Time to Ignite Sales With Proven Promotional Strategies

The first half of 2020 has certainly been challenging. With stay-at-home rules in place across the country, businesses both large and small have experienced unprecedented financial setbacks. Now, as we emerge from our homes, it’s time for merchants to kick start sales and bring in new customers—or bring back existing ones.

As people tighten their budgets and re-evaluate their spending, the age old saying “cash is king” has become increasingly relevant – for both businesses and consumers. As such, cash rewards, particularly those with flexibility, will be highly valued and these kinds of rewards may be the key to drive spending and loyalty with your brand.

We have the ideal proven promotional strategy for you to use: cashbacks. Here are the top five reasons to use cashbacks—and our cashback processing and fulfillment services—as you fire up sales:

  1. Cashbacks allow you to compete on price while maximising immediate cash flow and maintaining premium brand perception. Instant discounts do move merchandise, but you erode profit margins today and teach customers to buy only “on sale.”
  2. Cashbacks are powerful tools to drive purchase urgency. Attract new customers and encourage repeat purchases using eftpos, Visa or Mastercard Prepaid Cards that are branded with your logo.
  3. During the cashback submission and reward delivery process, you can collect clean customer data, enroll shoppers in your loyalty program, request product reviews and more.
  4. Research conducted by the Aberdeen Group in 2018 revealed that reward-based promotions generate 6% greater average profit margin per customer than discounts do.
  5. Consumer research conducted by Murphy Research in 2019 found that getting a reward from a brand or retailer would encourage 63% of respondents to spend more with that business—and 65% noted they would purchase more often from the business giving them the rewards.
  6. Many rewards can be delivered digitally and even directly to customers via SMS with products like Mobile Pay—making them perfect for consumers who will be slow to emerge from social distancing.

Why You Should Offer Rewards—Not Discounts—To Recover from the Crisis

By Theresa McEndree
VP, Marketing Blackhawk Network

As businesses plan for a new normal and evaluate how to recover in the wake of COVID-19, the marketplace will quickly become oversaturated with consumer promotions. Competitors will all be in the same boat—scrambling to recoup losses incurred during the crisis—and ensuring that your brand stands out in the crowd requires a carefully planned marketing strategy.

As you build your post-crisis marketing mix, consider that reward-based promotions can outperform discount-based promotions according to hundreds of American businesses1. Reward-based promotions, like rebates, offer shopper incentives to encourage purchases or action; whereas discount-based promotions reduce part of the purchase price at point of purchase.

Several helpful insights for marketers planning recovery strategies, including the top benefits of using rewards instead of discounts:

Higher profitability per customer. Over time, organizations that offered reward-based promotions generated a 6% greater average profit margin per customer than those that offered discounts1.

Encouraging spend-back. Consumer research from Blackhawk Network2 found that getting a reward from a brand or retailer would encourage 63% of respondents to spend more from the business giving them the reward; 65% of respondents reported they would purchase more often from the business giving them the reward.

Increased customer retention and loyalty. Consumer loyalty will be more difficult to maintain post-crisis, and reward-based promotions offer businesses the opportunity to keep shoppers coming back by regularly reaching out to them. When given rewards, shoppers often associate a positive experience with your brand, which can lead to long-term affinity and a higher likelihood of remaining engaged with your brand over time. Conversely, discounts are often forgotten shortly after checkout.

Attractive to digital-minded shoppers. Rewards drive a high customer response rate because they offer deeper savings after redemption. Also, many rewards, like virtual prepaid and egifts, can be delivered digitally—making them perfect for consumers who will be emerging from isolation more digitally enabled than ever before. Digital rewards have a greater speed of delivery and ease of use online and in mobile wallets.

Providing valuable customer insights for the long-term. Customers typically are willing to provide information in the rebate redemption process. This data can inform on shopper demographics and purchase information and be used to better define buyer personas and purchasing habits, encourage future behaviors and elevate your marketing strategies well into the future. Companies that offer consumers reward-based promotions are more likely to experience greater success and profitability in the wake of COVID-19 versus those that offer discount-based promotions. The competitive recovery market will be a great time for marketers to try this promotional strategy.

This article was originally published in Target Marketing.

