As a small or medium sized business, it may feel at times like you’re up against ‘the man,’ with the man being enterprise level corporations that have hundreds of loyal customers, thousands of fans and plenty of expendable resources to use toward marketing and customer retention. Though competing against the big-wigs can feel like an uphill battle, it doesn’t always have to. With great ecommerce software, the right tools and some creative marketing, you can actually carve out an advantage against the behemoths of ecommerce.
Research shows that in spite of how great a product may be, 68% of customers will stop supporting a business if they feel that company is indifferent towards them (source: CustomerICare). And the bigger a company gets – the harder it becomes to pay attention to each customer who supports your business. Take advantage of your ability to reach out to customers in a meaningful way, and use these 4 customer appreciation tips to create your own legion of loyal buyers.
Handwritten Thank You
This is one area where ecommerce businesses have the advantage over brick-and-mortar stores, given that you ensure the package makes its way from your warehouse or fulfillment center, all the way to your customer’s doorstep. A handwritten note that thanks customers for their purchase not only communicates that you are an exceptional business owner who looks out for their customers, but is also a great way to add a little nudge towards that buyer leaving a positive review. If you are physically involved with the packing and shipping process, make sure a note is included within each parcel. Take advantage of the packing slip and customize it to include a similar note.
If you sell on your own website or on more creatively lenient sites like Etsy, we recommend throwing in a small freebie with your packages (please note: make sure this practice complies with each marketplace’s policies beforehand). This could be a chance for you to show appreciation to repeat customers for another order, or show new customers that you are grateful to them for trying out your business. Ideally your freebie would be something small and cost effective that makes sense and reinforces your brand. Think about what items are congruent with their purchase, or what could be used alongside it. For example, with every purchase I have ever made from online makeup store NYX Cosmetics, I have received a free lip liner in my box.
Social Media Shout Out
When you see your customers sharing images and experiences with your brand in their social network, reshare their posts and thank them for being a part of the “team,” so to speak. By showing gratitude and empowering them as part of your brand, you will encourage them to continue sharing, which brings you the gift of free PR to reach other potential customers. Though big companies may do this as well, a small business has the opportunity to engage with their customers more frequently, and often in a more meaningful way. Let them know how much you appreciate them! It will build brand loyalty and drive future sales. You may even want to consider having loyal fans as “brand ambassadors,” and offering them in-store discounts or other rewards for sharing your products on social sites frequently. For tips on how to capitalize on each social site, read our posts on Pinterest, Instagram and Vine.
Have a Party
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, make sure to integrate those offline sales with your online sales with an integration-friendly POS software. Then, host a special shopping day for your beloved customers. Offer 10% off everything in store (or whatever feels comfortable and makes sense for your business), have some goodies to munch on, and turn it into a social event. Regular buyers will bring friends, which will widen your audience reach, and may garner you some free PR on social media if you encourage it in the right ways. If you only sell online, you can still select a day as your very own customer appreciation holiday and offer 10% off site-wide, new sale items, or free shipping. Let your fans know on social media and through email; invite them to share the news and spread the word. As long as you make it fun for buyers, they will remember the positive experience and will likely remain a loyal customer.
Have you seen some really cool customer appreciation tactics before, either from a company you buy from or something you’ve done in your own business? Let us know in the comments. One of my favorite customer appreciation moments was when I ordered a card from a stationary seller on Etsy. She sent my package in a thick cardboard envelope, which she painted my name onto in beautiful watercolor script. It was very cool that someone took the time to customize my package like that (PS: I ordered from her again).