Question - how often in a year do you buy gifts? And for what reason?
The answer is probably “every now and again”. And the reasons are probably pretty varied. Birthdays, anniversaries, condolences, congratulations, and everything in between. Not to mention Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Hanukkah, and all the other holidays scattered throughout the calendar.
Gifting and gift buying is something we do year-round. Sometimes it’s out of the blue and for a single person, like congratulating a friend on a new job. Other times, it’s expected and you have to buy for multiple people all at once, like Christmas. And in every instance, as an ecommerce merchant you want customers to be able to find your gift cards quickly and easily.
Promoting gifts in the run up to a holiday is second nature by now to most merchants. However, what do you do when there isn’t a holiday to attach a marketing campaign to?
Let’s take a look at how to promote gift products year-round so you don’t miss out on all those special occasions.
Who and why: Understanding the customers buying gifts
Like any other product, you first need to understand your audience. You want to have a clear picture of who is buying gifts, when they’re buying them, and why. This allows you to create buyer personas, which will help to focus your promotional efforts.
Start by looking at your products and niche, considering which occasions they may be best suited for giving as gifts. It may be a broad list, or fairly concise. For example if you sell baby clothing, then it may be as a congratulations gift when a baby is born, a baby’s birthday, and so on. However if you sell coffee, this can suit a much wider variety of different occasions and holidays. In this instance, create a shortlist of the occasions with the highest potential. This will give focus when you come to create content around gift products throughout the year.
Then of course there’s bulk and corporate gifting. The reasons here may also be just as varied as those customers purchasing for a single recipient. If it’s a corporate customer, then they may be looking for an employee gift or perk, or an agency looking for “thank you” gifts for clients. Other bulk purchases may be for a sports team, an organization, or a club, looking for gift cards for their members.
For personal purchases, consider that the recipient of this gift will likely be who you usually target as a regular customer. To use the example of baby clothing, you would likely target parents buying clothing for their children. With gifting, you’re targeting the people buying for those parents. You’re targeting your usual audience by proxy of the customers buying gifts. That means you need to speak to the gift buyer by the suitability of the product for the intended recipient. If that’s baby products, you talk about how your gift cards are a great gift for new parents to choose what they need for their new arrival.
Finding the answer to “when” is much more difficult. You won’t know every date that’s important to each individual customer, especially if they’re new to your brand. However what you do know is when they last purchased a gift product. If they bought a gift card around a specific date, there’s a safe assumption that they had an occasion to buy one. You’ll also be able to see when there were peaks in gift purchasing over time outside of usual holidays. This will help you to identify periods of time where gifting is higher, for reasons aside from holidays. For example, if you sell stationery and home goods and notice a spike in gift card sales around August and September then it may be that you have an audience of people buying gifts for “back to school” time. This opens up another marketing opportunity if you don’t already promote around that time.
How to promote gift cards and products year-round
#1 - Make it easy to find gift cards on your website
Customers need to be able to find your gift products easily without much thought or effort. Ideally, it should only ever take them one click from any page. Unless they already know they want to buy a gift card, for example, they won’t waste their time searching through your site for it. Gift cards aren’t always front of mind when it comes to looking for a gift. Sometimes it’s a second choice due to an out-of-stock product.
By not surfacing the link to the gift card in an easily accessible location on your site, you seriously limit how many customers will actually buy one. So, let’s fix that.
Your primary navigation follows site visitors on every page as they move through your store. This makes it an easy and essential win for your gift strategy. Add your gift cards to your primary navigation, so the option is there as soon as it’s needed. This can also provide some much needed visibility when a customer may not immediately think to buy a gift card. They’ll browse some products, need another option, and it’ll be right there in the primary site navigation menu.
Alternatively, if you sell a number of gift products it may be worth instead creating a “Gifting” category linked from the primary navigation. This can then link to any gift bundles and products you may have, as well as gift cards, subscriptions and so on.
Just as your primary navigation follows the customer, so too does your sitemap. Typically, a sitemap will host helpful navigation links that may not be linked in your primary navigation. For example, if you keep a very minimal primary navigation or you have a gifting category, then including a link to gift cards in your sitemap still ensures it’s easy to find for customers.
