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Personalizing swag in pursuit of stronger customer relationships - the rise of gifting in direct marketing

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher February 11, 2020
Sendoso is a gifting platform that provides direct mail, corporate gifting, customer swag, perishables, and more. Kris Rudeegraap, Sendoso CEO and co-founder, discusses the gifting market and how brands are fitting it into the customer lifecycle.


Kris Rudeegraap, CEO of Sendoso, started as a salesperson. He was always looking for creative ways to stand out using things like notes and Starbucks gift cards; he even had a swag closest.

The problem was, although it was a good idea and for Rudeegraap a way to get away from spammy email, it took hours to organize. He asked marketing for help, but that involved a spreadsheet and was still a painful, manual, and time-intensive process.

That gave Rudeegraap the idea for Sendoso. When the company launched, it had 50 customers overnight, incorporating both a physical and digital gifting program.

You can send out pretty much anything with Sendoso. A few examples Rudeegraap offered:

  • Decoder glasses with a message.
  • Bottle of wine with a locked combination code (you have to call to get the code and open the bottle).
  • Custom lego mini-figures that look like the prospect.
  • Dog toys for National Dog Day.

Sendoso has warehouses across the globe that provide real-time order and sending management, and it integrates with both Marketing and Sales tech stacks, including Salesforce, HubSpot, Outreach, Salesloft, Marketo, Eloqua, SurveyMonkey, and others.

The integration is simple and makes it easier for all departments in the company to leverage it; it’s not just a marketing tool. Marketing, Sales, Customer Success can integrate it into the software they work with every day, triggering Sendoso to send a gift with a personalized written note.

The company is currently analyzing data and putting together a research report for later this year, but early indications are that companies are spending more time and money on unique items like custom packages, perishables, eGift cards, and more.

Leveraging gifting across the company

Rudeegraap and I talked about how ownership of gifting has evolved from being owned and managed by the marketing department to each department to manage their own gifting strategies and budgets. The integration with CRM means that everyone has visibility into what the other departments are doing. It’s also enabled them to determine the ROI of gifting, including:

  • 450% return on closed revenue.
  • 20% increase in sales meetings.
  • 1 in 3 cold contacts converted into conversations.
  • 55% increase in net new opportunities.

The company just announced it raised another $40 million in Series B funding and it brought in several new executives to help take it to the next level. Rudeegraap said they plan to use the funds on product innovation and R&D, and growing the team across all roles in the company. Sendoso will also expand into some new markets and industries.

What new capabilities can you add to a platform like Sendoso? Rudeegraap wouldn’t spill their plans, but he did mention that they are looking at new ways to leverage all the data they capture to do things like suggested sends and scheduling. Enhancing the mobile experience is also on the lists, as are new integrations.

The gifting market is growing

Sendoso might have been the first platform of its kind, but it certainly isn’t the only one. There are others, some similar (like Alyce), others more boutique-style like  BOXFOX, which I found listening to a Shopify Podcast.

The research shows that direct mail is a good way to cut through the digital noise that permeates consumers’ lives - both personal and business. According to a Forrester report, Direct Mail Captures The Attention Of Buyers Overwhelmed By Digital Tactics, only 20% of B2B marketers take advantage of direct mail today, so there is a lot of opportunity for platforms like Sendoso to grow. Forrester principal analyst, Steven Casey notes: 

Done right — precisely targeted, appropriately personalized, and immediately followed up upon — direct mail can help you cut through the digital clutter, gain an invaluable moment of attention, and move more prospects closer to conversion.

But it’s not an either-or situation when it comes to deciding whether to do gifting or email or other tactics. Gifting - physical and digital - is one component of your customer experience strategy. Casey adds:

Think of direct mail as a complement to everything else you do, another tool that can help you throughout the customer journey — to secure more meetings, drive increased event attendance, revive dormant opportunities, and shorten the sales cycle.

My take

Brian Murray, Managing Director of Craft Ventures, one of the venture capital firms backing Sendoso, makes a great point:

Sendoso addresses the very real problem of the pendulum swinging too far in the direction of efficiency and speed, while thoughtfulness and consideration hover at an all-time low. Sendoso helps companies get back to that practice of thoughtful gifting without slowing down.

Digital engagement has done a lot to help grow business, but it has also, in many ways, removed much of the relationship-building aspects that not only win customers but also keep them. Leveraging tools like Sendoso and others can help put a greater focus on the relationship.

Rudeegraap talked about the different approaches to gifting that allow a brand to “surprise and delight” - like the wine bottle or decoder glasses or allow the customer to select their own gift, including giving money to a charity of choice. Deciding on which approach is right for a customer means the marketer, salesperson, or customer success person is thinking about the customer first. And that will make the difference.   

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