Happy customers are the best customers. They return time and time again, recommend your brand to their peers, and publicly sing your praises. In return, the least you can do is make sure they feel valued.
Customer appreciation and positive customer sentiment are crucial for growing new ecommerce stores as well as well-established ones—you can never have too many happy shoppers. Small gestures show you care and ensure customers feel special, which ultimately leads to long-term loyalty and improved customer retention.
There are several approaches you can try in pursuit of this, but knowing where to start can be tough. To help, we pulled together fourteen ways to let customers know you value their business and their loyalty.
14 customer appreciation ideas that show you care
- Send handwritten thank you notes
- Feature customers on your blog or social media
- Ship a meaningful gift
- Launch a loyalty or referral program
- Implement customers’ feedback
- Designate a customer appreciation day
- Host a customer appreciation event
- Segment rewards
- Send thank you and milestone emails
- Promote a thank you discount
- Offer free shipping
- Feature customer reviews
- Show customers you share their values
- Send personalized communications
1. Send handwritten thank you notes
Handwritten notes are one of the most cost-effective ways to show appreciate and say thank you for a purchase. Despite their low cost, these notes are good at communicating sincerity and humanizing your brand in customers’ eyes.
Taking the time to handwrite letters lets customers know you’re willing to invest more than money to keep them around. Plus, handwritten, tactile mail automatically stands out in the digital age.
Your note doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out letter either. If you ensure it’s personalized and authentic, your sincere appreciation will shine through.
Need more time? Use these time management apps to optimize how you spend every minute.
2. Feature customers on your blog or social media
Featuring customers on your blog or social accounts is especially useful when your product involves creative input or is a part of a customer’s identity. For example, exercise products highlighting customers who have made progress with strength or weight loss, or products for hobbyists that helped enable brand new creations.
The key to featuring customers is to remember that it’s their story, and you’re just tagging along. You’re grateful that your product and brand could be involved, but a customer spotlight is always more engaging when you make it all about them. This is one example where you don’t need to go overboard talking up your appreciation—you’re showing it.
3. Ship a meaningful gift
Sending a small gift along with a customer’s purchase is a widely-used tactic, but how effective are most of those “free” gifts? The reality is that a generic pen branded with your store’s logo isn’t all that meaningful to the average customer—even a loyal one.
If you spend some time coming up with a small gift that will actually mean something to your unique customers, you can make this idea a lot more effective. For example, relevant, well-made merchandise can be meaningful: a company like Casper could consider sending a high-quality sleep mask, especially considering the premium nature of its products.
4. Launch a loyalty or referral program
One of the easiest ways to regularly demonstrate your appreciation is with a loyalty or referral program. While both take some work to set up, once launched, they often can run autonomously—inspiring customer loyalty without constant monitoring.
Loyalty programs are remarkably effective because, when done well, they can turn the sometimes unprofitable one-time purchase into a frequent shopper and loyal customer. An effective loyalty program boosts profitability by growing customer lifetime value.
There are two main keys to a great loyalty program:
- Find the right balance between rewards big enough to entice customers and margins that keep those orders profitable
- Make it simple and easy for customers to earn, receive, and use their rewards
Clothing and outdoor brand REI offers a loyalty program that enables customers to pay $20 for a lifetime membership to the REI Co-op. This entitles them to awesome rewards, like an annual dividend, access to “garage sales” on heavily discounted returns or used items, and REI Adventures trips and classes.
5. Implement customers’ feedback
Here’s a way to show your appreciation that many businesses fail to recognize: listen to your customers. Loyal and engaged customers often are your most vocal shoppers. That means they can be a great source of valuable feedback that can improve every aspect of your business.
This type of customer appreciation can drive a ton of value for your brand. Listening to and implementing customer feedback helps you create a better product and a better experience incrementally—giving customers exactly what they’re looking for. Cultivating that feedback can help build a deeper relationship between customers and your store—but only if you actually listen and act on what customers have to say.
When making significant changes based on feedback, you can let customers know their voices have been heard in your messaging. For example, a new product line or accessory that was created based on feedback could launch with some messaging around how customer input influenced your decision.
6. Designate a customer appreciation day
Many of the customer appreciation ideas mentioned so far are ongoing efforts. However, it can be difficult to keep up with an ever-expanding list of ideas when you’re busy building a business. Consider designating a set day or week that’s 100% dedicated to showing customers you care.
You can offer a limited-time customer appreciation sale, host a special event for your most loyal customers, or spend the day sending out all of your thank you notes at once.
Remember, National Customer Appreciation Day is April 18th, but you can choose any day that works for you and your customers. Some brands hold customer appreciation days when they reach a specific business milestone, like earning their 1,000th customer.
The important thing is that your customers know about the special day and what you’re doing to show your appreciation. Take this email from beauty and skincare company Avon:
Avon sent out a clear email message to customers detailing the reason for its sale, the timeline, and all the other important details.
