Showing sincere appreciation is one of the easiest ways to build a closer relationship with your customers. It’s simple, but remarkably few companies ever take the time to genuinely thank customers for their business.
When it comes to standing out against entrenched competitors, it’s critical for ecommerce businesses to find their moments of opportunity. It’s rarely practical to compete on price or efficiency. However, new and growing stores do have a set of differentiators worth investing in: product, brand, and service.
Companies that focus on creating meaningful customer experiences can choose to compete on loyalty and word-of-mouth, beat the behemoths, and carve out their own place in the market.
In this pursuit, thanking customers for their purchase goes a long way. In fact, 68% of businesses have lost a customer because they feel a company is indifferent to them, and nearly half of American consumers say appreciation for them as a customer is an indispensable part of providing excellent care.
Being purposeful and personal when thanking your customers can help showcase the human aspect of your brand, create connections, and build customer loyalty.
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How to thank your customers
Sending the perfect thank you doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, most consumers don’t have a high bar when it comes to appreciation: a study by TD Bank found that 60 percent of consumers said appreciation should be conveyed by saying thanks directly to the individual, while 44 percent agreed that thank yous should be personalized.
Show customers that there's a real human behind the scenes and behind the screen.
Thank customers without an overt expectation of anything in return. For example, don’t ask them to “share on social media,” and don’t pester them to buy in the same breath. Simply express gratitude, personally and directly, for being a customer and placing trust in you to deliver. That’s enough to create a connection.
1. Who are you thanking?
It might feel overwhelming, or even disingenuous, to personally thank every customer with every order—and as your business grows, it will be impossible to manage all by yourself. For that reason, it can be helpful to segment customers into the groups that you’d like to prioritize.
For example, handing out a swanky gift package with every order is a surefire way to blow your budget. But segmenting high value customers and sending them a handwritten note with a branded gift can cement an already positive relationship. Here’s a few ways you can group your customers for different tiers of thank yous:
- Every customer
- Every repeat customer
- Anyone who’s written into support
- Customers on their birthday
- High value customers (what does this mean to you?)
- Entirely random acts of delight
- Specific holiday thank you cards (Valentines, Christmas, etc)
2. Set an appropriate budget
The budget for your thank you program will be linked with the number of customers who you want to reach out to. But even if you’re hoping to show gratitude to all of your customers, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to create moments of delight.
In The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk writes: “It’s not the money that makes these efforts shocking and awesome, it’s the care and creativity involved.” Frugal wows are often just as effective at creating that connection.
We’ve got lots of examples of simple cost-effective ways to thank your customers below.
3. Build a repeatable process
Depending on whether you’re including a thank you in every box, or just occasionally sending out swag, decide on a repeatable process to get those thank yous in the hands of your customer. It doesn’t have to be automated, but structuring the process will make sure it happens.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to create genuine moments of delight.
If you’ve got a team working for you, provide an easy way for them to nominate customers for thanks. It might be a Google form or a Friday afternoon session writing handwritten cards.
Pulling the entire team into these moments of delight creates a culture of gratitude for your customers.
Six ways to thank your customers
While creative planning and smart decision-making set the stage for delight, at the end of the day you still need a few simple ideas to act on.
If you’re in need of a little inspiration, next we’ll cover six ways you can spread the gratitude around, as well as share a few examples of businesses who go the extra mile for their customers.
- Send handwritten thank you notes
- Include package inserts
- Provide free gifts or samples
- Create personal connections with video
- Offer post-purchase discounts
- Spotlight your customers
1. Handwritten thank you notes
A tried and true way to thank your customers on a dime. Writing a personalized thank you note shows that there’s a human involved behind the scenes and behind the screen.
Thank you notes are effective because they’re a bit of a lost art. Think about the last time you actually sent a handwritten letter, instead of quickly firing off an email or a Facebook message. Those mediums allow for incredible efficiency, but a handwritten card goes beyond the ephemeral nature of our digital inboxes and creates something tangible and meaningful.
Remember these five tips when writing the perfect thank you note:
- Use quality stationary, or unique cards that express your brand
- Use the customer’s name, and personalize it!
