This is a post by Cara Wood and Francesca Nicasio.
Customers: where would we be without them, right? In a world where consumers have seemingly infinite choices of places to shop, we’re all sincerely grateful to our customers who choose to shop with us. We love them.
The thing is: your customers might not know how much you love them. A third of customers say they believe a brand they love doesn’t care about them. And that’s not good, because the flip side of this is that when a customer is loyal to your business, they spend an average of 66% more than a non-loyal customer.
For these reasons, it’s incredibly important that you communicate just how much you appreciate your customers.
That’s where Customer Appreciation Day comes in. Customer Appreciation Day is a holiday that you get to pick where you celebrate your customers and show them just how special they are to you. You can go all out or keep it fairly small, but here are some ideas to inspire you:
1. Handwritten thank you notes
Handwritten thank you notes are actually a good idea to send year-round to high-spenders or otherwise valued customers, but if you’re not sending them year-round, Customer Appreciation Day is the time to do it.
Handwritten thank you notes should be sent to your valued customers from salespeople they really know and mention specifics. The salesperson can inquire as to whether a purchased item is working out well, or follow up on a topic they conversed about in store. These notes enable your salespeople (in the name of your brand) to show your customers just how much they really care about them.
One of my favorite examples of this comes from T-We Tea, a tea shop in San Francisco. I ’ve purchased from them a number of times, and with my last order, I found a sweet note that read, “OMG, Hi Francesca! So lovely to see your name come up! We miss you dearly up here but know you are always doing epic things!”
It was a lovely gesture and it’s certainly not something I get from other retailers (even the ones I shop with regularly). Because of this, T-We Tea will always be one of my go-to places for loose leaf tea.
Note: Be authentic when implementing this customer appreciation idea. Handwritten notes need to be sent to highly valued shoppers (read: not just to everyone), otherwise they can seem forced or even disingenuine (the exact opposite of what you’re going for).
Years ago, for instance, I purchased a $4 pair of tights at a Brooks Brothers outlet. I spoke to no one except the cashier. And yet almost inexplicably, a month later I received a thank you note from someone at the outlet.
While I appreciated the time that person had taken, I couldn’t get the picture of this person I didn’t know going through their CRM and writing a note to my name about my purchase, without ever having a clue about who I was. The note ended up inadvertently underscoring how little personal connection I had made at the store.
2. Celebrate milestones or special occasions
Take note of special occasions that you can celebrate with your customers. Many retailers make it a point to greet customers on their birthday, and offer a special treat.
Another idea? Celebrate shopper-specific anniversaries. For instance, if you track your customers’ purchase histories, you could take note of the date of their first purchase and celebrate it.
That’s what the jewelry retailer Alex & Ani is doing. In the message below, the brand greets the customer a “Happy Charm-iversary” to mark the anniversary of their first purchase with Alex & Ani. Along with the greeting is a unique discount code.
3. Create a special video to share on social media.
Another wonderful customer appreciation idea? Say thank you to your customers is by putting together an engaging thank you video to share with them on social. It could be something simple, like all your staff just saying thank you into the camera. You can get an idea of what that would look like in this video by software company Constant Contact. Birchbox took this even further by having staff members share their favorite customer stories. Watch it below:
If you have the production means, you could ramp your video up to become more story-telling. One idea I think could be really cool is telling a general story of the amazing things your customers using your items. An outdoor sporting company could have customers tell stories of incredible hiking trips, extreme sports moments and other things, for instance, and wrap the video up by saying something like, “Thank you to all of our customers who choose to take our products out on the road with them. We’re honored to be a part of your journey.”
Accounting software Xero did just that when they hit one million subscribers. They put the spotlight on some of their customers and business advisors, then closed the video with the line… “So for helping us hit the big one, thanks a million.”
4. Share photos and stories of your customers online.
If you like the idea of creating online content meant to tug some heartstrings but don’t have the production abilities for a high-quality video, you could ask customers to share photos and stories of the things they do with your products. Then you can share those photos all of Customer Appreciation Day.
You can also turn this practice into a regular series. The Texas-based salon and spa, The Branded Beauty Bar does this well through its “BBB Client of the Week” series, in which they spotlight loyal customers on their Instagram account.
In the post below example, they congratulated one of their regular clients for recently earning her Bachelor’s degree. They also mentioned how long she’s been a customer and BBB even included a quote directly from the client.
🌟BBB Client of the Week🌟 Marissa Logsdon has been using Caitlyn for her hair cut, color & eyebrow wax for the past 2+ years. She is a valued client of the BBB & of Caitlyn’s; she brings a fun, outgoing atmosphere with her every time she walks into the salon. •Marissa recently graduated from Tarleton State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. (BIG congrats Marissa on such an accomplishment)👩🏽🎓🎉 ✨“My favorite part of the Branded Beauty Bar is the atmosphere! It is such an upbeat yet professional environment.”✨ -Marissa Logsdon Thank you for choosing & supporting the BBB!🖤 #beyoutiful #healthylifestyle #inspration #brandedbeauty #clientspotlight #customerappreciation #thankful
Do something similar in your business. Identify your best customers, learn their stories, and then spotlight them on your social accounts.
