Keep Your Business Afloat: How to Launch and Promote a Gift Card Program During COVID-19 Slump

Around the country, small businesses are faced with the incredibly challenging decision of whether or not to remain open. Fivestars data shows a 70% decrease in foot traffic across our network of 14,000 businesses, as many U.S. states have begun mandating that “non-essential” businesses stay closed.

As small business owners reconsider their business models during these uncertain times, gift card programs have emerged as an important and impactful strategy to keep their business afloat for the next few months. According to First Data’s Gift Card Marketing Guide, gift card programs help deliver short term revenue, increase your potential for future sales, decrease returns, and provide interest from unredeemed balances.

How to Create a Gift Card Program

If you already have a gift card program, move on to the next section where we talk about How to Promote your Gift Card Program. If you need to create a gift card program, we’ve partnered with Yiftee to give local businesses a program that has no monthly fees and immediate access to cash when customers buy gift cards online. Check out more details here. Or you can explore companies like Kabbage, GiftUp, or any gift card application integrated with your Point-of-Sale (cash register) provider to have your own gift card program up and running within minutes.

How to Promote Your Gift Card Program

Once you have your gift card program set up, you need to let your customers know about it.

Post your gift card link on your website

Your website is a natural starting point to promote your gift card program. You’ll want to make sure that “Gift Cards” are highlighted prominently in the navigation bar so your customers can find and purchase gift cards easily.

Use Fivestars to send texts and emails to your customers

Use the Fivestars Announcements and Promotions tools to promote your gift card program to your loyal customers.

If you’re part of the Fivestars merchant community and need a refresher on how to use these tools check out:

Here’s an example of Clara’s Restaurant, a Fivestars merchant who’s doing it right by clearly communicating the negative impact COVID-19 has had on their business and asking their customers for support.

Clara's Restaurant GoFundMe Link

Post on your social media channels

Your social media channels are important tools to promote your gift card program to an audience that is already aware of your brand and following you. Here are a few templates you can use to begin promoting your program: COVID-19 Social Media Templates for Merchants

Post on 3rd party directories supporting SMBs

  • USAToday Support Local Campaign. Request to add your business to this campaign — an initiative by USA Today to help businesses promote their gift card programs nationally.
  • RallyforRestaurants. Fill out your restaurant’s information on this site — an initiative by Toast to help independent restaurants promote their gift card programs.

As we said before, your customers want to help you through this crisis. Show them how by setting up and announcing your online gift cards!

Jonathan Chen
About the Author
Jonathan Chen

Jonathan heads up channel and partner marketing at Fivestars. He spends the majority of his time finding new ways to build the Fivestars network, but always makes room in his schedule to shamelessly crush co-workers at ping pong.

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