3 Lessons Learned from Real Customer Gifts

3 Lessons Learned from Real Customer Gifts

In case you missed the memo (here and here), it’s customer gift season!

We shared customer gift timelines.

We shared specific gift suggestions.

Today we cover real life customer gifts and the surprising lessons learned!

3 Lessons Learned From Real Customer Gifts

Lesson #1: It’s Not About Money

Amazon Gift Cards vs Branded Cookie Basket

In the early years of Pardot, we gave $100 Amazon gift cards (physical ones) with handwritten thank you notes to our top users. Pretty nice gift, right?

When Pardot was acquired by Exact Target, we suddenly had Big Company Marketing Energy.

Behold…the custom, branded cookie basket.

Cookies in the shape of an email icon, logos and company colors on everything, hot cocoa and a mug to complete the cozy vibe.

Cute but affordable. $40 per basket (with bulk discount).

Our customers freaking LOVED THEM. 

I got more enthusiastic thank yous from a $40 cookie basket than from thousands of dollars of gift cards.

Thoughtful, branded, and creative gifts beat out expensive and generic ones.

Lesson #2: Know Your Customer

Swear Words + Engineers

The highest value swag of all time, hands down, were ceramic Rigor coffee mugs for $10 each.

  • Rigor Logo on one side
  • GET SHIT DONE on the other
  • Used daily by customers
  • Sat on desks as decor
  • Requested by prospects, visitors, friends
  • FLEW off our shelves

Why so popular?

  • Engineers (often) love coffee.
  • Engineers are (sometimes) irreverent and funny.  
  • Engineers (usually) want to be left in peace to code.

(DISCLAIMER: Not all engineers love coffee and swear words, okay??)

The mugs were simple, fun, a little bit edgy, and a perfect fit for our techie customers.

The idea was inspired by a coffee mug from the internet with the same phrase.

We added a logo and…

Voila! Customer gift magic!

Find a great item that fits the personality and interests of your typical user. Like Lesson #1, creativity outperforms dollars spent.

Lesson #3: Make It Personal

Does Your Sister Own A Goat Farm?

It’s the gift I still talk about.

Strangers say, “The most incredible swag I ever got was…”

I finish their sentence. We’re always talking about the same gift.


In December 2020, Rippling sent a box of four caramels to its customers.

Handmade caramels.

From a goat farm.

Owned by the sister of the Rippling CEO.

In the most beautiful packaging.

With a note from Parker Conrad about working from his sister’s Vermont goat farm during the pandemic.


Do you need to have a sister who owns a goat farm to give a great gift?


But if you don’t have a sister or a goat farm, is there a person or business in your life with a unique product?

What about a customer who has a gift-worthy item? Or a local company with a quirky brand?

Tell the why behind the gift and explain the personal connection. The present goes from mundane to goat-farm-magical with a heartfelt story.

A well-executed personal connection or story makes a deeply memorable gift.


What has been the most popular customer gift you’ve given or received? Any fun or noteworthy lessons learned?