How Small Gifts Can Create Big Marketing Wins

Customer delight is the ultimate goal for any business. And nothing surprises or delights quite like a gift. 

A 2018 study by the University of Zurich found that even a small gift from a sales representative makes customers much more likely to make a purchase. In the study, reps gave customers six tubes of toothpaste — a trivial offering. The results? Anything but trivial. On average, orders almost doubled.

At ZoomInfo, we use gift-giving with our customers no matter where they are in the demand generation funnel.

“Direct mail gifting is a demand generation tactic that assists other channels by cleaning up after them,” says Mitchell Hanson, director of demand generation at ZoomInfo. “It’s something like an educated Hail Mary pass that sweeps up unconverted marketing qualified leads.” 

In practice, corporate gifting has been a runaway success at ZoomInfo. Specific gifting tactics have generated return on investment ranging from 250 percent to a jaw-dropping 14,971 percent

Read on to discover how our successful direct mail gifting strategy generates demand and increases revenue (results included).

What do we mean by “direct mail marketing”?

Direct mail marketing makes direct contact with individual consumers, as opposed to reaching a large audience with mass media, such as advertising. Corporate direct marketing channels commonly include highly personalized physical mail, email, social media, and texting campaigns. 

For our demand generation team, it’s all about marketing at scale (one-to-many). Here, we specifically highlight how we use gifting for demand generation via email.

Start with a direct marketing platform 

Running a corporate gifting program can be a mammoth undertaking. There are many factors to consider, such as compliance, budget, customer list management, the unit economics of the program, accurate reporting on results, and KPI measurement. 

Using a platform makes managing and tracking a variety of gifting activities easier across multiple functions. ZoomInfo uses Reachdesk, a direct marketing platform that makes it easier to execute, control, monitor, and measure the performance of our direct mail gift strategy. Other popular solutions in this space include Sendoso, PFL, and Alyce.

Adapting to work-from-home

Corporate gift-giving practices have changed with the increase in working from home.

“Before working from home became the norm for us and others, we had a wide variety of offers to choose from and use. Now, we primarily use digital gift cards due to simplicity and the remote work reality,” Hanson explains.

What are the gifts?

The type of gift card depends on the customer’s location. For example, our customers in the United States receive a choice of gift cards from Amazon, Starbucks, or UberEats (all good ZoomInfo customers). International customers receive local offers, such as Deliveroo or Costa gift cards in the UK.

How are gifts presented?

ZoomInfo offers gift cards at the end of emails paired with a call to action. Below is an example of how we offer gifts to cold leads when encouraging them to sign up for a webinar. We don’t require prospects to take a meeting to claim the gift. They can even pass it on if they are unable to use it. 

How do you determine gift value? 

At ZoomInfo, the value of the gift cards we offer prospects depends on the target segment, funnel stage, and our own tests. As a rule, the gift increases and matches the opportunity value the further you go down the funnel. 

It’s important to optimize gift value. For example, we offer a $7 gift card to prospects who sign up for a demo to bolster show rates. Our demand generation team determined this amount after extensive trial and error.

Direct mail gifting tactics for full-funnel demand generation

Let’s take a deeper dive into the tactics and performance of the direct mail gifting strategies that ZoomInfo uses at various stages of the demand generation funnel.

Top of the funnel (TOFU)

TOFU is the pre-opportunity stage. Our gifting strategy generates demand in prospects that have not had a meaningful interaction with the brand yet. Here’s how it works:

Encourage cold leads to engage

At the top of the funnel, we send gift cards to cold prospects to create opportunities for additional interactions with ZoomInfo. These cold prospects are unconverted marketing qualified leads (MQLs), meaning they’ve had some exposure to ZoomInfo but are yet to be qualified

Based on internal criteria, we filter out prospects depending on company employee count, industry, and job title. We then target them with relevant content, such as blogs or webinar invitations, along with a gift to get them over the MQL threshold.

Nurture warm leads 

Next, there are the unconverted warm leads. These are prospects who have come from webinars, content syndication, emails, events, or display advertising channels. 

