Taking time out to thank customers for their business is a task all too often relegated to the bottom of to-do lists.
You could be missing a trick though, as showing your appreciation for your special patrons is one of the easiest and most effective ways to build closer relationships with your customers. It’s a great way to humanise your brand, improve customer retention and inspire long-term brand loyalty.
As part of our blog series exploring the world of ecommerce loyalty, we’re looking at why it’s important to thank your customers, with seven smart ways to start showing your appreciation today …
Why you need to thank your customers
Customers need to feel valued. Don’t just take our word for it – the figures speak for themselves. A significant 68% of customers leave a business relationship because they feel a company is indifferent to them. That’s a lot of lost business!
The simplest way to show your customers you care about them as individuals is to express your gratitude. Let them know that you’re aware of their patronage and that you genuinely appreciate it.
When your customers feel valued, you’ll see benefits on the bottom line. Happy, acknowledged customers keep coming back for more, increasing metrics like customer lifetime value and average order value.
Customers who feel appreciated are also more likely to share the love themselves, spreading the word far and wide about their enhanced customer experience.
Thanking your customers also demonstrates the human aspect to your brand. A simple expression of gratitude can have a meaningful impact on a customer, helping to establish a memorable emotional connection. This lays the foundations for a long and fruitful relationship!
How to thank your customers
So, now you know why thanking your customers is important, it’s time to explore how you can do it.
Here we’re sharing seven simple but effective ways to share the love with your customers.
It’s important to find a way that works for you, your brand and your customers. A common theme across all seven ideas is the importance of providing authentic, sincere and personalised thank yous.
#1 Send a personalised, handwritten thank you note
When a customer’s email inbox is full to bursting, to receive a handwritten letter is something of a novelty. Whilst many brands fire off generic thank you emails to their customers without much thought, sending a personalised, handwritten note is sure to command attention and position your brand miles apart from the competition.
Global mattress company Casper go above and beyond with their handwritten thank you notes! (Source: Letter Friend)
A simple and cost-effective way to show your customers that there’s a human behind the screen, a personalised, handwritten note will make the recipient smile. They’re sure to appreciate the time and effort taken to write the letter by hand.
A personal message can transform an impersonal shopping event into a unique, meaningful and memorable experience, inspiring customers to return to your store in the future.
This thoughtful gesture is something that won’t go unnoticed when customers are recommending brands to others, either. Handwritten thank you notes can generate positive word-of-mouth, helping you to attract new customers without those dreaded acquisition costs.
What’s more, a handwritten thank you letter can help to win back disengaged customers who’ve had a poor brand experience.
A brand that harnessed the power of the handwritten letter to do just this is fitness juggernaut and Shopify Plus client, Gymshark. After their Magento-based store buckled under the pressure of Black Friday in 2016, founder Ben Francis penned over 2,500 handwritten letters to affected customers, apologising for the poor customer experience and thanking them for their patience.
“We have the same morals and values as we did when we were a small company. Each of these customers is a human being and deserves to be treated the way I’d wanted to be treated if a brand let me down.”
– Ben Francis, Gymshark Founder
By taking the time to write a handwritten letter to affected customers, Gymshark demonstrated the care they have for their loyal patrons. This enabled the brand to build back trust from unhappy consumers, whilst setting their customer service apart from that of their competitors.
Keep letters positive, specific and sincere. Refer to the distinct action you’re thanking the customer for, rather than sending a generic note – make it clear that this is a letter specifically for them. Avoid explicitly driving sales, and only send handwritten letters to highly-valued customers so that they don’t lose their sincerity.
Of course, sending a handwritten note with every order might not be scalable for your business. Consider writing just a few notes each day to work towards a monthly goal – you’ll be surprised how quickly they add up!
#2 Provide free gifts or samples
Providing a free gift or sample with someone’s order is a great way to thank your customers for making a purchase. This little added extra is sure to surprise and delight them, enhancing their brand experience.
This tactic adds perceived worth to a transaction. It will make customers feel like they’ve been provided with greater value, creating a stronger connection between them and your brand. As a result, they’re more likely to respond with loyalty and visit your store again. They’re also more likely to share their positive shopping experience with others, particularly across social media.
What’s more, providing free samples allows you to strategically showcase a product that the customer hasn’t tried before. By facilitating product discovery, you’re encouraging customers to come back and purchase again.
Online pet food retailer Chewy have the ‘surprise and delight’ tactic perfected. After observing a photo of a customer’s cat posted onto their Facebook page, they commissioned an artist to create a portrait of the cat and then sent it to the customer as an unexpected thank you gift. This personalised token of appreciation represents Chewy’s commitment to their customers. Chewy now hire artists on a regular basis to help surprise their loyal customers with these spontaneous, one-of-a-kind presents.
One of Chewy’s surprise customer thank you gifts. (Source: Reddit)
Be sure to pick the right product to give away as a thank you gift. Consider the profile of your target consumer and what type of product will appeal to them, whilst keeping in mind the financial needs of your business.
