15 Cost-Effective Customer Appreciation Ideas That Make an Impact

Sale tags

Surveys show 91% of people are more likely to do business with companies who appreciate their customers. Yet a much lower number – 62% – feel organizations do a good job of showing their appreciation.

As a business owner or marketing person, much effort goes towards attracting new customers. But how about the customers you already have?

If you’re an ecommerce business owner looking for new ways to retain your best customers, you should focus on customer appreciation ideas. These range from offering treats and upgrades to holding an appreciation event. And the best bit? They don’t have to break the bank.

Read on for 15 top customer appreciation ideas.

Retaining customers

New customers often benefit from great deals. Think about when you switch to a new phone provider or a different bank – you get a good deal, right?

Most likely, a better deal than loyal customers who stay with a company for years and years. But in their case, it’s not necessarily about money. Instead, it’s about appreciation.

Customer relationships and striving for customer retention should be high on your agenda. You’ve already drawn people to your website in the first place. You can assume they like your products because they’ve already bought something. So, how do you keep them coming back for more?

Of course, first-rate customer service is up there on your priorities list. With a great customer experience expected these days, though, that’s not enough. You and your ecommerce business need to go the extra mile if you want to generate customer loyalty.

In comes customer appreciation.

Show your customers appreciation, and keep showing them in different ways. It’s about more than being nice to your customers or saying a quick thanks.

Image source

By making sure your best customers feel they matter, not only do you retain them, you create word-of-mouth marketing. If a customer feels appreciated, they’ll naturally tell their friends and family about your brand.

These family and friends customers come from trusted sources, so are more likely to turn into loyal customers themselves.

And the good thing is, you don’t have to spend a fortune saying thanks.

Effective customer appreciation

The most effective gestures share a handful of traits. Four key characteristics are:

  • Memorable and meaningful. This is a tricky one to quantify, as everybody’s definition of “memorable and meaningful” will most likely be different. Of course, what you and your marketing team think matters. But think about surveying customers, too.
  • Unexpected. Appreciation methods don’t universally need to have an element of surprise. Incorporating surprise from time to time, though, breaks expectations and deviates from the norm.
  • Sincere. Business owners are grateful for their customers and the revenue they generate. To show that to customers, speak honestly. Be natural, think about your language, and stay true to your brand and tone. And it may sound counter-intuitive, but don’t be overly enthusiastic. That can come across as insincere and pushy. Savvy and modern shoppers spot insincerity a mile off – keep that in mind.
  • Wallet-friendly. Your appreciation efforts need to be sustainable and realistic – it’s all about the balance between dollar outlay and results. To help decide appreciation efforts, be sure to measure the cost against the lifetime value of your average loyal customer.

Now, let’s jump in with specific client appreciation ideas you can incorporate with your marketing plan objectives.

1. Customer loyalty program

Image source

A popular and cost-effective marketing strategy is to implement a rewards program. Rewards include discounts, redeemable points, and free products.

Initiatives such as these track and reward certain types of pre-defined spending behavior. That behavior then triggers special customer benefits.

The more a customer spends, the greater the benefits. They act as incentives, fostering loyal customers out of your existing base. That means customers choose your website rather than the sites of your competition, thus, you retain customers.

What’s more, research shows a loyal customer spends five times more than a first-time customer.

There are several ways to measure customer loyalty. These include using the net promoter score (NPS), repurchase ratio, customer effort score (CES), and customer loyalty index (CLI).

Achieving customer retention and loyalty can mean overall marketing costs reduce, too. Why? You won’t have to spend as much of your marketing funds on acquiring customers. Attracting customers is expensive and takes a lot of effort, so any cash you can save in that area is beneficial.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is an excellent example of an effective rewards program by a credit card company.

2. Send a helpful guide or book

Let’s say you’re a small business selling smart communications software. You’ll likely have customers who are wondering about the difference between Glip and Workplace. If you have a useful document or guide on that, why not send it over to the customer to show your appreciation?

It may help them make a decision and win a sale for your business.

