When is the last time that you thanked your most important customers for their business?
If it’s been awhile, how come?
I don’t just mean a “thank you,” at the end of your latest email. I mean a sincere gesture to convey gratitude. After all — your most important customers are the ones keeping the lights on. They are your business’ most important partners.
In today’s automation-focused startup landscape, many traditional marketing strategies seem to get pushed by the wayside. Among these is the “Thank You” card.
Sending a thoughtful card to your customers will help you to build stronger relationships, organically grow word-of-mouth marketing, and stand out from your competition. Customers that feel appreciated are more likely to be engaged. According to a Gallup study, B2B customers with high customer engagement scores result in 50% higher revenue/sales and 34% higher profitability.
Thank-you cards can be a great way to build a sturdier business relationship with your most important customers. But they do require that you roll up your sleeves and put some real thought into their presentation to be effective.
Why Do Thank-You Cards Work?
Thank-you cards have always been an effective way to show gratitude to a valued customer. Taking the time out of your day to find the right card, write something thoughtful in it, and send it to your customer shows them that you care enough to spend your time thinking about them.
It’s a choice. No one is forcing a business to thank their customers.
Think about it. Out of all of the businesses that you have worked with throughout your career, how many of them took the time to send you a thank-you card or a small gift showing their gratitude? For many, the answer is “zero.” For the others, the answer is likely “very few.”
The fact is that this kind of gesture is much less common than it used to be. There are a few reasons for that.
To start, Companies are busier than ever before. There are simply more things for employees to do, and they may see something like sending a letter of gratitude as less than ideal when they can spend their time optimizing their business in other ways. When it comes to hand-written notes, the waters are muddier. Measuring their significance is difficult.
As a customer, you are much more likely to receive a thank-you note through email than you are through the post. Even that can be worthwhile. But it doesn’t help businesses to stand out from the crowd in the same way that a handwritten note does.
How Do Thank-You Cards Generate Returns?
Everyone knows that sending thank-you notes to customers is a gesture that they will appreciate. We all love the feeling of opening up an envelope and finding that hand-written note inside.
But even knowing this, there is some disconnect between sending them and how they generate returns. There isn’t a direct connection. They are already customers. It’s not like they open your note then immediately go buy your product. But there are long-term benefits that are often overlooked.
Integrating thank-you notes into your processes is long-term focused, but can pay off in several ways:
There is nothing more powerful than word-of-mouth marketing. People inherently place more faith in the opinions of other customers.
Not only are customers that receive a genuine hand-written thank-you card more likely to continue being a customer of yours, but they are also more likely to tell other people about your company.
Not just one or two people, either. You’ll find that many of your customers will share their thank-you cards on social media with hundreds, or even thousands of people. In that way, sending out notes of gratitude can actually have more of an impact today than they have in the past.
Build Stronger Relationships
When a customer is satisfied with your product or services, a thank you card can go a long way toward building that relationship. Down the road, they will be more willing to buy into larger packages or at least listen to your pitch.
In general, companies don’t spend enough time building stronger relationships with their current clientele. According to ForEntrepreneurs, it’s 68% more expensive to acquire $1 from a new customer than it is to upsell current customers.
Upselling and retaining customers is all about providing a quality product and building stronger relationships. According to ThinkJar, 67% of customer cite a bad customer experience as their main reason for churning. With stronger relationships comes trust, increasing their willingness to spend larger amounts with your company.
Few things show your gratitude better than a well-written thank-you note.
Stand Out from the Competition
When was the last time that a business sent you a handwritten thank-you card in the mail? Most people can probably count the number of times in the last 5 years on a single hand. In fact, I’ve received more snail-mail letters that are designed to look like handwritten notes than I have real handwritten notes.
Companies are always looking for ways to stand out from the crowd, which can be difficult in an online arena that is becoming increasingly crowded.
If you were to receive a thank-you letter from a company, wouldn’t that be something that you remember months from now? Wouldn’t you want to share the gesture with others? Wouldn’t it make you more likely to do more business through them in the future? Sometimes a simple gesture can mean a lot.
Scalability and Thank-You Notes
In a world where every business is looking for easy wins through automation, it’s easy for time-intensive tasks like hand-writing thank you notes to be written off as “unscalable.”
But — like any task in business — building the writing of thank-you notes into your schedule can make the whole process a lot easier. Don’t put it on the backburner or look at it as a task to tackle “when you have time.” Make it important.
There is no doubt that hand-writing thank-you notes can take up a decent chunk of time. It’s not something that can be automated like your latest email marketing campaign.
But, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t scalable. No one is saying that you have to send thank-you letters to every customer. You can cut it down to a list of the most important customers to make sure that your return is with the effort.
Considerations for Creating Effective Thank-You Cards
Writing a thank-you note is different than sending a business email. It’s more personal. Definitely more art than science, although real marketing nerds can find a reason to split test anything. As you start to craft your first notes, keep some of these tips in mind:
- Keep it casual. Don’t water your appreciation down with shop talk. Be professional, but bubbly. A thank you note should be about them, the customer, and your appreciation for them. Focusing too much on business can come across as disingenuous and self-serving.
- Stationary matters. People can tell when your thank-you note is written on the cheapest paper available. If you are going to the trouble of writing a thank-you note, make sure that you invest in some decent card stock. If you can, find stationary that in some way reflects your business.
- Send notes with legible handwriting. You don’t have to take a calligraphy course, but avoid sending notes with sloppy handwriting. Don’t apologize for poor penmanship or call attention to it, either. Just make sure it is legible and looks like you put some thought into it.
- Include a small gift. A thank-you note is a thoughtful and often appreciated gesture. A thank-you note with a gift card to a restaurant they mentioned loving during a call six months ago is better. It shows that you’ve been paying attention, which brings us to our next point.
- Reference something you know about them. The longer you do business with someone, the more that you learn about them. Find a way to include something they’ve shared about themselves in your thank-you package. It can be simple, like referencing their favorite sports team or asking how a recent vacation went.
Thank-you cards can be a great way to show appreciation, but are only worthwhile if you take the time to make it thoughtful and specific. Make sure that you are putting your best foot forward with each letter. Avoid being too business-like, and find ways to be more personal in the letters that you send.
Thank-You Notes Should Convey Genuine Gratitude
At their core, thank-you notes are a way to show your gratitude and appreciation for customers that keep the lights on in your business. Use them to show them how much their business means to you, and build tighter relationships in the long-term.
Sure, you could just send a quick email and convey this message there. But hand-written letters convey sincerity and genuine gratitude because of the time and effort that they take to put together.
By making thank-you notes the standard for your business, you build better relationships with your customers, reach wider audiences through word-of-mouth, and keep the lines of communication open that can lead to a more fruitful partnership down the road.