How Smartly.io’s Gifting Framework Landed 200+ Meetings with Execs
Gift wrapping is hard. You’ve got to choose the right paper, smooth awkward corners, and manage the unruly tape. Yet anyone can attest to the beauty of a sparkling, well-wrapped gift. The paper is sturdy, and the edges are neat; perhaps it’s even topped with a big bow. Sure, the gift inside might be the same delivered in a paper bag, but it looks far more appealing.
Similarly, how you “wrap” your prospecting gift is important, too. Is it wrapped in a spammy-looking email? Or is the message and writing prepared with intention? For Stanton Quan, getting the messaging right is the most critical part of successful gifting — more important than the gift itself.
As Global Head of Sales Development at the social media advertising platform Smartly.io, Stanton knows a lot about the value of insight and personalization. It’s what brought him to start using Alyce in October 2020 as an innovative way to reach new customers.
“If there's one thing that generated the most meetings for us in 2022, from any vendor, it has been Alyce. We can directly correlate that.”
— Stanton Quan
Global Head of Sales Development | Smartly.io
meetings booked from gifting
meetings with VP or higher titles
of meetings were qualified
At first, it was a bumpy ride — they weren’t getting the open rates they wanted, and for a moment, they almost gave up on gifting in their strategy altogether.
“We took a step back and thought, maybe this gifting thing doesn’t work,” he said.
But they stuck with it. They began testing different messaging and experimenting with when they sent corporate gifts within the sales cadence. Suddenly, it started to work so well that the company signed an early renewal contract with Alyce.
The biggest lesson learned along the way? The message is the make-or-break motivator that can open doors and create unrivaled customer relationships. But it’s all in how you do it.
The Decision to Gift
Smartly.io’s Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) target many customer personas, from performance marketers to the VPs of Digital Marketing and CMOs.
This audience poses an exciting challenge: How do you reach these key players at all levels? The Sales team first debated if they should use the same solution as Smartly.io’s Marketing team, which focused on physical gifts and company branding. After careful consideration, the company went in a different direction.
“People’s mindsets have shifted,” Stanton said. “I think people used to be into swag, and when you go to in-person events, it’s much different. But when you’re talking about prospecting efforts — frankly, people don’t care about cupcakes anymore.”
Stanton realized that prospects care about things that impact them personally before connecting with a company. Maybe they do like cupcakes. If so, send them a gift card to their favorite shop. Adding personalization is what Smartly.io thrives on. It led them to move away from traditional swag and focus on more creative gifting campaigns.
Why Smartly.io chose Alyce:
- The global focus. With an international global sales team, Smartly.io has a strong presence in North America, EMEA, and APAC. The prospecting landscape has evolved, creating a need to connect not only across countries but across cultures, too. Alyce has firsthand expertise with global gifting.
- The desire to stand out. Competition is fierce. Stanton found that diversifying outreach and finding unique ways of engaging with prospects is key. For Smartly.io, bringing on a gifting solution like Alyce became a huge part of this strategy.
- The personalization. With Alyce, you have options. You can choose which type of gift to send, helping the team to personalize gifts based on the prospect’s interests. They can exchange it or donate their gift value if they want something else. That’s the Power of Choice.
- The sign of the times. Smartly.io started gifting with Alyce during the pandemic when customer behavior had drastically changed. Since people were working remotely, they grew more sensitive to sharing their personal information. Smartly.io wanted to find a solution that could deliver instant gifts that could transcend the physical with experiences or donation options.
Once they realized Alyce could integrate with their tech stack and workflows, it was a no-brainer. Smartly.io sales reps quickly incorporated gifting into their routines, like their daily outreach through emails and social networks.
End of Summer Gifting Campaign Booked 200+ Meetings
Smartly.io SDRs initially aimed to send at least ten gifts per week. Today, they send up to 35 personal gifts at select touchpoints.
With gifting in one-to-one sales cadences, Smartly.io achieved tremendous success with its outbound marketing strategy.
In 2022, Smartly.io launched an end-of-summer campaign to support their prospects during the lull before the holidays. The messaging was all about preparing for the holiday season. They focused on a select group of strategic prospects and used a personalized, automated template.
With just a few clicks, prospects could choose between three gift cards: Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber Eats. If they didn’t like these options, they could choose from Alyce’s gift marketplace with more than 30,000 gifts.
Stanton recognized there could be fewer conversions due to the automation — but after just two weeks, they booked 200 meetings. Of these, over 50% have already turned into qualified sales opportunities.
Even better, nearly 40% of the meetings booked were with prospects at the VP level and above. Quite frankly, Stanton was shocked.
“We were getting into tier-one accounts with VPs that we’ve never been able to get in the door with,” Stanton said. “Regardless of how well that meeting goes — whether they’re ready to buy now — our job is to get in the door, right?”
The campaign’s performance overcame past attempts. Stanton uncovered why it was so effective. They focused on the messaging. Once they crafted the right messaging around the gift, they began seeing results.
“You have to really stand out, and the key is to invest in the message that you’re sending,” Stanton said. “Our SDR teams probably have less activity than the average SDR, but we execute better, because we think strategically about how we do it.”
Here are a few tips he and the team at Smartly.io have learned about how to wrap the perfect Alyce gifting link.