#3 Make a charitable donation
In lieu of giving customers an actual physical gift, consider making a charitable donation in their name and letting them know what their money will achieve. This is a meaningful thank you gesture that helps to communicate your brand values.
With conscious consumerism on the rise, shoppers are seeking more meaningful alliances with brand. This thank you donation can help give customers exactly that. More than simply being sold to, they want to feel emotionally connected with retailers, united over a common purpose. By demonstrating your commitment to socially responsible initiatives, customers are more likely to reward you with their ongoing loyalty. It’s good business to be a business that does good, after all.
Charitable thank you donations will also help your brand stand out in today’s saturated market.
Whenever it comes to aligning your brand with a charity, do your research and make sure you’re picking a reputable, well-run organisation that shares your company values. The charities you support will reflect on your brand, so be sure to make a fully informed decision before beginning any partnership. Make sure you’re aware of any financial and legal implications for your business as well.
#4 Provide value-added content
Establish a sense of delight amongst customers by going beyond their expectations with value-added marketing. For example, as a token of your thanks, why not give your most valued customers free access to exclusive content like blog posts and video tutorials where they can learn more about your products and benefit from your industry expertise.
For fashion retailers, for example, content may take the form of unique style guides or lookbooks. Couple this with access to live social media broadcasts to create a premium value-added package.
Not only does this enhance the customer experience by providing extra value, it helps to position your brand as an industry leader. By creating and sharing this content, you’re demonstrating your commitment to putting customers first. This has a huge impact on how customers view and respond to your brand, strengthening brand reputation with every interaction.
Pet product subscription service BarkBox use value-added content to express their gratitude. They invite loyal customers to join their invitation-only Facebook community, ‘BarkPost Ambassadogs’, as a way of saying thank you. It’s a place where the brand’s most engaged fans can share stories and pictures, as well as gain access to company news, products and content before anyone else.
Make sure that the content you gift your valued customers isn’t available anywhere else. You need to ensure exclusivity in order to keep customers feeling special.
#5 Send a spontaneous discount voucher
Another simple way to thank your customers for their custom is to spontaneously reward them with discount vouchers for their next purchase. This is a surefire way to boost customer satisfaction and increase the likelihood of brand advocacy. People are likely to spread the word about their thank you voucher, which is great for attracting new customers.
Not to mention this is a great way to inspire purchasing behaviour and increase metrics like customer lifetime value.
Try to avoid sounding too pushy or sales-focused when writing the copy for your discount vouchers. Reinforce your gratitude with phrases like ‘as a thank you’ and ‘a little something just for you’. And remember to personalise any copy.
Use discounts wisely to maintain their significance. They should be a rare and special gift that surprise and delight your customers.
#6 Create a thank you video
If you’re feeling uber-creative, why not record a personalised thank you video as a post-purchase follow-up? You can send this in an email alongside an order progress update, or as a stand-alone message.
An individualised video message will showcase the humanity behind your brand and help to establish an emotional connection with your customers. They’ll certainly be impressed by the amount of effort you’ve employed to show your gratitude. Who knows, a small thank you video could be the gateway to a long and profitable relationship between you and a customer.
Canadian brand Popov Leather are winning over customers with their outstanding customer service, which includes a personal thank you video for all new customers. These warm and thoughtful videos from founder Ryan Popoff emphasise Popov’s customer-centric approach in a meaningful and memorable manner.
Keep your video short and focused – the core message should be one of thanks. Don’t be afraid to go off script though, as this will make your video come across as more genuine and heartfelt.
#7 Invite customers to an exclusive thank you event
A face-to-face thank you would make quite the impact amongst your customers, especially for ecommerce brands who usually only operate online. Give your most valued VIP customers the chance to really live your brand, to get up close and personal with your products, and to connect with your team in person. This is a great way to make customers feel special and appreciated.
IKEA recently invited FAMILY members to an exclusive sleep event, ‘Big Night In’.
Giving customers the chance to connect with other loyal patrons at exclusive events reinforces customer-company identification by building a sense of community. This community mindset can enhance a brand experience and create new value for customers. And, when they feel valued and connected like this, they’re more likely to maintain their existing relationship with a brand rather than fraternising with the competition.
Event ideas will vary depending on your industry, but they could include a product launch at a pop-up shop, a cocktail party, or simply a visit to your company headquarters for a behind-the-scenes tour.
If you don’t have a physical space to host an event in, worry not, for virtual events can be equally as effective.
Time to share the love
There’s a whole host of ways to thank your customers. A thoughtful, sincere, personal thank you can go a long way in creating positive connections with customers and inspiring long-term loyalty.
So what are you waiting for? Adopt an attitude of gratitude and start improving your customer retention today!
To learn more about the strategies needed to deliver retention at every stage of the customer journey, check out our Shopify Plus Loyalty Bundle, complete with webinar recording, exclusive ebook content and much more!