Earned rewards are predictable and customizable, while surprise rewards provide spontaneity and excitement.

Rewarding customers can be a tricky task. On one hand, you want to incentivize them to keep coming back to your business, but on the other hand, you don't want to give away too much of your hard-earned profits.

So, what's the solution? Well, one option is to offer earned rewards such as rebates, referrals, or points redemption. Another option is to offer surprise rewards in the form of found or free money.

In this blog post, we'll explore the differences between these two types of rewards and help you determine which one is better for your business.

Earned Rewards

Earned rewards are benefits that customers receive after they complete a specific task, such as making a purchase, referring a friend, or accumulating a certain number of points. These rewards are expected, and customers know exactly what they're working towards. They can also be customized to fit your business model, such as providing discounts or free products for loyal customers. 

Earned rewards are a great way to incentivize customers to keep coming back to your business since they know they'll receive a benefit for doing so. Learn how to use them in referral programs!

Surprise Rewards

Surprise rewards, on the other hand, are unexpected benefits that customers receive without having to complete any specific tasks. They might include free samples, discounts, or even cashback offers that customers receive after making a purchase. Surprise rewards are unpredictable and create a sense of excitement for customers. They also encourage customers to try new products or services that they might not have considered before.

The element of surprise has been proven to be a powerful motivational tool. Scientific studies show that unexpected incentive rewards stimulate areas of the brain connected to behavior development and learning.

The choice is the reward

One benefit of offering surprise rewards is that it allows customers to have the freedom of choice, including how they want to use their rewards. This is because surprise rewards take the form of found money, which gives customers the ability to spend it as they wish. This creates a sense of empowerment for customers and can lead to increased satisfaction with their overall shopping experience.

In contrast, earned rewards are often limited to a certain type of reward and a specified amount. For example, a loyalty program may only offer rewards through discounts on future purchases or are points based.  This restricts the customer's choices and may not align with their spending habits or preferences. Additionally, earned rewards can take time and effort, causing frustration for customers who may feel like they are not being adequately rewarded for their loyalty.

More Adventurous with Surprise Rewards

When someone receives an unexpected reward, they are much more likely to feel adventurous in their spending habits. They might try a new product or service that they wouldn't have considered otherwise. This is why offering surprise rewards can be a great way to encourage customers to experiment and try new things. With a large variety of rewards to choose from, customers are more likely to try something they wouldn't have otherwise and appreciate the value of the rewards.

Easy and cost-effective

We chose Giftbit because we realized a large chunk of our digital gift cards weren't being redeemed. Giftbit was the perfect solution to help us recoup some of that money and apply it to the next order. It's easy to upload contacts and make templates. They also allow for a bunch of different gift card options which shows that we care about our recipients (by letting them choose which type of gift is right for them).

Justina S., Director
Non-Profit Organization Management

A surprising tip, with surprise rewards!

Surprise rewards can be a successful strategy for motivating a sales team due to their unique characteristics and impact on performance. By incorporating unexpected incentives into sales practices, salespeople are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and driven to achieve their goals. Here's why and how applying surprise rewards can lead to success:

1. Enhancing learning & retention:

When combined with incentive training, unexpected rewards capture the attention of salespeople and encourage them to actively participate in learning opportunities. By providing a surprise incentive for demonstrating newly acquired knowledge, salespeople are motivated to retain important information and apply it effectively in their sales efforts.

2. Strengthening the Connection between action & reward:

On-the-spot rewards not only leverage the power of surprise but also reinforce the brain's association between specific actions and immediate gratification. By instantly recognizing and rewarding desired behaviors, salespeople are more likely to internalize the positive connection between their efforts and the rewards received. This immediate reinforcement creates a stronger impact and increases the likelihood of repeated success.

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Regardless of the type of reward, customer loyalty will follow

Both earned and surprise rewards are effective ways to incentivize customers and keep them coming back to your business. While earned rewards are more predictable and customizable, surprise rewards offer a sense of spontaneity and excitement. Ultimately, the choice between these two types of rewards will depend on your specific business goals and customer base. However, one thing is certain: by offering rewards, you show customers that you value their loyalty and are willing to go above and beyond to satisfy them.