By Kuljit Kaur, Head of Business Development, The Voucher Shop.
Wherever you look at promotions and incentives you will probably find vouchers being offered.
Brands today are using vouchers for a wide variety of tactical reasons from rewards or incentives for new account openings, recommend a friend schemes, first order or repeat purchase offers to competition headline prizes.
Particularly pertinent in the current climate is the need for brands to weigh up the cost of customer retention versus the cost of customer acquisition.
Many utility and insurance companies, for example, are placing great emphasis on customer loyalty and have introduced voucher-based retention incentives and rewards of significant value, as the cost of new customer acquisition is considerably higher.
Sky TV, for instance, is offering £50 Marks & Spencer vouchers to existing customers who recommend a friend.
For a number of reasons vouchers really seem to be a winning product. For the recipient, they are more memorable than cash and can be used to either help make ends meet or to fund the sort of treats that are the first to go when money is tight.
Vouchers are also welcomed because of their ease of use with no activation needed upon receipt and no telephone calls or internet connection required to see how much is available to spend.
From the brand’s point of view, they are cost-effective, quick and easy to administer and can be given in varying amounts to suit any budget.
So, for brands looking to harness the power of vouchers, here are some top tips on how to buy, source and use them effectively.
1. Always discuss your objectives with the supplier as they may be able to offer some added value, such as advice on what rewards to offer – a multi-store or single store voucher?
2. Don’t make a decision on voucher types based on your own perspective.
Do some research to understand what the target consumers preferred voucher choices are. If this is not possible then at least understand the demographics of the consumers, so that you can provide a voucher reward which inspires a response.
3. Select a provider that can not only provide the vouchers, but which can also ensure they are picked and packed as required and supplied in a timely manner.
Don’t buy just on price. While it may lead to an initial ‘bargain’ it does not necessarily provide the desired quality, service expectation or customer service which could result in late or inaccurate despatch of vouchers and consequently unhappy consumers.
4. Choose a supplier with a good reputation.
An expert in the area will know what they are talking about and understand how to minimise risk, especially in today’s climate when there have been a number of high profile casualties on the high street.
5. Be clear at the outset about what data you want to gather post campaign.
Ensure you ask the right questions to the customer upfront and that the agency can collate this accurately and provide the outputs back to you in management reporting.
6. Where possible provide choice.
The ages and tastes of the target audience can vary widely and selecting just one type of voucher to offer can be a difficult decision to make. A good option is a voucher cheque, which offers a whole raft of voucher types so the consumer has ultimate choice and no pre-planning is required.
The cheque can be fully branded and provided in a stylish envelope along with a personalised letter or other appropriate message. The recipient then simply goes online to choose the vouchers they want from a selection listed on the reverse or sends the order back via the post for fulfilment.
This option provides a wide range of reward options guaranteed to appeal to every recipient.
7. Ensure your message is clear and easy to understand and the rules of engagement of the consumer offer are clearly laid out in order to stop potential fraudsters getting in on the act.
8. Remember to allow enough budget to cover the cost of despatch to the consumers.
Be conscious that if you have multiple claims from one customer, there may be an opportunity to collate all the vouchers into one package to send out, which could provide significant savings on postage
9. Weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of using a trackable delivery service when sending out vouchers to consumers by post.
The right supplier will provide this analysis to you up front allowing you to make the decision fully informed.
10. Pre paid debit cards are the new voucher alternative for providing consumer rewards – you only pay postage once and can re-load reward payments time and time again.
It’s a tried and tested formula that is becoming more and more popular with consumer cash back type promotions.
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