Email Marketing + Promotional Gifts = a Great Idea?


I often write about my great passion – social media marketing – but it would be a good idea to take a peek into other marketing channels as well if only to widen our horizons. Thus I will make a detour into two fields. First, into e-mail marketing and, secondly, into promotional gifts. I have even written a couple of times about the first one, but with the other, I have no recent personal experience. My own company does not yet have pens with our logo, not to mention some of the much fancier items available today. For the promotional gifts part, I asked for advice from the experts at Logotrade.

From this article, you will learn about:

  • Why use email marketing?
  • What to consider before sending out emails?
  • What to consider when sending a bulk email to a list of your promotional gifts?
  • An expert opinion on which promotional gifts are most popular at the moment.

In my work of making presentations, I see advertising gifts of all sorts given out more and more often. So I have received socks, a blouse from the Estonian Folk Art and Craft Union and from my favorite email marketing service provider Smaily, and chocolates from Stenbock House. Enjoying and wearing these gifts fill my heart with warmth.

Why use email marketing?

You should use email marketing because it is one of the longest-used Internet marketing methods, and it works very effectively to this day. A well-structured newsletter makes a client open and respond to it. Low-quality content, however, helps the letter to quickly migrate into the trash folder and invites clients to click the “unsubscribe” link. Thus, email marketing is definitely not an easy task. It needs a lot of thought, creativity, and dedication.

So I started thinking about combining internet marketing with corporate gifts. And I will analyze it for you here.

With email marketing, the target group of an average enterprise tends to be quite diverse. Not much thought has gone into finding the market segments, and that is why offering products by email is not an easy task. Because your subscribers can be of any age group, with different professions, interests, and genders, it is difficult to predict which promotional product will bring success to the company.

How to conduct effective email marketing?

In order for your next email marketing campaign for your services and products to be effective, consider the following tips:

1. Establish an ultimate goal

It is of the utmost importance that before a campaign, you establish a clear and measurable goal. Bear it in mind and proceed towards it throughout the whole process. How could you prove to your potential clients the quality of your products and services? At the same time, you should not forget your existing clients! That means, while wishing to liven up your email list’s activity with promotional products, do not concentrate only on new subscribers.

2. Avoid spamming

Spamming is the biggest mistake that people make in e-mail marketing. To avoid spamming, you have to choose the right frequency for your e-mails, leaving the client the freedom to “unsubscribe” from your newsletters. To create a so-called “best frequency”, the patterns of “unsubscribing” by the target groups must be observed and analyzed. At the same time, the newsletters should not be sent out too rarely. Otherwise, the list members will forget that they once accepted to be in it, and this will cause a bigger flood of unsubscribers.

My experience with the frequency of newsletters

When I myself first started building an email list, I constantly felt that I did not have anything so exciting to say that it was worth sending out another letter. I procrastinated for many months. Finally, I sent out the letter and got around ten unsubscriptions. By now, I have established a certain rhythm of sending out about one letter per month, and I have fewer unsubscribers, usually 1-2 per month. At the same time, the list itself has grown manyfold.

3. Create a well-presented design

The visual appearance of the newsletter is one of its most important factors. Only a very well-designed newsletter and a letter template that forwards the information in a simple way will succeed. No matter how great your product or service is, poorly or boringly designed emails leave customers indifferent. Tiny details are important, starting from the composition and placement to the size of a photo.

My experience with the template of newsletters

I created a template for my newsletter in Smaily. I keep reusing the template while changing the content, of course, but leaving the elements generally the same. I consider this to be good in the sense of branding – recipients of the newsletter will recognize the familiar design and know who it is from. Also, this way, you save a lot of time. Building every letter from scratch would take much longer.

4. Clear Call-to-Action (CTA)

As with other marketing activities, the ultimate goal of email marketing is to make people take action in the desired direction. In order for this to happen, it is necessary to ask them to take action. In marketing language, this means that you have to create an attractive CTA. So don’t forget to create a clear call-to-action.

My experience with the call-to-action in newsletters

I have found that the smallest details can make a big difference. For example, we once ran an A/B test on a thousand-member mailing list where half received the call-to-action “Order now!” and the other “I will order now!” (In Estonian: „Telli kohe!“ and „Tellin kohe!“; with only one letter – ‘n’ – difference!) What do you think – which one won? In our test, the “I will order now!” won substantially. I have seen other studies with similar recommendations – by making the message more personal, the percentage of desired actions will increase.

