Are your gift card sales lagging? From foot traffic to brand loyalty to higher revenues, gift cards offer tons of benefits to malls and shopping centers – but marketing them isn’t always easy. Competition with online retailers is stiff, and many consumers don’t understand the benefits of buying closed-loop, multi-merchant cards.
To effectively market your program and increase your ROI, you’ll need to go above and beyond. Your retailers, facilities and location may attract shoppers, but how many of those shoppers know about your gift cards? Here are our top 10 tips for boosting gift card sales:
- Feature Gift Cards on Your Website. All too often, gift cards are an afterthought on shopping centers’ websites, linked in tiny font within a menu at the bottom of the homepage. Most consumers are visiting your site to look for places to shop or eat, and if you don’t prominently feature your cards, they’re just going to pay cash. Our clients realize far more success when they include top-of-page navigation tabs dedicated to their card programs, as well as front page advertisements.
- Advertise at Guest Services. Advertise your program at every guest services desk, kiosk and offsite office. People usually visit these locations to ask questions and buy merchandise and with adequate advertising you can convert them into gift card customers. In many cases, your services desk will be the first place the customer even learns about your program!
- Train Your Staff. Customer education is critical to the success of a gift card program, and who better to educate them than your staff? In many cases, however, only a handful of team members will learn the particulars, and once they turn over, the program falls flat. To keep customers in the loop, train all of your guest services staff to answer questions about every aspect of the program: redemption, online ordering, activations and more.
- Expand Your Market. Individual consumers should be your main market, but branch out to schools, businesses, charities and other corporate entities. Gift cards are an excellent incentive for employees and students, and corporate bulk orders can keep your program strong between holiday seasons.
- Push Cards All Year. Don’t let the winter holidays, wedding season and graduation be the only times you push gift cards. You may see most of your sales in December, September and May, but to meet your revenue goals and grow, you’ll need to stay strong in the off-season. This is a great time to leverage discounts and market to corporate customers.
- Use Promotional Cards. Another great off-season strategy is to combine gift cards with short-term promotional cards. For instance, you might offer a free $10 promo card with a 3-month expiration date with the purchase of every $100 gift card. You fund these cards, but they drive enough foot traffic and lift that you’ll still come out on top. Plus, with the right promo card program, you’ll only pay for the cards customers actually redeem.
- Leverage Social Media. Social media is one of the best ways to reach customers — particularly young customers — and you’re losing business if you’re not leveraging Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Use your social accounts to advertise during busy seasons, push promos during the offseason and offer freebies based on likes, shares and reposts. Just as importantly, update often! A ghost town of a page can be worse than no page at all.
- Push Online Sales. The web may be the best place for you to sell your cards, especially if your main sales office is off the beaten path. Don’t just rely on your website, though. Use social media and email campaigns, buy contextual ads through Google and Facebook, and partner with local businesses whose websites get more traffic than yours. If your in-person sales have come to a screeching halt, you may realize a greater ROI selling solely online.
- Sell Through Your Merchants. Your big-box retailers will sell their own gift cards, but smaller, lesser known shops are often more than willing to act as sales agents. It’s a win-win; they get greater foot traffic and exposure, and you get another sales location. Partnering with your merchants is an excellent way to invigorate a slow program or rapidly achieve customer awareness for a new one.
- Market Consistently. Ultimately, the only way to realize a great ROI with your gift card program is to market aggressively and continuously — not just during busy seasons, and not just at 2-4 week intervals. Promotions, discounts and seasonal deals help, but your program needs to become a well-known part of your business, something customers immediately associate with your brand. To achieve that kind of recognition, your sales team, marketing team, retailers and guest services staff have to be on board, pushing and educating customers about your gift cards at every opportunity.