Thank You Cards: An Old-School Practice That Can Build a Huge Brand Following

  •    Anne is a marketing consultant who specializes in content strategy. Before becoming her own boss, she led the marketing team for a Fortune 500 brand.

While it may seem like taking the time to pen a note of appreciation has gone the way of floppy discs and fold-up maps, writing thank you cards to your customers can actually be a relevant brand-building tool. Hear me out.

Thanks to online shopping and the fact that much of our lives now take place in the digital world, today's customer experience is often very impersonal — even when the companies we purchase from manage to send us emails that include our first name in the salutation. Now, imagine unboxing that new speaker, candle or watch you've been oh-so-excited about to also find an honest-to-goodness thank you card — and a handwritten one at that! — from someone involved in preparing your purchase, or better yet the creative mastermind behind the business. Your order suddenly isn't so impersonal, is it?

Thank you notes not only show customers that you genuinely appreciate their business, but they also present a great chance to show off your brand personality. This small gesture helps differentiate your business from larger competitors that don't seem to have the time to notice individual customers. In other words, thank you notes can inspire customer loyalty, word-of-mouth interactions and meaningful connections. Surprise and delight your customers, and you'll likely spark some social sharing too.

The Psychology Behind Why Thank You Cards Foster Customer Loyalty

Firsts impressions are important, especially when it comes to earning long-term customer relationships. As Micah Solomon, a best-selling author and expert in customer experience, notes, “…beginnings and endings have disproportionate power to affect your customers." He further explains how our brains focus on and more readily store information about what they decipher to be the most critical interactions: the first and last impressions.

And during that last impression, thank you cards present a unique way to foster positive emotions. Psychological consumer studies have shown that these positive emotions toward a brand influence loyalty far more than even trust and other judgments, such as logic. So, find ways to thank your customers. After all, you want your customers to have warm fuzzies about your business the next time they're ready to make a purchase, right?

Real-World Examples of Thank You's Done Right

There are many ways to show that you appreciate your customers. Here are a few great examples to inspire you.

Handwritten Thank You Notes

By 2014, Hex, a functional tech fashion company, had already included more than 13,000 thank you notes in their shipped orders — a move that charmed more than a few customers into expressing their pleasure on social media.

Random Acts of Surprise Appreciation

Zappos boasts a renowned customer experience from start to finish. Part of this is due to its knack for finding unconventional ways to thank customers, from sending flowers to awarding surprise shipping upgrades.

Including Little Extras

VisionDirect sells contacts, but they've spiced up what could be a somewhat dry unboxing experience by including fun “just because" extras in their customers' boxes, including small packages of Haribo candies.

How to Thank Your Customers and Build Genuine Brand Loyalty

There's not one right way to carry out customer appreciation. What you choose will depend on what's appropriate for your brand as well as your human resources and budget. Here are some ideas to get you brainstorming.

Include package inserts. Depending on what you choose to include, this tactic could be budget- and time-friendly. Plus, it's a great way to exceed your customers' expectations. Small, surprising things — like candy, temporary tattoos or a fun free sample — may be the best way to go. They don't add any additional shipping cost and can be quickly added to packages before they go out the door.

Write thank you cards. Depending on the size of your business and how many people you have on staff to help write thank you cards, you may do this for every customer, a selection of high-value customers, or a random selection. Hex, for example, chose to write a thank you note for every single shipment. Other businesses, however, have elected to set a thank you note goal. For instance, 2,000 thank you cards a year would look something like eight cards a day, or one card an hour. Some tips to keep thank you cards doable and genuine are below.

Do:

  • Personalize the notes. Include the customer's name and reference their order.
  • Display your brand personality in the copy.
  • Create a repeatable process that everyone involved in writing notes can efficiently follow.

Don't:

  • Urge customers to make another purchase right away.
  • Request that they share on social media (though they may choose to do this on their own).

Did you know: Weebly now offers a Pre-Launch Membership to help members with everything that comes along with starting a new business. Not only will you get your unique website domain, coming soon website and business starter guide, but you'll also receive custom-designed thank you cards to send to your customers.