5 Ways to Earn Credit Card Points & Cash Back

Credit card pointsDuring the holiday season, it can be challenging to budget for gifts, decorating, and family gatherings. Earning credit card points can help you redeem that special something that may have been just slightly out of your budget. Racking up credit card points can be simple and quick with these expert tips on earning points in different ways this holiday season.

  1. Register for Revolving Categories – Look for cards that offer 5% discounts on revolving categories that are aimed at holiday spending – for instance, Discover card’s cashback program offers a 5% bonus for online shopping. A few years ago Chase offered 5% back when the cardholder spent $1,500 at Amazon.com. Searching out these types of rewards can save you big.
  2. Pick one card to focus on – Keeping things simple can help you avoid juggling multiple rewards programs. Picking one card to focus your efforts on can help you build a larger pool of rewards that you can use for bigger purchases.
  3. …Or pick one reward – Many cards offer huge cash back or point bonuses for specific spending. For example, pick a card that offers 5% back in gas purchases and use that card solely for gas purchases. Or combine two big rewards, such as gas and dining out.
  4. Choose a card that maximizes your spending habits – When you sign up for a new credit card, typically, there is an excellent sign-up bonus. For example, the Citi Prestige card offers 50,000 bonus credit card points for spending $3,000 within the first three months.
  5. Call your card companies – Don’t hesitate to call your card companies to find out what credit card points and rewards are being offered and then use those to your advantage. Credit card companies want to extend bonuses to you over the holidays because it’s a huge spending period with a longer payback time, so it’s usually in their best interest.

*Bonus – Shop Through a Rewards Portal – Rewards portals, such as MyPoints.com, allow you to earn points simply by shopping for major brands on their website. Double those points by using your point earning credit cards for your purchases! There are also bonus ways to earn points with things like surveys, coupons, and games.

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

3 Perks to Having a Virtual Office

perks to virtual office

Work has become a thing people do, and less a place where employees go. Work-life balance is disappearing due to our constantly connected society. So how can you keep employees happy, keep stress low and maximize engagement? Believe it or not, a virtual office environment might be the best solution. Here are three unique advantages to running your organization from virtual offices.

  1. Attract Top Talent– Without geographic restrictions your talent search can span the nation. There is no need to limit yourself to your local area because with a virtual office, you won’t have one. Acquire the best talent, regardless of where they live.
  2. Lower Absenteeism/Higher Engagement– One of these seem obvious and the other seems improbable. Of course, absenteeism is going to be lower when employees work from home. Snow days go out the door, if you feel that cold coming on, you don’t have to stay home…because your employees already are home. However, higher engagement? You read it right. According to Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace study 32% of virtual employees indicate they are engaged, whereas 28% of office employees say they are engaged.
  3. Better Work-Life Balance– This is a no-brainer, but it is worth pointing out because this perk is highly coveted by millennials, the fastest growing segment of the workforce. Having this balance for that generational audience will help you attract and maintain the best talent.

In 2011, one Chicago-based firm ditched the office and sent employees home to work.  Read their success story along with their 7 key benefits of having a virtual office.

Need more proof? Look no further. We practice what we preach. Every employee of GiftCard Partners works from home. There are a lot of Skype calls, phone calls, and GoToMeetings. But, there are also a lot of flexible hours, family dinners and an annual “on-site” meeting. Have questions, comments or ideas? Leave them for us in the comments section.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Wearables Embed Employers in Health and Wellness Initiatives

health and wellness initiativesWearable technology is gaining popularity in the consumer market and has the potential to transform the way employers structure their employee health and wellness initiatives. The transformation will have an effect on the price tag of these initiatives, but the direct effect of incorporating wearable technology will ease the time it takes for employers to track employee wellness activity.

Wearables allow employers to track employee activity automatically and integrate it into a master database. There is no need to verify and compare employee activity. Wearable technology streamlines health and wellness initiatives by embedding employers into the process alongside employees.

Wearables also provide a unique motivator for both employers an employees. Employees get involved with the latest technology trends, and they get to get competitive with both themselves and  their employees through existing social networks and digital infrastructure. Employers get a full picture of how employees are doing with their fitness goals which allows them to keep struggling employees motivated and reward employees who are reaching their goals.