- Say thank you and be specific about why you’ve sent the note
- Be thoughtful—reference a conversation or part of their order that shows this card is specifically for them
- Sign off the card warmly, but professionally. (Thanks again, Cheers, Kind Regards, Sincerely, etc)
John’s Crazy Socks
A business that describes themselves as “a business built on love” knows a thing or two about making a connection. Customers will almost always receive a personalized, handwritten note inside their sock order.
How awesome is this. Where else do you buy socks online...or anything for that matter...and get a handwritten thank you note AND a bag of your favorite candy ever?! Thank you @JohnsCrazySocks. pic.twitter.com/8c3gEDXMit— Jeff Girard (@srgc_supt) February 16, 2018
“Best customer service ever!” Sending a handwritten note after a difficult customer support interaction can help create a positive resolution. Epic Bars followed up with this customer after they were unhappy with a recent order and made a fan for life.
Best customer service ever. After getting one bad bar in a box, they not only sent me a replacement bar, but sent SIX bars, a coupon, AND a handwritten thank you note. Will be an @EPICbar customer for life! 🙌🏻 pic.twitter.com/WgHNlNJQLh— Megan Walker (@meg__walker) May 26, 2018
ZULZ Bag Co
The card says it right on the front: Thank you! ZULZ Bag Co. likes to add a handwritten card and stickers to orders, welcoming customers to the ZULZ family.
When you get a handwritten thank you note from the company you ordered your backpack from, that's great customer relations. Well done @zulzbagco 👍 #gratitude #backpack #zulz https://t.co/U6ejXKfrFI pic.twitter.com/JqTdt6YPVw— Scott Lukaitis (@ScottLukaitis) April 5, 2018
When Julia Alena contacted Chewy’s customer support, she wasn’t expecting much. But not only did she get the resolution she wanted, she also received hand drawn pictures of her dogs! That’s going above and beyond handwritten notes, but I expect they’ve earned a customer for life.
While sending a handwritten note in every order might not be scalable, you can always set a monthly goal for yourself or for your team. Brandon Eley, founder of 2BigFeet explains how he ensures he contacts as many customers as possible with a goal: “It's my goal to send 1,000 cards every year, which works out to just 4 cards every weekday.”
Involving your entire team helps create a culture of gratitude for your customers.
You might also send out thank you cards after replying to a customer, a special order, or a holiday. It doesn’t just have to be a card inside the order.
If you'd like to streamline this process a bit, you can use a service like Postable or Touchcard to send out thank you notes on your behalf. For one-off notes, or if you'd like invest a bit further in this idea, there are a number of online options for sourcing quality cards that will brighten up your customer’s mailboxes, including Lovepop, Galison, E. Frances, Burro Goods, and Paper Luxe (all built on Shopify).
2. Include package inserts
Adding something small to an order that’s heading out the door is a great way to say thank you. You’ve already paid for the shipping and the box, so this is one of the most cost-effective ways to give customers a little extra delight.
Packaging inserts are all about exceeding customer expectations. Unboxing is an experience in itself, and customers look forward to the moment they get to hold their new product in their hands. They are primed to be “delighted” with just a little extra effort. It’s also an opportunity to add value to the order through beautiful how-to manuals, and upsells.
Below are a few standout examples from stores who understand the value of delivering a small surprise.
VisionDirect always tosses in a small package of Haribo candies into their boxes of contact lenses. It’s something small, but adds that extra sweetness to a somewhat dry unboxing experience.
Frank’s brand is bold, to the point, and all about beautiful bodies. They include a package insert with their body scrub orders that reinforces the brand, offers a simple how-to, and encourages customers to stay in touch through social media.
An apparel company with a dedicated fan base, Hyena Agenda throws in a handful of stickers with every order. Customers love sharing pictures of their haul on Twitter, and spreading the brand name by throwing their stickers on cars, laptop cases and everything in between.
i came home from florida today and found my @HyenaAgenda order waiting for me??!?! this was my first time ordering from them && all the free stickers they threw in there honestly has me shook ╰(*´︶`*)╯♡ pic.twitter.com/r2nGVmGVYh— loreen [@TEAM TEA 🍵] (@meganed0n) June 25, 2018
Package inserts can be as targeted or as catch-all as you like. Just make sure you keep a stack next to your order packers and toss one in each box. Need to stock up on package inserts? Check out these providers for high quality stickers, business cards, and flyers.
