You want to maximise your marketing success- but you also want to keep an eye on costs. You might be considering incentives – but which ones work?

Marketing incentives – What are the options?

Physical Gifts (Hampers, Chocolates)

There is something wonderful about a physical gift, but when it comes to the physical challenges, ‘here be drama’. Purchasing, personalising, storing and sending bulky gifts can become a real chore without a great 3rd party to help, and to keep the happiness levels up and ride the wave of good will you need to ensure that rewards or incentives are delivered quickly. otherwise the mob will be out on Twitter with their well-worn pitchforks.

Many promotional items have a shelf life, literally in the case of food, but also figuratively in the world of branded phone cases, portable chargers or USB sticks.
Physical gifts you purchase yourself in bulk also have a tendency to linger in the office where they are either ‘mislaid’ when they live near the hungry sales team, or worse, serve as a reminder of your inability to get them out the door.

From a marketing perspective, a ‘buy as you need it’ reward or gift platform is going to look a lot better on your budget, plus it won’t hang about your premises as a stick for your boss to beat you with

Cash Rewards

Cash sounds ideal, but it can be an accounting nightmare. It is used in the financial services industry such as with First Direct who offered £100 in cash for switching current accounts, but for a bank, this is an incredibly easy move – secure and tracked. For other businesses, it may not be this simple. Even if you are using your cash in very small amounts and handling digital payments (e.g. offering £5 per survey completion online) studies have shown that cash is not actually valued as a memorable and lasting incentive. Research firm Wirthlin Worldwide asked 1,010 people how they spent their last cash reward or incentive. Far from being spent on a treat like a very expensive handbag, a trip away, a day out – 58 percent used the cash to either pay bills, add to savings, or worse – they couldn’t even remember what they did with it.

Gift Cards and eCodes

You may not know that the gift card market is worth over £5b in the UK alone and is growing. Retailers love gift cards because they encourage new people to visit their shops or websites, growing their customer base. Gift cards can easily be slotted into your existing or future plans so marketers tend to love them – and unlike offering a cash reward, gift cards can be sent digitally or physically through a trusted 3rd party and they don’t require any storage space.

Vouchers and eCodes are particularly popular among the over-35 audience and can be used by almost any business. Marketing Week recently showcased Insurance provider Aviva who incentivise customers to buy by offering retail vouchers from Marks & Spencer and Amazon.


Here’s what their head of customer marketing said:

“We use vouchers as part of a wider programme of customer recognition, reward and engagement….The feedback we get from customers is that vouchers continue to be warmly received, and many consider this type of reward the next best thing to cash.”

(Source: Marketing Week)

(Source: MoneySavingExpert)

Many businesses are turning to digital gifts and gift cards. A study by the Incentive Federation has shown that the non-cash incentives market is thriving with 74 percent of businesses in the USA spending $76.9 billion annually on incentives. 46 percent of American businesses surveyed said that they were running non-cash programmes – spending $22.6 billion per year. Non-cash sales incentive programs are present in almost one-half of U.S. businesses which should indicate their sheer popularity.

What’s the best for you and your business?