Having automatic tracking also allows employers to streamline rewards into health and wellness initiatives. Since employers can track goals and achievements they can deliver rewards automatically. With the flexibility of e-gift cards to deliver gifts digitally, the entire cycle because cheaper for employers and more streamlined and consistent for employees.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Celebrating National Doctors’ Day

National Doctors DayNational Doctors’ Day was first observed on March 30, 1933.  Originally known solely as Doctors’ Day, the holiday was created when Eudora Brown Almond, wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, decided to set aside a day to honor physicians.  To commemorate the day, greeting cards were mailed and flowers placed on the graves of deceased doctors.

Back in 2006 the National Doctors’ Day organization was created when a website dedicated to providing support for the day was launched.  The organization has since branched out to include many specific products and services to assist office managers and hospital administrators with gift ideas for their doctors as well as many free resources to plan and celebrate this national holiday.

Each year the organization also releases a new greeting card specifically for honoring physicians.  This year’s card cover reads “For Making Every Day Count…” and the inside reads “Thank You, Happy Doctors’ Day”.  You can order the greeting card for all of your favorite physicians here!

In addition to your greeting card, gift cards make the perfect gift to honor your doctors.  GiftCard Partners offers a variety of gift card brands that everyone loves.

This year National Doctors’ Day is Monday March 30th.  How do you plan on honoring the physicians that play such a crucial role in the lives of you and your family? 

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Whole Foods Market National Campaign Paying Off

Whole Foods MarketWhole Foods Market’s strategy to build brand awareness and traffic with their first-ever national ad campaign has been generating buzz and awareness, with 8 out of 10 customers having seen the ad in some format. The campaign has been performing at its best with Whole Food Market’s key demographic: adults 40 and under with children in the household.

The new loyalty program currently in the Princeton/Philadelphia market has also been extremely successful so far as Whole Foods Market has seen an increase in purchasing frequency.  80% of customers in the test are new to the communications database and 60% of customers are opening emails; which is only a single digit figure for other retail chains.

During their first-ever analyst day, the company outlined five areas of focus for the upcoming year.  These areas include, growth plans; sprucing up existing stores; lowering prices, especially on produce, with more private-label offerings and testing in more than 6 markets; improving it’s branding and marketing; and big investments in technology.

The company has big expansion plans, with its goal to achieve 1,200 stores in the U.S and doesn’t rule out expanding beyond U.S. soil.  The year ahead will indeed be a transitional one for Whole Foods Market.

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Mobile Customer Service- The Omni-Channel Connector

Excellent mobile customer service support.

Mobile is up and coming in the quest to define the omni-channel shopper who shops across devices and digital channels and the omni-channel customer experience. While retailers continue the quest to meet customers in all of the channels and on all of the devices they shop, mobile has prevailed as possibly the most critical of both channels and devices.

Mobile feeds into both in-store and e-commerce customer interaction and customer service, which puts mobile in a unique and critically important position. According to a new EConsultancy survey, only 50% of retailers believe they have a solid understanding of the mobile user experience. That means half of American retailers are looking to understand the mobile solution and the role it plays in customer-brand interaction.

One of the most important components of the mobile question and the role it plays in the omni-channel shopping experience is customer service. Mobile happens in real-time, as does customer service. It gives consumers the real-time gratification that can be the difference between great customer service and the negative customer experience that can cause retailers to lose customers. Take the plunge into omni-channel shopping through mobile customer service. With 53% of retailers planning to build a unified commerce platform in the next few years, your customer experience and customer service can’t afford to fall behind. It will accelerate your brand’s customer focus and create 1:1 marketing opportunities by gaining insight into consumer behavior.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

High Risk Consumer Touch Points and Demographics

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Consumer touch points can be risky for retailers. Customers are gained and lost when high-risk touch points are not taken advantage of and can result in negative consumer experiences. LoyaltyOne’s new study shows that high risk touch points get even riskier with certain demographic segments. One such example are return policies, they can be some of the most sensitive interactions brands face with consumers.

While a smooth return policy, especially for gifts, may seem like smooth sailing  internally, it can make or break customer relationships. For consumers coming in to return a gift, retailers have the opportunity to acquire a new customer that may have never known about the brand. The opportunity here allows brands to build a relationship with a new consumer and create a lifelong revenue stream.