Business cards or promotional material:
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3. Provide free gifts or samples
Is there anything customers like more than a free sample? Tossing in a small sample or gift with their order is a great way to say thank you for purchasing.
Free samples aren’t just an amazing way to surprise and delight your customers, they also showcase something the customer hasn’t tried yet. If they like it, you might even see them purchase in their next order. Just be sure to try and match the sample to your customer’s profile as much as possible to make sure it’s something they can use.
Beardbrand will throw in a couple samples of their top selling products into bigger orders for customers to try.
The recipe kit delivery service will frequently pair with brands that they think their customers will love. These little samples are a nice surprise and value addition to the meal.
4. Create personal connections (with video)
If you want to take things a step further, try recording a personalized thank you video for your customers. The great part of videos is that it’s impossible to fake being personal. The customer knows how much time you’ve really put in.
Whatever the medium, the key to thanking customers is to be personal, thoughtful, and genuine.
Personalized videos come across as very thoughtful, because they are time-consuming, manual work. Send videos in a post-purchase follow up, or as a separate interaction entirely. Videos are particularly great for special occasions and holidays where you can be creative with the theme.
Every new customer gets a personal video from the founder and creator, Ryan Popoff. They aren’t particularly scripted, but they are warm and welcoming and showcase the humanity behind the brand. You know you’re not just getting a factory made item.
Everyone at Wistia uses a video signature that features a little introduction to who they are. These could easily be adapted for thank you videos on receipts, or sent out during the holidays.
Videos are a great experiment to run if only to see how customers react. There’s so many different ways to use videos in thanking customers, which means you can really get creative! Here are a few tools to check out to create quick, personalized videos:
5. Offer post-purchase discounts
Rewarding loyal customers with discounts and coupons is a great way to keep them coming back while thanking them for their patronage. Although you have to be careful with discounts as they can train customers to wait for deals, sending a discount to a new customer is usually a cost-effective way to get them to return and make another purchase.
Not only is the email really inspiring, Outdoor Research gives a discount code for customers to enjoy 15% off their next order.
Julep runs a makeup box subscription and always adds a little bonus for customers who need to stock up.
Writing copy for your coupons can be a bit tricky, because you don’t want to come off as trying to make a sale, or overly pushy. Use words to promote the exclusivity of the coupon like:
- “Just for you”
- “As a thank you,”
- “A customer perk for you!”
- “For our loyal customers”
Discounts can either be sent separately, as a package insert, or in a thank you email. If you’re creating discounts, make sure you use a unique coupon code so that you can track how effective it is.
6. Spotlight your customers
Showcasing your customers is a great way to share how much you appreciate them, publicly!
Build strong customer relationships to elevate your brand above the competition.
User-generated content (UGC) is especially great in the creative industries, because your customers rely on exposure to grow their own audience. For example, hairdressers love to be featured on Instagram. Small businesses love a shout-out on Twitter or on the blog. It can help give them credibility and gain clients. Plus, it creates a bond between you and them.
Showing off their product is just one advantage for Luxy Hair’s user-generated content. It also helps their clients build their brand through sharing beautiful images.
Wool and the Gang
WATG will frequently share their customer’s knitting projects on Instagram. Their customers love it, and it gives their feed more of a community feel.
To find great content to share, create a hashtag that customers can use on their own posts. Before sharing content, make sure you ask permission from the owner.
A thank you goes a long way
There are so many different ways to thank your customers, and create moments of delight post-purchase. Remember, the key is to be personal, thoughtful, and genuine. Customers—and people in general—love a sincere thank you but dislike insincerity.
When you have an attitude of gratitude, creating connections with customers is natural. Building these customer relationships gives you the opportunity to elevate your brand above the competition.