Surprise And Delight Your Best Customers

I travel a lot and spend many nights in hotels for my job. So it's really nice, for example, when a hotel chain surprises me with a temporary bump in my status, upgrading my room to a large suite.

That “surprise and delight” acknowledgement shows companies appreciate my loyalty and that the money I (my employer) spend with them time after time can make me an even more devoted customer or help me weather some rough spots.

Your best customers appreciate these gestures, too. They might be in your loyalty or rewards program, if you have one, but adding an email-marketing program that thanks these top-tier customers can drive two significant benefits:

  • You get an opportunity to easily leverage data and automation to let these high-value customers know you appreciate them and acknowledge their loyalty.
  • That, in turn, helps retain them and often spurs them to become even higher-value customers.

Finding and Rewarding Your Best Customers



A "best customer" email program typically has three elements:

  • Business rules that set thresholds and identify qualified customers.
  • A sincere and appreciative email message with a reward your customers will value.
  • An integrated marketing automation system that triggers the email message when the customer meets your thresholds.

One approach is to use an RFM model (recency, frequency, monetary), running continuously and in real time. An RFM approach will help you identify your best customers according to how recently and how often they buy and how much money they spend in a specific time period. Integrate it with your email program to trigger “best customer” emails automatically.

Thanks Can Come In Many Flavors

Many companies delight their best customers with higher-value incentives than those in welcome, birthday or reactivation emails or regular broadcast messages.

For example, one company sends its best customers a code good for $50 off any purchase over $50. This seemingly pricy premium actually drives sales of high-ticket items more often than smaller purchases that customers could get almost for free with the deal.

Thank-you messages aren't just about money, though. What would your customers value? Some incentives can enhance a purchase, but everybody loves a freebie, too. Some ideas:

  • Preseason purchases on apparel, sporting goods and other seasonal merchandise
  • Ticket presales, VIP access or free seat upgrades
  • Beta-tester access to new programs or videogames
  • Exclusive or early access to premium content
  • Private meetings with company VIPs
  • Enough bonus points to boost the customer to a higher level in your loyalty program
  • A signed copy of your keynote/webinar speaker's new book.

Five Tips to Build a “Best-Customer” Program

1. Add some version of "thank you" to the subject line.   Mention the incentive or premium. Test to see whether specifying the premium, or just hinting that it's inside, will drive more conversions.

2. Make it personal and informal. Use the recipient’s name, and sign it as coming from a company notable, such as a top executive. Add the signer's photo if appropriate. Also, write the message as if you were speaking to a friend, using "I/we" and "you."

3. Showcase your brand personality. Reflect your corporate culture by using appropriate humor, tone, language and illustrations.

4. Experiment with design. Consider making the message feel more like a thank-you note and less like your standard email. Test different approaches to see which works best.

5. Use dynamic content. Add dynamic modules that suggest purchases based on the customer's most recent or typical purchases; and/or include references to their rewards status.

These tips can be a launch pad to create your own program that will surprise and delight your best customers and help ensure their loyalty for years to come.

Until next time, take it up a notch.

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