Thanks to internet and mobile technology, we live in a state of constant “connectedness.” And most of us like it that way. Staying connected means fast and easy access to the people in our lives, the information we need and the stuff we want.
Want it even faster? According to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, 100 million of us are so desirous of instant gratification that we will happily spend $99 a year (or $12.99 a month) to have our online purchases delivered within two days.1
As Marketing Zen CEO Shama Hyder expressed this phenomenon in her Forbes article, “Immediacy isn’t a preference. It’s expected.”2 Despite the prevalence of messaging to the contrary, Hyder explains that the expectation of immediacy and desire for connection cannot be attributed to any one demographic or generational cohort. Rather, they span from one end of the generational spectrum to the other.
In short, everyone likes fast and easy.
eGifts fit our connected culture
Our appetite for connection is already growing to the point that we prefer to carry it with us as opposed to being “tethered” to a laptop. As evidence, Cisco’s 2017 Visual Networking Index includes the following projections for 2021—less than three years away:
- Smartphone IP traffic will exceed PC traffic
- 63% of total IP traffic will come from wireless and mobile devices (more than half of IP traffic came from wired devices in 2015, so this figure represents a steep climb in a short period of time)
- There will be 3.5 connected devices per capita
- Broadband speeds will increase proportionally.3
In this context, the rising interest in egifts makes perfect sense. Over the past three years, egift card technology has grown rapidly, and popularity has risen with it. Take a look at the growth in spending on egift cards in the US alone from 2015 to 2017:
eGifts feel special
Another important, less-technical facet of egifts is that, despite their speedy and virtual nature, they feel highly personal to us, both from the giver and receiver perspectives.
Although gift cards and egifts can be spent like cash, the similarity ends there. Whereas cash feels somewhat thoughtless or lazy—a bit of a copout—gift and egift cards feel as thoughtful and considered a gift as merchandise.
Whether we are the giver or the receiver, gift cards represent time spent on pondering the recipient’s likes, preferences, desires. We don’t just close our eyes and reach for the nearest gift card. Instead, we take the time we used to spend driving from store to store in search of the perfect sweater, book or kitchen gadget, and use it to weigh our options and choose the right card from the right merchant.
And this line of reasoning applies equally to physical gift cards and their digital cousins. It’s not about format in that respect. It’s the thought and the effort that count.
6 reasons to add egifts to your program
If you’re not yet convinced that it’s time to include egifts in your incentive program, here are six solid reasons it’s a strategy worth serious consideration:
Reason #1: Real-time delivery
If you manage a loyalty, wellness or other type of incentive program, you know the first rule of incentives: The sooner you can get a reward into a person’s hands, the easier it is for them to mentally connect the reward with the activity that generated it. The stronger that connection, the more likely you are to get that member, consumer or employee to repeat the desired action.
When your recipient completes the desired activity, an egift card can be sent via email the same day, offering the kind of instant gratification that can be highly motivating.
Reason #2: Global consumer and workforce engagement
In addition to their “near instant” appeal, gift cards offer a practical option for fulfilling rewards tied to employee wellness and engagement programs. As more companies hire remote workers and extend their services to global audiences, finding a way to keep employees engaged has become a challenge. When you incorporate egift cards into your program, you offer an easy way for employees around the world to participate in corporate wellness and engagement programs.
And for market research companies looking for global consumer participation in online surveys and focus groups, egift cards are a smart incentive option. Because you can issue and deliver these rewards quickly, you can more effectively establish the connection between the reward and the act of participation. The fast payout increases the likelihood that your participants will return to help you with future studies.
Reason #3: Economics
With egift cards, there’s no physical product to produce, nothing to ship, and no postage to pay. You spend less on creating and delivering the rewards, which gives you more budget to allocate to the rewards themselves.
Reason #4: eGifts offer people more of what they love about gift cards
Gift cards are a $169 billion industry (and growing) because people love them. They love giving them because they get to enjoy the fun part of shopping for a gift—choosing something they know the recipient will enjoy—without the uncertainty that comes with buying a specific item. A gift card says, “I know you love to shop here, which is why I chose this particular brand for you.” People see it as more thoughtful and personal than cash. Plus, gift cards are easy to get, making them ideal for last-minute gifting.
On the recipient side, people love gift cards because they represent an opportunity for them to treat themselves to something they really want. A gift card equates to guilt-free shopping, because you’re not spending money that could have gone to anything else. For the recipient, the intention is clear: This is money I get to spend on something I want, not something I need.
Now view this same gift exchange through the lens of the egift. They’re even easier to buy, because you don’t have to leave the house to shop for one. They can be purchased and given as last-minute as a few hours before an event, even when that event is in another state, or when physical stores are closed for a holiday. And they can be spent and enjoyed online as soon as they are received, or printed out and used in store. In many cases, they can also be transferred to a digital wallet to be spent whenever the opportunity strikes.
eGift cards effectively multiply the ease and flexibility of gift cards for both giver and receiver.
Reason #5: Digital transactions are the wave of the future
Now is the perfect opportunity to test the appeal of egift cards with different targets. If you’re not sure where to start, begin with Millennials. This digitally savvy group is the most open to trying out new payment technology.
Focus your efforts on testing and gathering data now, so that as digital wallet technology improves, and tokenization becomes more widespread, you’ll be poised to offer your members and customers the right promotions to attract their interest and win their loyalty.
Reason #6: Including egifts in your reward mix gives recipients a choice
When it comes to incentives, there’s no single reward that will motivate everyone. If you want to attract interest, increase participation or build loyalty, your reward has to be desirable. And the only way to guarantee that is by offering multiple options, and letting your participants choose their own reward.
In our 2018 research conducted by Leger, 56% of respondents told us they expect to have a choice of reward options.4 By including at least one egift card in your reward selection, you know you’ll have at least one option that appeals to the connected consumer.
Use cases for egifts
To get your creative juices flowing, here are a few specific scenarios in which egift cards can be put to strategic use:
- Create a marketing promotion targeting Millennials (Hawk Incentives reward preference research tells us that, among consumers aged 18-35, 58% prefer digital rewards)1
- Incent members of a consumer research panel to participate in an online survey
- Offer an instant reward at a health fair booth to encourage a health screening
- Fulfill a tiered reward that increases as a succession of activities is completed
- Extend an existing loyalty program across international borders
Curious about egift cards?
If you’re not quite sure yet about how to incorporate egift cards into your program, let’s talk. We can help you determine how to strategically use egifts to reach your marketing, loyalty, engagement or sales goals, and which ones make the most sense. Hawk Incentives offers more than 165 egifts in USD, more than 60 in Canada.