How to Accelerate your ABM Strategy with Gifting

Explore the do's and don'ts around gifting, where experiential marketing matters in your ABM strategy, and how to gift wisely and purposefully. | Originally aired on May 25, 2021

Rather read a transcript of the session?


Key takeaways.


Marketers MUST create meaningful experiences.

Curating experiences throughout the sales cycle can drive results if those experiences are authentic and thoughtful.




Personalization wins accounts.

Standing out and winning accounts can be as simple as using direct mail and personalization to connect on a deeper level.


Sales and marketing = most valuable partners.  

When marketing and sales align on goals, data, retargeting and GIFTING, they can accelerate the funnel and generate more leads.


We're seeing people using gifting throughout the funnel because they're trying to break through the noise.


Episode Transcript

Ellen Smoley: Hi everyone. I am Ellen Smoley, growth marketing manager here at Iron Horse. And I'm so excited to be bringing you another coffee break. This time, we are talking with Lauren Kishpaugh director of marketing at Postal. Lauren, thank you for joining us today.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: Thank you for having me. I'm excited.

Ellen Smoley: We are so excited to dive in and talk about gifting plus ABM. I know a lot of people on the line would love to understand how those two things come together.

Ellen Smoley: So just for those of you on the phone with us, we would love your participation. And if you could chat us, what is the most memorable gift that you've ever given or received from marketing or sales campaign? Lauren and I are going to be doing a raffle at the end of the event for this super cool brewing kit. So again, just chat us, whatever you have received from marketing or sales or whatever you've given. We'll kind of scan through the answers at the end of the episode and we'll pick a winner.

Ellen Smoley: All right. So we know that this last year has given us many, many curve balls and with all of these curve balls, we have still had to meet our demand gen goals, drive revenue, practice as normal. So Lauren, let's kind of talk about what are enterprise companies doing differently to cut through the noise, to reach their target accounts? What are you seeing?

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: Yeah, I mean, you know as well as I, you work with a lot of enterprise companies, the company I'm at now is small. So I think in terms of strategies, things are very similar, but the different scales.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So I think the easiest answer from a demand gen perspective is put more paid efforts into campaigns that are driving revenue. So for us, demand gen people, which I love that this is all kind of my people in this room. So I love this, but the easy answer is put more stuff behind demo campaigns or free trial campaigns and things that are very quantifiable and to drive direct outcomes that you can tie back to and push up the food chain to show that your value when we're in a tough position.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So that's the easy answer, but my perspective and the more interesting things I've seen is when people think outside the box and do things that are different campaigns or different offers.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh:  So something that I saw just yesterday, I saw Gong do. They had a really interesting sales template to help you build an actual sales account plan and stuff like that is really interesting because it's an offer that's not just more content or more webinar or more things that people don't have time for.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh:  So I just like when people are doing interesting creative things, and I'm sure that you have done some interesting things with the enterprise companies that you work with as well.

Ellen Smoley: Yeah. I love that. I like that you said increasing paid media spend and we are seeing our clients increase paid media spend on those accounts that are showing intent.

Ellen Smoley: So use these intent tools to take a look at that and then spend their money very diligently on those accounts, which is working well for those top target accounts. Another tactic that we have seen explode over the past year that we've been working with our clients on is chat bots. So after doing some research, I think chat bots was one of the most used marketing tactics in the playbook last year. And it makes sense.

Ellen Smoley: So being able to build those personalized playbooks, when somebody lands on your site, know who somebody is, have a direct message. And then also of course, utilizing interactive content is a big thing that we've seen over the past year and virtual events. So, definitely-

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: Yeah, I guess that's a good reminder that last week we were talking about this and it's as demand gen people we're really like... What's the default mode, is to put forms in front of things and get people to sign up for them. But we've kind of been forced out of our comfort zone in the last year to think about things that are beyond the form.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: And that's like the conversational marketing, the chat bots, and I'm very pro form because I'm a demand gen person through and through, but we've been forced to think outside of that and something that we're doing and seeing is a lot of these virtual experiences, which are something that's not a webinar because putting up slides and having a talking head on those slides for 60 minutes is something that I was not seen traction on anymore.

Ellen Smoley: Yeah. That's so 2019.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: I mean the content is content. The caliber of content matters. So at the same time, maybe we weren't putting out content that people wanted to see. So it really goes to show that we had to get more creative. So we had to think outside of the bounds that we're used to, as well as step up in terms of delivering things that your audience actually will take the time to interact with.

Ellen Smoley: So a big piece of this conversation is going to be gifting. And so we're talking about gifting and ABM. And so there's no doubt that you can speak from your clients and your experience that gifting has taken off over the past couple months year. So I love Lauren for you to talk about how has gifting changed? We kind of hear it as direct mail, gifting. How is gifting used as a marketing channel?