  1. The “Next-Generation Promotions” research was a study conducted independently by Aberdeen Group on behalf of Hawk Incentives between February and March 2018. The sample size of 212 American businesses was comprised of companies with a self-reported average annual revenue of $4.5 billion, and included companies in the Fortune 500 and Fortune 100. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-3%.
  2. “Gift Card State of the Union” is an online survey conducted by Murphy Research on behalf of Blackhawk Network between February 4 and February 12, 2019. The sample size of 10,126 U.S. consumers was comprised of respondents between the ages of 18-75.

Rewards and Recognition: 5 Tips for Employee Rewards Programs

Let’s face it, rewards program and recognition ideas are a dime a dozen. But not all of them create lasting impressions. You’ll have a stronger, more successful program if you focus on those ideas that stand out in employees’ minds, now and in the future. So here’s a list of five ways to make memories as you reward and recognize employees. And, as an added bonus, we’ve included some specific rewards and recognition ideas to try in each category:

1. Experiences as Rewards

From a meal at a fancy restaurant to a luxury vacation to a shopping spree, experiences top the list of memorable rewards. This is because experiences can engage all of the senses and create an emotional reaction that you can’t get from, say, a cash bonus.

But more than that, experiences help to create stories. The human brain is wired to compose, remember, and share stories. And so a reward or recognition ceremony that lends itself to a story is more likely to be shared and remembered. The stories that a unique or indulgent experience can generate might even become a part of your organization’s lore, gaining a life far beyond the actual award itself.

Ideas: throw a killer party. Send them on a cruise. Take them to the movies. Or Opening Day. Drive them to the mall, give them a prepaid card, and let them go wild. Take the team to an amusement park at the end of a project.

2. Recognize With Trophies

Cognitive scientists have come around to the idea that our memories aren’t just kept in our heads, the way that a movie is recorded on a DVD. Much of our memory is aided, and even shaped, by our physical environment and the things in it. Rewards can be part of that environment; they serve as a constant reminder of the recognition the employee has received.

Not only that, but trophies are a signal to other employees as well. Trophies are meant to be displayed, and an employee who is proud of his or her achievements usually will display them. Those trophies then become a visible sign that management recognizes good work. Trophies can also encourage other employees to work hard and try to “measure up” to the higher achievers.

Whatever you choose, make sure that the trophy commemorates the employee’s specific achievement. And also make sure that it’s easy for passersby to read.

Ideas: recognize them with a certificate (framed, of course) or a plaque. Put together a photo collage or mural from the last project. It’s also nice to award them actual trophies to display, too.

3. Provide VIP Passes

Have you ever seen the excitement generated by a backstage pass? Besides just being an experience and a trophy, a pass is also a symbol of exclusivity. Our brains are very sensitive to social standing. Passes leverage this feature of brains to make people feel special and generate excitement. Having a pass can thus turn a rather humdrum experience into one that will be remembered for some time.

Ideas: let them use the company car for the weekend. Put them up at the hotel where you treat your best clients. Upgrade them to first class if they fly somewhere for your organization. Arrange for breakfast or lunch with the president or other high-status executive. Give them a gift card for a very exclusive restaurant or club.

4. Surprise and Delight Them

They say that a handwritten thank-you note or a letter makes the perfect low-cost recognition. But think: would those things really be meaningful if you got one every day, for every little thing you did? Of course not. What makes a letter or thank-you note special is that it’s often unexpected. An employee who doesn’t expect to hear from management, then suddenly receives attention and kudos, is just delighted to get something special and unannounced.

The element of surprise has a very powerful effect on memory. We quickly forget routine daily details, like what we had for breakfast or where we put our keys. But have you ever forgotten a surprise birthday party? Or an unexpected gift from a loved one? Rewards and recognition mean more, and are talked about more, when employees are not expecting them.

Ideas: surprise them with a catered lunch, a gift basket, or free valet parking. Send a prepaid card to their home address. Announce an impromptu company happy hour.