7. Host a customer appreciation event
Speaking of hosting events, whether you have a physical retail space or not, you can reward your most loyal customers by hosting an event (real or virtual).
That could mean opening a pop-up shop and giving specified customers exclusive access or first crack at a new product. Your event also can be unrelated to your actual sales, simply engaging customers based on their interests and hobbies.
Ice cream connoisseur Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, for example, hits the road in the summer to bring free scoops to customers in the know.
8. Segment rewards
The most basic rewards program uses points to reward customers for every dollar spent. But to really showcase your appreciation, a graduated rewards program can be even more effective.
A graduated program segments members into tiers. Customers in higher tiers typically earn points faster and are eligible for bigger and better rewards. That means your most loyal customers see the most appreciation, with the added bonus of further incentivizing them to keep patronizing your store.
9. Thank you and milestone emails
Handwritten thank you notes aren’t the only way to surprise customers and showcase your appreciation. Handwriting notes can be time-consuming, but you can create a similar effect with one-to-many email marketing automation.
Consider this email from theSkimm:
This mass email uses personalization to make theSkimm’s customer appreciation efforts more scalable. It’s an unexpected way to remind customers how much the business appreciates their patronage and respects the investment they have made in the brand.
10. Promote a thank you discount
Who doesn’t love a discount? Say thank you to existing customers and go the extra mile by giving them money off their next purchase. This could be in the form of a customer appreciation gift card or a percentage discount depending on your audience’s preferences.
This beauty brand gives customers $10 off their next purchase when they place an order.
11. Offer free shipping
Nine out of 10 consumers say free shipping is the number one incentive for shopping online. As such, offering free shipping is the epitome of giving customers what they want. You can do this by incorporating a free shipping minimum for every customer or reward loyal customers with free shipping on every other purchase (or every purchase if you wish!).
Birchbox shows its appreciation for customers who spend a certain amount with the brand by giving them 40% off and free shipping.
12. Feature customer reviews
Almost every single shopper seeks out reviews before they make a purchase. Getting the perspective of past customers can push on-the-fence shoppers toward the checkout and provide much-needed social proof throughout the buying process.
But leaving a review takes time and effort—show customers who leave a review that you value their opinion by featuring their testimonials at various different touchpoints. This might be on your homepage, in email marketing campaigns, or on social media.
Casper is a pro at customer appreciation. It makes a point of sharing customer reviews and testimonials in various marketing emails, including order confirmations, product recommendations, and abandoned cart emails.
13. Show customers you share their values
Consumers today tend to buy from brands that share the same values as them. And, with plenty of uncertainty in the world, shoppers today have strong opinions on everything from climate change to sustainability and politics. Customer appreciation isn’t just about giving customers thanks and freebies, it’s also about showing you understand who they are and what they believe in.
You can do this by partnering up with relevant charities or local businesses, sponsoring events, or donating a percentage of profits to one of their favorite organizations.
Timberland understands its audience is invested in the planet and it addresses this through a handful of initiatives. It pledges to plant 50 million trees by 2025, is working toward being net positive, and partners with advocates in different industries.
14. Send personalized communications
There’s nothing that shows you care more than personalizing communication with customers based on their life events. For example, if a customer gets in touch to tell you they recently got married, you might send them a personalized gift like a bottle of champagne or a personalized “Congrats” card. Or you might swing by a shopper’s inbox to say “Happy Birthday” or send a holiday gift to your top customers.
Dog treat brand Chewy is renowned for its heart-wrenching displays of personalized communication with pooch lovers. One customer shared a card that the brand sent after he’d canceled his subscription when his pup passed away.
The business value of a simple thank you
Your customers are what make your business successful. Showing them your appreciation is about more than saying thanks in an email—and it’s one of the best ways to ensure happy customers stay happy and stick around in the long run.
With the above ideas for inspiration, plus a little emotional investment, you can create a customer appreciation strategy that’s memorable, meaningful, and sustainable for your small business.
Customer appreciation FAQs
How do you show appreciation to customers?
- Send a handwritten note
- Offer a free gift, a special discount code, or free shipping
- Designate a customer appreciation day
- Encourage customer reviews and showcase them across your site
- Launch a loyalty program
- Check in with customer base at key milestones
- Send a personalized thank you video or message
How do you plan a customer appreciation event?
- Whether it will take place online or offline
- How you will thank your customers through the event
- What offers, perks, or discounts will be in place
- How customers can get involved
- What will make customers feel special on the big day
What freebies can I give to my customers?
- Gift cards
- Free samples
- Gift basket
- Thank you card
- Donations to their favorite charity
- Their most-purchased product
- Complimentary products
- Branded swag
- Your latest product
- Free upgrade
- Stickers or other small goodies
How can customer appreciation be improved?
- Reward existing customers
- Say thanks to valued customers
- Send free gifts
- Give a shoutout to customers
- Use customers’ names
- Listen to customer feedback