Turning Gift Cards into Coupons By Mail

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Vying for the attention of consumers who are inundated with marketing messages is no easy task, especially in this challenging economic environment.

So this might be a good time to consider a new twist on an old idea: Take the basic gift card and turn it into a “coupon by mail.” This just might provide that extra nudge needed to get a consumer to act.

Mailed gift cards are the same size as credit cards, and they can be included with virtually any direct mail piece, either in an envelope or as a self-mailer. The benefits extend to both the customer and the retailer. The customer will probably view this card as something a little different, a little more special than a typical coupon. The retailer can use the cards to enhance promotional capabilities and drive incremental sales.

Retailers can also personalize the cards to reward loyal customers with special discounts or sales. Cards also make an attractive and appealing enhancement for outreach campaigns within a range of Zip codes or other demographic categories.

The perceived value is high because the gift cards give consumers an actual, tangible reward that they can use the next time they’re out shopping, when they’re surfing the Internet, or thinking about where to go for dinner. Sturdy plastic or paper cards can be safely kept in a shopper’s purse or wallet and will act as a reminder to take advantage of the offer.

As a marketing tool, the applications for gift cards are limited only by your imagination. Fully customizable cards can highlight an offer based on purchasing history, be used to cross-sell with a partner retailer, or encourage customers to try other services, such as giving a discount when signing up for a gift registry. The common thread for gift cards is that they provide measurability and are smart vehicles for increasing sales and driving profitability.

While gift cards carry imaginative offers presented in eye-catching graphics, they’re also very practical for direct mail marketers. Here are some key benefits:

A trackable barcode: Scanning barcodes at the point-of-purchase provides real-time reporting to track everything from who is redeeming the promotion and at what locations to where the promotion is generating an increased response rate and lift in transaction sale amount.

A variety of formats in a wide range of price points: Personalized gift card mailers can be fully customizable to meet a retailer’s specific campaign objective, including folded self-mailers to control production costs without sacrificing privacy.

Eco-friendly alternatives: Environmentally friendly substrates are available to make sure corporate sustainability standards are met.

Minimized postage costs: Mailer formats are USPS approved for automated Standard A and First Class, taking advantage of the lowest postal rates. Marketers may also track their campaign’s in-home delivery window, ensuring that desired timeframes are met to maximize the highest possible response rates.

Think of mailed, personalized gift cards as a fairly inexpensive and highly targeted form of advertising. They provide enough flexibility to fit nearly any kind of direct mail campaign you can think up, and are suitable for nearly any type of offer for your product or service. Best of all, they give consumers a customized, convenient and tangible reason to act now.

Dave Henkel is president of Johnson and Quin, a full service direct mail printing and production company. He can be reached at dhenkel@j-quin.com.

For more articles on incentive marketing, go to http://www.promomagazine/incentives.com

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