In 2020, many of the customer appreciation methods we’ve become familiar with — like inviting shoppers to your physical location for a holiday “thank you” party or hosting a public event — are no longer viable options. COVID-19 has simply made it too difficult to do these kinds of in-person events while keeping everyone safe.
But it’s still vital, especially during the holidays, to retain loyal customers and attract new ones by showing them how important they are to you. Everybody likes to feel appreciated, and this year, providing those warm feelings may be more important than ever.
So, how can you show your loyal clientele a bit of appreciation during the holiday season, while still keeping them (and your staff) safe and healthy?
1. Include thank you notes with purchases
This is probably the simplest and least expensive option — one that any business can easily incorporate into their sales process. Whether it’s a pre-printed “thank you” card slipped into the bag or a quick, personalized note penned at the bottom of a receipt (Thank you so much for shopping with us, we hope you love the sweater!) saying thank you is a key step in building a relationship with customers.
And don’t just rely on a “thanks for your order” email, either. It’s a fine thing to do, but it can be difficult to convey personal feelings through email alone.
Putting a personal touch on your communications will be noticed by customers. Saying thanks isn’t hard to do, and it returns so much.
2. Offer free gift wrapping
What would the holidays be without all of those beautifully gift-wrapped and bow- bestowed packages?
If you already ship products yourself, adding a gift-wrapping station is pretty simple. Customers are delighted when you save them a little time and effort during the mad dash of the season.
And if you also have a brick and mortar store, a few festive boxes poking out of the top of your branded shopping bag is free advertising. This tells everyone that your business goes the extra mile for your customers.
Gift wrapping isn’t just for mall shops or department stores either. More and more stores of all kinds are offering the service. And some even charge a minimal fee.
While, at first glance, it may seem like a small thing, gift wrapping can have a measurable impact on customer loyalty and brand perception. And that means more sales for you!
3. Offer discounts to repeat customers or for purchases over a certain amount
Offering tier-based discounts is, of course, an ideal way to attract holiday customers. Everyone loves a great deal, right?
Studies have shown that using a coupon or receiving a discount can positively impact brand loyalty. It makes customers happier with their purchase (and your store) and creates a calmer, more pleasant shopping experience. Plus, the same study found that 80% of shoppers said that they feel more confident in making a first-time purchase with a brand or store if they’ve received a special offer.
Make sure you understand the principles of running a discount promotion before you start slashing prices. Cutting your bottom line too deeply isn’t worth a few additional sales.
Have a firm goal in mind and a solid plan to achieve that goal before you launch a holiday discount campaign. These might include:
- Attracting new customers
- Encouraging repeat customers
- Promoting a specific brand
- Moving old inventory
- Building an email list, newsletter, or blog.
Intimidated at the prospect of starting a discount campaign, especially during the busy holiday season?
The Smart Coupons extension is an extremely flexible, yet intuitive, online tool that can help. Store owners, administrators, and staff can easily create and run discount promotions, all without needing developer assistance.
The extension is packed with proven methods to run fully-automated discounts and promotions that can lead to increased sales, repeat buyers, and sky-rocketing customer loyalty.
4. Include small gifts in your packaging
Packaging inserts are pleasant little surprises that can help cement your brand’s relationship with customers.
These “freebies,” often branded, are dropped in with the order and typically add value to the item purchased.
A BBQ store might add a pair of tongs or a grill brush, while a candle shop may add a small box of wooden matches.
These little items not only make your customer feel appreciated but remind them of that feeling every time they use them.
Discounts and coupons are a universally popular and effective means of showing customer appreciation. Slipping in a coupon for 20% off their next purchase can go a long way towards guaranteeing a repeat, or even lifelong, customer.
Again, a physical card or coupon is a tangible reminder that feels like a gift.
Samples are a great value-add to bags and packages because:
- Depending on the products you offer, vendors may offer free samples that you can pass on to your customers. A win-win for everyone!
- Free samples are great for cross-selling and introducing customers to related products they may be curious about trying.
Combine a product sample with a coupon and you have a nearly irresistible offer!
5. Host a giveaway on social media
Social media is full of contests, sweepstakes, and giveaways offering every type of product and service imaginable. Why? Because they work!
Whether you’re looking to increase sales, boost online engagement, or simply add to your contact list, offering people a chance to win something of value is an enticement that most folks can’t pass up.
Global productivity leader Toggl states that “three out of four people are more likely to recommend a brand who hosts contests and giveaways” even after the giveaway has ended.”
For online retailers, a well-designed social media promotion can be one of the best possible methods of growing and creating a buzz around your brand. Consider partnering with related brands to offer an even bigger prize and grow your social media reach. For example, if you sell beauty products, you might host a giveaway with a clothing store and jewelry shop and put together a basket of goodies.
Regardless of your size or budget, targeted online giveaways are a powerful and effective method that gets you noticed.
6. Share customer stories on social media
Sharing positive feedback or reviews is a great way to encourage loyalty. It demonstrates that lots of people are happy with your brand!
It also puts a peer-to-peer voice on your offerings, which increases trust from potential new customers. In our current “social distancing” reality, this virtual word-of-mouth is more important than ever.
Unfortunately, we live in a busy, distracting world, and it’s easy to forget things — even a great shopping experience. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your most loyal customers and ask for a brief endorsement or online review.
People like to know that their thoughts and opinions have been heard. By using customer stories as part of your appreciation plan during the holidays, you show them that you’re listening. By publicly thanking them for their business and insights, you show them that you value them.
That’s how brand advocates are created.
7. Give loyal customers early access to holiday deals
One popular way to show appreciation to your customers actually begins before the holidays.
Consider creating exclusive “for-members-only” pre-sale offers on new and popular items in your holiday inventory.
These exclusive deals make your most loyal customers feel like they’re being recognized and rewarded for their special status.
In addition to increasing satisfaction, this can also be the perfect means of making some early sales and getting positive feedback that you can use during your other holiday promotions.
8. Create a loyalty program
Customer loyalty programs have become very common in today’s shopping experience.
They’re an excellent means of solidifying customer retention by helping shoppers feel like they’re part of your business. These kinds of programs also reduce the risk of discount campaigns by targeting offers to your most reliable clientele.
WooCommerce Points and Rewards is a great extension to create your new program without hours of work. Use it to reward customers for purchases and other actions with points that can be redeemed for discounts.
You can easily set how many points shoppers earn for each dollar spent and how many can be redeemed for a specific discount amount. As a customer’s points increase, so do the discounts, incentivizing return business.
Show your appreciation
Long after buyers receive their orders, share their gifts with friends and family, and clean up the last of the wrapping paper, what they’ll remember about you and your business is how you made them feel. And that’s what they’ll share with others.
Appreciate your customers, and let them know it.