At the same time brands have the opportunity to turn someone away who wasn’t a customer and now will never be. Closing a consumer off to your brand forever because they had no loyalty to begin with and were met with a bad first experience. This high-risk high-reward interaction should be strongly considered for your business before being implemented, given the high stakes.

Many retailers focus on female demographics as they tend to be the heaviest shoppers. However, in this case it’s really the men retailers need to worry about.

According to the LoyaltyOne survey:

  • 45.1% of men find it difficult to make gift returns, 13.4% more than women making the same returns.
  • On the flip side, 11% more men were more likely to return to a store after a positive gift return experience.

Most retail activity focuses on women, but maybe this is the touch point where focusing on men can really pay off.

 

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

High Risk Consumer Touch Points and Demographics.

High risk consumer touch points can be risky for retailers. Customers are gained and lost when high risk touch points are not taken advantage of and result in negative consumer experiences. What LoyaltyOne’s new study shows is that high risk touch-points get even higher risk when certain demographic segments are at greater risk for negative brand interactions. Return policies can be some of the highest risk interactions brands face with consumers.

Ensuring a smooth return policy, especially for gifts, can be simple internally and in theory but can make or break customer relationships. For consumers coming in to return a gift, retailers have the opportunity to acquire a new customer that may never otherwise had shopped there or turn someone away who wasn’t a customer and now will never be. This high-risk high-reward interaction should be strongly considered for your business before being implemented, given the high stakes. According to the LoyaltyOne survey:

  • 45.1% of men find it difficult to make gift returns, 13.4% more than women making the same returns.
  • On the flip side, 11% more men were more likely to return to a store after a positive gift return experience.

Most retail activity focuses on women, but maybe this is the touchpoint where focusing on men can really pay off.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

3 Employee Motivation Killers & How to Avoid Them

Employee Motivation killers

Employee motivation is the lifeblood of an organization- and particularly important this time of year while parts of the country are facing brutal temperatures, buried under several feet of snow or getting drenched with rain. So how do you keep employee motivation from freezing up with the rest of the country?

Here are three things employee motivation killers, and some important strategies to help overcome those pitfalls.

  1. Toxic People: Not everyone is going to be happy in every employment situation. If employees are constantly unhappy and projecting those negative vibes to fellow co-workers, your best options may be to let them go. Unhappy employees can “poison the well” for other impressionable employees and create an atmosphere of hostility that can impede your team’s level of engagement and productivity.
  2. Lack of Appreciation: When employees don’t feel appreciated they lose the fire in the belly that drives them forward to be the most productive and successful employees they can be. Using spot rewards like gift cards to encourage great behavior can be a budget-friendly appreciation tool.
  3. No Communication: Lack of communication between management and tactical employees can drag any workforce down. Ensure that your executive team clearly communications goals, objectives and priorities to the whole staff on a regular basis.

 

To learn about more employee motivation killers and how to combat them, head over to Inc.com.

 

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

The Secondary Gift Card Market

secondary gift card market

The secondary gift card market is a delicate topic in the gift card industry. It’s sort of like a dirty little secret that’s extremely helpful for consumers. In this market, consumers can recycle, regift or exchange their unwanted or unused gift cards for something that is of more use to them. It’s a free market, or markets and with the access to internet today these exchange sites are literally at consumers’ fingertips.

While this new market may leave unwanted gift card holders jumping for joy, retailers are as thrilled. Secondary gift card markets can be seen as devaluing retail brands. These markets essentially allow consumers to trade in one brand for another, making the currency that was previously brand specific, brand agnostic. Currency no longer gets funneled into a retailer’s business, but rather commoditized on the open market.

Diane Freeland, GiftCard Partners’ VP of Client Relations, comments on the commoditization of the secondary gift card market stating, “These secondary marketplaces offer consumers the opportunity to trade unwanted gift cards that they were received as a gift at a less than face value for the cards they are trading.” Selling a retailer’s brand for less than face value can have unforeseen consequences that only time will tell.

Secondary gift card markets are a sensitive subject in the gift card industry, and it is certainly something we will keep an eye on. Check back to this space for more information on this subject as we track the industry’s response.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.