Try these 16 customer appreciation ideas to build brand loyalty

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Paperless Post > Business > Try these 16 customer appreciation ideas to build brand loyalty

Building a strong relationship with customers goes beyond providing great products and services. Clients want to know they’re valued, and companies that show they really care can develop long-term loyalty faster than brands that don’t connect with their customers. 

To nurture these kinds of long-lasting relationships, brands show their appreciation in a variety of ways. Sometimes, all it takes is a genuine smile and a thank you. Other times, hosting an exclusive customer appreciation event is the best way to thank your most loyal supporters. To help you decide how to express gratitude and foster a stronger connection with the people who support your business, we’ve compiled these awesome customer appreciation ideas.


Thank your customers with these 16 customer appreciation ideas

Customers are the lifeblood of your business. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to keep the lights on. That’s why it is so important to express your gratitude and let your customers know they’re valued. 

Some customer appreciation ideas take more time and investment to execute than others, which is why we’ve included a mix of different ways you can show your consumer base you’re grateful for their support. 


Two thank you cards side by side.
Lily Pads” by Red Cap Cards; “Deco Gratitude” by Paperless Post.


1. Send thank you cards

It’s easy to send out business thank you cards, but they mean more if you include a personal message. The message doesn’t have to be long for it to be meaningful, especially if it includes something specific to each individual you’re sending a card to. 

Some specific message examples can include, “Thank you for being loyal to our business for over five years” or “Welcome to the family, we’re happy to have you. Enjoy 10% off your next purchase.”

Save time by writing these personalized notes in batches—select five or ten special customers to send the same message to. Then, you can send thank you cards via email (and even schedule them in advance). 


Left: A handwritten condolence letter and flowers; Right: A pet condolence card with a floral motif.
Image via Reddit; “Pet Love” by Paperless Post.


2. Send a card or gift on special occasions or for significant life changes

Birthdays, anniversaries, and national holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are great opportunities to send a card to show your customers you appreciate them. For extra-special VIP customers, add a personal message. 

These occasions are a great time to offer gifts or special promotions, too. You can send customers branded holiday presents or include a promotional code for a freebie with their next purchase. For example, if you’re a skincare line, you can offer a lotion care package, or if you’re a restaurant, try giving them a free birthday dessert. 

The online pet supply giant Chewy is known to get personal with its customer outreach. When a customer reached out to cancel their auto-ship order because their dog had passed, Chewy refunded the most recent shipment, asked the customer to donate what was left to an animal shelter, and followed up with a bouquet of flowers and a condolence card. 


3. Send a surprise gift with their order

Some companies like to include free promotional products in their shipments, such as pens, notepads, or stickers. A customer appreciation gift is more meaningful, though, if it matches the customer’s order. For example, if a customer ordered a protective case for their phone, include a free screen cleaning kit, or if they ordered a set of scented oils, include a few samples of other scents they may like. Add a little note about why you sent the extra gift to make it even more personal. 

Honda took the idea of surprise gifting to an epic level when the company learned that a customer was about to reach one million miles on their Accord. Honda sent the customer a free car—and made a video about it that’s logged more than 83,000 views to date on YouTube. 


4. Encourage feedback and implement suggestions

An easy way to show you value your customers is to listen to them—their feedback can help you better meet their needs. If you receive an online review, take the time to write a thoughtful reply. If it’s a positive review, thank the writer. If it’s a negative review, clearly state how you will make things better. 

After you listen to your customers’ feedback, implement changes that align with their suggestions, and let them know what you’ve changed. This helps build customer trust and loyalty and encourages past customers to come back and try your products or services again. 


5. Feature customer reviews prominently

Customer reviews are a powerful marketing tool. When a customer posts a review online, it may be seen by hundreds—or even thousands—of people. 

With a little extra effort, you can expand that reach even further by featuring glowing reviews on your website or social media channels. Not only will a public post from your brand make the writer feel special, but it also shows that you’re reading customers’ comments and value what they have to say. As an added bonus, a positive testimonial might convince a new customer to make a purchase. Quick tip: Always ask your customers for permission before you share their stories or posts.

Left: A phone view of GoPro’s Instagram feed featuring a customer photo of a woman rock climbing; Right: A close-up view of the same photo.
GoPro photo of the day, featured on Instagram.


6. Share their stories on social media

To take it a step further, showcase real consumers’ stories on your website or social media channels. Create a personalized hashtag (#NameOfCompanyFans or #ABCcommunity) on social media, and encourage customers to tag your brand on social media. Repost their stories, or add them to your website’s testimonials page.

When other people see happy customers engaging with your brand and enjoying your products, they may be more inclined to make a purchase themselves. National Geographic is a great example of a brand that engages its readers on social media. Amateur and professional photographers around the world submit their photos to be featured on Nat Geo’s Instagram account. Similarly, GoPro encourages customer engagement and loyalty with their GoPro Awards challenges, which include a Photo of the Day Challenge and the Be a HERO Challenge, which encourages users to post their photos and videos of someone making positive changes in the world.  


7. Promote an insider discount code

Surprise your existing customers with a flash sale using an exclusive discount code for insiders. Send a retail invitation, and integrate the code into the card. Communicate how the discount code works and how long it’s good for—to create a sense of urgency, give them 24 to 48 hours to redeem it.


Left: A white and gold invitation with room to add a logo; Right: A rack of clothing with tropical prints.
Ando” by Paperless Post; Image via Sid Maia.


8. Give them first dibs on product pre-sales

If you have a loyal following of customers who anticipate your upcoming products, they can help you build up hype around new releases if you give them the first chance at purchasing a brand-new product. 

