At our first Sip & Share of 2023, attendees learned how to make a couple of great cocktails—but the fun didn't stop there! 🍹
Our Head of Events, Belinda Joseph, and Community Marketing Manager, Reagan Hochmeister, then spoke with Austin Sandmeyer of Sendoso and Amy Clausing of Qualified about why gifting should be a part of your event marketing strategy, as well as how to get started if you're new to gifting.
Let's talk about some of the top takeaways from their spirited discussion 😉To catch up on the whole convo, watch on-demand here!
Gifting is pretty straightforward—it's a strategy of giving prospects something, typically in exchange for something else. It's a popular tool for event marketers because gifts can motivate your audience to take the next step, whether that's signing up for an event, engaging with your brand, or turning into a new customer.
Gifts can be almost anything: an experience, a gift card, a voucher, swag, clothing, hats, drink kits, pens, notepads, etc.
One thing our speakers noted, however, is that if your gift is entirely branded, it's probably going to feel more promotional than a true gift. There are still ways to weave your brand into a gift without it being totally branded, though—if your mission is to help busy professionals relax, a subscription to a meditation app would still be on brand for you.
Gifts generate excitement and interest around events (and your company). They create a buzz and add an extra layer of anticipation to an event, enhancing the collective attendee experience. They're also easily personalized, which is always a plus!
I actually was introduced to Sendoso through some dog gifts. I was shipped some dog toys, and I was like, 'How did they know I love dogs?' And sure enough, at this point I'm now a two-time buyer. Something custom that gets you noticed is appreciated." -Amy Clausing, Senior Director of Strategic Events, Qualified
Psychologically speaking, gifts work so well because we're wired to feel connected to someone who gives us a gift—and we're usually motivated to reciprocate the gesture. Thus, an attendee who receives even a small gift from your company may be more inclined to think of your brand when it comes time to make a purchasing decision.
💡Learn More: Supercharge Your Virtual Events With Smart Gifting
Because so many companies do gifts now, you'll have to be creative if you want to stand out.
To start, it's a good approach to think seasonally. Right now, as we're entering fall, perhaps you're thinking about gifts you could send out that would enhance people's sense of coziness or comfort, like a box of tea or some pumpkin carving tools. In the winter, maybe your giveaway is a printed blanket or fuzzy slippers.
You get to think about gifting all the way down the pipeline. With each level of the funnel, it should be getting more and more customized." - Austin Sandmeyer, Head of Growth and Customer marketing, Sendoso
You also want to think beyond the standard gift items. Budgets are tight, so it's probably not the best use of funds to buy branded pens or something everyone's already gotten.
When considering a gifting strategy for events, ask yourself:
Qualified hosts an event called Taste of Qualified, which is pretty similar to our Sip & Share series. Every attendee receives two beautiful bottles of wine, and then everyone participates in an educational session about the wine, which then turns into a larger discussion and networking event.
Amy also found that she can use gifting to nudge the right ICPs to attend an event. "Gifting is a really great strategy for pull-through," she explains. "If I get 1000 people registered, and there are 150 I really care about, I'll send a pre-event gift that makes it easier for them to participate, like a lunch gift card." She's found that doing this boosts the attendance rate of that group, which is exactly what she wants!
Here at Goldcast, sometimes we'll offer gift cards to every person who attends an event, or we might gift one big-ticket item during the event, like we did when we gave away an Oura ring. Even having the chance to win can push someone to sign up!
Now that you're in front of your audience, it's time to execute your giveaways, whether that's for swag, gift cards, or something else.
Consider how you can leverage giveaways to maximize engagement. For our Rock Your Funnel series, we had a giveaway for every session but in order for an attendee to be eligible, they had to complete certain requirements, whether that was commenting in the chat, answering a certain number of polls, or staying for the entire session.
Then, we had a leaderboard so that people could check their standings, which got people even more motivated to participate. In fact, we saw a 40% increase in event engagement as a result of these prompts. Folks love a good, friendly competition!
This is an area that's not as utilized when it comes to gifting strategies, but it's worth thinking about how you can use gifts after the event, even if it's just in your follow-up conversations.
Austin points out that reaching out to connect based on a giveaway is a warmer conversation than having your sales team touch base based solely on attendance. "Have your sales team check in and say, 'Hey, I wanted to make sure you got your cocktail kit!' That's a much softer way to start the conversation."
You might also offer a prize as an incentive for filling out your post-event survey, which can help you garner more feedback after the event.