5. Give Them Personal Choice

People are highly motivated by guilt-free luxuries. But everyone’s idea of what counts as a “luxury” is different. So enable your employees to choose their own luxury items by giving them a customized corporate prepaid card. A card can let them choose what specific reward (or rewards) they want, and by awarding cards designed to deliver a particular type of spending experience, you can encourage employees to spend on something that would otherwise be a guilty indulgence.

Ideas: send them on a getaway, with a reward card good towards travel expenses like airfare and hotels. A card that can be spent at any restaurant can give them an indulgent dining experience. Add acceptance at movie theatres to that restaurant card, and the dining experience becomes a night on the town.

Despite its simplicity, your employees really will remember how they spent that prepaid card. Just make sure that it’s part of a well-crafted recognition program from the start. More important than the reward itself are the elements of experiences, trophies, passes and surprises. And, of course, choice.

Finding a list of 10, 25 or even 100 rewards and recognition ideas online is easy enough. But only certain ideas have the potential to stand out as truly memorable. Which means that only certain ideas are going to be worth your time and cost. Can you think of any other ideas for rewards or recognition that last? Are you using the most memorable rewards in your program?

7 Top Tips to Keep Remote Employees Engaged

At this very moment, hundreds of thousands of employees are working from home, many on a permanent basis and some just temporarily. As a manager—or even an entire enterprise—what can you do to keep them engaged with work? We’ve put together seven top tips that are easy and actionable.

1. Use “chat” programs to keep informal communications flowing.

More casual than email, chat programs are a great way to replace the hallway and over-the-cube-wall conversations that typically happen in an open-plan office. You have plenty of options—including Slack, Hangouts, Teams and more—just pick one that everyone can access easily.

2. Hold “virtual” lunch meetings.

Maybe your on-site, local team celebrates birthdays, baby showers and other celebrations by going out to lunch. So how can you include remote employees, especially if one of them is the “guest of honor”?

Consider hosting a virtual lunch and a video meeting—just send the work-at-homers an eGift card for a meal delivery service such as Uber Eats so they can buy a meal that’s delivered straight to their front doors.

3. Set up purposeful extracurricular activities and social connections.

After-work outings provide an opportunity for team building and socializing. If your team can’t go to an escape room together, think of “virtual” experiences that can serve the same purpose. Maybe it’s a book club, or a multiplayer gaming competition—it all depends on your employees’ interests. Schedule these optional events outside the nine-to-five, send participants eGift cards to cover the costs, and include a video conference if appropriate.

4. Hold brief, daily team video meetings.

If you can start each workday with a 15-minute conference call or video meeting, do it. If time zones are a challenge, consider recording a brief video that your team members can watch at the start of their day. Part pep-talk, part check-in, part information-sharing, this meeting makes everyone feel included.

5. Pamper your employees’ pets.

It’s a bit of a cliché these days, but conference calls are notorious for including unexpected background noise. With remote employees who have pets (and most do, as it turns out), you can send them eGift cards for pet stores that deliver food, treats and toys. Your employees will love the thoughtful gesture, and hopefully Fido and Fluffy can be quietly entertained during your next online meeting.

6. Consider what it’s like to work when the kids are home.

At some point during every workday, employees with school-aged children will have kids at home asking for a snack, declaring “I’m bored!” or doing any number of disruptive activities. Here’s where you can be the superhero: give the gift of activities so your employee can stay engaged with work. Options are endless, from eGift cards for gaming and streaming services to age-appropriate books and projects.

7. Hold virtual open office hours with no agenda.

Whoa! A meeting without an agenda? Yes, just an open line of communication with you, the leader, and anyone else on your team who wants to join the call. Your remote employees can’t pop by your office for a quick chat, so this is a time that they know they can catch you. It’s merely an open forum for questions to be asked, ideas to be shared and, if needed, fears quelled.

If you manage remote workers, the good news about remote employees is that they are often more productive, not less. A recent Forbes article points to research that reveals:

  1. 77% of employees are more productive when they work remotely
  2. They tend to work an extra six to seven more hours per week
  3. They also tend to return to work sooner after an illness
  4. 30% say they accomplish more in less time when they work remotely

So, take heart if you think your remote employees are distracted simply because they’re not in an office where you can see them on a daily basis. Keep them engaged with the tips we’ve included here, and they can continue to be great team players—and top-notch performers.