Free Gift Card Delivery

No such thing as a free lunch – What "free" delivery gift card services DON’T tell you.

Free gift card delivery – The adage that there’s no such thing as a free lunch is as true today in the world of incentive gift cards as it was in the saloons of the 1800s. Saloon marketing strategies included offering patrons a “free lunch” if they purchased at least one drink. Clever saloon owners made sure lunch was extra salty and included dry snacks to encourage even more drink sales.

Some things don’t change – Today many incentive companies offer “free” delivery of gift cards. And just as with saloon owners, their strategy is to keep their customers at the bar thinking they are getting a great value when in fact they’re not – in terms of their overall cost, brand delivery, and end recipient satisfaction. 

So, if you’re delivering, or considering a “free” gift card delivery service, don’t forget the creative saloon owner and consider the 7 ways “free” delivery incentive gift card services cost more and deliver less:

Picture of Saloon - There's no such thing as a free lunch - the same goes for services that offer free gift card delivery

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Here are 7 ways “free” gift card delivery services cost more and deliver less:

1. They cost 20-30% of what you send
They don’t return the funds from gift cards that are never claimed. The industry average for unclaimed cards is 20% and can be as high as 30% for many B2B programs. This means “free” is 20-30% of what you send. This is expensive compared to alternative solutions which you would expect to pay about 10% for delivery.

2. One-and-done
Typically, these services have a “one-and-done” delivery strategy. They will send your incentive once, but that’s it. No reminders to continually put your brand and message in front of the recipient and to make sure they ultimately get the satisfaction of claiming your incentive.

3. Cookie cutter designs
Most services have a drop your logo in a box and add your message email builders. This limited design capability and doesn’t maintain your branding or give you creative control. Matching your incentives delivery with your everyday communication maintains brand consistency and builds a stronger relationship between the incentives you send, you, and your organization.

4. Transparency
Because “free” delivery services make more money with low response rates, they tend to provide limited visibility into whether an incentive has been delivered, viewed, or claimed. Some platforms consider any email that has been delivered without a hard error as claimed. With so many businesses using accept-all email servers, the number of truly “claimed” incentives is a mystery.

5. Follow up
“free” delivery services don’t give you the option to follow up after a recipient claims their incentive. Sending an email or SMS soon after someone claims their incentive is a great time to reinforce your message, add additional information, or include an additional call to action.

6. Adding a secondary call to action
Incentive delivery is more than just delivering a gift card. It’s the whole experience. “free” services don’t maximize your incentive dollars by helping generate more activity. The best time to ask for more is when a recipient has just claimed their gift card. Adding a secondary call to action; a button to review your product, comment on your support, or get feedback on the program associated with the incentive you just delivered are all great ways to get more from each incentive dollar.

7. Convoluted redemption process
Many “free” services have extremely convoluted redemption processes which often include the requirement to have yet another email sent to you to claim your gift card. As you might suspect, they are likely gathering information from your marketing efforts and/or just making the process just difficult enough to make the redemption number drop which of course impacts the satisfaction of your recipient while improving their bottom line.

The free delivery model seems to defy common sense marketing. If a vendor makes more money based on your lack of success, what’s their motivation to make you successful? Every incentive delivered from that first email or SMS message to the final incentive claim process, including follow-up, is a reflection of your organization. Frustration or dissatisfaction at any point negatively impacts your program and your brand.

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