Words have power, and gratitude is one of the most powerful ones out there. It works magic every time. The feeling of being thanked by someone remains with you for long. You almost remember it for days to come. But even then, thank-you emails that brands send post-purchases, make a straight dive to the trash can. When we know the power of ‘thank you’ then why don’t we use it strategically in our brand to build a loyal customer base? Here are some tips that a retail business can put at work, right now and start building better relationships with their customers.
Give consumers an early sneak peek
There is no better way of making someone feel special than by making them a part of your inner circle. They should be the ones who see behind the scenes of your business. They should be the first ones to know about what’s under wraps. They will be your brand advocates if they feel you have shared something really big and special with them.
- Nike invites its customers to test the shoes and take them for a trial run. That’s brand engagement at its best! Making the customer feel that their opinion contributes to the brand.
- The popular TV show ‘Saturday Night Live’ does an amazing job at extending the sneak peek that we’re talking about. It uses Instagram wonderfully to convert followers into loyal viewers. You’d expect a show like that to have beautiful HD clicks of celebrities and personalities, meticulously edited. That’s the shocker! In sync with it’s off-the-cuff personality, the show uses its Instagram account like a backstage pass and promotes its feed with the hashtag #SNLbackstage. Followers love to see actors doing silly things and peeping into what’s going on back stage. Just like that, SNL has more than one million followers on Instagram. That show is never going off air soon.
- Purdy’s chocolates always has an amazing newsletter to share with its subscribers. Cute videos that show how their chocolate is made and some great insider tips on dessert recipes. In fact, they showed their subscribers what was going to happen on Thanksgiving when it was still July. That’s early? No, that’s special. It makes you feel like you are there, with them, preparing for the candy month of October!
Send cards to loyal customers
It’ll help your business to stand out amongst a slew of promotional emails – thank your customers for their patronage and support. You can get creative with these and use them as an extension of your brand experience, passed on from your store or your website to a little card in an envelope.
- Toys “R” Us goes all the way to making a birthday phone call to wish the little members of its shopping club. Geoffrey, “everyone’s favourite Giraffe’, sings Happy Birthday over the phone and offer a free gift card to the birthday kid. When the kid comes visiting, the store is prepared with a neat birthday routine that leaves the family feeling really special and thankful. Birthdays are a great excuse to say thanks and offer something extra.
Phone calls are great. But not many shoppers share their numbers when signing up. Use the good ‘ol direct marketing tactics to reach people who are tough to reach online, and to boost your online campaign. There is no beating the feeling of getting something special in the mail. Especially if it is not trying to sell anything to you but just make you smile.
Build up as accurate a picture as you can, of your target profile and understand what she will be up to, or what will be her state of mind when she receives this mail. For example, if you are trying to reach out to your customers as a nanny service then a direct mail on thanksgiving, or on Mother’s day saying ‘Thank you mom, here’s some time away from diapers, boo-boos and baby burps ’ And inside the envelope we can have a profile of nannies available to take care of their baby for them, while they enjoy the festivities. It’s a simple gesture that can make a big impact. Which brings us to our next point…
Don’t make all of your content promotional
The 411 rule applies everywhere. Give your subscribers a breather every now and then. Especially around the holidays when every other brand is trying to push sales on them. Wish them a happy holiday season by sending an e-card from your team. Which shows them the real people behind it all, and sincerely wishes them a fun holiday season. Or better still, just engage them in social media activities which are not even remotely related to any profit making business objective.
- Mercedes-benz did this really well last Christmas. Armed with the hashtag #MBSecretSanta and generous intent, Mercedes-Benz combined comments and direct messages to give away 1,000 gifts to friends of their Instagram followers. They indirectly wished them happy holidays, made them engage with the brand but never made any salsey pitch or discount promotion.