Keep the conversation going in between events, too! Of course we've already seen firsthand from Amy how Sendoso's strategy of gifting pet-related items to pet owners works exceptionally well.
As another example, Qualified has found success with running seasonal sports-related group wagers, where people can bet on different teams. At the end of the season, everyone who participated gets a gift card to an NFL or other sports site, which keeps the theme cohesive.
The added benefit of continuing that dialogue between sales and your prospects is that your sales team continues to get to know each prospect, adding more valuable info to their account and making it easier to personalize gifts and communication as time goes on.
For some people, zeroing in on the perfect gift comes easy but for others, it may require more thinking. Here are two major tips that can help you elevate your gifting game.
Think about it: You've probably received a general, one-size-fits-all type of gift before, and you may have also gotten a thoughtful, meaningful gift from someone in your life. Which one stood out to you more?
We're going to guess it was the more personal one, and that makes sense. The same will be true of your audience! Rather than generic items, whenever possible, use what you know about people to gift them something special. Experiences are always a good idea because they also allow people to feel that they accomplished something together, which bonds your audience as a community.
You could also try aligning the giveaway with the event theme, which helps it feel specific and relevant. For example, during Donuts & Demand, we give away ten $10 giftcards to people in the audience that they can use to buy donuts for the next session. It's a fun way to keep folks engaged and entice them to come back next time!
Being able to manage all of your information in one central place is a huge efficiency boost. Goldcast integrates with platforms like HubSpot, Marketo, and Salesforce, making it easy to transfer data to your sales team and other folks who might use it for gifting-related reasons.
Logging into another platform is unfortunately just not gonna happen. We're all very busy." - Austin Sandmeye, Head of Growth and Customer Marketing, Sendoso
The key thing here is that your platforms integrate with the other platforms in which your teams live—an integration means nothing if your team members don't use the other app!
You can generally measure the impact of a specific gift initiative by looking at the metric you were hoping to influence. To go back to Amy's example of using lunch vouchers as a pull-through gifting strategy, she saw an increase in target account attendance rates, which she could tie to the gifts.
It's all about conversions, right? The more people you get there, the more people might wanna talk to you, and then it flows down the funnel." - Amy Clausing, Senior Director of Strategic Events, Qualified
As another example, if you try something like what we did—when we asked people to stay for a full event and engage a certain amount of times in order to have the chance to win a gift—you could look at your attendance metrics to find out if people stayed longer and engaged more as a result of this strategy.
For your gifting strategy to have impact, it must be intentional. Austin notes, "What I see oftentimes is people send a gift to everybody, or nobody. A lot of field marketers are very strained and don't have time to look at the list before things happen, but if you do that, you're creating a much stronger connection and thinking outside of the box."
Another tip here is to implement gifting wherever you see a dropoff or holes in your sales funnel. "If your meeting conversion rate is low, maybe this is where you want to start measuring and push a gift," Austin explains. "It could be something as small as a $10 e-gift, and then watch and see if your sales persona responds to that. Does it help them get to the meeting?"
As you've seen, gifting can help you enhance your events, get more people in the audience, and nurture leads down the pipeline.
Ready to provide a more robust, connected experience for your attendees? Watch the full event to get all the deets on how to best use gifting alongside your event strategy. You'll attract more target accounts, build strong relationships, and drive better ROI!
Q: How does a two-touch gift approach work?
A: Two-touch refers to reaching out to an initial wide net of accounts with an offer to redeem a premium item, whether outright or for a demo. This approach is used more for pipeline creation.
A good example of two-touch gifting is sending an AirPods case to your prospects (bonus points if the case is branded!), asking them to book a meeting with you. If they do book the meeting, they get the actual AirPods sent to them, completing the gift.
Q: How can you be sure your company messaging is woven into your gifting campaigns?
A: Think through the campaign idea and how it attaches to your brand, or think about the pain point you're solving. At Sendoso, they recently launched a full-service offering for field marketers, in which the marketers can outsource job-related needs (booth rental, swag, inventory, etc). The gift that tied in well to this offering was a set of AirTags, which help marketers see where their items are at all times.
You can use your messaging, colors, and branding as guardrails for your gift, but you want to make sure your gift isn't just an advertisement for your company. As you can see with the AirTags example, it's not exactly Sendoso-branded, but it's still a great, useful gift for the recipient.
Q: How much of an event budget should be dedicated to gifting?
A: According to our event experts, a good rule of thumb is 7-10%!