13 Examples of Gift Card Campaigns Done Like a Pro in 2024
Each customer loves getting gifts from their favorite brand. What if there was a way to make your customer happy but also to drive up your revenue at the same time? A perfect solution for achieving both of these goals would be a gift card campaign.
In this blog post, we will cover the benefits of gift card campaigns and 13 real-life gift card campaign examples. We will go deeper into the campaign limitations and conditions as well as analyze the campaign creatives and copy. Let’s start with a short introduction to gift card campaigns.
What is a gift card?
Gift cards are prepaid cards, physical or digital, that can be used as an alternative to cash for purchasing goods or services. They are typically sold by retailers, restaurants, or other businesses and are purchased by customers as gifts for others or for their own use. Gifts cards can also be granted to customers by brands as a reward for their shoppers' particular actions.
What are gift card campaigns?
Gift card campaigns are campaigns where you give (not sell) gift cards to your customers or potential customers. For example, you could give 5$ gift cards to all new customers to encourage them to make their first purchase with you. You could also offer $10 gift cards to inactive customers to trigger re-engagement. You can send gift cards to customers on special occasions, like their birthdays or anniversaries. You can also give gift cards as a part of a loyalty program, referral program or giveaway rewards. The options are limitless.
Why should you invest in gift card campaigns?
Why do gift card campaigns sometimes work better than other types of sales promotions? Getting a gift card feels like a gift making customers feel special, while offering voucher discounts or cart discounts feels like a sales promotion. Moreover, thanks to the endowment effect, customers are more likely to use a gift card to make a purchase than to use a sales promotion. As they know they have “free money” to use, it would be a “loss” not to use it, while skipping a sales promotion does not feel like “losing.”
From the retailers’ point of view, gift cards can be a cheaper incentive than, for example, free products or cashback, as many gift cards expire before being redeemed. Giving away gift cards only costs a retailer if a customer uses the incentive.
According to the Business Research Company, the global digital gift card market size grew from $342.66 billion in 2022 to $405.17 billion in 2023. There is an upward trend in this matter, as the digital card market size is expected to reach $740.41 billion in 2027.
Consequently, as the growth continues, digital gift cards campaigns are the future of effective marketing campaigns.
Why are gift cards an effective marketing tool in 2024?
Shoppers themselves reach for gift cards as they provide them with an ability to buy their own gifts of choice. Accordingly, gift cards give customers freedom and encourage them to shop, especially if given to customers by the brand itself as a form of reward.
Gift cards can be an effective marketing tool, because they tap into several psychological principles that can lead to positive associations with the brand. Among other things, gift cards are effective as they provide for:
1. The power of anticipation
Gift cards are, without a doubt, associated with a psychological principle of anticipation – simply, the pleasure that we get from looking forwards to something. When your customer receives a gift card, they anticipate the joy of using it to buy something that they may have wanted to buy for a long period of time. The anticipation then, can lead to a sense of enjoyment which creates a positive association with your brand, the brand that provides gift cards for customers.
2. The feeling of control
Gift cards give customers a sense of control over their spending. Having a gift card, shoppers can choose exactly what they want to buy without worrying excessively about their limited budget. This sense of control can make the shopping experience, in general, more enjoyable.
3. The social aspect
Gift cards can be associated with the common, social habit of gift-giving and whatever it entails. Namely, when someone receives a gift, they feel a sense of appreciation and gratitude towards the person who gave it to them. Accordingly, your customers, after receiving a gift card, will associate a positive feeling with your brand and, in consequence, their loyalty will be increased.
4. The convenience factor
Gift cards are extremely easy to purchase and use, as they can be digitally distributed and redeemed, which makes them a convenient promotional option both for the giver and receiver.
The benefits of gift card campaigns
Offering gift cards as incentives to your customers can help you:
- Drive up revenue – providing your shoppers with gift cards will undeniably generate cash flow, thanks to the endowment effect and customers wanting to use the incentives.
- Gain new customers – gift cards are a great way to promote your brand and excite shoppers to buy your products, especially if given to new customers who may be looking for a new brand to stay loyal to.
- Promote impulse buys – shoppers are more comfortable with investing in additional goods or services when part of the purchase is covered by the amount that the gift card is issued to.
- Increase the size of your customers’ carts – gift cards can serve as a cart-size booster, especially if you set particular validation rules concerning them, for instance, a minimum order value as a condition to use a gift card in the first place.
- Track your campaign in real time – if you have a digital promotion management system, gift cards can facilitate the process of accessing your customers’ data, for example, their preferences, and also the effectiveness of your promotional campaign.
- Reduce fraud – as opposed to publicly available promotions, due to the fact that gift cards are personalized and can be redeemed just once due to validation rules, you are able to realistically combat fraud and not lose any money.
13 gift card campaign examples
1. Giveaway with gift card as reward
James Allen is a US-based diamond and bridal jewelry DTC company focused mostly on online sales. They have started off as a diamond manufacturer for other brands like Tiffany&Co. They have run a giveaway campaign offering a $2500 gift card as a prize.
- To take part in the contest, participants (mainly women) have to find an engagement ring they like and drop a hint to their partners about it. Everyone who did so would automatically enter into the contest. The winner gets a $2500 gift card, non-refundable and not exchangeable for cash.
2. Re-engagement gift card campaign
Sephora is a French multinational retailer of personal care and beauty products.
Sephora launched a re-engagement campaign amongst their loyalty program members giving away $15 gift cards valid for purchases above $50 for a short period of time (11 days) in December (just before the Christmas season).
Learn more: Discover more creative re-engagement campaigns
3. Valentine’s Day gift card campaign
Peppermayo is an Australian fashion brand, selling mainly online. They have launched a Valentine's day campaign sending $30 gift cards to their subscribers.
