gift card marketing strategies

Gift card marketing strategies’ importance in the digital age of retail

Every year, especially around the holidays, many consumers struggle with a common problem: what to buy for friends and family. Choosing gifts to buy can prove to be a daunting task and can take a lot of time and effort—both of which most people don’t have much of these days. The solution has (and continues to be) gift cards. They have remained at the top of consumers’ wish lists for holidays and other special occasions for years now due to the purchasing flexibility and freedom they provide.

Given their continuous popularity, gift card marketing strategies are worth considering as part of your 2020 holiday mix or employing year-round as a path to boosting profits. For retailers and brands, gift cards represent immediate cash, in exchange for a delayed —or perhaps never-used—reward. The shoppers who do redeem their gift cards often use the balance to splurge on themselves in ways they wouldn’t ordinarily consider, which usually results in them spending more than the card’s value. 

Consumer demands for omnichannel innovation and alternative payment methods are continuing to grow. The utility of gift cards will help lead to sustained growth for retailers and brands who actively market this gift option, which can be redeemed online or in-person.

Gift Card Marketing Statistics

Wondering if you should invest in gift card marketing strategies for the 2020 holiday season and beyond? The statistics indicate it’s definitely worth your while to add at least one gift card push campaign to your list of holiday promotions:

  • Gift cards have topped the wish list of Americans for at least 13 consecutive years.
  • U.S. shoppers spend half their holiday budget on gift cards, spending $171 billion.
  • 73% of gift cards are redeemed within 6 months of receipt, leading to a fast sales bump.
  • 6% of gift cards are never used, which results in pure profit for the issuer.
  • In 2019, Walmart made $1.9 billion off of unredeemed gift cards.
  • 75% of people using gift cards spend more than the value of the card (usually +$59).
  • Shoppers are 2.5x more likely to pay full price when using a gift card versus cash/credit.
  • 34% of recipients say gift cards make them visit stores they otherwise wouldn’t frequent. 

Holiday shoppers aren’t waiting around for Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals this year; some will be out in full force by early October, so you’ll need to ramp up your gift card marketing campaigns sooner than normal to capitalize off the extended holiday shopping season. 

Tips to Augment Gift Card Marketing Strategies

In order to maximize your gift card marketing strategy’s profitability and success for the holiday season and beyond, incorporate one or more of these key tactics: 

  • gift card marketing strategiesCreate a gift guide. What can shoppers buy with a $25, $50, or $100 gift card? Create a guide that inspires. Show off favorite products, new offerings, or theme the guide for special occasions.  
  • Offer new, attention-grabbing designs. The right graphics in the right place at the right time can go a long way. Invite professional artists to help craft holiday gift card designs that shoppers can’t resist. Feature them prominently on your website and near retail checkouts.
  • Promote digital gift cards, too. Create a blog and/or landing page tab just off the main homepage that pitches digital gift cards for shoppers who have a few last-minute gifts to procure. These pages can be linked to gift-related keywords and also promoted via email, social media, and text campaigns. Digital gift cards are expected to grow at a clip of 18.1% annually over the next 4 years, with an estimated worth of more than $101,979 million in 2024.
  • Run a contest on social media. Everyone loves to be a winner. Perhaps every person who buys a gift card gets entered into a contest to win a basket of goodies or a special discount offer. You might also ask shoppers to enter their contact information or answer a brief survey for a chance to win a gift card. Be sure to promote your gift cards to key demographics using targeted ads on social media.
  • Remind gift card recipients of unused balances. Sometimes simply reminding gift card recipients that they have money left on their cards via email is enough to spur them to visit your website or store—and spend a whole lot more than the remaining balance!
  • Increase value for gift card shoppers. If you don’t typically offer free shipping, consider a free shipping promotion for all gift card purchasers. For example, you can run a short-term holiday promotion featuring a gift card that is $50 in value for $40, provide buyers with two “bonus $10 gift cards” with the purchase of a $50 gift card, or try a buy-three-gift-cards-get-one-free deal.
  • Offer special incentives for gift card claimants or redeemers as an added bonus. For example, you can offer 25% off the order total for new gift card customers or include a free gift with a gift card redemption. This makes your gift card recipients feel valued, creates a positive brand impression, and increases the chances of them becoming lifelong customers.
  • Implement a loyalty program. If you haven’t already, implement an omnichannel rewards program that gives shoppers a point for every dollar spent in-store or online. When shoppers reach a certain threshold, give them a gift card as the reward. 
  • Market to consumers outside your current customer base by partnering with Shopkick. Shopkick is a mobile shopping rewards app where shoppers earn “kicks” (rewards points) for walking into participating stores, scanning the barcodes of select items, watching branded videos, and making in-app or in-store purchases. Through this continued engagement, kicks can be accumulated to redeem a gift card of their choice. By partnering with Shopkick, retailers and brands can not only incentivize engagement, but also encourage continued loyalty and spending by listing a gift card in our marketplace. Shoppers who have a favorable experience interacting with a partner through the app often choose to exchange their rewards for gift cards to that same store come redemption time. 

Gift Cards Are the Gifts That Keep on Giving

Gift card marketing strategies provide a continuous opportunity for retailers to generate profits, attract new customers, and retain existing ones.

With Shopkick, partnering retailers have the opportunity to earn an incremental revenue stream by featuring their gift card in our rewards mall, and also to drive online and in-store sales by rewarding customers for their engagement and loyalty. In the age of digital retail and the omnichannel marketplace, offering gift cards is a surefire strategy that every retailer should add to their sales and marketing arsenal. 

Gift card marketing strategies should be in your company’s playbook this holiday season and beyond. One of the easiest ways to get started is to partner with Shopkick and offer gift cards in our marketplace. See how others have benefitted already and contact Shopkick to get started on your first campaign with us.

Get In Touch

Image courtesy of uzhursky



Shopkick is the fun and easy way to earn free gift cards for the shopping you already do. Download the app now!

Connect with our team

Shopkick Partnerships deliver lasting results for your business. Fill out this form to learn more about Partner benefits.

Get the Shopkick Insights newsletter

Research and inspiration delivered to your inbox each month.

Follow us on Facebook


[instagram-feed cols=2 num=2]

Latest Tweets

Recent Pins

We'd love to hear from you!

Learn how Shopkick can deliver results for your business. Fill out this form and someone from our team will be in touch within one business day.


Dima Volovik

EVP of Product and Engineering

Dima Volovik is the EVP of Product and Engineering at Trax Retail — Shopkick.

Dima Volovik is the accomplished product and engineering leader who led teams to deliver innovative and commercially successful e-commerce products, marketplaces, and enterprise solutions for Amazon, Comcast, Fandango, and Universal Music. Before joining Trax, Dima was the Director at Amazon, where he led product development and Engineering for Amazon Appstore and Amazon Prime Video, CTO at Fandango, and Paciolan, head of technology at Golf Channel/Golf Now, and Global VP of Direct to Consumer Technology at Universal Music Group. Dima’s expertise includes developing consumer products, marketplaces, and enterprise solutions.

Dima grew up in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he received his MS in Electrical Engineering from Azerbaijan Oil Academy, and he currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with his family.