Incentive Gifts Testing 101: 4 Questions to Increase Effectiveness

  • author

    BHN Rewards

  • posted

    Jul 14, 2022

  • topic

    Academic Research, Digital Marketing, Market Research

Incentive Gifts Testing 101: 4 Questions to Increase Effectiveness

While no two rewards programs are exactly alike, there’s one thing they should all have in common: some regular fine-tuning.

Whether you’re trying to increase webinar attendance, fuel a sales blitz, or boost your survey response rates, testing around your incentive gifts can help you achieve better results.

After all, knowing what exactly is motivating your employees, prospects, or respondents isn’t always obvious. Testing can help you determine which incentive gifts will help your rewards program be successful.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself when deciding if your rewards are as effective as they could be.

Are You Offering the Right Reward Value?

Choosing an appropriate reward value is vital to the success of your research programs, surveys, and marketing campaigns. 

To determine whether you are offering incentive gifts that are compelling to your particular demographic of participants, we recommend using the following formula.

Time to complete task 

Value of respondents’ time 


Compelling reward value

To get to the compelling reward value for your audience, multiply how long it will take them to complete a task (taking a survey or watching a webinar, for example) by their estimated hourly rate of pay. Then multiply that by 150% to know how much the incentive gifts should be worth.

0.5 hours


$40 per hour




$30 reward

To get a ballpark figure for the value of a respondent’s time, use the average U.S. salary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine their rate of pay per hour. If you know your population is made up of all nurses or top-level executives, that calculation is fairly easy. And if you don’t know, you can estimate based on the audience you’re trying to attract. For instance, college students will likely respond to a smaller amount than young professionals in the workforce.

Are You Including Rewards That Your Participants Really Want?

In addition to determining the amount of incentive gifts, it’s important to consider whether the type of reward you’re offering resonates with your audience.

It’s a good idea to tailor the reward to what you think your audience likes.

If you don’t know your audience that well or you’re working with a broad target market, digital rewards for specific brands can be tricky. It’s a safe bet that webinar attendees will respond well to an offer for a gift card for coffee from Starbucks or lunch delivery from Grubhub.

But when you rotate your offers, you can test which kinds of digital rewards pull in the best results. Some brands will be more popular than others, and when you need to increase response rates, you’ll know which brand to dangle as an incentive.

Prepaid Visas or Mastercards can sweeten the deal for many of your target audience, because they can be used anywhere those credit cards are accepted. Again, testing can help you know what your audience prefers. One test could be to offer the same value amount for both types of rewards: one for a specific brand and one that’s more open-ended.

Finally, you can test your offers against giving your recipients a choice of rewards and see if, by simply giving them a choice, you receive higher response rates. Use a rewards tool that lets you track which rewards your recipients end up choosing, so it can help inform your future programs and messaging.

Is Your Audience Motivated by Charitable Giving?

More and more companies are aligning themselves with messaging that makes it clear they care. In the U.S. alone, there are 1,700 Certified B Corporations, companies that have taken the pledge to put the people and planet above profits and work as a “force for good.”

Incentive gifts that include e-donations to popular charities — such as Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, or the National Park Foundation — can help you incentivize the growing number of people who want to feel that their choices help make a difference.

Not sure if e-donations will resonate with your audience? Set up a test. Give your participants a choice between traditional brand gift cards and e-donations when incentivizing them to act. It may also help you determine which kinds of audiences are unable to accept digital gift cards because of company or ethics policies.

READ MORE: How to Use E-Donations to Incentivize Recipients Who Can’t Accept Digital Gift Cards

Are You Optimizing Communication About Incentive Gifts?

When you send digital rewards as your incentive gifts, your organization has the perfect  opportunity to test email messaging and design to determine what motivates your target market to act.

Whether your email is asking someone to complete a survey or delivering a digital reward after completing it, there are many variables you can test to improve your results, including:

  • Offers: As mentioned above, test the results when giving recipients a choice of rewards, e-donations, traditional gift cards, or prepaid Visas or Mastercards. You can also test the messaging in your reward delivery emails to see the difference in claim rates or follow-up actions.
  • Subject Lines: Soft sell vs. hard sell is just one in many examples of A/B tests.
  • Copy: See if headline copy, email messaging, and length influence response rates.
  • Design: Test whether photos vs. illustrations perform better.
  • Time/Day Sent: Send emails earlier vs. later in the day or on weekdays vs. the weekend to see how they affect open rates.

There’s really no limit to what you can test. To ensure your incentive gifts are as effective as possible, build in regular testing throughout the year and fine-tune your rewards program as necessary.

Thanks to its native integrations with leading survey and marketing platforms, BHN Rewards helps you track the results of all your rewards campaigns and testing efforts. See the complete list of integration partners here, and then contact us to learn more!

about the author
BHN Rewards

BHN Rewards puts the power of digital rewards to work for marketers, researchers, and HR managers. Don't forget to check out all the great content in our Resources section!

BHN Rewards puts the power of digital rewards to work for marketers, researchers, and HR managers. Don't forget to check out all the great content in our Resources section!