- YYoga is great at engaging fans and followers without showing any intent of getting them to join their studio. It promotes doing yoga at home, watching yoga video tutorials from anywhere on the planet, making it very clear that they just want you to do yoga. Their rewards program is direct reflection of this attitude. As a YYoga member, you can take up challenges, attend classes and earn YRewards. These rewards can get you all sorts of free goodies, free classes or unlock new levels of yoga! But they don’t promote it by saying become a member and get these free things. They promote it as a campaign to reward you for the yoga you have been doing sincerely, every day. Or for challenges that you have undertaken successfully! You will end up using their studio and enrolling for classes, but you will be doing it all in the spirit of doing more yoga, not to help them meet their business goals. Marvellous, isn’t it?
P.S. #CucumberJulie, who is participating in the 30 day YYOGA challenge, is suggesting to make their challenge more appealing to new members by sending weekly reminder/encouragement emails with tips and tricks on how to survive the challenge.
Offer something truly exclusive – a special privilege or an exclusive event
Extend your store hours and/or offer customers a special incentive with purchasing. For those without a brick-and-mortar location, try hosting a “cyber” event, such as a Twitter chat or a one-day only sale. Keep the event exclusive to your special customers and give them the royal treatment, go overboard with the VIP treats. Associate with some other brands outside your industry and offer them freebies and entertainment. Not only will you have a satisfied bunch of loyal customers, such events help to draw in crowds too.
- Patagonia, an eco-friendly outdoor apparel company gave more than just points and discounts to their loyalty program members. Together with eBay, it gave its members the opportunity resell their Patagonia clothing, online.
Coalition programs can lead to beautiful customized offers. A pet supplement company can partner with pet day care to offer a free day pass to its repeat customers. You can make it a two-way deal and grow your network by reaching out to their customers. The pet day care can offer to its special customers, a discount coupon to your pet supplements.
If you are a seasonal business like an ice-cream parlour that sees less business around snowfall season, then you can tie up with a reverse seasonal business. Like a snow-boot brand, to run a special campaign for your dear customers that says, ‘Happiness is ice-cream on a winter day and warm snow boots!’ Maybe around the summers, the snow-boot brand will need your help to push its sales.
Include them in your campaigns
Get creative. Extend your thanks by giving customers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at your brand or showcase some of your cool customers in a special video. Encourage fans to like and follow your brand on social by incentivizing them. For every follower milestone, offer a special promo code.
- The best example here is Coke. Do you remember the ‘Share a coke’ campaign? Thirsty fans across the world have been clamouring to find their names on Coke cans.
- The popular shoe brand, TOMS donated one pair of shoes for every person who snapped a pic of their bare feet and shared it on Instagram. This campaign tapped into TOMS customers’ philanthropic sides and spread the word about TOMS to thousands.
Even if your brand can’t give away a free product to everyone who posts about you on Instagram, the point is to involve your customer in a campaign to make them feel instrumental in contributing to a bigger brand picture.
Rewrite that thank you mail
Pull out your thank you mail that goes as an automated mail whenever a customer makes a purchase. In fact, pull out all the auto-responses emails that are going from your store or your website. Look at the copy once again and this time from a customer’s perspective. Remove anything salsey from them and just make them simple, honest emails that spread smiles and build your relationship. Pay special attention to the subject line you are using. It should sound casual and interesting.
Don’t forget the Cyber Mondays
Let’s take Thanksgiving as an example. While shoppers flock to retail stores the second they finish their turkey, it’s often the Monday after when the best deals can be found. Though Cyber Mondays are created by online stores. But you can invite your special customers for a new exclusive offer or preview on the day after. This will help you with two things. A) Make them feel special and committed to your brand and B) push your stock to genuine customers and not just the swaying crowds that shop only on sales.
- Rifle Paper Co. pulls out the gems from their old stock or yet to be launched range and offers them on Cyber Monday to make that day extra special. And this time, it is only for subscribers and old customers. It’s like a special treat for hanging on until then.
If you are a retail brand, then there are various ways of exercising this rule. Like a yoga fashion retailer could launch a new style of yoga pants, the day after Thanksgiving and invite its customers to thank them by offering them the new products first. And throwing in a few exclusive deals, events and experiences!
The 7 tips that we have shared here are quick and easy. But there is a lot to customer relationship management. If you want us to design a thank you campaign or a retargeting campaign for your customers or clients, just leave a note here or stop by our greenhouse. Thank you for reading! 🙂