by Mike Sharkey, Co-Founder & CEO, Autopilot

Swag Marketing: How Marketers from New Relic and Atlassian Grew Their Business with T-shirts

In 2013 Patrick Moran over at New Relic announced a huge milestone for his marketing team. It wasn’t marketing qualified leads, revenue or conversion rate increases. It was T-shirts. Yes, I said t-shirts. New Relic had shipped over 75,000 t-shirts to their customers.

Back in 2012 Moran explained the genius behind New Relic’s swag marketing:

“New Relic is a new concept; sure, we have over 15,000 active accounts and many times more users than that, but the idea of a SaaS app performance tool is still pretty new to a lot of people. To get people over the hump of ‘hey, neat idea – maybe I’ll try it someday’, and move ‘em to ‘Rockin’, now’s the time!’ We offer incentives. We’ve tried RC helicopters, but t-shirts are much more cost effective. So far, we’ve given a few hundred of these incentives away, and we’re not going to stop.”

T-shirts worked. The company hasn’t shared exact numbers but if you do the math 75,000+ shirts probably equates to 75,000 new signups and deployments.

Atlassian also does swag marketing. They always use t-shirts as calls-to-action to move people through their sales funnels. Their swag has been so popular they even opened a swag store.

SaaS companies are changing how software is being sold

Companies like New Relic, Atlassian and Dropbox are all changing the way businesses buy and install software. The velocity at which these companies deliver used to require a large sales force, steak lunches, implementation specialists and consultants. In other words, a ton of money up front and loads of time to get set up.

New Relic, Dropbox and Atlassian’s high velocity SaaS (Software as a Service) has thrown this business model entirely out the window. They use blogging, branding, events, community, word of mouth, automation and lead nurturing, product virality, PPC and SEO to draw users to their website, educate them about their product and get them up and running in minutes.

How swag affects the funnel

In New Relic’s case the t-shirt replaces the salesperson. The t-shirt is a motivator for their buyers (software developers) to try the software and deploy it. New Relic knows their product’s value is better shown, not told. The t-shirt overcomes the trial to activation “hump” so they get the chance to “show”.

The Swag Funnel

The cost of the “t-shirt” is nothing compared to the gain of overcoming two of the hardest challenges for the company:

  • Getting people to try New Relic
  • Getting people to deploy the software

This strategy helps evangelize the software in style.

How do you use swag? Or are you thinking about using it to grow your conversions? Share your thoughts below.

Author Mike Sharkey, Co-Founder & CEO, Autopilot

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    • Kris Rudeegraap

      Great post! The fulfillment and management of programs like this can be tricky to implement at scale. At we help with this and sending all types of eGifts, swag, customer gifts, and more.

    • We helped New Relic launch & manage this program for many years. It was a huge success and a key part of their marketing strategy. Here’s a case study on New Relic’s swag marketing in partnership with –>

      If you’re interested in launching a similar program I’d be happy to talk. Contact me through our website:

      Casey Schorr
      Co-founder, Printfection

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