Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 26, 2014 and was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on November 9, 2017.
There are certain times of year where people make a conscious effort to think about what they’re thankful for. Thanksgiving is the most obvious, and is a time where many of us sit and reflect on what we are thankful for. Most will be thankful for their family, good health, and of course great food. However, there’s one thing that I, as a blogger, and thankful for above all else - you, my loyal readers!
So as Thanksgiving fast approaches, I’m finding myself wondering what I can do to show you my appreciation. As an ecommerce merchant, you’re probably wondering what you can do to show your customers some gratitude for their continued loyalty. After all, without readers this blog is just a bunch of words, and without your customers your store is well, just a site!
Reasons To Be Thanking Customers
Before we begin looking at the reasons you should be thanking your customers, I would like to start with a quote about customer experiences that came from a rather unlikely source:
While there are many ways this quote can be interpreted, here is my take on it: sometimes, we can forget how easy it is to make someone’s day. A simple thank you or personal note can have a lasting and meaningful impact on a customer, and help create an experience they won’t soon forget.
So what’s the impact of thanking customers in the world of ecommerce? I’m sure you already know that you should be thanking customers all year round and not just at Thanksgiving, but you may not know all of the stats that support this line of thinking.
Your Customers Want to Feel Valued
No one likes to feel like they are in a one-way relationship - the kind where you’re the only one committing any time or attention to keeping it going. When you’re always giving and never receiving, it’s easy to feel unappreciated and undervalued.
The same is true in ecommerce. When customers are committed to your store, they want to feel like you care about their business. Otherwise, you run the risk of them taking their business elsewhere.
This is one of the biggest contributing factors to a customer choosing to shop with another brand. While you might assume that most customers choose competitors based on prices and products, according to Follow Up Success, 9% of customers leave because of what a competitor is offering while 68% of businesses have lost a customer because they feel a company is indifferent to them. This makes it clear that your customers expect a little gratitude in return for their business.
In order to get around this, the easiest thing you can do to make a customer feel valued is to continually thank them for their business and loyalty. Through email communications, social messages, and handwritten notes, you can remind customers that you are aware of their business and appreciate it. Trust me - you’ll be glad you did, and you may even create a couple of brand advocates in the process!
Thanking Customers Has Financial Benefits
If making your customers feel valued isn’t enough motivation to thank them, maybe the fact that gratitude has financial benefits will be!
Studies have shown that 38% of customers attribute a good customer experience to personalization, which means that a good customer experience will keep your customers happy. If your customers are happy, they’re bound to come back to your store and, as a result, make more purchases! In fact, 86% of American shoppers have indicated that they are willing to pay more for a better customer experience, meaning your profitability has the potential to skyrocket.
If we put those two points together, we can see that customers value personalization. As a result, building a personalized experience leads to a better customer experience which customers are willing to pay more for. In other words: if you want to increase profitability, start getting personal!
When you acknowledge each of your customers individual with messages thanking them for orders or their continued loyalty to your brand, you demonstrate a desire to get to know them and continue building that relationship. This personal attention goes a long way towards endearing customers to your brand, so make sincere “thank yous” a key component of your ongoing business (and profitability!) model.
How To Start Thanking Customers
Now that you know why thanking customers is important, it’s time to start doing it! Sincere there are an infinite amount of ways to thank your customers, it’s important to find a way that makes sense for your business, your brand, and above all your customers.
Here are 5 simple ways that you and your business can start thanking your customers.
1. Ship a Thank You Note with an Order
This is by far one of the easiest and most effective strategies to start implementing, and can take any number of forms. Whether you thank your customers on social media or with a handwritten note inside the packaging, you can brighten their day by acknowledging their business every time they place a new order.
Besides making your customers smile, this will also help set your business apart. Most ecommerce packages are only shipped with the product, some packing peanuts, and an invoice - an experience that feels removed and impersonal. When you include a personal message, you turn every point in the customer journey into an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with the customer, making a simple order into an exchange among friends.
2. Offer Customers Free Additional Learning/Education Materials
This is a great way to thank your customers because it also works in your favor. The more content you have, the more marketing material you create that can help improve your store’s search engine optimization, making it easier for new customers to find you.