Image source

3. Post-purchase emails

To keep customers returning to your website, there’s a handful of post-purchase emails you can send. These include:

  • Thank you message. Simple yet effective, a thank you email makes a customer feel appreciated and is a way to be personal. You could also add a thank you card or postcard into orders when you send them out. As well as saying thanks, you may want to say you hope they enjoy the product and add your contact details.
  • Regular newsletters. Weekly newsletters are something for customers to look forward to. They show you care and are an opportunity to keep customers up to date with new products and offers. They can be fun, thought-provoking, and informative. Show your brand’s personality and keep the copy topical. Be sure to pay attention to layout, graphics, and grammar. And send yourself a test newsletter before you hit the “Send to all” button. That way, you can check readability and also see how the newsletter looks on both desktop and mobile.
  • Reward point reminders. If you choose to get a reward scheme up and running, use email to remind customers they have points and what the points can “get” them. That’s a good marketing opportunity as well as a handy way to stay in touch.

4. Handwritten notes

In a similar vein to our last point, some companies like to send handwritten notes for that extra dash of personalization. Go old school, and say thanks using pen and paper. Who doesn’t like receiving mail that isn’t a bill?

Handwritten notes are not only a way to say thanks, they show you’ve spent a bit of extra time and effort on your messaging.

If your ecommerce business is simply too large to write and send individual notes, there’s software that can help with that, such as Handwrytten.

5. Referral program

Image source

Referral programs are a form of word-of-mouth marketing. By introducing one, you can show appreciation to existing customers and generate new customers at the same time. For example, offer existing customers a freebie, a gift, or a discount as a thank you for them referring your website to someone else.

Let’s say you own an online business that sells computer software. A customer uses your customer service chat facility to ask about the difference between Glip and Teams, and their pros and cons. The customer decides on Glip and is super happy with the collaboration tool, so they refer a fellow ecommerce business.

You may decide to show your appreciation by offering the original customer a discount on their next purchase.

6. Act on feedback

Businesses often ask for feedback. But how many times have you filled out an online form or survey and heard nothing? To remedy that, make your customers feel appreciated by acting on constructive and useful feedback. Furthermore, let the customer know you’ve taken action.

That will help your business in the short and long run, too.

To let the customer know you’ve implemented changes, email them. And perhaps offer them a discount code to say thanks. It’s also a good idea to make a note in the customer’s profile on your CRM. That way, you can refer back to it if you want to know what a specific customer fed back on, and when.

Let’s say a customer notices a bug on your website and sends feedback. You’ll want to act on that super valuable feedback. Once the glitch is fixed, you could email something like:

Hey there [customer name],

Hope you’re well.

We just wanted to drop you a line to say a big thank you for letting us know about [glitch].

We’re sorry the bug happened in the first place, but so grateful you pointed it out to us. Thankfully, the issue is now fixed.

To show our thanks, we’d like to offer you 20% off your next purchase with this code: DISCOUNT20.

We hope to see you on the site again soon.



7. Pre-sale notifications

Image source

Most of us like to think we’re getting a good offer on our online purchases. To give your best customers that added boost, consider pre-sale notifications.

Prioritize your most loyal customer base who shop the most frequently or spend the most money. Then send a pre-sale notification to their inbox via a newsletter. That also offers other customers the incentive to sign up for the newsletter.

Who doesn’t want to be in on an exclusive deal?

8. Upgrade surprise

Throw in the surprise element we mentioned earlier by offering a free upgrade to loyal customers. You may choose to comp a product subscription for a year, or upgrade them for a limited period.

The outlay is smaller than the reward. And the customer is likely to talk positively about you to friends and family, generating new customers.

9. Social media spotlight

Say thanks by shining the light on loyal customers through social media. For example, shout out to loyal customers via the likes of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

You can do that in several ways across the social media channels of your choice:

  • Use a customizable thank you template
  • Use comments and direct messages
  • Post a client appreciation story
  • Post a customer appreciation video
  • Hold a giveaway to thank customers
  • Share user-generated content
  • Feature customers on your socials

You can also use your website to feature valued customers. For example, you could highlight them in a case studies section or in a blog post.

While we’re talking about social media, be sure to follow customers back. That shows you care and are interested in what they have to say and share.

10. Personalized gift cards

Image source

Gift cards are a handy customer appreciation tool. A $5 Amazon customer appreciation gift card can make someone’s day. A $5 gift card that’s personal is even better.

