Creative ways to thank customers for their purchase


When your online retail business is going well, there’s a tendency to assume that it will continue to do so. But eCommerce sales aren’t guaranteed, and customers have a huge amount of choice of businesses available to them. We’re sure you’ve noticed, but they’re not simply shopping their local high street and not going anywhere else anymore! Interaction with customers is fleeting, and so you need to be able to make the most of every single interaction you have with them, from the first impression they get wherever they encounter your business, to the memory of the experience ordering from you. That memory of your business is important – and so offering customers thanks for ordering from you is well worth the effort.

Why is showing customers you appreciate them important?

We’ve all heard that building a relationship with your customers and encouraging repeat custom is likely to cost less than winning new customers, and there’s impressive research behind it. The Harvard Business Review claims it is between five and 25 times more expensive to win over a new customer than to market to your existing customers – so, keeping your existing customers coming back is well worth your while.

But when there are so many other businesses with products that are competitively priced, getting them back is an incredible challenge, and when you’re selling through a marketplace, that gets even tougher, because customers perceive that they are buying ‘from Amazon’ or ‘from eBay’, rather than from you. So by showing your appreciation for their purchase, they’re more likely to remember your business, and seek you out in the future.

It can increase customer loyalty

As we’ve just talked about, marketing to win new customers costs more than marketing to existing customers, and so hanging onto customers you already have is going to be much more cost effective. When customers have a great experience, they are much, much more likely to remember a business and return to them for their next purchase, and so showing your customers appreciation can be a major part of your customer retention strategy.

Happy customers spend more

Customers that know they’re going to get great service from a company are much more likely to spend more with the business. With bigger baskets comes an increase in profits for you, especially if you can minimise additional postage costs. Research has shown that a mere 5% lift in repeat custom can raise your profits by anywhere between 25% and 95% – and those level of increases is definitely not to be sniffed at.

Word of mouth marketing is powerful

We don’t need to tell you how damaging it can be when a customer vents about the poor experience they’ve had with a company – you already know. Think about when someone tells you they had a rubbish experience from a local takeaway restaurant. The next time you’re ordering a Friday night pizza or Chinese, you’re much less likely to order from the restaurant your friend told you was terrible, aren’t you? The same applies to your online retail business, except that if customers share their experience in person, it is likely to have minimal impact. But when they talk about your business negatively online, their post will discourage potentially hundreds, or even thousands of people from shopping with you.

The problem with this is that posting positive word of mouth is significantly harder to get people to do – you need to provide outstanding service to get them to sing your praises on their social media. But, when customers feel that their placing an order with you is appreciated in addition to getting great service, there’s a much bigger chance that they’ll place good reviews. Whether they’re posting reviews on your website, on their social media and tagging you, or on review websites, other customers are more likely to shop with you if they’re seeing happy customers posting about your business.

What to consider when you’re planning your gratitude strategy

So now we’ve covered the benefits of showing your customers that you’re grateful for their orders, it is time to think about your strategy. It doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated, and you don’t need to go overboard for most customers. Of course, you might find that there are repeat customers that you feel deserve a bigger thank you (maybe a customer that has shopped with you loyally for years!) but for the most part, when you’re thanking customers, a simple gesture will go a long way.

Which customers are you going to send thanks to?

While there are companies that send a thank you as standard with their orders, they tend to be businesses that deal in bigger ticket items, or much larger order sizes. Many online retailers are working with thin profit margins, and so sending each and every customer a gift to say thank you just isn’t viable.

Being selective about which customers you’re going to send a thank you to means that you can stick to a much smaller budget. Of course, there are some options that we’re going to suggest that take little more than a few moments of your time, so you might decide to create a few different options to send to customers. Your criteria might depend on how much a customer has spent, and how many times they have shopped with you, for example.

Of course, it is well worth telling your customers how much you appreciate them on a regular basis, so periodically, hop on your social media stories, create YouTube videos, and so on. Make use of different marketing opportunities to share that sort of content, or if you’re creating specific pieces of content for dates such as Christmas, then include mentions about how you appreciate their buying from you, and following you.

How big is your budget?

The amount of money each business has available for thanking their customers will differ depending on many different variables. Luckily, there isn’t a perfect budget that you need to have before you can start thanking your customers – and actually, you can get started with a really tiny amount of money, or even just a little bit of time.

You’re looking to show your customers that you care, and that you’re grateful for them shopping with you – and even a handwritten note, a video, or a quick mention on your social media can create that feeling of warmth that you want them to feel.

If you’re in a position that your budget is larger, you’ll want to be using that budget to create the best return, so you’ll need a strategy in place to ensure that you are sending the right type of thank-you gifts to the right types of customer. Work out which customers you want to keep coming back, and how much you are prepared to put into each type of customer.

Can you repeat the exercise easily?

Although we’ve just mentioned handwritten notes, that isn’t going to work for every business – and most won’t be able to write a note for each of their customers if they’re going to get their orders out on time. But there are ways and means of implementing a gratitude strategy, even if there are only a few of your team getting involved. Alongside the amount in your budget, creativity is key.

What not to do when you’re thanking customers

Don’t ask them for anything in return – just tell them thank you for shopping with us. Why? If you’re saying thanks for shopping with you, then asking for them to do something for you at the same time is just a bit – well, off, and your thank you will come across as being insincere. So when you’re showing your customers gratitude for their purchase, do so without an overt agenda. Of course, it would be fantastic if they created a video sharing their experience with their social media followers and tagged you in it, but they are much, much more likely to do that if you don’t ask.

