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Are cupcakes really the greatest marketing growth hack of all time?

As marketers we spend a lot of time reading, listening and learning about how we can make our growth funnels more effective and efficient. In order to boost our traffic by 5% or increase our conversion rates by that extra 0.1%, we’re always on the lookout for the next little tip, trick or hack that we can experiment with to see if it helps move the growth needle northwards.

The Inspiration: Some of the most effective tactics are often the simplest

I recently read a post on called The Greatest Marketing Growth Hack of All Time (Hint: Cupcakes), which served as a good reminder of the above lesson on simplicity. In brief, the article discussed RJMetrics, a B2B SaaS company, and how one of their most effective marketing initiatives was a cupcake giveaway of all things. They had previously used iPads to encourage people to participate in surveys or sign up for their webinars, but upon switching the prize to cupcakes their conversion rates skyrocketed. Indeed it’s easy to lose sight of some of those tried and tested techniques that have been around for decades, like a good old promotion, so Inspired by the article, we sprung into action and decided to experiment for ourselves here on The Growth Hub.


The Experiment: Where SaaS metrics & cupcakes collide

To help SaaS companies understand how well their marketing & sales growth machine is operating we’d built SaaS Grader, a simple Typeform quiz that assesses performance against a set of industry benchmark metrics. Within a few hours of reading the original post we had built our cupcakes promotion around this offer. In short, we would select one lucky winner (who would receive a dozen cupcakes delivered to their office) from all those who completed our SaaS Grader within a 12 day timeframe. We did some basic social sharing but we didn’t overly promote it since we wanted to see what effect the giveaway itself had on completion numbers.

Then we pretty much waited...


The Results: How effective was our dessert-driven marketing campaign?

Well, they say the proof is in the pudding and this one was pretty sweet. We ran the promotion for just under two weeks and in that time we actually hit x1.5 our average monthly submission rate. In addition, the numbers didn’t even drop off after the promotion concluded. In fact, somewhat confusingly, the week after the promo saw our highest number of completions in one week and by mid-June we’d already had our most successful month to date in terms of SaaS Grader completions. The time and cost investment on this was almost non-existent, it just took a bit of inspiration, pro-activity  and the Lake Wobegon effect.

However, having said that, we felt there were some things we could have done to get even more out of this initiative. Firstly, our SaaS Grader is typically completed further down the funnel after a higher-level conversion has taken place. With that in mind we may well have been better served by tying this giveaway to a more top-of-the-funnel offer like an eBook, webinar or indeed a survey (like RJMetrics had done).

But overall this proved to be an effective initiative that stayed true to some of our core values such as pro-activity and experimentation. If we were to do this again, then we might even experiment with a hot cup of tea or coffee since Segment’s “Mad Scientist”, Guillaume Cabane, recently shared that they like to surprise their most valuable leads with a hot drink since science has proven them to increase trust between strangers.

So perhaps that could be the next experiment for someone to try out and report on, but until then, we can say that cupcakes might just be the greatest marketing hack of all time.