Gifting as a Business Strategy for Customer Engagement and Retention


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Gifting for businesses is a tool most use at some point, usually during the holidays, but rarely in a cohesive and consistent way. The current market for non-cash business gifts is estimated at around $125 billion – and only a few companies practice practical appreciation year-round.

Therefore, it does make sense that the idea of a dedicated ‘gifting strategy’ for brands and companies may seem somewhat foreign and impractical – which is actually convenient. With platforms like RealThanks, the business can explore this opportunity to leverage gifting as a way to engage with clients and employees.
Gifting for businesses

Source: Freepik

The novelty of corporate gifting as a tool

If your competition is unfamiliar or dismissive of a particular tool, it means that your business gains an edge by adopting it, as potential customers and prospects haven’t had the opportunity to get accustomed to this tactic. You really can’t count on well-known ‘tricks of the trade’ to make a huge difference to your business’s performance with minimal investments.

The novelty of gifting as an addition to the regular toolset of the company’s outreach efforts is something to take advantage of – especially with the recent situation worldwide.

The pandemic has put an indefinite hold on our typical networking and brand recognition-oriented events: along with the general corporate landscape, our methods of reaching new prospective customers and partnerships also need to change.

There’s a newly found demand for new engagement strategies, as offline networking and promo events have been put on hold due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions.

Trusting the people behind the brand

Even though it is difficult to predict ROI on corporate gifting in concrete numbers, – part of the reason why the market isn’t too saturated yet – the main message is to highlight the importance of the relationship between the company and the receivers.

Gifting is a great way to appreciate practically, instead of trying to find the right words for a mass-send out of annual holiday greetings.

Building up trust for your brand is a long and tricky process, but it’s one of the most important tasks within a company’s PR efforts. For 53 percent of responders in the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, trusting the company behind the product was the number one factor in purchasing decisions, even more so than the price.

Receiving tangible gifts from the business that the customer has spent money on simulates reciprocity. In a way, the act of ‘giving’ becomes mutual – and this psychological effect contributes majorly to building brand loyalty.

Many researchers have found that gifting is almost always perceived as essentially the act of showing benevolence, the indication of trustworthiness [Mayer, Davis and Schoorman, 1995, Schoorman, Mayer and Davis, 2007] – which can be utilized to create and strengthen meaningful business relationships.

What are some more concrete examples of gifting as a systemic business practice?

When working with several big eCommerce-oriented and service-providing companies, the three main points of interest for businesses looking to adopt gifting as a regular practice are brand recognition, client development, and customer retention.

The most prominent use cases for what is called ‘practical appreciation’ into a few categories; all of these have been developed from experience through surveying and assisting the RealThanks platform users in their outreach and relationship-building efforts.

Sales teams

The main routes sales representatives usually take with gifting are prospecting, scoring new contracts, and celebrating deals.

  • Sending out a ‘thank-you’ gift after a potential client confirmed a meet-up or arranged a call to solidify the agreement.
  • Apologizing for canceling or rescheduling.
  • Expressing appreciation to clients for closing deals and choosing to cooperate with the business.
  • Rekindling communication after losing touch with a prospect for a while.

Customer care teams

Client service specialists often use gifting as a way to back up their efforts to express either gratitude or apologies to clientele effectively, while also increasing brand loyalty and mitigating conflict.

  • Sending gifts on birthdays or anniversaries for clients to highlight their value.
  • Reaching out with a reminder about the brand if the customer hasn’t purchased in a while.
  • Rewarding customers who’ve shared positive and/or valuable feedback, or otherwise contributed to the brand’s reputation online.
  • Softening the blow during a conflict with the customer while working on solving the issue.

Marketing teams

In general, marketing specialists most often seek to improve on the existing marketing strategies or invent completely new ways of advertising the brand with the help of gifting.

  • Asking the clients to perform certain target actions, like filling out surveys or talking about the brand’s products online, and accompanying it with small goodies.
  • Getting back to frequent shoppers and building up brand loyalty by rewarding major purchasers.
  • Rewarding members of referral programs and incentivizing them to invite more members.
  • Following up leads by sending thank-yous for attending events, motivating visitors to finalize their purchases, etc.

This article only goes in-depth with the customer generation and retention applications of gifting, but it is also widely used in HR efforts, to motivate or highlight the employees’ achievements, and with individuals – for any reason.

Gifting is a long-term solution to relationship building for businesses, as most customers feel connected to companies that reciprocate – which becomes crucial for prolonging customer lifetime value and, therefore, bringing in more revenue for the business.

Strategic gifting and practical gratitude are uniquely versatile tools for all businesses working with customers, whether B2B or B2C, for reasons mentioned above and the variety of practical uses within every segment of company structure. What is more, the current public relations landscape calls for new and improved ways of distanced engagement, and gifting just might be the answer you’re looking for.


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