Open up pre-orders to exclusive insiders as a VIP treatment with launch party invitations to make it official. Include a launch day exclusive, like a free limited edition accessory, to add even more enticement to the event.


9. Offer a feature preview or free upgrade

If your business is centered around a digital product or service, invite your long-time customers to preview new, upcoming features—or offer a discount code for a free month of a higher tier of service you’re rolling out. To give them a sense of investment and make their insider status clear, let your customers know you’re interested in their feedback and suggestions.


10. Start a customer loyalty program

Loyalty programs are one of the most effective ways to encourage repeat business. You can reward your loyal customers with exclusive discounts, presale opportunities, and other membership perks. 

Tiered rewards programs are especially popular with customers—as they graduate through the levels, they unlock increasingly enticing perks. Although this type of program takes a bit of work to set up and manage, it’s very effective for encouraging repeat business and keeping your customers engaged.

Many local and national chain restaurants offer a rewards program, including Starbucks, whose patrons earn “stars” with each purchase, which can be redeemed for free drinks and merch. Rewards members enjoy other perks, too, like free refills on coffee and tea and a special birthday reward.


Left: An overhead image of three plates of different hors d’oeuvres; Right: An open house invitation with space to upload a photo.
Image via Karolina Grabowska; “Open Concept” by Paperless Post.


11. Invite customers to an open house

An open house at your flagship location or headquarters gives your customers a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at who’s responsible for the products or services they love. Pick a date, and send your customer contact list a meet-and-greet invitation via email or text—post a shareable link on your social media channels, too, and encourage readers to share it far and wide.

Consider a theme for the open house, like a neighborhood block party complete with burgers and hot dogs on the grill and backyard-style games for the family. Depending on your business, you may even choose to offer tours of your facilities to showcase the quality of your products.


A red gift with purchase bundle of several skincare products on a pink background.
Image via Elizabeth Arden.


12. Host a VIP shopping event

A classic customer appreciation idea is a VIP shopping event that offers your client base exclusive discounts—like 20% off all regularly priced merchandise—or a special, insiders-only opportunity to demo and purchase a new product. You might even offer an extra deal to customers who RSVP—put them on an exclusive list for freebies at the event, a raffle drawing entry, or a buy-one-get-one deal. When sending out online retail event invitations, highlight the special perks and activities you’ve got up your sleeve, like snacks or live music, to give your guest list all the incentives they need to attend.

Large beauty brands like Lancome, Clinique, and Elizabeth Arden offer VIP shopping events aimed at all consumers—not just their existing customer base—who get a free gift set when they spend a certain amount. Often, the value of the free gift makes the ultimate purchase a great deal, and people who may not otherwise have chosen the brand may try the products and become loyal customers.


Left: A customer appreciation happy hour invitation with fireworks illustrations; Right: Two cocktails with elegant lighting.
It’s Full of Stars” by Paperless Post; Image via Jennifer Chong.


13. Throw a customer appreciation party

Toast your customers with a happy hour or cocktail party. 

Whether it’s a one-off event at a local bar or a monthly in-store occurrence, a customer appreciation happy hour is a lot of fun for your customers and offers a zero-obligation environment where they can come by for some light snacks, tasty aperitifs (check your local liquor laws,) and riveting conversations with you and your staff. Bring in a DJ or string ensemble and have prizes or giveaways. If children are invited, make sure you have activities that are family-friendly.

A more formal, professional cocktail party gives you an opportunity to meet and greet your most loyal customers over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Host the party at your headquarters, or choose an off-site location like a popular restaurant or a local museum or gallery.


14. Organize an industry networking event

An industry networking event gives customers and providers an opportunity to meet one another and helps you further establish your brand as an industry leader. Make it a wine-tasting event with an expert sommelier, bring in a featured speaker, or turn it into a concert series (ending in -palooza, of course.) Center the event around a theme, like a holiday, the upcoming season, or a specific product or service. 


15. Tee up a game of golf or other sports outing

If your company is outdoor-oriented, one of the best customer appreciation gift ideas is a sports outing. Book the driving range at your local golf course for an afternoon, and invite your top clients out for a swing—or treat them to a full 18 holes. Reserve a box at a baseball game, or buy out an entire section for the most important football game of the season. 


Rainbow glass art installation in New York’s Hudson River Park.
Image via Working Not Working.


16. Host a public or private event at a local attraction

For the most important, most valued VIPs—or for the general public, if you prefer—organize a private or branded public event at a local attraction, and tie it into your brand’s niche and customer interests. If a local museum has a special exhibit relating to your industry—fashion, for example—arrange a private guided tour to give your customers access and insight they may not otherwise have available to them. If you sell musical instruments, book a local club and host a jazz ensemble. If you sell products for kids, invite customers to a family day at the zoo. 

Lululemon created an interactive experience for Pride Month that culminated in an art installation at Hudson River Park. The two-week-long event included community yoga sessions and raised money for The Trevor Project, which provides 24/7 crisis support services to LGBTQ youth.


Appreciated customers are repeat customers

Any form of customer appreciation makes your client base feel valued and special—interacting with your customer base outside of transactional encounters keeps you on their radar and creates a sense of loyalty on both sides. 

From online thank you cards to customer appreciation event invitations, Paperless Post has just the attention-getting designs you need to pique their interest and create a buzz. Use our guest management tools to track RSVPs in real-time, send reminders, and post pics and videos of the event afterward.


Browse Appreciation Events


Hero image via Priscilla Du Preez.