Gift Card Marketing Ideas: 9 Ways to Improve Retail Gift Card Sales

Person celebrating a gift card marketing program
an Adidas gift card with design and branding

Gift cards are a proven way to increase revenue. Sales have steadily increased over the past few decades and 2018 projections are estimating the gift cards will account for $188 billion in retail sales. Plus, approximately $3 billion per year worth of gift card value are never redeemed. So it’s clear that every retailer, no matter the niche, stands to benefit from offering gift cards. But how should retailers go about gift card marketing?

There are several ways you can boost your gift card sales and your bottom line.  To be sure, increasing your overall gift card sales will take many tactics and strategies.  Making the most of the holiday season is especially important. Gift card sales tend to soar in the months of November and December. Have your store ready to sling lots of last-minute presents, and make your holidays an even better season this year. Read on for more tips. 

1. Make Gift Cards Visible

The first order of business is getting the cards out there. There are plenty of places you can feature a small rack or display: near the POS system or checkout, in heavily trafficked areas, at the hostess stand, or even as suggestions on receipts.

Visibility in your brick and mortar store also means active promotion by your staff. Train your cashiers to always offer gift cards or at least let each customer know that you sell them. Don’t wait for interested customers to inquire about your gift card program. Instead, focus on being proactive with everything that you sell.

a screen capture from Instagram showing Hilton Head Brewing Company gift cards

2. Gift Card Advertising on Multiple Channels

Your retail store as a whole will benefit from offering an omnichannel shopping experience. This is also true for your gift cards.

eCommerce – Make your gift cards an obvious option for guests on your website. Place a link to your gift card purchase page in the main header or footer. You can also add pop-up banner advertisements during the holidays for an extra push.

Email Marketing – Retail email marketing is a critical advertising outlet for many reasons. Take advantage of easy communication by reminding your customers about your gift cards from time to time. Like any email campaign, don’t overwhelm your audience.

Social Media – Talk about them on Facebook and Twitter. If you have a well-made card, take a nice photo for Instagram. These are great for last-minute reminders during the holidays.

3. Incentivize Purchases with Gift Cards

Many retailers offer small gift cards for purchases over a certain amount. They also may offer them as incentives for downloading a store’s app, signing up for an email list, referring a friend, or following them on a social media platform. Gift cards can be leveraged in many ways to help your business down the road.

Another promotional idea is offering bonuses for higher gift card purchases. For example, you can put a banner on your eCommerce site offering a bonus of $25 for every $100 gift card purchase. There’s a good chance This type of deal can boost your cash flow and guarantee more purchases and word of mouth brand awareness in the future.

Importantly, this means that the money is staying in your store. Sure, you’ll lose money you spent on whatever product is redeemed by the gift card, but it’s better than someone shopping at another retailer. Additionally, most consumers redeeming a gift card will spend more than the amount on the card, helping to negate the loss.

4. Gift Card Marketing Ideas: Holiday and Event Promotion

Make a real push to do extensive marketing around holidays and special events. The vast majority of gift cards are purchased for birthdays, Christmas, and Mother’s Day. Offer cards designed for each event so that the gift-giver can more easily personalize the gift.

Selling a lot of cards for the holidays can also help with the January/February lull in sales. Market special redemption days with extra bonuses. Again, consumers typically spend more than whatever is on the gift card, so getting those people in the store during the slower months can really help your sales.

It’s worth noting, too, that gift cards are one of the most highly requested gift by recipients. And they are the third most common gift purchased by consumers. Most of these purchases are surrounding the holidays and other important milestones.

5. Packaging and Brand Awareness

a branded gift card and envelope from sneaker company Cariuma

This may not be too shocking to you, but most gift cards are used as gifts. What some retailers forget, though, is that designing the card to be gift-ready is very important. The convenience of the shopping experience is a major factor in consumer decisions. Include a cute card holder and envelope.

A comprehensive gift card program presents an opportunity to go the extra mile and improve your branding. Make the packaging so memorable that the recipient of the gift will show it to friends and spread the word about your brand.  Cariuma is a sustainable shoe company that makes “pro-earth” products. They consistently stylize their branding with bright green, plant-centric design. Check out their branded gift card below.

6. How To Promote Gift Cards With Charity and Partnerships

Giving away gift cards to charitable organizations and local community events is a great way to show your support for important causes. They’re easy items to give away as a prize or as an auction item.

This marketing strategy is also a great way to introduce new customers to your store. Gift cards bring in shoppers who might never have visited otherwise. Use this as an opportunity to show new shoppers what you’re business is all about and add loyal customers to your base.

7. Employee Rewards and Customer Returns

Coming back to the idea that it’s better to keep money in your store, another benefit of gift cards is using them as employee rewards and as an option on your return policy.

Gift cards rewarding great performance from one of your team members is a nice way to saying thank you. Gift cards cost you less than cash, yet offer a lot of value. It’s also productive to give employees the opportunity to try your product, no matter your industry. People are better at selling products that they are more familiar with.

Similarly, include gift cards in your return policy. It’s important to also offer full cash returns, especially with a receipt present, but you can always suggest a gift card in lieu of a cash return. More customers will accept this than you might think.

8. Promote Gift Cards As A Personal Treat  

More and more gift cards are being purchased for self-use. They are a guilt-free way of treating oneself, and many consumers are taking advantage. Of course, you want to focus on them going to people as gifts but don’t shy away from advertising gift cards in a way that appeals to the people who love consistently buying your products.

Remember, adding juicy bonuses and incentives for buying gift cards can increase these self-use purchases. 


9. Offer a Guide with Each Gift Card

Show the recipient of the gift card exactly what they can purchase with their new present. Simple guides that feature your latest products, promotions or discounts, special events, or retail experiences are helpful for getting people excited about buying and redeeming gift cards.

A well-designed, concise guide highlighting what makes your business different can go a long way. Put some effort in the presentation to emphasize the fact that you care enough to highlight the ways it can be used. 

Gift Card Marketing with Your POS System

However you market your gift cards, make sure that you have a retail POS system that can seamlessly manage your gift card inventory and their eventual redemption. Also, watch out for any points of sale solutions that require you to pay extra fees to go through their payment processor for gift cards. You should have your choice in the matter and avoid any unnecessary fees.

KORONA POS partners with CardMarket to give retailers a powerful and seamlessly integrated POS gift card program. Click below to start your free trial!

Frequently Asked Questions About Gift Card Marketing

How can I promote my gift card?

You can promote your gift card by featuring it prominently on your website, and check out counter. Branding your gift card, with a stylized envelope and story about your business or product, will enhance it’s appeal as a present for the holidays or a birthday.  In addition, offering discounts and bonuses for purchasing higher amounts per card is another option to boost gift card sales.

Is there a market for gift cards?

There is definitely a market for gift cards. They provide convenience and versatility, and are the 3rd most popular item to give as gifts. In fact, the total gift card market is about $170 billion in the US alone.

Is selling gift cards profitable?

Selling gift cards is one of the most profitable things you can do in retail. Gift Cards immediately increase cash flow, and encourage new shoppers to come to your store. Also, many customers will spend over what they’re gifted in credit, and some won’t ever redeem their value at all. That means free money for you!

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Written By

Michael Chalberg

Michael has long focused his writing on the world of retail and small businesses. He''s been a part of the KORONA POS team since 2018 and loves helping entrepreneurs find ways to adapt and succeed. In his spare time, you'll likely find him hiking somewhere in the Southwest.