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Perspective: Creating the Right Prepaid Incentive Card Program

A successful prepaid incentive marketing campaign begins with an identified market segment, with messages and incentive offers tailored directly to the interests of that segment. Studies have found that personalization and individualized packaging further increase the sales lift of prepaid incentive cards. The fact is that when a consumer receives a direct mail piece with a relevant prepaid incentive marketing card, he or she is more likely to respond.

A single-vendor, turnkey solution is typically the most cost-effective and efficient way to implement a prepaid incentive marketing campaign. The right partner will have the ability to integrate the development of the campaign, the printing and mailing of offers, the activation of cards, and the collection and retrieval of consumer data. The business and its solution provider should work together to map out a successful incentives-based direct mail marketing campaign.

Some tips for creating a successful campaign include:

  • Define campaign objectives. What’s the business goal of the campaign?
  • Identify the target audience. Campaign effectiveness is rooted in understanding the desired audience. Knowing who is being targeted is essential to purchasing the appropriate mailing lists and choosing the right incentive partners.
  • Determine the desired consumer behavior. Clearly define what consumer action is desired and the specifics of what will be required to activate the incentive card.
  • Choose the incentive. Understanding the target audience will inform what offer will best motivate the recipients.
  • Scale the program. An understanding of the size of the program and its role in broader initiatives will help determine how much time and money should be dedicated to the effort.
  • Establish a relative timeline. Have an accurate understanding of the time required for the full implementation of the program lifecycle.

Businesses that use prepaid incentive cards typically experience consumer response rates that are several times higher than traditional coupon-based campaigns. Depending on merchant brand recognition and the quality of the target list, response rates can even be much higher, reaching over 35 percent in some campaigns. This is a tremendous performance advantage over traditional direct mail campaigns that typically produce just a 1 percent response rate.

A direct mail campaign built around a prepaid incentive card is innovative, data-driven, and metrics-based. It offers greater relevance, rewards, and immediacy to customers while providing businesses with enhanced data and greater insight into consumer behaviors. Prepaid incentive cards combine the motivational power of gift cards with the precision and measurability of direct mail marketing.

Jeannie Stinnett is a solutions consultant at First Data.

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