For some time now, B2B gifting has been closely associated with account-based marketing. 

It makes sense when you think about it. Gifting is a great tactic for personalizing your buyers’ and customers’ experience, which is a crucial element of successful account-based marketing. 

I’ve spent the last year or so further incorporating gifting tactics into our demand generation and customer marketing strategies, and I’m ready to share some insights on how you can use gifting as a powerful weapon in your account-based marketing tool belt. 

Why account-based gifting

Gifting can grab prospects’ and customers’ attention across channels. Here are a few ways we use gifting at Foundry:

  • Customer Lifecycle Touchpoint
  • Sales Cycle Touchpoint
  • Marketing Touchpoint
  • Advocate Appreciation
  • Surprise + Delight

Gifting helps us to delight prospects and customers, as well as to drive actions such as demo requests, enrollments in customer education courses, and software reviews. 

Gifting for demand generation

Demo Incentives – worth it?

One of the most popular gifting tactics in B2B is the demo incentive. “Take a demo, get a $X gift card!” – communicated over paid social ads and email. But some are wary of the effectiveness of demo incentives. Skeptics say, ‘How is that large an incentive for prospects to take a meeting profitable?’ or ‘Aren’t they just taking the meeting for the gift?’. These are valid concerns, and I suggest to anyone unsure if demo incentives are worth it to their business to track their customer acquisition cost, the close win rate of incentivized vs. non-incentivized opportunities, and the conversion rate for different gifts. For example, Tim from Directive tested out different gift amounts to see which had the best CVR & CPL. What he found was a lift in conversions from the ‘charm pricing’ effect- odd gift card amounts like $105 had better conversion rates, likely due to how they stick out against more typical numbers.

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So that’s one way to test out gifting, but what about beyond the demo… are opportunities from demo incentives as valuable and winnable as non-incentivized? To test this, you have to spend a bit more time in the long run, looking back at demo incentives after at least a few months (take into account the length of your sales cycle). That way you can do an analysis of closed opportunities which came from demo incentives vs. non-incentivized opportunities. You might find that your win rate is a bit lower for incentivized vs. non incentivized opportunities. The question is, is it a win rate you’re comfortable with? Make sure your sales team’s time isn’t being altogether wasted, and there’s a positive return on your investment. One way that I ensure a positive return on my investment is by using demo incentives to capture pre-warmed audiences. I take accounts that have been engaging with SDR outreach or have surging intent, and strategically target them with paid social demo incentive advertising and marketing email demo incentives. 

The marketing emails have a fantastic ROI and help to drive immediate action, while the paid social ads help to capture those who missed the emails and buyers who aren’t yet in our CRM.

By using these 2 channels for demo incentives, we were able to yield a 10:1 return on investment-  including the cost of a gifting platform. 

Here’s some advice I’d give to anyone starting out with demo incentives. 

Tips for demo incentives 

  1. Start out narrow with your targeting. We started out with manually created lists from our SDRs, and have now expanded a bit, including companies / titles based on criteria. But you should watch your conversions carefully to make sure you’re reaching people you’re comfortable with paying to take a meeting. 
  2. Don’t just wave money in people’s faces. Gifting is a popular enough tactic in B2B that I don’t think it’s enough to just offer money for a demo. I try to be creative about the way I present my demo incentives so that it surprises and delights recipients, as opposed to just feeling like a transaction. Here’s a couple examples of incentives I’ve used that were well received.
  3. Create urgency + relevancy. Especially with email copy, I like to try to connect my offers to something that recipients can relate to, using observances (when relevant) and tying my offer to what matters most to them, business impact. 
  4. Test different offers + tactics. Some demo incentive ideas I’ve had have been flops. There are so many factors at play with each campaign that you can’t draw too strong of a conclusion from each one. I test different offers to make incremental improvements each time, which has helped us to drive significantly higher results from our demo incentive campaigns over time. 

Now we’ve discussed the most popular gifting tactic – demo incentives. But what about all the other ways of gifting? This past year, Foundry has made a big push to be customer-centric. We hosted customer-exclusive TableTalks each quarter, launched an ABM Academy for customer education, and of course, sent out gifts. 

