The Things I Will Do For A $10 T-Shirt

$20 Gift Card – No, Thank You

3 Free Months – maybe I’ll sign up tomorrow

Free TShirt – OMG! I will do anything for it!!

I’m not really sure what it is about free t-shirts but they seem to work on me. MixPanel an analytics company (similar to Google Analytics but makes it easy to go more granular in your data) sent me the email above. I thought this was pretty genius.

Over the Integration Hump

Integrating MixPanel takes a little bit of work. A little bribe goes a long way to get people like me to actually take the time to do it. MixPanel has good lock-in power too once you actually start using it – it is hard to stop. A $10 t-shirt is chump change if you upgrade to their Startup – $150 package.

Good work MixPanel Marketing Team!

Converting Free Sign Ups to Free Users

The only way to convert people from your free plan to your paid plan is to first make sure they actually use your product. MailChimp does a great job of this as well. After your send your first email campaign they send you a free t-shirt.

What have companies done to get you to start using their product? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. I always sign up at those clothing retailers (Gap, BR, Macy’s, etc) credit cards to get 20% off at the point of sale. That really helps me get over the hump

  2. My guess, is that people can relate better to something tangible. A service, and even gift cards are kind of abstract. But a t-shirt… you can actually touch a t-shirt. Even if it’s a lower value, I’d want one (that was cool looking) over free service too… especially because I would rationalize that the company wasn’t REALLY losing anything by providing me with free service, but they are spending money on t-shirts… makes them seem legit.

    • Great point Jenni! You totally nailed it.

      I do tend to devalue non-tangible things. So a t-shirt, something I can actually physically touch seems amazing!

      This happens especially with phone apps. I have a car locator app that I download for free and provides me tremendous value (saves me so much time and stress to know exactly where my car is), however I have yet to upgrade to the paid version.

  3. Hey Rishi, here’s a scene from the recent Teva Mountain Games ( ) in Vail that made me think of you and your hilarious post about people going to lengths they usually wouldn’t if there’s a free T involved.

    This is a line of people who are waiting for free Ts at the games. The line has moved beyond the large tent and staging area and onto the sidewalk, making that stretch of sidewalk nearly impassable. There is a professional bmx slopestyle event going on in the adjacent grounds to the right, which these people likely came to this area of the gaming arena to enjoy, but as you can see from the picture many are now more interested in the process by which the free T is being distributed that the 25-foot forward flip happening nearby.

    • John! This is simply amazing.

      It is funny how well a simple free t-shirt works. “Forget the actual reason we are here (to enjoy games) by lets stand in line for a free T-Shirt!”


  4. Rishi, NewRelic is doing this too, with *great* success. They also have a complicated multi-step signup process and use t-shirts to “lubricate” their funnel.

    Zendesk, Twilio, WPengine, BigCommerce, and countless others are using variations of “merchandise marketing” as well. Some to increase leads, some to work leads through their funnel, and some to say thanks on a one-year anniversary, or to users who submit bugs to support, as Twitter giveaways, etc.

    Funny you posted about this – this is all my company does – helps startups implement t-shirt marketing programs like what MixPanel is doing, without all the headaches of printing and shipping the shirts yourself.

    With NewRelic, we act as the “engine” behind the scenes printing all their shirts, and doing the fulfillment on their behalf directly to their users. Their marketing department can just login to our webapp and see what’s going on, how many shirts we are shipping, where they are going, and how well the t-shirts are working to get them more leads, or make their current customers happier, or do a twitter giveaway, etc, etc!

    Same with Zendesk, and countless other startups as well.

    So instead of having to implement something like this manually and stuff envelopes, collect sizes, address shipping labels, and worry about t-shirt inventory, you can just signup with us and we do everything for you. We also have an API for integration into your CRM, Email marketing, etc.

    Here’s a little-known secret of these t-shirt marketing programs: they *really* work. Our data across our customer base of startups and tech companies shows you can increase leads 30% or more.

    Because t-shirt marketing works, we have customers spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and getting an ROI that makes this investment in t-shirts a complete no-brainer.

    Feel free to contact me if you want more details. My first name (dot) last name at

    • Hi Casey – your website looks awesome and I like your service offering. I might even use it for Digioh.

      Does the $11.89/t-shirt (if you pre-pay) include shipping? I’m guessing it doesn’t – but just curious.


      • Hey Rishi, our pricing really depends on how many shirts you’re going to be purchasing and giving away, type of giveaway program, etc. It’s easiest to have a quick discussion first, and then we can setup your account with the correct pricing baked-in.

        We hope to automate this soon! But for now, I’ll shoot you an email with more info.

        We’re usually around the same price as you could get elsewhere for printing + post-office shipping costs, yet with us you don’t have to buy the inventory ahead of time, manage it, worry about leftovers, stuff envelopes, build landing pages, etc.

        Also, we can ship worldwide for only ~$1.00 more than domestic, which is impossible to do on your own with the USPS, UPS, etc! So if you have any international customers, it ends up being much, much cheaper overall.

Comments are closed.