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It’s the time of year when your inbox will be brimming with all sorts of promotional emails and seasonal incentives from companies working especially hard to gain your attention and your business. All this vying for your attention can get a little overwhelming and most definitely annoying to some, but not me. If you are anything like me, who isn’t afraid to give my email address away to any company or cause that interests me, you’ll like hearing what they have to say and more importantly what they have to offer you. So I always love receiving an email that surprises me, offers me something interesting and stands out from the rest. I received one such email recently, inspiring this post but don’t worry I’ll get to that in good time.

When asked for my top tip for online marketing in the New Year I kept it simple – don’t take your online customers and their support for granted. If you are doing this you are most definitely missing out on all sorts of opportunities to surprise and delight them (and also for them to tell everybody else they know how delightful it is to know you as a business.) A well-known, personal hero of mine once said -

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.

Points for anyone who can guess who those words belong to. I read recently that delighted customers tell between 4 to 6 other people about their experience and I believe this because I do it myself, all the time. In fact I’m doing exactly that right now. My point is there are so many ways to stand out by showing your customers that you care about and value them and to me the most important one is a thank you, especially at this time of year. Sounds pretty obvious.. and so it should. So here is a nice little online example I’ve come across this festive season.

& Other Stories

As someone who has worked in retail in the past, I’ve witnessed and hopefully been responsible for some face to face customer service that goes above and beyond. I have definitely been on the receiving end of some terrible customer service too but I think once you get over the initial annoyance of shoddy service, the exceptional is far more memorable. & Other Stories made sure they went that extra mile when I had missed the deadline (14 days) to return a purchase I had made because I was on holiday. Being stuck with an order that was no good (my own doing of course) left me feeling a little defeated. This was until I thought I would give emailing them a shot, although I didn’t feel too hopeful because I can’t think of any other occasion where an exception had been made just for me. And I’m not saying I blame companies with these sort of strict return policies, because really how hard is it to follow the rules and return items on time?

Well I was pleasantly surprised because & Other Stories not only made an exception for me, they sent me a human-written, warm, empathetic, understanding response and even went as far as to wish that I had had a nice holiday. This left me feeling valued as I often get the impression that larger companies don’t concentrate hard enough on retaining the individual customer. It is always nice to feel your custom, however small, matters to a company. So to me this was a nice, unexpected little thank you for being their customer. This one little thank you has meant that I’ve been singing their praises, effectively marketing on their behalf. If you offer something outstanding or surprising to your customers you’ll earn yourself some loyal fans who are more than happy to do the hard work for you. I’m looking forward to shopping with them again and you only have to look at their Twitter feed to see that I’m not alone.

thankyoublog2I think making your customers feel appreciated in this way is especially important when it comes to online marketing, where the customer relationship isn’t built on a face to face foundation. Email marketing and online customer service can all too easily feel cold and automated; two things that you really don’t want associated with how your business communicates. Like any other relationship, the relationship you have with your customers is built on authentic exchange between two parties which means that at each touch point there is opportunity and many ways to say a little thank you – and the less self-serving the thank you the better!

If you have heard of Seth Godin’s book ‘Purple Cow – Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable’ you’ll know what I mean when I say that this retailer’s customer service has made it a purple cow in my eyes – and if you haven’t find out what the heck I’m talking about in this chapter of our Online Marketing Training Course.

The moral of the story is – you need your offering to be remarkable and you need to find a way to stand out. Why? Because people will:

1. Get to know you

2. Recommend you/talk about you.

And if you manage both of those, you’re 95% of the way there. So why not take the opportunity to warm up your online customers with a genuine festive thank you.