When a potential customer is looking for a gift, there’s a good chance that they’ll browse through some products first before they find the right one. This is a prime opportunity to place a link to your gift cards or other gifting options. This will be especially important in a couple of key cases.
The first is if the product they want to buy is out-of-stock. Here, you can use Govalo’s out-of-stock feature to display the option to purchase a gift card instead. This provides the customer with an easy, attractive alternative right on the product page itself. Rather than causing frustration, you give the customer another option.
Second, if the product is in stock but the customer doesn’t know which variant to buy. They may not know their recipient’s size for a t-shirt, or the type of grind they buy for their coffee. In this case, you can use Govalo’s giftable products feature, which allows the customer to send the product as a gift via email. The recipient can then select their preference, and have it shipped to their door.
And lastly, if you sell subscriptions then having a link to your gift subscription option is a must. Customers will more than likely find your regular subscription product page before the gift product, so linking with a simple “Want to send a subscription as a gift? Click here!” prompt will help direct them to the exact thing they’re looking for.
Discovery is such an important part of the gift buying process for customers. Many won’t be familiar with the product categories they’re looking into, and won’t know much if anything about your brand and products. Your typical customer will have some idea of what your subscription is, and why they’re interested. So you need to do more for those gift buyers to help them discover and purchase your subscription product.
Creating a landing page for your gift subscription products creates another opportunity to add content to your site that improves discoverability and conversions.
Visibility is key to promoting your gift cards and products. By ensuring a customer can quickly reach those from any page on your website, you’ll provide a better customer experience and see higher conversion rates on gifts.
#2 - Use segmentation to promote to your most engaged customers via email and SMS
Email and SMS give you a direct link to your most engaged audience. Email platforms also give you the power to combine your store data with email/SMS data, allowing you to create audience segments. You can then identify segments which have the highest potential conversion rate for gift products, and set up automated email campaigns to target these customers.
Here are some examples of segments you can create:
- Customers who have purchased a gift product e.g. gift card, gift bundle, gift subscription.
This can be segmented further by gift product.
- - Existing customers vs new customers
When combined with gift product data, you can identify which messaging appeals most to new and long-time customers.
- Date of purchase or gift products purchased in a specific time frame
This can help identify peaks in gift purchasing, as well as being able to send automated emails around dates when a customer is more likely to purchase a gift.
- Loyal customers
Sending free gift cards now and again to your loyal customers can increase awareness, as well as earn a repeat order in the process.
By creating campaigns and setting automations, you’ll be able to find which messaging and incentives work with each segment. This can increase conversion rates for gift products, making your email marketing more effective and efficient.
#3 - Focus more on corporate and bulk gifting
Corporate and bulk gifting is an avenue for gift products which isn’t tied to personal occasions. It isn’t always the first that comes to mind, but it’s a highly profitable and growing area of gifting. The US corporate gifting market is expected to grow to over $312 billion by the end of 2025, and 61% of corporate buyers expect gifting to grow.
This isn’t just limited to corporate gifting however, as bulk gifting can be utilized in other situations. For example, if a sports team or organization wants to send gift cards to members for a specific store. This opens up the opportunity
In order to make the most of this opportunity, your store has to provide a simple option for bulk gift purchasing. Govalo’s bulk gifting feature enables customers to purchase gift cards in bulk from your storefront the same way they would purchase any other product.
Using this feature, customers can upload the details of their gift cards as a CSV file including names, email addresses, and even gift notes and the date the gift card should be sent on. They then pay through your usual checkout process, with all gift cards of the same value grouped as one product to make it clear and straightforward.
From here, your sales team will have a much easier time establishing a relationship with the customer. Rather than requiring the customer to reach out to your team to purchase in bulk, they’ll already have benefited from a great customer experience your team can build on. This is an area of gifting which will hugely benefit your business year-round.
Developing your gift products and identifying your most profitable, high converting customers will not only benefit your store throughout the year but in the run up to key holidays important to your brand. You’ll have a more