All That Swag: How We Use Gift Boxes to Delight Our Customers

Background How We Started Project In Action Where We Are Now Share Extending the Goalposts of Customer Delight Conventional business wisdom has long prioritized customer satisfaction. As a customer-centric brand though, we’re not content until we’ve achieved delight! Here at Cloudways, we’re determined to delight our customers beyond their expectations. That’s why our Customer Success […]

Arsalan Sajid
Jun 10, 2021 • 7 Min Read

Extending the Goalposts of Customer Delight

Conventional business wisdom has long prioritized customer satisfaction. As a customer-centric brand though, we’re not content until we’ve achieved delight! Here at Cloudways, we’re determined to delight our customers beyond their expectations.

That’s why our Customer Success team is set on providing the best possible experience to Cloudways customers. And our team of community marketers remains engaged with our growing circle of current customers, prospects and partners.

More than anything, we want the Cloudways name to be associated with building and sustaining strong relationships. And perhaps the sweetest way we’re able to do that is by sending swag boxes to our valued customers and brand advocates!

Why Swag?

Before December 2018, we used to send premium chocolates to our customers as a token of appreciation. And of course, just about everyone loves a tasty treat, but as time went on, it didn’t seem enough. We wanted to create strong and lasting associations with our brand, and in the long run, chocolates just wouldn’t cut it.

Create wow moments for your prospects and watch your online sentiment increase.
Founder, Brandlective Communications

We began to throw around ideas for developing more permanent positive associations in the minds of our customers. That’s when we got the idea of sending gift boxes to the Cloudways community.

We jumped on the idea when we started onboarding our first few customers to the Cloudways Startup Program. The question was, what would those initial customers receive in their swag boxes that would absolutely delight them?

So How Did We Pull it Off?

Of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day. To pull off the execution, we needed to answer some important questions, which we phrased in 4Ws and 1H style:

  • Whom do we send the gifts to?
  • What gifts should we send?
  • Where do we buy the gift items?
  • How do we send the gifts?
  • When do we send the gifts?

All the answers to the question had to keep two things in mind:

  1. Delighting our customers
  2. Building brand recognition

Whom Do We Send The Gifts?

Of course, the gifts were always meant for Cloudways valued customers and brand advocates, but that’s quite the vast community! We needed a process to break down potential recipients to the level we could easily pick or shortlist people to send the gift boxes.

So we started to figure out the answers to some key questions.

What Gifts Should We Send?

This question warranted the most thought – what were we to send? After all, the people receiving them would be likely to be more interested in the gift itself rather than the how and when of receiving it!

When answering this question, we decided we had to pick items aligned with our objective of brand recognition. So it was smartest to send something the recipient would use on a daily basis, or keep close to themselves or in their office space.

In the context of the B2B industry, we thought of all the items people could use or keep at work. The marketing team went wild, of course! After we crossed off some of the zanier suggestions, we were left with a list that looked a little like this:

  • T-shirt
  • Socks
  • Travel Mug
  • Coffee/Tea Mug
  • Keychains
  • Pen
  • Notepad
  • Stickers
  • Cap
  • iPad/Tablet Case
  • Books

Finally, we shortlisted four items for our first cycle:

  • T-shirt
  • Notepad
  • Stickers
  • Books

Based on community feedback, over time we included more stuff (pens, caps, keychains, wallets) in our box.

And now on to the most hectic part of the process…logistics.

Where Do We Buy the Gift Items?

On the face of it, this sounds like an easy enough question to answer. Outsource this task to some online store, and all you have to do is select the available items and have them send it to a particular address with a handwritten note.

But well, we wanted more, so easy was out the window!

In our case, we wanted personalized messaging and branded packaging to reinforce our brand recognition. Above all, we wanted to be sure our gift items were of good quality. And we could only guarantee this if we purchased and packed all the items of our gift box ourselves.

We started the hunt for local printing press manufacturers and asked them for samples of each of our items. In our quest for perfection, we rejected more than ten samples of just stickers! As for the notepads and t-shirts, those turned out to be tricky for the vendors to make as well, and so we spent patient hours ensuring all the items turned outright.

After all that, we still have to go through the trouble of shortlisting, sampling, rejecting and approving items from vendors each time we introduce a new item in our range! At least now we have the experience of managing it all while sticking to the deadlines we set for each task of this campaign.

Now we have a stock of all the items plus the gift box. Whenever it’s time to send the gift box(es), we just pick the items, insert them in our Cloudways branded box, write a personalized note, pack it, and send it.

How Do We Deliver the Gifts?

Thankfully we didn’t have to think much about this part! Our DHL Express account saved us the trouble. We trust DHL with the task of picking gift packages right from our doorstep and delivering them to our beloved customers and community champions.

When Do We Send the Gifts?

This is the only question we have a vague answer to. We haven’t fixed a time for sending the gift boxes, except for the new year. Two out of three cycles were planned and executed in the New Year’s of 2019 and 2020. Other than that, we sent gift boxes on random occasions to our customers and community members.

Mastering the Process Through Each New Cycle

Since this campaign was the first of its kind for us at Cloudways, we decided to skip the fancy stuff and start lean. It worked out quite well!

Bootstrapping the Process

For our first cycle, we picked only ten portfolio startups from the Cloudways Startup Program to send the gift boxes to. This small number helped us achieve our product-market fit at the time, and we developed a plan on scaling once we’d achieved our objectives for the first cycle.

Here’s what Gabriel from Incluyeme had to say about the gift box when he received it:

Mastering and Then Scaling the Process

The initial response from startups gave us a boost of confidence. We decided to scale the process and plan another cycle dedicated to our brand advocates and community influencers. And we now had a name for our gifts – the Cloudways Community Love Boxes!

This time we tripled the number of recipients. The hardest part was picking people from the list our community managers sent us, filled as it was with hundreds of names who love and promote (live and breathe, as Ahsan Parvez, Former Marketing Manager put it) Cloudways.

Now that we were done with two cycles and many occasional gifts during giveaways, we were confident enough to theme our third cycle around our valued customers.

For this latest cycle we created a list of 500 customers from around the world and picked 70 customers from it to send the gifts. All of them were super excited about receiving them, and let us know their T-shirt sizes well in advance!

They also let us know how excited they were about their boxes!

At this point, we believe we’ve mastered this process enough that we can send 500 boxes around the world.

The Swag We’ve Spread So Far

To date, we have completed three cycles of gifts to people around the world, from Australia to America. Here’s the breakdown of each cycle with respect to the number of gift boxes and themes.

1st Cycle: 10 boxes sent to portfolio startups from the Cloudways Startup Program

2nd Cycle: 31 boxes sent to brand advocates who promote us in different communities and to their customers.

3rd Cycle: 70 boxes sent to valued customers using Cloudways at its full potential, and of course, recommending it to others.

4th Cycle: Currently on-hold.

Till now, we’ve sent 150+ swag boxes to our customers and community champions around the world. We have also sent around 2250 t-shirts, 1050 notepads, 500 pens, 200 caps, and Cloudways stickers (we can’t count how many!) to events and meetups around the world, such as WordCamps, EU Startup Summit and CraftCMS Meetup.

Since the pandemic, we’ve put a pause on sending gift boxes in batches. Instead, we’re sending swag items to our new Mavericks and partners on an individual basis. In the meantime, as we await a return to some normalcy, we’re making bigger and better plans for our fourth cycle!

The Delightful Part

We had one goal when we started working on the swag boxes: to connect with our customers and make our community happy.

What we didn’t expect was it being some of the most fun we’ve had working at Cloudways. And we can’t wait to send our next cycle of gifts to our customers and advocates!