Essentially, they are MQLs that haven’t signed up for a demo yet. We offer them an incentive combined with value messaging to get them into a demo meeting.

Prospect in international segments 

Applying these tactics to an international audience requires more than switching out a Starbucks gift card for a Costa Coffee card, or substituting an Uber Eats card for a Deliveroo gift. 

We pay close attention to the gift-giving culture and “rules of engagement” in the prospect’s country. When giving gifts to your international prospects, an important consideration is to keep track of the various currencies and exchanges.

TOFU Results

This chart displays the percentage of gifts claimed, the percentage of meetings that resulted, and the return on investment.

Tactic Claim RateClaim to Meeting Rate ROI
Cold Leads 4%10%6,495%
Warm Leads6%11%14,971%
International Leads22%17%358%

Time period: Q4 2020 and Q1 2021

Middle of the funnel (MOFU)

Gifting in the MOFU stage focuses on getting MQLs who have signed up for demos to show up. 

Boost demo show rates 

Once we set a demo, we encourage prospects to show up by sending them a low-value coffee gift card. 

“First, we tested a smaller cohort to see if it was worth scaling this idea across the board,” says Hussam AlMukhtar, senior director of strategic marketing at ZoomInfo. “Our test cohort showed a 5 percent increase in show rate, which was enough for us to try scaling the program.”  


This tactic has resulted in an almost 25% claim rate for qualified prospects, a 7% lift in average show rate, and a 250% return on investment.

Tactic Claim RateShow Rate LiftROI
Demo Show Rate 24.8%7%250%

Time period: Q4 2020 and Q1 2021

Bottom of funnel (BOFU)

BOFU is the post-opportunity stage. At this point, we focus on converting opportunities into paying customers. We use gifting as a deal acceleration strategy at BOFU in three ways:

Give stalled open opportunities the end-of-the-month or quarter push

Sometimes, despite a person showing up for a demo, an opportunity might stall due to factors like timing or budget. In this case, we use strategic gifting to target our customer champions, decision-makers, and influencers to get a critical next meeting or action item on the books. 

At the end of the sales period, ZoomInfo teams push to convert as many opportunities into paying customers as possible. Our sales team gets creative, offering prospects personalized, high-value gift cards to bring in any lagging opportunities at the end of the month or quarter. 

Get DocuSign contract recipients over the finish line

At the very bottom of the funnel, we offer DocuSign contract recipients a $100 gift card to incentivize them to finalize a deal. 

The longer a deal remains unsigned, the more likely it is to fall through. Offering ‘almost customers’ a gift card at the final step improves the win rate because it serves as a reminder to complete the process. 

As Hanson puts it, “time kills deals.” 

BOFU Results 

Gifting is a deal-acceleration tactic to bring primed prospects to the table. By this point, we’ve tapped into many resources and gone to great lengths to bring them onboard. A well-planned gift can pull them in.

Tactic Claim RateClaim to Meeting RateROI
End of Month or Quarter11%41%1,642%

Time period: Q4 2020 and Q1 2021

Completing a DocuSign request is the most critical point in winning a client. Sending prospects a gift at the very end helps to seal the deal. 

Tactic Claim RateClaim to Sign Rate ROI
DocuSign 31.25%77%148%

Time period: Q4 2020 and Q1 2021

Take your corporate gifting to the next level

Direct mail marketing has become tougher in recent times due to social distancing restrictions. But digital gift gifting has arguably never been easier or more flexible. 

You can see by our results that gifting works. With a good dose of strategic thinking and extensive testing, we continue to increase meeting rates and ROI throughout the demand generation funnel.

3 Quick Gifting Tips 

1. Use a Direct Marketing Platform

Simplify how you execute, control, monitor, and measure the performance of your direct mail gift strategy with a direct marketing platform. 

2. Optimize Gift Value

Use trial and error to determine the right gift value for each direct mail gifting tactic. 

3. Get Strategic

Think critically about your demand generation funnel and how you can use direct mail gifting across TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU.