In this article
There’s a brand that I buy 99% of my clothing from, called Dynamite.
The sizing fits me perfectly, the styles match my aesthetic (business-casual), and I can easily shop on their mobile app if I don’t feel like going to the mall.
I’m also a VIP customer, and because of that I sometimes get personal treatment.
What do I mean by personal treatment? It’s a part of Dynamite’s customer appreciation strategy. Here’s my story…
It was a Thursday afternoon when I got a call on my phone, and the caller ID said, Dynamite. “Did I forget I ordered something?” I thought. Confused, I answered the call.
It was a sales associate from the brick-and-mortar store closest to my house. She told me they recently brought in new styles and was wondering if I wanted her to put some aside for me to try on.
Being a writer in the retail and ecommerce industry, of course, I was intrigued. It’s research, right? I said yes.
When I arrived, they brought me to the back where they had an entire clothes rack filled up with styles they personally selected for me based on my past purchases.
At this point, I thought to myself, either I’ve spent too much money with this brand, or they really know how to appreciate their customers. Honestly, the answer is both.
Dynamite made me feel like a celebrity. Not only did I purchase a lot that day, but it’s an experience I’ll never forget. In fact, they’ve had my loyalty for 10 years.
And that’s the power a good customer appreciation strategy can have for your brand.
There’s a reason why companies with a customer experience mindset drive revenue 4-8% higher than the rest of their industries. Not only that, but these experiences are why people share brands with their friends and family.
I know not all ecommerce brands can personally invite customers to a physical location, but there are many ways you can spice up your customer experience to leave shoppers feeling the same way I did with Dynamite. I’m going to show you how in this article.
The benefits of showing appreciation to customers
If you ask any customer experience or retention marketer, they’ll say a difficult part of their job is proving ROI. Creating unique and memorable experiences isn’t always measurable.
However, success can be tracked over time in a few ways. This is how Erica Aarons, the Retention and Engagement Manager at Rumpl (a brand selling blankets for any occasion), thinks about it:
“Engaging with our customers is the bread and butter of my role. I want our customers to trust our brand enough to give our products as gifts, share our brand with their friends and family, and be their go-to when it comes to blankets.”
So what exactly is the ROI of customer appreciation? Here are a few benefits to doubling down on a customer appreciation strategy as an ecommerce brand:
Customer appreciation drives loyalty and retention
Did you know that 73% of consumers say a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalty? Additionally, when customers do become loyal to your brand, they’re five times more likely to purchase again and four times more likely to refer a friend.
You can’t argue with that data.
It’s simple math—memorable experiences make customers want to continue supporting your business.
It turns customers into brand advocates
According to Erica, “A customer appreciation strategy leads to a better customer-to-brand connection. When a customer feels supported, they’re more likely to spread the word about your brand and spend more money over time.”
Essentially, what Erica is saying is that when you have a loyal customer base, it’s easier to implement word-of-mouth marketing strategies. This includes loyalty programs, ambassador programs, and referral programs.
These programs are the most successful when you already have customers who adore you, and customer appreciation is a big part of making that happen.
It can help you acquire new customers
Here’s the part about customer appreciation most execs don’t understand: a good customer appreciation strategy can actually drive acquisition at the same time build loyalty.
For example, here’s a consumer who came across personal stories from shoppers who purchased from the pet brand, Chewy. In the tweet, Kushaan explains how even though he doesn’t personally own a pet he will shop at Chewy when he does in the future.
This idea is also something Eli Weiss, Senior Director of CX and Retention at Jones Road Beauty (previously at Olipop), spoke about with DTC Newsletter. The article explains how paid advertising channels don’t always keep CPG customers long-term—usually because they don’t understand the benefits of the product or brand.
Since positive customer experiences make people excited to share a brand with others, they’re a useful strategy for acquiring new shoppers. If you’re a follower of Eli or Olipop on Twitter, you know how shareable these unique experiences have been.
“The cheap customers aren't always quality customers,” said Eli in the article. “What people post on Twitter [about Olipop], nobody gets paid to do that. And the reason why people are doing it is because we broke the script. They expect an average experience and we elevated it.”
It can increase your AOV
Shoppers will gladly support pricier brands that they feel positive about. In fact, a report by American Express found that American consumers will pay 17% more to purchase from a company that has a reputation for great service.
Brands that are prioritizing CX are finding this to be true. Here’s a great example from Jones Road Beauty, where the team’s support was so helpful the customer came back and purchased an extra $500-worth of products.
That seems like a pretty clear ROI, right?
9 customer appreciation examples
In the wise words of Erica Aarons, “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to appreciate your customers!”
But what can you do instead? Luckily, there are tons of ecommerce brands to pull inspiration from, so let’s dive into 10 ideas that won’t break the bank.
1. Write personalized handwritten thank-you notes
Sometimes, even little things can go a long way. Erica is showing that with hand-written notes she’s sending to customers with their orders.
“This year, I’ve been writing handwritten and personally addressed Thank You cards to some of our top customers to let them know that their support hasn’t gone unnoticed,” she said.
In Rumpl’s Facebook community, shoppers are calling these notes out:
“This helps us connect with customers, and shows that there are actual people behind the brand… No selling—just pure appreciation.” - Erica Aarons
2. Take accountability and fix mistakes
Every founder wants people to talk about their brand in a good way, but nobody will recommend a brand if they have a bad experience.
Maybe the shipping was super delayed, the product arrived damaged, or the shopper didn’t get all the items they asked for. Whatever the situation is, everyone makes mistakes—it’s how you handle those mistakes that matter to customers.
Without taking accountability or helping the customer fix the issue, you’re creating the wrong kind of shareable situation… The one where people write bad reviews about you on Twitter. Yikes.
At the bare minimum, fix the issue for the customer quickly: resend a product, help them make a return, or track the order. But you can also level up these mistakes. Here’s an example of a shareable experience where Amber turns a bad situation into a play on humor (which is surely memorable for the customer receiving this).
3. Surprise customers with a gift
A free gift doesn’t always mean giving away one of your products. Instead, you can get creative with what you send. Here’s an example from Chewy, which sent a customer a personalized portrait of their pet.
Do free gifts work? Yes.
A survey by Harris Interactive found that 90% of customers said a free gift with purchase helps increase their loyalty to the brand. Not to mention, 65% said they were somewhat likely to share their experience with other shoppers.
Considering this Chewy example was shared on a Reddit thread, those survey results must be true: free gifts can lead to organic word-of-mouth, especially when they’re creative (figuratively and literally in this case).
4. Award customers with special accolades
One way to surprise customers is to create personalized awards, certificates, and accolades that you can add to their order.
Buffalo Trace did a great job with this, giving a customer a certificate—signed by the CEO—making them an official “Friend of the Trace.” This experience even has family friends of the customer talking about Buffalo Trace online.
And here’s a close-up of the fancy certificate:
Does anyone else want to try Buffalo Trace after this one?
5. Connect with customers during their best and worst times
One of the best pieces of advice I hear about CX marketing is that the key to its success is having high emotional intelligence. In my opinion, customer appreciation is no different.
Learning to listen to emotional cues and coming up with creative ways to respond to them is exactly how you can create experiences that show customers just how important they are.
For example, an Olipop customer reached out to the brand to tell the team about how much their mother who has recently passed away loved drinking Olipop. After receiving this message, the Olipop team sent flowers and a personal letter to the customer.
6. Feature your customers’ UGC in various ways
You’ve probably seen brands feature customer photos on their social media accounts, but what about on billboards?
Starface, a brand selling pimple patches in fun shapes, took a tweet a customer wrote and literally stuck it on a billboard. The customer was so excited they took a picture and shared it on Instagram.
Featuring customers in these ways is a simple way to show off UGC and customer appreciation. It tells customers you notice them and care about how they talk about your brand.
And that doesn’t mean you always have to pay for a billboard.
“Just asking customers to feature their photos can be meaningful, plus Revel Nail uses UGC as product page images for different shades!” shared Evelyn. As you can see on Revel Nail’s website, all of this UGC is on their product page, showing off real looks from real customers:
Being featured on the brand’s website is definitely a cool experience for the customer, especially since Revel Nail is properly linking back to the original creator’s Instagram page.
7. Personalize customer communication based on events
Setting up automated emails based on specific triggers can show customers you’re paying personal attention to them—and that you’re not treating them the same as any other customer.
Alex McPeak, Content Strategist at Klaviyo, shared an experience she had with Who Gives A Crap: “I really loved this email I received after I placed my second order with the brand. It’s a really great example of how brands can use personalization to add a human touch and build relationships with customers!”
Since personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates, it’s worthwhile to set up advanced segmentation and email flows. Besides, these emails become hands-off once they’re set up, making them an easy win to show your appreciation.
8. Name your products after customers
Remember when Coca-Cola put people’s names on its bottles for the #ShareaCoke Campaign? People spent so much time looking through the bottles to find their names—or their friends’ names.
Well, here’s one brand that uses a similar strategy, but takes it to the next level: ADEA Jewelry actually names products after customers.
And, of course, customers then share the pieces that they were named after on social media, driving that organic word-of-mouth engine for the brand.
Clearly, customers love this approach. I mean, who wouldn’t want one of their favorite brands to name products after them?
9. Get to know your customers personally and share their stories
One of my favorite examples of customer appreciation is from House of Wise, a luxury CBD and wellness brand. Once in a while, the brand will write about its customers.
For example, in this piece about Hanna Villarrubia, readers learn how she discovered the brand, how she embodies the qualities of a “Wise Woman,” what her self-care routine looks like, and how she uses House of Wise’s products in her daily life.
This is a great way to not just show customer appreciation but also educate shoppers about how they can use your products to improve their life.
Customer appreciation is the foundation of loyalty
Now that you’ve seen the impact of customer appreciation, are you ready to create lifelong memories with your shoppers?
Remember, “It’s difficult to personify your brand, but with a customer appreciation strategy, customers can connect with the people behind the brand,” said Erica Aarons.
If you successfully start nurturing customers using some of the ways mentioned in this article, you’ll build long-lasting relationships with people who are excited to refer your brand to their friends and family.
And when you get to the point of setting up a referral program to make this easy for them, you know who to talk to. Hint: It’s ReferralCandy. ;)