5. Choose the right marketing techniques

The goal of every company is to get their customer’s attention, and they do anything possible for it. But only some will truly succeed. Only a few companies are smart enough to understand the right marketing techniques. Offering advertising products to the followers is not commonly used, as far as I know. At least I haven’t found any letters in my mailbox where a company offers any promotional items just because I am on their newsletter list. However, this could be a clear way to stand out from your competition.

6. Grow your mailing list with the help of social media

Advertising in social media is, in my opinion, the easiest and often the most cost-effective way to reach your target audience. Therefore, from time to time, while making postings on your social media walls, do not forget to post an invitation to join your email list. Inviting people to subscribe to newsletters gives your company the opportunity to make more personal contacts with your subscribers.

Moreover, these days, the reach of corporate social media posts is visibly on a downward trend. However, my email open rate remains more or less constant and is often tens of times higher than social media click-through rates. This is especially true when it’s not just sharing some new articles on social media but original postings.

My experience with social media + newsletter

I have integrated into my company’s Facebook page a sign-up form for joining the newsletter*. Not many join through it, but some do. You should take advantage of every opportunity.

What to consider when sending a bulk email about your promotional gifts?

1. Who should you send gifts to?

First and foremost, you should think about your company’s profit. If your email list consists of tens of thousands of people, then it probably would not be cost-effective to send gifts to all of them. Of course, if you have physical stores, you may consider the option of having the client visit their nearest store to get the promotional gift. It is inconvenient for the customer, but it could turn out to be profitable for you in a commercial sense as maybe the client will buy something from the shelf in addition to collecting the free gift.

A cheaper option is to hold a monthly draw for the list members for X number of gifts. It is also a good way to grow your email list.

2. Keep your target group in mind

As with any other marketing activity, you must first consider your target group. You should know more or less who your current followers are and who you would like to involve in the future. Based on this information and considering the customer’s consumption needs, you can choose the most suitable promotional gifts.

3. Do not make it difficult to get the product

Inform your customers clearly about how they can get the promotional items and what they need to do for that. As a company, you must consider that you will probably need to send the goods to your customers by post, so better avoid too big gifts. As much as I would love to send all my fan base a bean-bag chair with a logo as a gift, in an economical and common sense, it would not be reasonable.

4. Choose a product that is representative of your company

Choosing the right promotional product will also guide you to the right target group. The products you give to your potential or existing customers should align with their interests and the principles of your business to give the consumer a positive impression of your company.

One criterion could, of course, be practicality. A plastic frisbee may be a good and affordable gift, but if your client never plays with it, the gift is useless.

What are the trendiest promotional gifts at the moment?

I am not an old hand in this area. The last time when I ordered a promotional gift was a couple of years ago. So I asked an expert for advice. As I had pleasant dealings with a company called Logotrade a few years ago, I turned again to their representative, Anti Saluneem, on this subject. His thoughts were:

At the moment, the trendiest promotional and corporate gifts are definitely those which are made of recyclable materials – be it promotional socks, flat caps, umbrellas, t-shirts, or key rings. In addition, Estonians are very practical, and that is why they wish to buy promotional products which are visible and in everyday use, such as drinking bottles, mugs, t-shirts, slippers, etc.

The newest trend is that promotional items are connected to the Internet or the “Internet of Things”. We also have products like a smart IoT adapter. In addition, there is an increasing number of products using augmented reality that combine a virtual product or service with a promotional gift. Also, very personal business gifts are in fashion, where within 24 hours, a promotional gift is prepared with a personal event-related message and/or a person’s name. With the advancement of technology, there are many new ways to embed symbols on the product, whether it is direct printing on a t-shirt or even on tennis shoes. Of course, you should not forget about 3D-printed promotional gifts! We can, for example, make absolutely tailor-made promotional gifts from pure silver!” 


A guest post by Brit Mesipuu, Milos OÜ.

What to keep in mind:

  • Concentrate on your target group.
  • Choose a product that suits your company’s desired image.

Next: Email Marketing Glossary: Understand the Terminology

Many people are at a loss for a response when someone uses some marketing jargon. It can be tricky to understand the marketing lingo and all the technical terms. Thus, in our next blog post, we have put together a glossary of popular email marketing terms to make it easy for you to learn how to intellectually handle the situation.

Make sure you check our blog regularly, and don’t forget to subscribe to our emails. Or you may want to follow up on the last blog post on the Client case study – is it possible to grow your newsletter click rate from 3% to 14%? if you’ve missed it.


* Unlike the time this article was written, as of now, it is no longer possible to add a mailing list subscription form to a Facebook page. Nevertheless, alternative methods exist to expand your email list through this social media platform, which you can explore in our article here. – ed.