So what do these materials look like? For starters, you can provide customers with a learning centre or knowledge base where they can increase their knowledge about your product or industry. A fantastic example of this is Bare Biology, who offers customers access to an online magazine that discusses everything from health, to fitness, to beauty.
This type of content will look different depending on what your business does. For example, if you’re a fashion retailer, you could offer customers a style guide on your site that inspires their next outfit. If you’re a pet supplies company, you might offer tips on how your customers can keep their furry best friends happy in a post-purchase email campaign. For those selling food and beverage products, you might want to consider sharing different ways to use and prepare the things you sell on YouTube.
In each of these examples (and any other creative ones you can think of!) your additional content acts as value propositions that improve your customer experience and make you the industry expert. These considerations demonstrate your commitment to helping customers get the most out of your brand at no additional cost. Talk about a valuable thank you card!
3. Think in Ones, Not Groups
As I’ve already mentioned several times, customers love personalization! This means that you need to start thinking about your customers as individuals as opposed to part of a larger group.
This can take a number of different forms. Maybe you address them by name in your marketing and post-purchase emails, or perhaps you thank them for another year of business every year on their birthday. No matter how you choose to do it, approaching each customer as an individual is the perfect place to begin to say thank you on a deeper and more meaningful level.
4. Send a Handwritten Letter
In a world driven by beeps, clicks, and keystrokes, there are few things as exciting as receiving a handwritten letter. There’s something very special about knowing that someone took the time to sit down and address them personally that makes it immediately more valuable. This goes a long way in a world that has become obsessed with automation, and will help you further distinguish yourself from your competition.
Take a look at this example from Jimyz Automotive. This customer experience went viral on Reddit immediately after it was posted, with many Reddit users commenting that they actually knew the business and loved Jim, too!
This example is so incredible that is was even included in Help Scout’s “10 Stories of Unforgettable Customer Service” guide. Feel free to look through the other 9 examples if you need more inspiration for how you can wow your customers and make your brand their number one choice!
5. Throw a Thank You Event
This is the most difficult-to-implement suggestion on this list, mostly because it can be very hard to get your customers in one place at the same time. This is especially difficult for online retailers because your customers are all over the world. But don’t worry, we’re not asking you to host an expensive event and fly everyone in! You can thank your customers on a much smaller scale without diminishing your gratitude’s impact.
Two great ways to do this is by inviting customers to attend a webinar or a podcast. You can sweeten the pot by inviting a celebrity or influencer to address your customers all at once. For a Rubiks cube retailer, that might mean inviting the world record holder to give tips and tricks to customers. No matter who it is, this is a great way to minimize expenses while still delivering an above-and-beyond experience. You may only have to pay for one person to get to your store, but the happiness this type of event brings your customers is priceless!
Don’t let these ideas limit you, though. If you have the resources to run a customer appreciation event, do it! Inviting your customers to spend a special evening with other customers at your store is a great way to make them feel special and appreciated - especially if they’re given a little something extra. A free gift, special meet and greet, or bonus discount are only three of the ways that you can turn a regular Friday night at your store into a wonderful evening of value for your loyal customers.
A Personal Thank You Story
Now that you have seen some of the many ways you can start thanking your customers, I want to share an example of a business showing me thanks!
My example comes from a bank, of all places. I had gone into the bank to convert some money for my upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic. The teller was bubbly and asked me why I needed the currency converted. I told her that my girlfriend and I had been dating for 5 years and that we were going on a trip to celebrate. She was almost as happy as I was to be going on vacation!
When I returned from my trip, I had a hand-written card in my mailbox. As someone who’s used to receiving emails, this was very odd. I immediately opened it up and inside was a postcard from my bank, saying that they hoped my girlfriend and I had a wonderful time on our vacation and thank you for my business.
Recreation of the original post card
This personalized thank you blew me away! It left me feeling valued and important, and guaranteed that I will continue to use ScotiaBank from now on.
If this small gesture can guarantee my customer loyalty, imagine what a combination of thank you gestures can do for your customer base! At the end of the day, thanking customers is a huge step towards a total customer retention strategy that will keep your customers happy and coming back time after time.