A packaging insert is an additional item that ecommerce retailers can put into shipments before sending them off to customers, and they're a great way to level up your shipping and fulfillment strategy. Packaging inserts (also referred to as packing inserts) are usually unexpected and can build goodwill with new customers.
Customers don’t have to pay anything extra for a packaging insert. Instead, a packaging insert is something that a brand will use to spread awareness about campaigns and promotions and provide added value. Overall, package inserts are a cost-effective and versatile gesture for building a relationship with your customers.
Table of contents
- Why are packaging inserts so important?
- 5 types of packaging inserts to consider
- Prep your packaging inserts for customer loyalty
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Why are packaging inserts so useful?
Every shipment will either fall short, meet, or exceed your customer’s expectations. There are many ways, some even out of your control, that you’ll fall below expectations. If everything goes well and the post office isn't late, you may meet your customers expectations.
It's the little extra things though, like using the right packaging inserts within your ecommerce packaging that help you stand out and exceed expectations. Let's take a look at some of the other top reasons packaging inserts are so important:
- Packaging inserts can be low-cost: You don’t need to invest a lot to bring packaging inserts into the mix. Each of the examples below are low-cost but can yield high return.
- Inserts can be highly targeted: The recipient is already a customer, and you know what they bought. You can tailor your package insert to the exact person receiving it.
- The cost of delivering the message has already been paid: The package is already being shipped, so you might as well make the most of it.
- Package inserts are perfect for cross-selling: Because you know exactly what your customer already likes, you can add highly targeted cross-sell opportunities.
- Package inserts are a great way to liquidate merchandise: Hard-to-move merchandise can be converted to a marketing expense and bolster your relationship with current customers.
- The right inserts increase loyalty: Customers are more likely to return to a brand that appreciates them, and packaging inserts can help your customers feel special.
Package inserts seem pretty simple—just throw a flyer or coupon in the box whenever you ship an order. But there are many options you can use to deliver more value and build greater loyalty with your customers. Let's take a look at some of the most popular types of packaging insert options.
5 types of packaging inserts to consider
1. Discount offers
One of the most popular and straightforward types of package insert is a discount offer. Though you can deliver these by email, including them right in the box ensures your customers will receive the offer in their hands instead of in their spam folder. Plus, it leaves them with a tangible reminder.
As an example, Shea Brand, an online beauty brand makes use of several types of packaging inserts to drive customer loyalty. Customers receive a few packaging inserts, including a coupon code for a 20% discount on their next purchase.
One of the most cost-effective ways to create discount or deal offers to be included with your packaging is to print them at business card size (business cards are such a commodity at this point they are extremely inexpensive).
You can use a service like OvernightPrints or the premium brand MOO and upload your images for print. You may want to consider including two discount cards with each purchase, one for the purchaser and one for the purchaser to give away to a friend. You may also want to test out different types of offers to see which one your audience responds best to.
- Free Shipping on Your Next Order
- $10 Credit Towards Your Next Order
- 25% Off Your Next Order
- Free Gift With Your Next Order
- Free Upgrade on Your Next Order
2. Product samples
Samples can be a great value add to your packages for a few reasons. First, depending on the products you sell, you can sometimes get samples for free from your vendors. Second, product samples provide a great way to cross-sell customers and introduce them to other products and product lines that they may not know about or have been curious about trying.
BrainZyme, a UK-based store which sells nutritional supplements, has a range of three products. They include free samples so customers can try the other products as well. It’s also led to word-of-mouth for the company, as they’ve observed many customers share the samples with their friends and family.
3. Small gifts
Much like samples, small gifts can be a great way to surprise and delight customers without making them feel like you’re trying to sell them other products. The gift you give doesn’t have to be expensive. Since it’s unexpected, most will be pleasantly surprised by any additional gifts.
Grilla Grills, which sells smokers and grills, knows exactly how well additional inserts can impact a customer's experience. They include a couple of free gifts in their packages to add value and leave customers with a smile. They also use a handwritten thank-you note.
Galen Leather sells handcrafted leather goods made in Turkey. As a surprise for their customers, the brand shares free gifts from Turkey to round out the brand experience and give a nod to the products’ origins.
These small, often inexpensive gifts make people feel special, and it puts the law of reciprocity to work for you. It’s a powerful psychological trigger that leaves people wanting to return the favour, and can help encourage repeat business while leaving everyone feeling great about the transaction.
4. Thank-you cards and personal notes
The simplest, least expensive, and most personalized insert you can add to customer packages is a handwritten thank-you card. A simple card can be a really thoughtful gesture that can help build loyalty.
Cards may be particularly effective when first starting out, as it’s a competitive advantage that most larger-scale companies can no longer offer. Use this to your advantage.
One great example of a personalized packaging insert comes from TrunkClub, a premium menswear service. TrunkClub includes handwritten notes from personal stylists explaining their selection of products with all orders.
Here are some quick tips on writing thank-you notes to your customers:
- If it's financially feasible, use quality stationery.
- Be sure to use the customer's name.
- Express your gratitude, clearly stating the reason for sending the note.
- Mention details about what you enjoyed about your experience with this customer (a fantastic opportunity to be specific and thoughtful).
- Allude to your future interactions with the customer.
- Close with professional but warm sign-off and a signature. (i.e Best, Kindest regards, Sincerely, Cheers, etc.)
5. Product review or a “share on social” request
Since the shipped package usually represents the end of the transaction for most customers, packaging inserts can be a great place to ask for a product review or for customers to share their experience on social media.
Frank Body, a coffee-based body scrub encourages social interaction at almost every touch point. This includes adding an insert which further bolsters their brand and a request to share their experience on social media.
As a result, Frank Body has built a massive community (684k on Instagram) of fans promoting their product and providing social proof to others, increasing Frank Body’s brand exposure.
Slyde Handboards also includes a packaging insert to encourage social media sharing. They use the insert to let customers know that their discount offer will be sent to their email, which engages user on yet another digital platform.
Prep your packaging inserts for customer loyalty
In the end, packaging inserts are really about providing more value by exceeding expectations and matching the right offer with your particular audience.
As with all direct marketing efforts, be sure to test different package insert programs and different offers to build your own successful program that will increase loyalty, sales and profit for your business.