7 Helpful Tips to ‘Wrap’ Outreach Gifts the Right Way
While Stanton leads the global sales team, he relies on Smartly.io SDRs to develop creative ideas around messaging and outreach. He observed that when the “gift wrapping” is right, it leads to improved connections and better outcomes for the team, like increased conversions.
“Alyce multiplies the creativity across our team,” Stanton said. “It helps us think about unique ways to engage with prospects. That to me is a perfect story about how you can get meetings in many different ways.”
So, how does Smartly.io tie a perfect bow with its messaging strategy? Here are seven ways:
1) Keep your subject lines personable.
The flooded inbox has become a common woe of today’s modern worker. More often than not, it’s spam. This noisy environment has resulted in a mistrust of emails that sellers need to combat. Stanton recommends doing this by keeping subject lines introductory and conversational to help build trust with the prospect.
For example, avoid saying “FREE GIFT INSIDE,” which could likely land in the spam folder. Instead, try something more confident and direct, “A gift for you, from Smartly.io.”
2) Focus on the first line.
Okay, so you got someone to click on the email. Now, what?
While your subject line is the hook, the first line is the anchor. The first line will determine if your customer engages with your content or delete it in three seconds.
“A lot of people think the subject line is more important than the first line,” Stanton said. “I actually think the opposite, given that you can provide context on something unique.”
For example, here’s a peek at the gifting email template Smartly.io used in the End of Summer Campaign:
3) Highlight mutual connections.
A shared connection can help build trust with your prospects. It creates a familiarity that encourages them to choose you over a competitor. You can do this by looking at their LinkedIn or even their Facebook.
Yes, it may take a little extra time, but the added detail and personalization make the difference between a bland email and one that gets a click.
4) Consider leveraging video.
No one wants a gift from a robotic-sounding company email. A personal video adds a human touch to make your outreach more fun. Pair video messaging with gifting.
This extra step works incredibly well if you’re doing a one-to-one send. “The results are worth it,” said Stanton.
5) Craft a clever story.
Creating value is super important, especially in these initial stages. Tell the story behind why you chose the gift. 6sense saw success this way with their gifting campaign, which involved a gift for Nike shoes and resulted in $3.6 million in pipeline.
With Stanton’s “End of Summer” campaign, his team crafted messaging around the transition from summer to fall. That is, the sadness of letting go of summer and the energy of getting back into the groove. They tailored gifts to this story, allowing recipients to plan one more vacation or order their favorite meal and relax. As a result, the company booked 200 meetings with prospects.
“When we first started with gifting, we were too salesy. We weren’t telling a story,” Stanton said. “What we’ve learned is that the gift is an analogy to something bigger. Make sure you have a story and a message that resonates toward your value-add.”
6) Use a call to action (CTA).
There are mixed perspectives on whether to use a call-to-action in your gifting email. Stanton and his team tested both options, and they saw more success when they included the CTA, such as a calendar link for booking a meeting. When the recipient has warm, fuzzy feelings from a gift, they are more likely to reciprocate by booking a meeting.
You can do this in a couple of ways with Alyce. The meeting required option lets recipients pick a time that works after they accept the gift. Alternatively, the post-gift CTA points them to a meaningful piece of content or upcoming event.
7) Be someone who cares.
Stanton touts the value of empathy. We foster a genuine human connection when we’re real with others and truly care about them. This ethos must be infused into the messaging to show you care and how you can help them. The last impression you want is trying to get a meeting to meet a quota.
“Ultimately, you have to come off as very empathetic. You can’t be too salesy. Otherwise, everything comes off as inauthentic,” Stanton said. “We want our messaging to show people that we genuinely are trying to help.”
It’s not disingenuous, either. Stanton and his team believe Smartly.io is a product that can genuinely help recipients. A gift is simply an added moment of joy and a great way to get their attention.
Industry: Digital Advertising
Headquartered: Helsinki, Finland
Powering beautifully effective ads, Smartly.io automates every step of social advertising to unlock greater performance and creativity and is a leading Facebook marketing partner. The company combines creative technology, ad buying automation, and intelligence with outstanding customer service to help 700+ brands scale their results—on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and TikTok. Last year, Smartly.io acquired Ad-Lib.io and Viralspace.ai and is now a fast-growing community of over 500 Smartlies with 21 offices around the world, managing over $4B in annual ad spend and growing rapidly and profitably.
- How to stand out through unique, authentic messaging
- How gifting can improve processes and provide seamless outreach
- How to develop creative campaigns using gifting
“Alyce multiplies the creativity across our team to think about unique ways to engage with prospects.”
— Stanton Quan
Global Head of Sales Development | Smartly.io
Deliver Prospect Outreach Worth Remembering
Smartly.io leverages the power of gifting and authentic messaging strategies to connect with their customers on more than just a sales level but also a human level.
“Times are tough,” Stanton said. “Right now, gifts are something that people actually cherish, maybe more than they have before.”
In short, and at the risk of sounding cheesy, gifting must come from the heart. Rather than throwing high-priced items at someone in exchange for a meeting, the best gifting links are wrapped in genuine messaging and align with a greater story.
With Alyce, Smartly.io develops creative campaigns that delight prospects by connecting with their interests, personality, and goals. What’s more, Alyce adds a fun touch that turns outreach into moments that the prospect won’t soon forget.
Want to see how gifting can enhance your outreach? Connect with an Alyce gifting expert for a personalized demo.