- Valid only on orders above $100.
- Cannot be combined with other promotions.
- Valid only on full-priced items.
- Cannot be spent on gift cards.
- The gift card expires 02/07/2018.
- The gift card has a LOVEME code (publicly available, not unique).
Peppermayo has a very useful website where anyone, without logging in, can check their gift card balance:
4. New collection gift card campaign
StyleBop.com is a luxury fashion retailer selling designer clothes online with headquarters in Düsseldorf, Germany. They have launched a spring campaign offering a $50 gift card for the new spring designer collection. It is a good example of a product-promoting campaign that you can use to promote new launches, collections, leftover stock, or slow-moving goods.
- Valid on orders above $300.
- Code: 2015spring (public, not unique).
5. Thank you gift card campaign
Vivid Seats LLC is an independently owned and operated online ticket marketplace. They have run a thank you campaign sending a $30 gift card to customers who have bought from them previously.
- Only valid on orders above $300.
- Expires the same day (giving big urgency to the offer).
6. Holiday-special gift card campaign
Sleep Country is Canada's leading omnichannel mattress and bedding retailer and a specialty sleep products retailer with brick-and-mortar stores across the country.
They have launched a Christmas campaign offering $230 gift cards valid in December. The gift cards were delivered via emails but they were valid only on in-store purchases.
- The promotion was valid only until the end of December 2017.
- The gift cards could be spent on anything in-store (not online).
- The gift cards had unique codes.
7. Gift card as an incentive to check their offer
Upstart is an AI lending platform that partners with banks to provide personal loans using non-traditional variables, such as education and employment, to predict creditworthiness.
Upstart is encouraging their potential customers to check their loan rate (and therefore get interested in Upstart offer) by offering them $10 Amazon gift cards. This tactic uses other brand’s gift cards (as Upstart does not offer gift cards) as an incentive. It is a good example of incentivizing customer interaction with the brand.
8. Acquisition gift card campaign
Clean Choice Energy is a US energy retailer focusing on providing energy from renewable sources. They have launched an acquisition-focused campaign offering a $50 visa gift card for those who switch to them as their energy provider.
9. Refer a friend giveaway with gift card as a prize
Jane is a curated marketplace with more than 2 000 shops plus big brands and designer names. They focus their offering on small brands, primarily female-owned ones. They have launched a refer a friend giveaway where everyone who refers their friends and the referred friends get a chance to win a $50 gift card.
10. Gift cards for VIP customers
Rocksbox is a jewelry rental membership that makes it easy to discover new looks, rock the latest trends or add more of your favorite classic styles to your jewelry collection, without the commitment to purchase.
They have sent out an email campaign with a subject line “You made the list! Gift inside 🎉 '' to their VIP customers offering them a free one month of subscription and a $21 gift card (credits) for a purchase of any jewelry in their set.
- Promotion is valid only until the end of August (limited time only).
- Promotion has to be claimed by clicking on a link in the email.
11. Referral program with gift cards as rewards
Lensabl's initial mission was to sell replacement lenses for frames you already own. Today, they also sell frames and contacts, they offer vision benefit plans and online prescriptions. Lensabl is marketed as a cheaper alternative to traditional glasses purchases. They launched a referral program offering $20 Amazon gift cards for referrers and referred friends (update: now they offer $25 gift cards). They sent an email campaign with a subject line “Get a $20 Amazon Gift Card By Referring Your Friends” to advertise the referral program. This is a strange example as, considering their product, they could have offered their own gift cards instead of Amazon’s and it would have been much cheaper for them and bring them returning customers (in case of referrers). On the other hand, in the case of glasses, the purchase frequency is low, therefore Amazon gift cards may be more enticing to customers.
- The referrers only get the reward if the referred friend makes a purchase of above $45 value.
- The referrers get a $25 Amazon gift card for a successful referral.
- There is a maximum of 10 successful referrals per year one referrer can make.
12. Gift card for the second purchase time-bound campaign
Ross Simons is a US-based retailer offering an array of jewelry including designer collections & brand-name watches.
Ross Simons launched a sale where, among other promotions, if someone places an order they will get a $50 gift card for future purchases. They sent an email campaign with the subject line “Overstock Event Ends Tonight! Save Up To 67% + $50 Gift Coupon with Purchase.”
- To get the gift coupon, one must purchase something from the overstock sale.
- Gift coupons are valid for purchases above $150.
- Gift coupons are single-use only (they cannot be split between more orders).
- The gift coupons are sent only after the order placed within the sales timeframe is already shipped.
13. Special occassion gift card campaign
Air France is a French airline, a subsidiary of KLM Group. They have launched a campaign for Valentine's day to increase the sales of their gift cards. For each gift card bought for Valentine's day, they offered $30 extra gift card credit. The subject line of their emails was “Evelyn, gift card special: $30 bonus for your Valentine.”
- The promotion is valid until February 20 (roughly two weeks since the start of the campaign).
- The bonus is given only for purchases of gift cards over $150 in nominal value.
There are many ways you can use gift cards as incentives, from expanding your customer base, through settling unhappy customers, to other retention, acquisition or re-engagement strategies. Gift cards can have additional limitations to them to help you reach your goals while protecting your budget.
We have analyzed various gift card campaigns and we have noticed a pattern – most big brands add some validation rules to their promotions to ensure their effectiveness. To manage such personalized and targeted campaigns at scale, you need a powerful promotion engine.
Voucherify, as an API-first, headless promotion engine, can help you launch campaigns similar to above-mentioned and more, allowing you to narrowly target and personalize your gift card campaigns.
Ready to launch your gift card campaign?