It’s a solid rule of thumb in the retail world: Keeping existing clientele is easier, more profitable, and less expensive than trying to hunt down new clients.

That’s why it’s so important to let those in your current customer base know how much you value their business.

“We’re living in what I like to call the ‘Thank You Economy,’ because only the companies that can figure out how to mind their manners in a very old-fashioned way — and do it authentically — are going to have a prayer of competing,” writes social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk on

Research backs up the impact on your bottom line when you show appreciation to your clientele. The likelihood of selling to an existing happy customer is up to 14 times higher than that of selling to a new customer, reports a Marketing Metrics study. And businesses that grow their customer-retention rates by as little as 5 percent can see profit increases ranging from 25 percent up to a staggering 95 percent, according to studies by Bain & Co.

Fortunately, email offers an excellent vehicle for fast and efficient (but heartfelt) thank yous that help make customers feel appreciated while offering them a break from more promotional messages. If they’re genuine, such expressions can also put you head and shoulders above the rest in a marketplace that sometimes sees people as dollar figures instead of human beings.

Here are some tips for crafting thank you emails.

Massaging the messages

Need specific reasons to show customers appreciation? There are several kinds of emails to help express your gratitude while further cementing the positive relationships that can build your business. Consider these five options:

  1. Thank you after a purchase – Ideally, these emails address the recipient by name and offer specific thanks for the item(s) purchased. If possible, the message should be positioned as coming from a real, genuine person within your organization instead of a faceless business; it might even include a small photo of the sender. But it need not be wordy; in fact, sometimes succinct messages pack a bigger wallop.
  2. Holiday celebration – While recognizing the major holidays is a no-brainer, you’ll stand out even further if you recognize minor or tongue-in-cheek holidays that might have significance to your business and/or customer base. Consider the growing economic impact of Star Wars Day and the increasing awareness (Argh!) of Talk Like a Pirate Day. Copious online sources list similar commemorative days of all kinds. Note that recipients are apt to be even more responsive if you throw in a discount or freebie that keeps with the theme.
  3. Birthday wishes – These are an excellent way to connect with customers — and make them feel recognized — in a non-promotional way. You can have fun with this via online tools that can customize your good wishes with animated GIFs, music, cool designs, and other bells and whistles. For even more impact, consider a birthday present such as a virtual gift card or special offer. Consumers who get a product for free provide valuable word-of-mouth by talking about the product 20 percent more, according to the Journal of Marketing. Examples of effective birthday emails are here.
  4. Feedback requests – Asking customers their opinions about your business, products, and services can also make them feel valued and important. One of the easiest methods is a survey that can be automatically tallied; the results can help identify customers’ needs and wants, as well as monitor your brand’s identity in the marketplace. Make sure your survey is brief and easy to answer, though, as your audience could be turned off if they perceive it as inconvenient, time consuming, or overly personal.
  5. Celebration of company milestone – Did you just make your 10,000th sale? Fifth anniversary? Unveil a new website? Whatever the milestone, let your customers feel as though they have helped you reach that goal. Tell your story in an engaging way, then explain how instrumental your customers have been in that journey.

Open sesame

It’s important to note, however, that even the most riveting message can’t serve its purpose if the recipient isn’t motivated to open it. Follow these suggestions for maximizing your chances of being noticed among the 90 business emails sent and received by the average human being each day, worldwide.

  • Marketing firms or do-it-yourself tools can help you segment your email list so you’re not sending the same email to everyone. Your messages can then be tailored by any number of factors, including how recently or frequently the recipient has bought from you and the monetary value of their purchases. The same tools can automatically send messages on your behalf in response to what the customer does on your website, strategically timing the message to maximize the chance it will be opened.
  • Keep your message focused and to the point, limiting each email to one call to action, if any. Ask yourself if you’d want to read the message, whether the tone is appropriate for your audience, and if you can edit out repetitive or meaningless copy. For these kinds of emails less is more, and three or four paragraphs should be your maximum length.
  • Summarize the content in the subject line so recipients know your message isn’t self-promotional, (i.e. “Many thanks for your recent purchase, Rufus” or “The happiest of birthday wishes, Esmeralda”).
  • Consider a freebie or special offer in the way of thanks. “On the surface, freebies look like obvious money losers,” notes Martha C. White on the Time website. “But when handled wisely, giveaways are all but guaranteed to boost sales. When consumers get something for nothing, they respond in a host of surprising, mostly unconscious ways — and the net result is often that the companies handing out freebies are rewarded well for their ‘generosity.’”
  • Avoid sending from email addresses (i.e. that don’t allow responses. Such addresses make you appear impervious to feedback and deny you further chances to connect with customers.
  • In order to customize future messages, consider A/B testing to determine which versions perform most effectively.

Email provides an affordable and relatively easy way to connect with your customers in ways that come across as less self-serving. Foster goodwill among your clientele by letting them know you value their support and business.

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© 2016 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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