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: We like to call the umbrella as experienced marketing. That's like what we do at Postal, but I think the most familiar that this group would be is we kind of all categorize that as direct mail. For those of us that have done the old fashioned types of direct mail, it's a postcard and an envelope with a handwritten note, and then there's gifting, which is tangential along the lines of usually gifting comes with customers or already established relationships.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: But over the last year we've seen there's all these facets of experience marketing. So that's direct mail, e-gifting, gifting, incentive, marketing, and experiences, which is a collaboration of both. We've seen that those have really ramped up on all fronts.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So gifting doesn't just mean send a swag pack to new customers as they onboard or send employees something branded as a thank you at sales kickoff. So gifting really is something that's grown to be much bigger.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: And people often think about it in this narrow view of direct mail is we're trying to get in touch with people and gifting is for customers. And we've been able to integrate gifting throughout all of the stages of the funnel and throughout all market segments of our target accounts.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh:  So this actual topic is more specific around ABM, but we've used it for just traditional demand gen as well. And we're kind of seeing people just have to use gifting throughout the funnel because they're trying to break through the noise and they're not standing out and they don't have unlimited budgets to just keep turning up spend to get diminishing return on their investments. So they're having to get creative and do things that are memorable and gifting works.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: I don't know the last time you received a gift, but I could probably remember every gift that was ever sent to me. And I don't even remember the last time someone wrote me a handwritten card in the mail. So being able to do that, when I get a hundred emails a day in my inbox and probably 20 of them are cold emails that I don't respond to, it works.

Ellen Smoley: Yeah. And it's proven. And in a second, we'll talk about, you mentioned gifting has that kind of personalization and that feel to it.

Ellen Smoley: So I want to talk about that a little bit when we get down to the sales use cases, but first the two key players of making account based marketing work are your sales and marketing teams.

Ellen Smoley: So let's move down to thinking about what are some of the marketing use cases for sending gifts, and you talk about using it through all phases of the funnel. So top of funnel, middle funnel, final funnel, let's kind of talk through what are some of those use cases and then what gifts you've seen that are being sent?

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: Yeah. I mean, I'm an operations person, so we like to operationalize it and put policy, which is not the most fun word. I'm sure I could think of something better, but we think about it in terms of where they are in the funnel and then what market segment they are or what tier account they are for us. We're a small company.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So all of our target accounts are going to be A accounts for us right now. But in terms of top of funnel stuff, we'll integrate gifting into nurture emails.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So we have this thing called Magic.link, at least with Postal, and you can integrate it, just hyperlink it just like you would hyperlink any URL. And when clicked upon, they can redeem a gift. And so we've done things like send a kit with hot sauce and they can actually accept the hot sauce tasting kit.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: And it says light your pipeline on fire or something small. And we have budgets.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh:  So under $25 gift in cold nurture emails, when they're top of funnel to try and convert them to NQL, once they become NQL, we have the SDRs now manage that gifting relationship and they'll send a box of chocolates if they don't get a response in a sequence on step eight, stuff like that. And then for ABM accounts, the AEs are also working these accounts together with the marketing team.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So we have strategies from all sides to try and break into the account. And we have these kind of standardized steps where gifting works and where gifting is actually acceptable and socially it works. I know that we'll probably talk about this in a second, but there's a right and a wrong way to gift.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: And our personal philosophy is just, people are tired of receiving tchotchkes. People think personalized swag kits and they think of a box with their logo on it and then a cup with their logo on it. And then a bunch of things with their logo on it. And they'll put their logo on anything because you can get anything shipped to us and you can get your logo on it with enough money.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: And we're seeing that people don't want that stuff anymore. They're moving away from wanting those trade show tchotchkes that they used to receive at Dreamforce and they just don't want more things in their house.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: And so for our take on personalized gifting is giving something that's thoughtful, authentic, genuine, and you can do that with people that you know, or people that you haven't yet established a relationship with. So an example of that is I know that you live in the Bay area, Ellen, I know that you're moving somewhere else soon. And so something like of nostalgia might be important to you. So if I send you something that's Bay area local, like a local loaf of bread from Tartine or something that feels local and special to you, then that is more meaningful and we'll build a connection.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So even just any localized gifts that are supporting small businesses or something that a value that person cares about morally, then that for us is greater and more impactful than the old school way of gifting and direct mail that everybody thinks about.

Ellen Smoley: And as I'm just kind of scanning looking through some of the chat question or chats that are coming in regards to what's the most memorable gift that people have received, it is when it was very personalized to them and so let's see here.

Ellen Smoley: So noise canceling headphones, the person said I was battling with nearby back construction and I was having trouble hearing my meetings. How thoughtful is that? So absolutely loved that person took that into consideration. I saw another one here. I don't know, but I do think, like you said, it works to do a little bit of research about that person and make sure that's very tailored. And marketing use cases might be more of a, I don't want to call it batch and blast, but more those bigger sense that you're doing.

