Practical Ecommerce

11 Personal Gestures to Turn Casual Buyers into Lifelong Customers

Developing loyal customers isn’t always expensive or difficult for businesses with small marketing budgets. It may sound cliché, but when it comes to boosting customer loyalty, it’s the little things that count the most.

Small yet thoughtful actions can have a big impact on how customers perceive your brand and store.

During my time as an ecommerce operator, I found these 11 easy and inexpensive gestures effective in establishing a personal connection with my customers.

Personalize your Follow-ups

It’s always wise for merchants to follow-up after a purchase to gauge a customer’s satisfaction. But why not take that follow-up a step further by making it much more personal?

For instance, if you know that a customer bought your product as a present for his child, follow-up by asking him how the child’s birthday went. This shows the customer that you’re paying attention; it makes him feel special and increases his connection with your brand.

Send Relevant Coupons to your Customers

Avoid sending generic, one-size-fits-all coupons. Instead, deliver personalized offers to your subscribers based on their preferences, previous purchases, and site behavior.

Aside from increasing click-through-rates and conversion rates, relevant coupons can impress your customers because you’re sending the message that you’re paying attention to them.

Always Give your Customers a Live Person on the Phone

When I call a business, it frustrates me greatly when all I reach a machine. Do your customers and your business a favor by always having a real human answering your phones. By doing so, you’re not just telling customers that their calls are important; you’re demonstrating it.

Include a Hand-written Note in your Shipment

This one is my favorite. As a customer, I am impressed when a merchant includes a personalized note, even if it simply says, “Smile,” with drawing of a smiley face. Including a hand-written note to your shipment is a thoughtful gesture that can make you more memorable to the consumer. If possible, reference previous conversations in the note to give it a personal touch.

Also be sure to throw in your business card to keep your contact information handy for clients. Feeling generous? Send relevant coupons together with your shipment to encourage future purchases.

Respond to your Customers on Social Media

Social media has transformed how we communicate with each other, not just with our friends and family, but also how our customers can reach us. Individually responding to tweets and wall posts to let each one of your customers or prospects know that you care makes them feel important. And don’t be biased. Respond to both positive and negative comments to show users that you take all their concerns seriously.

Also, take note that your company’s social media replies are public, so when others see that you respond to individual posts on social media, they’ll be more engaged and be more likely to establish a relationship with your brand.

Send Your Customers a Coupon on their Birthday

I always make sure I send my customers a special coupon on their birthday. It is just a small gesture that I remember and I truly value their business. It is also a good way to remind them to come back and visit your site.

Create Unique Landing Pages for your Customers

Customize the content of your landing pages for each user. If she is a repeat customer, give her a “welcome back” message with product recommendations based on previous purchases. Is she coming from a birthday coupon you sent via email? Don’t forget to greet her when she arrives at your site.

Let Your Customers Tell You What they Like

Encourage your customers to share their tastes and preferences so you can offer more personalized recommendations and give them a better user experience. One way of doing this is by asking them to take surveys and suggest products.

Also make it easy for users to customize their subscription settings. For instance, let them indicate what types of content they wish to receive from you — such as company news or special offers — so you can send them emails that matter and reduce unsubscribe rates.

Send your Customers a Post Card

Say what you want about snail mail, but it can be more effective than you think. It’s a good way stand out because not a lot of companies — let alone ecommerce businesses — do it. Furthermore, it’s a lot easier to delete and ignore email. So sending occasional post cards to your customers can really help your brand stand out.

Notify your Customers When a Product Is in Stock

Did one of your customers try to purchase a product that was out of stock? Let her know when the item becomes available. Even if she purchased it from somewhere else, sending her a friendly and relevant reminder can still make an impression and help keep you top of mind.

Chat with your Customers Online

Having a live chat application on your site lets you address questions instantly and enables you to gather information about your customers.

Be sure to ask shoppers what brought them to your site, what they’re planning to purchase, and what they’re going to use it for. Doing so will help you provide the best and most relevant products. It will also allow you to craft more personal follow-up messages, to strengthen your relationship with them.


Jerry Jao
Jerry Jao
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Comments ( 5 )

  1. David-Dj Bryant May 17, 2013 Reply

    A lot of these these points are practical advice and ecommerce company can implement, however some of these can get very expensive. Sending a post card for a site that has 1000 new customers a month would be approximately $500/month. Proving live telephone support will either eat valuable time of employees or you’ll have to hire a skilled employee. Long story short, make sure to keep an eye on the roi of each of method

  2. Jerry Jao May 20, 2013 Reply

    Thanks David-Dj, really appreciate your comment and valuable feedback. Traditional method of reaching out to customers are certainly expensive (comparing to email and social media), I’d add that if anybody is thinking of sending a post card, before committing to it, a simple one to start off is to include a personal note to your new buyers first in their shipment so there’s no added costs, then monitor the customer responses and see if those customers are more likely to convert into 2-time buyers in the next 6 month or so (this period should vary based on your product lifecycle). For example, I know the owner of a online store that sells bidets, and his customers don’t come back often! Either way, definitely be careful on the costs associated with these suggestions. Thank you!

  3. Carrie Morgan May 21, 2013 Reply

    On the "coupon on the birthday" thought – it is much more impressive to send a birthday card by itself, without ruining it with the self-serving coupon. That is for the company, and doesn’t show that you value the customer and wish them well on their birthday – it shows you want more of their money and are marketing to them using their birthday as a lame excuse.

    Show them you care and appreciate them WITHOUT marketing to them… that is much more likely to win their loyalty and build a community.

  4. Jamie Salvatori May 21, 2013 Reply

    Carrie – we send emails on customer’s birthdays and consistently receive "Thank you for the email!" from our customers. It’s all in how cleverly you do it.

  5. Jerry Jao May 22, 2013 Reply

    Carrie, that’s a great point too. For merchants with the budget, I agree that it is always better to be "authentic" in wishing somebody a happy birthday, than trying to market / upsell them. Thanks for reading and sharing your feedback. Noted.

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