Does swag work? An Outreach data science experiment

Posted October 4, 2019

Last year, print book sales rose 7% while sales of ebooks dropped nearly 18%. Why? Many people prefer the physical presence of a book: how it feels in their hands, it’s weight, even its smell, making its realness feel more valuable and more memorable than a digital book.

While books may not be the most common swag, we’ve all heard anecdotes about how sending swag (“stuff we all get”) to prospects is more likely to make a meaningful connection because it’s tangible, and allows reps to stand out against the sea of emails and LinkedIn messages. Our own reps have said that leveraging direct mail has helped move their deals forward, but it got our Data Science team wondering: How swaying is swag?

Experiment Design: Swag + ABM Approach

Our Data Science team partnered with Kotis Design to set up an experiment: how would sending Outreach-branded swag influence prospects in a geography with an existing traditional marketing campaign? The campaign goal was to create greater market awareness, and featured billboards that said, “It’s time your sales software got an upgrade,” and fully-branded buses outfitted in Outreach purple. Since direct mail best practices are to integrate swag within a larger effort, we decided to support a traditional marketing campaign with an account-based marketing (ABM) approach that utilized branded swag and had a tight alignment with sales development.

The Swag

Continuing the juxtaposition of using old sales technologies to sell innovative products, the swag selected was an Outreach-branded box with two items inside: a rubber toy flip-phone circa the early 2000s, and a Qi wireless charging pad for iPhones, Androids, and Samsung devices. Accompanying the two items were two notes that said, “You built a product to bring the world 10 years into the future, why are you selling it with software from 10 years in the past?”

Kotis Design created a branded box to immediately capture attention and beg the question, "What's in the box?"

The swag highlighted the juxtaposition of selling forward-facing tech with sales software from the past.

The Result: 252% Increase in SALs

Across our two test groups, sending swag to prospects led to much more effective conversations with prospects.

Our results showed that the swag group resulted in:

  • 26% greater response rate
  • 3x increase in meetings booked

Total: A combined 252% increase in SALs


The Sales and Data Science teams randomly selected 1,000 prospects who were previously contacted but didn’t respond, with half of them randomly chosen to receive swag while the other half did not. Both sets of prospects were still put into a Sequence, but the Sequence for the swag-receiving prospects had one difference: a few sentences about the swag box.

The data showed that the swag responses was also 3x more effective at converting to meetings, and these opportunities that were created were worth more, ultimately generating a 2.42X increase in opportunity value per prospect.

Swag Best Practices

Will swag work for you and your business? It depends—on the customer, swag selected, and alignment to other campaigns or ABM/ABS strategies. While there’s no universal answer, you can maximize your campaign’s effectiveness by understanding Kotis Design’s Dos and Don’ts for a winning swag strategy.


Make it useful and sticky: Send items that people can use every day so that it’s “sticky” and memorable. We selected a wireless charger because it was an item that prospects could use while at a conference, traveling, or anytime they needed a charge.

Keep it on message: A piece of swag that is on-brand will tie in well with other campaigns or initiatives that your company is running. If you send a piece of swag with a one-off message or in a vacuum, it’s less effective and can cause message misalignment.

Get accurate addresses: This may go without saying, but confirm addresses before sending. This will save you money on undeliverable mail, plus the time and effort of tracking down a misdelivered gift.


Go Cheap: If it’s a product that someone’s just going to throw away, it’s going to do more damage to your brand than if you sent nothing at all.

Go Generic: Know your audience--if you’re targeting a healthcare company, don’t send them fancy cigars, or the latest tech gadgets to a paper company unless you have a key insight into the individual(s).

Send bulky or fragile items: Don’t send glass or fragile items that are liable to break. These will be a hassle for your prospects and also cost you more to ship (and possibly insure).


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