Ellen Smoley: And I would really highly recommend making those sense, be very segmented. So you can get as personalized, whether that's an industry or company size thinking, how can you segment your list that way you're going to drive better results and then have more targeted campaigns to that segment.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: We as marketers and demand gen people, we naturally are going to have to figure out or do one to many campaigns or one to more than the sales team. The sales team has the luxury of meeting people and knowing where they live and seeing their kids on camera, and then being able to send something that's thoughtful and relevant.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: But as marketers, there's still a lot you can do in terms of even just segmenting by geo and then sending something that's local to the geo. We just brought on a bunch of women owned businesses in Chicago. So we're going to segment our list. People live in Chicago, people who live in different geos and give them a special gift. That's easy to do with whatever marketing automation you're using.

Ellen Smoley: And it makes that more memorable for sure. Also another marketing use case that we've seen our client use is using gifting for virtual events. So whether these are large scale virtual events, where there are 5,000 people and perhaps you're picking out your VIPs and you're sending them a VIP box, or maybe there's a gift for every single registrant, we've kind of seen it done both ways.

Ellen Smoley: But Lauren, I want you to touch on those curated experiences. So thinking about there's the very large scale virtual events, and then those virtual events that are very targeted for a smaller group. I know Postal has a super cool curated event marketplace. I would love for you to touch on that and tell us what your customers have seen when they're using those virtual events.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So myself, I like to think about these virtual experiences as either like ABM high touch, high impact, and also comes with high cost events versus a demand gen, an event with a demand gen objective.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So that's high volume, virtual event. Ideally if budgets are unlimited, we could deliver a personalized experience for all 1000 people on those high volume events. I personally don't have those types of budgets right now, but Postal events does make it easy to actually do that should you want to have those kinds of budgets. But the way that we think about it is in those two kind of main categories.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: And then for the small scale events, under 30 people is a really good experience and making sure that people have had the opportunity to network, facilitate, and have a physical experience is what is driving true engagement in a time where we're just stuck on our computers and our slack is going off and our phones are going off and we have kids and we have a lot of distractions.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So the reason why we built Postal events was because we were seeing that people were using our marketplace to send bottles of wine to accompany some kind of virtual experience, whether it was a happy hour virtually, or it was a webinar where they were giving away wine.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: And so we thought, what if we could just combine the logistics of the sending of the things with the things and the vendors and the actual facilitators of those virtual experiences. So local winemakers in Sano Obispo, which is where we're headquarters, or we have a magician who does magic and wine tasting at the same time. And we have all of these really interesting people that we're kind of finding opportunities during the pandemic to build these virtual experiences. And we brought them all into one place.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So now you can book, manage registration, send the thing. And then we see people are way more engaged when they're one, they're keeping their hands busy.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So they can't be typing when they're tasting or eating or doing some kind of activity. So we saw the engagement rate spike and the actual interactions were much better. And then the attendance rate. So I don't know if you guys are seeing this with your enterprise customers, but attendance rate on webinars or any kind of virtual anything has gone down. So across all industries. So we can't just keep trying to get more and more registrations to get to our attendance rate goals. That's the same thing of doing the same thing with different and expecting a different outcome, but we're just not seeing the results we need.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So having this physical kit has been really good to get that attendance rate out. People see it, they get it, they feel like more inclined to come because they're going to experience something with the thing that came in the mail for them.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: And if you don't have the budget, we had a big launch event where we were trying to do high volume lead gen with a comedy show, Second City Comedy. And I only had budget to make 500 boxes. So we had some event kits that came with it and we just did kind of a first 500 signups get the box.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: And then we still saw over 50% attendance rate on that event, even though not all the participants actually got the box, we still saw a really good outcome for that. And we're seeing over 70% attendance rate on all Postal experiences. So I think that's better than industry's average right now, I think is 30.

Ellen Smoley: And I would say definitely we've been hearing the Zoom fatigue and that's how we're, as I mentioned before, breaking through the noise, trying to figure out all of these different ways to get in front of our targeted accounts.

Ellen Smoley: So I love that you talked through those smaller targeted virtual events or virtual settings that you can send those VIP boxes or a lunch and learn or something to keep those people engaged. And so whether you're delivering a demo on the other side, or it is more of just let's get together, do a little bit of networking and have a cheese tasting, it is working. And I love that you are seeing those metrics work behind that.

Ellen Smoley: So thank you for sharing the Postal events. We have also been seeing our clients use them and love them as well.

Ellen Smoley: So moving down to the next key player in account-based marketing, that is sales, and you touched on it earlier, being personalized, making sure that what is being sent is super personalized.

Ellen Smoley: And we know that the more personalized you are in your account based marketing, the better your results are going to be.