Ways to thank customers for their purchase

There are so many ways to thank your customers for their purchase, and although you can spend huge amounts of money putting extras into each order, some of the ideas we have included cost nothing more than a bit of your time. While you’re probably thinking that time is money (and you’d be right), some of these ideas are ones that you can do in spare moments – and given the potential return on the investment you might receive as a result, it is well worth giving it a go.

Add a thank you note

People have been sending handwritten thank you notes for years, and the appeal is (of course) that it can be personalised. Customers will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to actually put pen to paper, and express your gratitude for their order.

Of course, putting handwritten thank you notes in every order simply isn’t achievable – and if you’re sending hundreds of orders each day, it might not be desirable to send to each customer anyway. So break down which customers you really want to be sending thank you notes to. Maybe you choose to send to customers that have ordered from you a number of times (with, or after their third, or fifth order, for example), or maybe you send a handwritten note to customers that have placed an order over a certain amount, such as £50 or £100. You decide which suits your business, depending on how much time you’re willing to invest.

You might also be thinking that you could just get thank you postcards printed up – and of course you can – but it won’t have the same, personal impact. If you decide to go down this route, bear in mind sustainability, avoid glitter, and pick recycled options where you can. These cards are likely to end up straight in the recycling unless there is another reason for keeping them, such as a gorgeous print on one side, or a discount voucher code on them. Since customers are increasingly critical of excess packaging and unnecessary inserts, a poorly thought out thank you card is likely to bring criticism.

If you want to keep your thank you note super cheap and time efficient, then if you’re adding packing slips or invoices to your orders, then update them to include a thank you message. This is pretty easy to do in most eCommerce systems such as Linnworks, and you can update them regularly too. However, bear in mind that many businesses do this as standard anyway, and a lot of customers don’t bother to read the packaging slips, so the benefits of thanking customers in this way are minimal.

Finally, since you have your customer’s email address, you can always send a thank you email after their order has been delivered. Although you’ll have included a thank you on order acknowledgement emails, sending a thank you email after the customer receives their order will cost little to set up, and shows that you are genuinely grateful for their order. You can always add a link for feedback in this email (keep the thank you as the main point, don’t beg for reviews here) and consider including a discount code too, especially for customers that order from you regularly.

Put a little extra in their order

Since you’re already sending the package to your customer, including something that the customer isn’t expecting can be a great way to convey your thanks. We’ve spoken about the unboxing experience before, and when you consider the value that customer generated content (unboxing videos and social media posts particularly) can offer your business, it can be well worth your time including those little extras.

Free samples are a great way to thank your customers for their order – most of us love a freebie, after all – and if you’re launching a new product or range, then including a sample can encourage customers to buy from you again. This works even better if they’re a regular customer of certain products – such as a shampoo and conditioner, for example – and you can include a sample for another type of hair product that might work for them. Since you’re showing your customer that you’re grateful for their ongoing support, try not to pick a sample at random, try and choose something they will like, or will suit their needs. Going back to the hair product example, sending a product designed for dry hair to someone who buys shampoo for greasy hair probably won’t go down well – rather, sending a dry shampoo, or another product that could help them manage their hair better will be much better received. This can lead to increased order sizes in the future, so it is worth the few seconds it takes to get it right.

Taking that example one step further, it is worth going back to your target customer persona when you’re setting up your thank you strategy. We’ve seen some businesses that have had huge success when they’ve added a little packet of sweets or chocolates to their orders, but bear in mind that many people have allergies, or are now choosing plant-based, sugar free, or other diets. If your target customer is likely to be vegan, adding milk chocolate treats, or mini packs of Haribo isn’t going to be well received.

Finally, try and ensure that those little extras actually add value to the customer’s order. How many times have you thrown leaflets and flyers straight in the recycling because they aren’t relevant to your needs? Your customers will do that too, so try to keep inserts to things that your customers might actually find useful – otherwise you’re risking customers complaining about the additional waste.

Create a video to say thanks

Creating a little video takes literally no time and can be done anywhere, on your phone. Although you might think it would be better to set up a little background, maybe have a little makeup and so on, that isn’t necessary, and filming exactly as you are, is much more authentic.

Film that quick video, either at your desk or in your packing area, saying something like “Hi [customer name], I just wanted to get in touch and say thanks so much for your continued custom – it really is appreciated!” takes seconds. Then, when you’ve made your video, send it to them, either by email, WhatsApp, or via their social media. Don’t wait for a reply, and remember – you’re not expecting anything in return.

Offer them a discount on their next purchase

This idea can go hand in hand with the other ideas that we’ve mentioned here. Offering a discount on future purchases is a sure-fire way to encourage your customers to return to you – but if they’re already loyal customers and are likely to be shopping with you anyway, why not give them a discount on their next purchase? If you can make your offer time-bound, but linked to their usual purchasing patterns, they’re much more likely to make use of the code, and appreciate the little saving on their next purchase.

If you don’t want to offer a discount, you can always offer a free gift with their next purchase. This may work out to cost you less in the longer term, especially if the customer tends to spend larger amounts, and can give you an opportunity to showcase other products in your range. Don’t be tempted to use stuff that hasn’t sold and is nearing use-by dates though – customers know what you’re doing, which will have the opposite effect that you want.

Highlight them on your socials

If you’ve created a strong relationship with certain customers, you’ve got their social media handles, and they’re posting about you, show your other customers how much you love them back by sharing their post on your stories. A bit of social media validation goes a long way, and it costs you as little as a few seconds of your time.

The Takeaway

Creating a gratitude strategy to thank your customers is not likely to be a high priority when you’re first starting your business – and it may not be for a while. But when the time is right to start encouraging repeat custom, and you’ve got customers who use your business regularly, then taking our thoughts into consideration will help you to implement that strategy effectively, increasing your profits.

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