When it comes to incentive marketing for customer acquisition and retention, not all rewards are created equal. 

It might seem like an obvious point, but incentive marketing is supposed to incentivise your prospects. To convince them to sign up or buy from you. To encourage your customers to stay loyal. 

But pick the wrong rewards, and your campaigns will do the opposite. 

Offer the wrong incentives, and you’ll turn both new and existing customers away from your brand. 

What makes a bad incentive or a terrible ‘consolation’ prize?

Your incentive marketing campaign will always be on a budget. You’ll only have so much to spend on the very best rewards and incentives to attract and retain customers. 

Which is why you might be considering a competition, where you give your customers the chance to win a great ‘high-value’ prize and can offer much lower value rewards to those who are unsuccessful.

Or perhaps you’ll just tier your rewards, so those who qualify as low-value customers only get low-value prizes. 

That all makes sense. 

But that still doesn’t mean you should offer ‘bad’ prizes and rewards. Low value should still offer some good value to your customers. Those rewards should still be useful and relevant. Those incentives should still incentivise. 

We scoured the internet to find examples of those poor value, misjudged and downright ineffective incentive marketing campaigns to show you: 

The types of rewards and incentives you must avoid

1. Non-Localised electronics stock 

Electrical items are a great reward – shavers, toothbrushes, smart home devices and many more. Except when they don’t work where you live. Most electronics have region specific plugs, voltage and software, so don’t get caught sending a low priced Echo Dot from the UK to Latvia, for example. It won’t work, and will disappoint your customers. You have to buy local and send local, keeping electronic devices within your region to make sure they’re effective.  

2. Underpowered tech

Power banks, SD cards and USB memory sticks can be really useful rewards for the tech-minded customers… except when they’re basically useless. Like power banks that hold so little charge they just become paperweights. Or memory sticks that can hold 2 files before prompting a “storage device full” message. Underpowered tech just becomes landfill and won’t incentivise your customers. 

3. Outdated tech

The same is true for outdated tech. It might seem like your company has got a great deal on a bunch of previous generation iPads or older model Firesticks, but there’s a reason there’s new, updated tech. Your customers won’t thank you for missing features, and they won’t be happy to find their ‘new’ devices are quickly stuck with unsupported software and security risks. 

4. Age inappropriate items

A high quality chef knives set might be a great prize to some people, but as an incentive for under 18s, it’s entirely inappropriate. It might sound really obvious, but businesses make mistakes in their incentive marketing like this. Or like offering alcohol as a reward in a competition when most of the participants will be underage. Or having ‘the latest, state-of-the-art’ tech as a sign up bonus for a funeral plan, when the average age of the customer is likely to be over 60. It’s impractical and inappropriate. 

5. Gift cards for places you never shop

Gift cards might seem like a great reward – especially as a consolation or lower value prize. But they’re only great if they’re relevant, if they’re for places where your customers want to shop. They’re useless if your customers will never use them. A £20 gift card for a pub chain for example, is only good if that chain has a location in your customer’s town. A £30 gift card for Hobbycraft is totally pointless if your customers aren’t into crafting. 

It’s one of the reasons why we think you should avoid gift cards if you want to win and keep more customers. 

6. Gift cards for very little value 

Gift cards are even worse rewards when there’s very little value on them. “£5 for a clothes shop where I don’t like the styles? No thank you.” Or what about if you offer a small denomination gift card for high priced goods. Say a £10 gift card for Tiffanys? It’s not going to touch the surface, so it’s basically pointless as an incentive. 

7. Gifts with disproportionate value 

The value of a reward plays a huge role in how it’s received by your prospects and customers, and whether it’s seen as good or bad. 

One company incentivised the top climbers in the US to join them for a big competition, encouraging everyone to fly across the country for the big event with the promise of top prizes. Some spent thousands of dollars on tickets. First place got a $30 climbing rope. Second place received a $10 bag of chalk. 

Prizes totally disproportionate to the time, effort and investment. 

8. Totally irrelevant gifts 

Perhaps the worst rewards and consolation prizes in your incentive marketing are those which sound great on paper. The ones which should be really valuable and really useful… if they were in any way relevant. 

Like the latest sports gear when you hate the gym and any form of exercise. Or ski clothes when you’ve never seen snow. Or an all-singing, all dancing coffee machine when all you drink is tea. 

Or the best example we found: a knitting set to ‘reward’ a 16 year old gamer. 

So how do you avoid those worst rewards and prizes in your incentive marketing?

You need to make sure that all the gifts, rewards and incentives you offer are relevant. Every single one of them, not just your top level, high value ones. 

Even those prospects and customers who might lose a raffle or a scratch card and get offered a consolation prize should find real, relevant value in their reward. 

And to do that, you need to give them the choice. 

You need to let them select a prize they’d actually like – even if it is a consolation one. 

You need Gift & Go. 

Apply for a free trial or book a demo and claim your free gift.  

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