What’s the most precious and scarce commodity for a marketer? As former CMO of a software company, I discovered it was customer engagement. Like all marketers today, my team and I had many channels and tactics we could use to reach customers. Yet, we found that it was harder every day to cut through the noise to engage and motivate them.
The most valuable lesson we learned? A little appreciation and gratitude go a long way. And small rewards can drive big improvements in marketing results.
The Power of Gifting
We learned that no one likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to feel appreciated. For example, thanking our webinar attendees with a Starbucks gift card – “Hey Jane! Join us for the webinar, and coffee is on us” – proved to boost in registration and attendance by an astounding 50%! And in our follow-up emails we would say, “Thanks for joining us! How was your coffee?” and link to a trial download or an ebook. We saw the highest click-through rate of all email campaigns. Why? Because we capitalized on an emotional trigger, motivating prospects to move to the next level.
We learned that no one likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to feel appreciated.
We were inspired by marketers at companies like CVS, IBM, and Regal Entertainment that have achieved jaw-dropping increases in customer acquisition and sales by integrating gifting into campaigns. Gifting is a great way to boost event registrations, evaluations, demos, assessments, and consultations. It is also a great way to reward referrals and customer advocacy.
What makes gifting effective across such a wide range of campaigns? Here are three powerful reasons why gifting will increase engagement and transform your campaigns:
1. Response Rates and the Art of Motivation
Think about the number of invites and offers you get every week. I get at least a dozen interesting offers from the marketing community and vendors. But, like you, I’m busy and can’t do it all.
Your customers are in the same boat—bombarded with offers. A great way to get them to slow down, click, and fill out your form is to present them with a thank you gift. Or even better—a donation to the organization of their choice.
Your customers are bombarded with offers.
2. Empathy Builds Goodwill
Even in today’s noisy, digital landscape, one old-fashioned concept persists: goodwill.
When you build gifting into your campaigns, you’re saying: I respect your time. Empathy pulls the emotional levers that turn a cynical prospect into an engaged opportunity. It builds the goodwill for an attendee to request a product demo or start a conversation.
In the webinar example I provided above, follow-up emails become conversation starters: “Thanks for joining us! How was your coffee?” This simple question compels people to reply. Even if they aren’t ready to buy, the conversation still begins, and they remember your act of giving. Therefore, you’re on your way to building trust and goodwill.
Empathy pulls the emotional levers that turn a cynical prospect into an engaged opportunity.
3. Chain of Conversions
The first conversion bonanza you get from gifting is the immediate jump in response to your offer: webinar, demo, survey, etc. But wait, there’s more—a lot more. You can use the moment of gifting to drive more conversions down the funnel. For starters, a gift presented in an engaging manner will emphasize your message and create an emotional connection with your brand. Do it right, and you will be front and center in your buyers’ minds as they short list vendors (aka marketing’s #1 job).
Next, you can line up the right set of relevant content and offers. With the right timing, you will see high open rates and click-throughs on follow-up offers due to the goodwill and engagement you’ve gained. Oh, and your unsubscribe rates will decrease. Winning!
You can use the moment of gifting to drive more conversions down the funnel.
Traditionally, integrating gifting and rewards has required significant staff and budget to manage the logistics and administration. Procuring gifts, tracking responses to offers, arranging timely delivery, and measuring results can be daunting. Thankfully, the advent of digital gifts and marketing automation platforms is making this powerful marketing approach available to companies of all sizes.
Enter, Marketing Automation
Marketing automation platforms like Marketo make it easy to create gifting campaigns. You can target specific segments, present the offer on many channels, and track responses.
And gone are the days when gifting meant shipping physical items to customers. Today, marketers can choose from a wide range of compelling digital gifts, from the ever popular gift cards, to subscriptions, to music and movie services, to apps, to ebooks, and even to digital charitable donations. Without a doubt, there is a digital gift out there that fits your brand, customer audience, and marketing budget.
Gifting services like Rybbon integrate with Marketo to deliver these gifts nicely wrapped in your own branding and messaging. Digital gifts can be delivered and presented with the right context, timing, and impact via email, SMS, social media, and in-app push notifications. (Sorry, FedEx)!
The amazing thing about digital gifting is that you have visibility into when recipients actually receive the gift. Tracking gifting as activity allows you to fully capitalize on that emotional trigger to send a follow-up offer or notify sales of an interesting moment.
Yes, it’s a noisy bazaar out there. Thus as marketers, it’s our job to be innovative, find an edge, and gain our customers’ attention. Marketing automation platforms have revolutionized how we market. Now it’s time to take it to the next level of engagement and motivation. Funny thing is, we can do this by bringing it back to old fashioned appreciation, gratitude, and goodwill.
Jignesh Shah is the CEO of Rybbon, a digital gifting platform that helps marketers use incentives, rewards, and donations in their campaigns. Jignesh has been building and marketing products for over 18 years at start-ups and enterprises and was previously the CMO at Metalogix and Vice President at Software AG/webMethods.