Gifting for customer marketing

I would classify our customer marketing gifting strategy as four-pronged – personal gifting, seasonal gifting, activity-based gifting, and thank-you gifting. 

Personal gifting

Personal gifting is the kind of immeasurable thing that can help to elevate vendors to true partners. Our thoughtful CS and sales teams often sent gifts to their contacts before we had a gifting platform, but now with one, it’s even easier to be thoughtful and kind on a personal level. Recently, personal gifting has been a way that our teams have been able to show their clients their appreciation whether it’s a ‘congrats on the new baby’ gift set, champagne for a promotion, or any other special day in the lives of our customers.

Seasonal gifting

Like many companies, we enjoy sending holiday gifts to our customers at the end of the year. However… it has proven to be quite the task for our marketing team in the past. In 2021, our team spent hours and hours individually packing about a hundred gifts. Though one could argue the personally packed gifts by Marketing Elves were more special since they were so personal, we’d prefer to have a little more free time to commit to our end-of-year marketing needs…

This year, we adopted a new strategy for holiday gifting using HubSpot and Sendoso, which to be honest I’m quite proud of. Clients were sent an email with a CTA to claim their gift. The form itself had progressive fields, so once they selected their country, a list of curated gift options for that area would then pop up. Once clients completed the form, a workflow in HubSpot would trigger the sending of their gift in Sendoso, as well as create a row in a Google Sheets file I used to track the gifts / troubleshoot any issues. 

This process allowed us to more easily send a higher volume of gifts to clients, even internationally, when in the past, we struggled to do either without manual work and headaches. 

Though the workflow I set up this year was a big improvement, I did run into a few issues I’d like to call out to anyone thinking of adopting something similar. 

  1. Double check the required address fields for any gifts you choose. For example, some countries require a personal tax identification number (India), which you probably wouldn’t think to ask for. 
  2. Monitor your email for any gift-related alerts. One gift option I selected was discontinued due to low stock after I launched our holiday gifting campaign. I had to go back in and remove the option from the original form so that no one else chose it, and replace it for the folks who had chosen it already.
  3. Check your HubSpot workflows for any issues. I hadn’t included certain fields on the form that were required for the Sendoso integration-triggered sends. They were common fields like company, first, & last name, but in rare occasions, some CRM data hygiene issues on individual contacts kept the gifts from sending properly. The fix was easy, and also provided me a chance to flag and fix the data hygiene issues in HubSpot, but just something to look out for. 

Activity-based gifting

One of our initiatives for 2022 was the launch of an ABM Academy, a collection of video courses designed to teach our new and existing customers about the Foundry ABM platform and the basics of ABM. We used this as an opportunity to further leverage our Sendoso platform by automatically triggering the sending of Academy swag whenever a client completed the required coursework to ‘graduate’. 

With just a little elbow grease and code between SkillJar, HubSpot, and Sendoso, we were able to set up an automated workflow that tracked SkillJar course completion in HubSpot and then triggered the appropriate gift in Sendoso seamlessly. We look forward to doing more with activity-based gifting in the future with events, educational content, and more.

Thank-you gifting

It’s so important to say thank you! We use thank-you gifting in many ways at Foundry. We send gifts after customers provide references, share their customer story, come to events with us, or even just leave us a review. Similarly to how demo incentives can help demand gen teams hit their inbound goals, if you have a goal you’re really trying to hit for reviews, offering an incentive can help drive urgency and make it fun for your customers to share their experiences with you. You can do incentivized review campaigns with your CSM if you’re a client of TrustRadius or G2, or send out personal gifts as well. 

Final thoughts

You don’t have to have a gifting platform, but it helps. We had previously been using gifting for demo incentives manually, sending e-gift cards after 1st meetings were complete. This was of course very manual, but it’s a great option for teams that want to validate their strategy. When we felt we had proven out the ROI, we started using Sendoso to gift, which allowed us to ramp up our gifting strategy, do more with it for customers, do more internationally, and to get creative about the gifts we choose to use.  

There’s so much one can do with gifting across teams that I’ve really only scratched the surface of. I hope sharing my experience can be of help to at least one marketer out there, and if you’re interested in chatting more about gifting or demand gen, connect with me on LinkedIn.