At this point in the holiday shopping season, it's time to put gift cards in the spotlight. This should be a no-brainer, given that they are a life-saver for harried shoppers and a low-margin/high-profit center for you, but many retailers fail to use email to give gift cards their due.
The National Retail Federation estimates shoppers will spend $29.8 billion on gift cards this year, and a Compete.com survey found that gift-card consideration was up 24 percent the week of Black Friday.
Best of all, you still have time to create one or more promotions reminding customers how to buy and redeem gift cards.
You might not be able to pull off a sophisticated, multi-stage promotion before Dec. 25, but my list below has email gift card promotion ideas you can begin to work on today or plan for 2014:
1. Add copy to your welcome emails.
Remember that the holidays bring you many new customers. Add a paragraph promoting gift-card purchases, along with links to shipping deadlines and redemption/return policies, to your welcome email (or to the appropriate email if you send a welcome/onboarding series).
2. Insert a link in your email templates.
Add a text link to your most frequently used email templates (broadcast newsletter, confirmations, cart abandonment, etc.) that goes to your gift-card program. Your coder could do this in five to 10 minutes, tops.
3. Add or swap out a copy block.
Although this is a little more work than adding a text link, you can add a graphic and supporting copy to your regular email promos or replace a block to keep the message a manageable size for mobile viewers. See the screenshot below for an example from Silverpop client Fabric.com.
4. Peg campaigns to your shipping deadlines.
If you offer online card redemption, create an email and/or SMS text campaign that goes out the day after your various shipping deadlines expire.
For example, if your postal deadline is Dec. 15 for a Dec. 25 delivery, send the campaign on Dec. 16 with copy alerting customers that even though they missed one deadline, they still have time to order gift cards with online notification. Then, send a reminder email to those who opened or clicked but didn't convert.
5. Create pre- and post-Christmas Day promotions.
This is probably your most obvious campaign.
Schedule one email to arrive on Christmas Eve, reassuring time-crunched shoppers about your gift-card options and policies. Add another to arrive on the day after to give forgetful shoppers (or the ones whose gift-giving went horribly awry) a chance to redeem themselves.
6. Send a remarketing email to gift-card browsers.
This triggered message linking to your gift-card page goes out to registered customers and email subscribers who browse your gift-card offers page but don't buy. It requires leveraging tracking code such as Silverpop’s Web tracking, but it should be simple to set up if you’re already deploying cart and browse abandonment remarketing programs.
7. Leverage gift card email promotions in your social programs.
Create a unified set of messages for your blog and all your social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Time these as free-standing messages, peg to shipping deadlines or coordinate with email launches, and post daily on the days immediately before and after Christmas. Don't forget to include screenshots of your cards if they feature clever or unusual artwork.
With the limited time left to you in this holiday selling season, I don't expect you to try all of these approaches, or even more than one or two. But, many of these are relatively easy to launch, says client Meredith Gertz of Fabric.com, whose question got me thinking about late-season gift card promotion.
Even if you can add only one approach to your email program, you'll be able to expand on it throughout 2014 and be ready when the next holiday season rolls around.
1) Tip Sheet: “15 Holiday Email Tips to Make Your Customers’ Shopping Experience Easier, Faster and More Fun”
2) Blog: “6 Pinterest Holiday Marketing Tips”
3) Blog: “Creative Ways to Boost Holiday Sales with Agile Email Marketing”