If you use a CRM, pull out the details for the customers you want to send a gift card to. Then personalize the gift card around their preferences.

For example, if you have a customer who uses a lot of Gmail extensions, you could show appreciation by offering them a Grammarly Premium gift card.

Or to keep costs down, you may want to think about offering a discount gift card. For example, if you own a pet food website, you may decide to offer loyal customers 25% off the next $25 they spend online. Or you may give money off a new product line.

11. Goodies

Everyone likes to be treated now and again; food goodies are generally a good option. If a loyal customer has just made a large order with your website, why not send them a foodie gift? A gift basket of cookies or a box of donuts should go down well.

But be sure to keep your brand in mind with regards to treat-type. For instance, let’s say you own a fitness equipment website and a customer orders 1,000 treadmills. You also sell protein bars on your website. If you want to send them a gift, how about some of the protein bars rather than donuts?

12 Cool freebies

Let’s face it, company pens, stickers, and pins are a little bit outdated. These days, if you’re going to show appreciation with a free gift, the swag should be something the customer is pleased to receive and can use.

Gift ideas range from industry-specific to experiences. Small gifts are fine, as long as they’re meaningful.

For example, Starbucks has been known to offer Happy Birthday giveaways as thank you gifts.

13. #TGIF incentives

Image source

Most people are pleased when Friday rolls around. So why not show client appreciation by treating your customers with perks and treats once a month on a Friday? When customers make a purchase online, that could unlock a treat.

For example, Autopointe Quickfit offered customers double rewards points on October 9th, 2020. #TGIF 

14. Charitable donations

It’s possible to donate to a charity on a customer’s behalf. A top customer appreciation idea, don’t you think?

If you have a few super important, revenue-generating customers, donating on their behalf is worth a thought. When a treat or a freebie isn’t enough, think about that option. The donation is tax-deductible, the customer feels appreciated, and a worthy cause benefits.

Don’t forget to mention donations on social media to build your brand and reputation.

15. Thank you videos

Video thank you messages are a way to be personal without having to thank in-person. Software application Buffer has a history with that. They’ve been known to send customers an email on their “Buffer Birthday” to say thanks for using their platform and products. A fun GIF of the team waving is included, adding sincerity and personalization.

Additional customer appreciation examples

Businesses are using their imagination when implementing customer appreciation ideas. Here are just a few real-world examples:


In 2018, HubSpot released a video on Twitter using the hashtag #CustomerLove. In the video, they thanked customers for everything they’d done for them. The video pans out to many HubSpot employees talking about “customer love”.

Alongside the video, HubSpot sent out personalized thank you notes and free gifts to partners and customers. For instance, they sent a letter to software company ChurnZero.

The aim of that customer-directed campaign was to show thanks and loyalty.


National Customer Appreciation Day is an annual event that takes place on April 18th. But who’s to say you have to stick to that? You can choose any day to appreciate your customers. For example, you may choose to hold a customer appreciation day when your business hits a milestone such as 10,000 customers.

In that way, you celebrate your success with your customers.

Avon took control in 2018 and dedicated a whole week to customer appreciation. For instance, on day one, customers benefited from a sitewide 15% discount. On another day, there was free shipping.

Maker’s Mark

Image source

This small-batch bourbon company, Maker’s Mark, has an Ambassador program reserved for loyal customers. It boasts perks designed to make customers love the brand even more. For example, when you sign up, your name’s put on a barrel of aging bourbon. Pretty cool, right?

You get updates on how “your” bourbon is aging. And you can buy a bottle of your batch and get access to Ambassadors-only merchandise.

Customer appreciation ideas

In the words of sales expert Gerry Layo: “Your customers don’t stop buying. They just stop buying from you.” But why do customers leave a company? A major reason is the customer believes the business doesn’t care about them.

The bottom line? Thanking customers for their business is one of the best ways to retain them. Your customers put their trust in you and are paying for your goods and services. It’s down to you to show them your appreciation.

Customers who don’t feel appreciated may turn into unhappy customers. And unhappy customers are more likely to turn elsewhere with their business. As a result, customer happiness can impact revenue.

There are many cost-effective customer appreciation ideas to consider. These range from loyalty and referral programs to charitable donations.

To master customer appreciation, consider implementing a combo of these suggested ideas. Which are your favorites?