give them a reason to do it. Or, you have to do it for them.
Here are a few ways to leverage reloadable gift cards by encouraging customers to reload and spend again. Once the gift card is reloaded, customers are likely to visit your store, giving you another opportunity to engage.
1. Say thank you with points.
If your gift card efforts are tied to a loyalty program (and it should be), you can offer points to customers who reload their cards. Or, you can give points to customers for amounts purchased. Incentives like this play into your customers’ desires for freebies. It also helps them accumulate points they can use later. Whether you’re selling coffee, books, seafood or surfboards, your customers will get excited about earning points toward a big payoff and they might reload to get there faster. Best part is, the card stays active and your customers stay engaged with your business.
2. Give a gift, receive information.
Think of everything you could do with customer information, such as emails, addresses and cell phone numbers. You could send promotions around customers birthdays, send emails during the busiest shopping seasons, send direct mail to nearby customers when a new store opens in their area. With a cell phone number, you can send a promotional text using geolocation when a customer happens to be near your store, incentivizing them to visit now. However, customers don’t just hand over their information. They want something in return. The more valuable your reloadable gift card benefits are, the more likely your customers will be to share information.
3. Offer special perks to those who reload.
Points and freebies are nice, but consider offering those who reload their gift cards special perks such as digital coupons, a heads up on upcoming sales or other deals created just for them. The idea is to make your most loyal customers feel special by giving them something not available to everyone else.
4. App-ealing trends and e-gift cards.
Consider creating an app to support your company gift cards. Users can easily reload their card on their mobile device, sign in to receive loyalty rewards, pay at the POS and send e-gift cards to their friends. With e-gift cards, there’s no card at all. Everything is handled digitally, and your customers don’t have to carry a card around in their wallets, cards that often get lost. In addition, with an app and e-gift cards, you get a direct communication channel to your best customers and can encourage social media interaction. These options especially appeal to younger tech-savvy consumers.
5. Identify your high-value customers
If you can tie your gift and loyalty card program into your payment system, your cashiers will know when they’re dealing with a repeat spender and can be sure to treat them like VIPs. They can use the customer’s name and even offer another incentive. For example: “Welcome back, Maggie. Just a heads up, if you reload your gift card today with just $20, you’ll receive an extra $50 toward your next purchase.” Of course, that’s just one simple example of what you might do.
There are a variety of ways to make gift cards work harder for you, but you have to get creative to find ways to set your program apart from others. The benefits to your business are only limited by your imagination.