September 22, 2020 By SmartBiz Team

Keeping your clients and customers engaged is key to repeat business. Customer appreciation gifts are a tried-and-true method of strengthening relationships with the people who frequent your business, and there are plenty of unique, meaningful client gift ideas and customer appreciation initiatives to consider. Here are some clever and practical gift ideas that will keep your customers connected to your business.

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Why does customer appreciation matter?

When you show your longtime clients and loyal customers appreciation, they are more likely to stick around. Put another way, retaining clients is just as important as marketing to potential new customers. A client or customer who feels that you care about them is more likely to keep working with you and purchasing your products and services. In fact, according to one survey, 68 percent of clients and customers who stop working with a small business do so because they feel the business does not care about them.

When is it appropriate to show customer appreciation?

While there is almost never a wrong time to show customer appreciation, doing so may feel most natural on holidays or birthdays. Offering your customers exclusive discounts for Christmas, Memorial Day Weekend, and Labor Day Weekend – or retail holidays such as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday – can prove a timely, meaningful method of customer appreciation. If customers submit their birthdays when, consider giving them a birthday coupon for sharply discounted, or even free, products and services.

Additionally, April 18th is National Customer Appreciation Day. You can take this day to go the extra mile and try all manner of unusual client gift ideas. If April 18th does not work for your business, you can always set a different date as your own customer appreciation day – or better yet, you can turn customer appreciation into a week-long affair with discounts, gifts, and more.

No matter how you choose to show your customer appreciation, be sure to advertise and market your customer appreciation initiatives well in advance. Alert your customers to your upcoming discounts and gift offerings via email marketing, online ads, and any other routes that best reach your existing customers.

What are some prominent gifts of appreciation?

The following client gift ideas are popular among many small business owners:

1. Send a holiday gift

The holiday season is a great time to show customer appreciation and a small holiday gift – whether a coupon or a free item that your company makes – might be just the gift your customers need to be reminded that you care about them. Don’t limit holiday gifts to just the December holidays – there’s always Thanksgiving, July 4th, and religious holidays to consider.

2. Free samples

Keep it small and simple with free samples. Make mini versions of your most popular products and send it completely free to your customers. For especially loyal and important customers, you can send more than one sample to show the depth of your appreciation.

To understand the effect of this gift idea, consider a small business that sells hand-crafted candles. Instead of sending a full-size candle and paying for all the supplies and shipping costs, create tealights that feature up and coming scents. Not only will your customer feel appreciated, but they might just buy a full-size version.

3. Send gift cards

A holiday gift card that your customers can use toward your products and services can make their holiday shipping significantly easier. A short season’s greetings message alongside a modest discount on your offerings or credit toward their next purchase can give your customers some holiday warmth during the cold months. Of course, you don’t have to limit holiday gift cards to just the winter – any holiday can be an appropriate occasion for this customer appreciation technique.

4. Happy birthday wishes and personalized gifts

Birthdays are key customer appreciation moments. Just as your customers’ closest friends and family members send well wishes and messages full of love, so too can your business via customized birthday wishes and personalized gifts. If your customer is especially fond of one of your products, give them a coupon for a sizable discount – or even a free item.

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5. Send out coupons

You can send out coupons at any time. Whenever you feel the need to show customer appreciation, identify your most loyal clients, and send them coupons in the mail or send them to their inbox. Include an upbeat, short message explaining why this moment felt like the right time to send a coupon and point to some products on which your customer might enjoy using it. Your relationship with your customers will strengthen almost immediately - especially if the coupon has an expiration date.

6. A tote bag with your logo on it

Sending a tote bag with your logo on it can go a long way toward showing customer appreciation. A tote bag isn’t just a gadget to take home and forget about -- it’s a practical and useful gift your clients will put to use daily. You can also consider other branded swag ideas such as water bottles, coffee mugs, notebooks, and towels.

7. Office supplies

In the digital era, sending customers wall calendars and other desktop items might feel somewhat dated, but these can be a meaningful, thoughtful gesture. This approach can be especially fruitful if your calendar includes plenty of messages of gratitude throughout. Take it a step further and mark the dates of upcoming customer appreciation days or events to further encourage customer retention.

Show customer appreciation by saying “thank you”

In addition to gifts of appreciation, simply thanking your customers is a simple yet effective gesture that’s sure to leave a lasting impression. Here are four ways to go about thanking your customers:

1. A “thank you for your orders” letter

If gifts and discounts are not currently feasible for your small business to offer, take the time to write a simple “thank you for your orders” letter to your clients and customers. You can spend just five minutes writing a short, simple letter of appreciation and gratitude that shows how much you care and reminds your customer that you look forward to continuing to work with them. If this task feels daunting, you can recruit members of your customer service team to help. Consider including this note in future orders as a way to keep your customers feeling valued.

For an additional personal touch, send your letters through the regular mail instead of email. Since email has come to dominate modern business communications, personalized letters delivered via postal mail can often make customers feel especially appreciated. Of course, if postal mail is inconvenient or expensive for your small business, you can always stick to email.

2. A thank you email

Similar to a “thank you for your orders” letter, a thank you email is a great medium for sharing personalized messages of gratitude with your customers, especially if your business saves ample time and money by opting for email over postal mail. As with any “thank you for your orders” letters that you write, keep your thanking emails brief without sacrificing sincerity and specificity, and avoid using the same template for each email. Better yet, consider using an email marketing software that can automate this process for you.

3. Business thank you cards

Business thank you cards are more general than personalized letters, and they’re usually even shorter too. As long as your business logo and any fonts you often use are present on these thank you cards, they can be effective – even without extensive personalization or specificity – for large customer appreciation initiatives on common occasions such as holidays and birthdays. For your next customer appreciation day or week, though, you may do better to opt for more personalized, specific customer appreciation ideas.

4. Other thank you notes

If you feel that letters, emails, and business thank you cards aren’t quite right for your business, you can use any other kinds of thank you notes that you can think of. These other thank you notes can take the form of postcards, direct messages on social media, or public social media or website posts aimed at a large audience of current customers. When it comes to customer appreciation, as long as you show your clients and loyal customers genuine, meaningful appreciation, the sky is the limit.

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