5. Customer appreciation-themed promotions
A storewide “X% off for Customer Appreciation Day” promotion, can go a long way. If you’re looking for a great theme for your next promotion, then “customer appreciation could be a good option.
You could even make it an exclusive promotion for your most loyal shoppers. The Habitat for Humanity store in Rio Grande Valley, for example, ran a 15% off sale for Customer Appreciation Week, and offered extra to members of their rewards program.
And if you want to take things to the next level, run a personalized promotion that demonstrates to each of your customers that you know who they are. What exactly that personalized promotion looks like will come down to your technology and your creativity, but here are a few ideas:
Dynamic offers – If your technology will allow you to, send each customer a dynamic promotion for their favorite item(s). If you’re unable to do this automatically, you may still want to comb through your top customers and manually offer maybe the top 10-50 a promotion on their favorite items. Those customers that keep the lights on are worth the time.
Loyalty program-wide promotions – You can make it seem unique and special to that person by using well-deployed marketing automation. First, your email announcement should be highly personalized. Think “[Customer name], we can’t tell you how much we appreciate having you as a customer for x years. To say thank you for being so awesome, we want to give you X% off the whole store for the day.” Then you can also use your marketing automation system to personalize all the promotional CTAs on the website when the customer visits it, to really make them feel that this promotion is just for them.
KiwiCo, a subscription business for kids, did just that when it sent the following email. The subject line pretty much said it all: Thank you for being a loyal KiwiCo Subscriber!
And in the body of the email, the KiwiCo team mentioned how much they appreciate their members and they included a number of discounted packages specifically for their subscribers.
A general store-wide “Friends and Family” type promotion on Customer Appreciation Day, but offer your loyalty members better perks – This is a less personalized approach, but it still says thank you. And best of all, it doubles as an incentive to get customers to sign up for your loyalty program that day. (Salespeople can say, “That’s already on sale, but you’ll get that item even cheaper if you just sign up for the loyalty program today!” From my own sales experience, most people you tell that to will sign up.)
Apparel retailer New York & Company does this quite well. Recently, their branch in the Los Cerritos Mall ran a general sale that all shoppers can participate in, but they offered additional savings to their credit card members.
You can easily implement your customer appreciation ideas with Marsello, a loyalty and marketing automation software for retailers. Marsello can automatically detect who your best customers are, so you can send them personalized messages and offers.
6. Send gift baskets.
Want to do something really unexpected? Send your top customers a gift. Nothing says thank you like a gift basket filled with chocolate strawberries, in my opinion. But seriously, put together some thoughtful brand-complementary gift baskets for your top spenders. Consider including a little gift card to your store in order to get your customers back in the doors, as well. A women’s clothing store, for instance, might want to send some self-care items like bath salts in a basket.
7. Give extra loyalty points
A smaller way to show your appreciation is to give your all your loyalty members extra loyalty points for customer appreciation day. The best way to do this is the most generous — give them the number of points it takes to get a reward. But you can also give every a round number of points, like 500. You could even go really cheap and simply offer extra points for every dollar for shopping with you on Customer Appreciation Day. But again, I don’t recommend cheaping out on this celebration. The point is to show your customers you care and making them spend more money just to get your thank you doesn’t really make you seem like you care.
8. Host a party for your loyalty members (consider an online event if you’re social distancing)
If you want to really go all out for Customer Appreciation Day, host a party for your loyalty members. You could close early one day, and set up snacks, maybe some champagne and great music. You could center the party around a killer discount, or run a preview of your new line. Run a giveaway or give everyone a free gift. Whatever you decide, make sure to offer a compelling reason for people to actually come to your party.
Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery in California has this concept mastered. Their Customer Appreciation Day party features a local musician and free tacos. They have discounts, giveaways, and free samples. They’re also even offering free classes on farm care! There’s really no reason for their customers not to attend and feel special.
Note: if you’re reading this during the COVID-19 pandemic, then in-store events should be shelved until your city’s social distancing measures are lifted. In the meantime, see if you can take your customer appreciation ideas online by hosting exclusive sales and shopping events.
Nordstrom does this really well. The company regularly holds “early access” online sales for the members of its loyalty program.
9. Hand out goodie bags
If you want to create a party-like vibe without hosting a full-scale party, consider offer goodie bags to shoppers all day on your Customer Appreciation Day. Include some small on-brand tokens and make the bags extra exciting by offering “mystery” gift cards to your shop in the bags. You could give out mainly $5 gift cards, but up the excitement by including a few high-value ones, as well. Be sure to mention in your messaging that each goodie bag contains a gift card of up to $X.
10. Make a donation in your customer’s names.
Luxury brands, in particular, may find that offering discounts not only devalues their products but may even not particularly excite their target audience. In that case, consider donating money to an on-brand charity of your (or your customers’) choice in their names. It’s a smart way to say thank you to your customers while still offering them something they care about.
Customer Appreciation Day is all about showing your customers how much you value them. Whether you only do one thing on this list or most of them, keep your customers front and center and it will be an amazing day.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.