Ellen Smoley: So let's kind of talk through some different sales use cases and what you're seeing with your team. And then I can talk a little bit about what we're seeing as well, but how the sales teams are using gifting to drive pipeline.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: Yeah, I mean, in any ABM strategy, like you mentioned, it's a collaboration between marketing and sales and it's like an orchestration that has to work well. But a part of this is the traditional outbound sales motion of, I have a team of SDRs that's calling, trying to make 60 dials a day and they connects one to two times a day, which is worse than they were seen before pandemic. And they're spinning their wheels for how they can get more connects and how they can just get on the phone with people or get people to respond to emails. They're receiving only a couple of... On standard emails they're only seeing a couple of responses per week.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So even accelerating that connect rate by 1% is really meaningful to their quota and breaking into those target accounts that they have. So what we're seeing is if you integrate gifting into a cold sequence, which is not a natural thing to do is to think of sending someone you don't even know a gift in an outreach sequence or a sales loft cadence, we're seeing 65% engagement rate on the sequence.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh:  So before we were seeing like 20% overall people who respond, either negatively or positively, or connected on the phone and had an outcome, we're seeing 65% on those.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So incorporating, and it doesn't have to be something that's super personalized if they don't know them, even just... I mean, this is why I tell them every day, I tell them a hundred percent of people who we've sent chocolates to have liked chocolates.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So in the email, they're like, I haven't heard from you. This is just like, if someone goes cold, goes dark, doesn't respond to them. I assume that you are so busy like all the other people I talk to and I don't want to bother you. So I just wanted to send you a little afternoon treat to make you happy and send a little box of chocolates.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh:  And it's not a hard CTA. It's literally just say, Hey, human to human. We're not going to keep doing this whole, when do you have 15 minutes to chat? When do you have 15 minutes to chat? Do you have 15 minutes to chat? And we found that people are actually really receptive to just that. And it's not super personalized to who they are, where they are. It's just a thoughtful touchpoint with someone they don't know.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh:  And then when they do get that connect where there's been a conversation, the sales team can then use those triggers or things that they've seen. I was on a call with a sales representative the other day, and the partner or customer we were talking to had a daughter that kept coming in and saying that she wasn't feeling good. She had a boo boo. And so the sales rep actually sent him for his daughter, a care package of treats to say, thank you for letting us share the time with you and that would be very unnatural if that interaction didn't happen.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: So there's definitely a right way and a wrong way to gift, which is you don't want to be creepy or spammy, or stalkery if you don't really have any kind of established relationship leading up to that gift. So there's definitely some right and wrong, but it's a lot of common sense and making sure that it feels genuine and just human to human.

Ellen Smoley: And I liked how you said the other day when we were chatting, just like any other marketing tactic, if you're not getting that reciprocation, you can't come off as being spammy.

Ellen Smoley: So maybe it's not sending one person, a couple gifts. It is looking at that buying unit, who's in that ABM account and sending all five of those people, one gift. So you're kind of spreading out the gift love there.

Ellen Smoley: So, Lauren, I know that we are hitting our time here. We have a ton of amazing responses in our chat in regards to what the most memorable gift is that people have received. So let's just take a second and look through these.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: Oh, Brianne got cookies and margaritas. Those are really just the two best things ever.

Ellen Smoley: Wow. That is the way to my heart.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: Mini cheeseboard. These are creative. A couple people said camping kit. I wonder if it's the same? Is it Adobe? I like that one.

Ellen Smoley: Okay. I'm loving this one. This one is from Austin. It says I once sent a surprise and delight box, which surprise and delight box work all the time, with a payday candy bar in it to a hundred prospects. The gimmick was, isn't it time for a bigger payday? And it worked like a charm. So Austin, thanks for the little story and background on that. Love it.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: I also love Chelsea's. Chelsea got a locally sourced gift box from upstate New York, honey and maple syrup, tea, cookies, and popcorn. I love that. And no one says no to snacks. And when you're supporting local small businesses, it's always nice as well.

Ellen Smoley: So Stephanie also had a great response, a virtual vacation in a box. We couldn't travel due to COVID. The kit included a candle, picture frame, and a cozy t-shirt. These are all amazing. And really thank you all for your responses. Austin, I think yours has taken the cake. Thanks again for that story.

Ellen Smoley: Thanks for sharing that with us.

Ellen Smoley: So we will be reaching out and sending you our brew kit this afternoon. We'll reach out via email. Thank you everybody for your time today. We hope that you will join us on our next episode. Lauren, thank you so much for your insights and time. It's been a pleasure talking with you. Thanks for being on the show.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: Yeah, thanks for having me. This was fun. I'm always pro demand gen group.

Ellen Smoley: Yes, we should get together more often.

Lauren Alt Kishpaugh: Yeah, absolutely. All right. Thank you so much.

Ellen Smoley: Thanks everybody. Have a great rest of your day.