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How to Use the “Surprise and Delight” Strategy to Improve Customer Loyalty

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“Surprise and Delight” Strategy

What is a “Surprise and Delight” Strategy (or for those in the know S&D)?

“Surprise and Delight” is a marketing approach that seeks to attract and nurture customers through the lead pipeline through interactive experiences, unexpected gifts or rewards and personalized content.

Over the last decade this idea has been gaining traction with business owners and marketers as a smart way to enhance the overall brand experience for prospects and existing clients. A genuine sign of appreciation for your customers is a great way to breathe new life into existing marketing campaigns while also creating a powerful connection on a more emotional level.

Data from a study conducted by LoyaltyOne shows that a 94% of customers who received a surprise gift or special recognition felt more positive about the company and 34% of them said the experience lead them to give the company more business.

That’s huge.

“Surprise and Delight” Strategy

S&D is More Than a Rewards Program

A customer Rewards or Loyalty Program is a great way to keep your clients coming back for more. However, it’s somewhat expected these days, especially for retail shops and restaurants. You can implement “surprise and delight” strategies into your existing Loyalty Program to give your customers unexpected perks. These unexpected gifts can help boost purchases, support brand loyalty and can help educate consumers about new products or services.

Reward your existing customers and welcome new clients in new, interesting and unique ways by personalizing your surprises. Loyalty is hard to buy. When you invest into developing and providing a custom experience that was tailor-made for each user, you’ll wow your client base and improve your chances of seeing a longer ROI from your efforts.

Why Understanding Your Clients Pays… Literally

When you look at brands who specialize in implementing effective surprise and delight strategies, you find the same three commonalities:

  1. They know who their users are
  2. They know what their users are doing
  3. They can capitalize on both of the above two points to deliver a memorable customer experience

People want to feel recognized and valued. When you serve your clients that are triggered based on their unique behaviors, you speak to them on a personal level. Automating on-line micro-experiences for your digital audience will help you connect with them in real time. Also, by building a customer database you can collect important details on your clients which you can then use to create those automated campaigns.

Client Anniversaries, for example, can be added to your CRM and email marketing tools. You can create a personalized message in advance and then schedule the tool to automatically send an anniversary card to your client on the preset date.

What’s a client anniversary? Anniversaries are a great excuse to re-engage with your customers. Think of it as the day your client started with you. It can be the date of their first purchase or sign-up with your company. This is an easy date to track and create an annual reminder for with any popular customer relationship management tool on the market today.

Client Anniversary Email Example

Client Anniversary Email Example from theSkimm

Unique Ways You Can Try the “Surprise and Delight” Strategy for your Business

S&D Tip #1: Send a Handwritten Note

If you’re like me you can remember the days where text messages and social media were not the primary way to communicate. Technology has made emails more commonplace than receiving a handwritten card or letter in the mail.

Emails might get the job done, but if you want to stand out as a business, why not leverage the power of a handwritten note to express gratitude and recognition of your employees and customers?

Handwritten notes help build relationships by providing a level of intimacy you can’t get from digital communications.

S&D Tip #2: Send a Birthday Card and Gift

Go the extra mile with your customers by remembering their birthday. Like anniversaries, birthdays present the perfect opportunity to connect with your customers. Sure, you can send a digital card. And, depending on the size of your client list (and budget!), digital cards and email automations might be your only option. However, if you want to stand out you might want to consider the impact a real, paper birthday card might have.

All marketers know that it’s less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. Customer loyalty is an increasingly important aspect of any business. According to research from Hallmark Business Connections, sending customer birthday cards increases loyalty by 10%.

Surprise Your Clients with a New Birthday Card

S&D Tip #3: Create an Interactive Experience

With the noisy digital landscape, brands are in a constant battle to produce more impactful content and customer expectations are rising. If you want to meet the demands of your customers, you can’t just do what you’ve always done.

Content is just as, if not more, important in delivering a positive customer experience than ever before. Interactive content helps pull users directly into the experience you’ve created by requiring their engagement and providing them with something valuable in return.

But what is interactive content? Videos might be considered a form of interactive content. However, an interactive experience offers content than actively calls for input from the users. Examples of interactive content include:

  • Surveys and Polls
  • Personalized Assessments and Quizzes
  • Tools and Calculators
  • Interactive Infographics
  • Other Digital Media, such as White Papers, Reports and eBooks can also be made Interactive

Creating and sharing thoughtful, interactive content leads to more engagement, better leads and improved loyalty from your customers.

S&D Tip #4: Make them a Custom Video Message

If you’re in sales, you know how hard it is to stand out among the hordes of automated emails, screened phone calls, and busy schedules your prospects are juggling. I personally know how challenging it is to try to get a response from an outreach email, even when you are sincerely trying to help.

One way you can really stand out is to use one-on-one video messaging. Everyone is using video calls and tools these days. A video message is essentially the same thing. It’s just a virtual message in place of what you would say to the prospect or customer if you were meeting them in their own office.

One-to-one videos are meant to be short, personal messages that you can send through email, social media, or a text message. And, good news: these videos don’t have to be highly produced or even scripted.

Looking to improve sales? Reps using personal videos are reporting a huge uptick in response rates:

  • 40% higher open rate
  • 37% higher clickthrough rate
  • 3x reply rate
Custom Client Video Message

Image courtesy of https://www.saleshacker.com/

S&D Tip #5: Celebrate Milestones and Big Wins

Making an effort to celebrate your customer’s success is a great way to show you care and increase loyalty in return. Although attracting new customers is important, as mentioned above, retaining an existing client is much more cost effective in the long-run. Make it a priority to reward your long-time customers to show them just how important they are to your business.

It’s easy to share your own big wins… but what about your clients? What are their goals as a brand? How do they measure online success? By understanding what milestones are important to your clients you can benchmark, track and measure them. When you see a client has met a major goal, surprise them with a congratulations and a special offer or even gift or invitation to meet to celebrate in person!

Milestones don’t have to be just major company wins; they can also be life events. If a customer gets married, has a baby, runs a marathon, moves into a new house, sends a child off to college or has another major achievement in their life, this is the perfect time to connect and show that you care about more than just their business.

S&D Tip #6: Call for No Other Reason Than to Check-in

You never want to waste someone’s time. However, existing clients aren’t the same as leads in your pipeline. Paying customers appreciate hearing from their service provider from time-to-time, even if it’s just to “check-in” and see how they are doing.

However, when calling a client, it doesn’t hurt to also have some additional value to provide. Here are some ideas you can try to ensure you have something fresh to say:

  • Urgent or Breaking Industry News
  • An Updated Client Success Story
  • Upcoming Events
  • Ask Open-ended Questions

If you don’t have anything specific to call about, try asking open-ended questions. If you’re stuck, asking closed-ended questions (yes/no questions) is better than asking none. However, if you want to really understand what matters to your prospect or client, try starting with phrases like: “What’s your opinion on…”, “How do you think…”, “To what extent…”, “What led up to…”, etc.

By allowing your customers to form personalized answers to these open-ended questions you’ll get a much clearer picture on what is important to them and can use these insights to further surprise and delight them in the future.

Customer Loyalty Means Repeat Customers and Brand Advocates

Customer Loyalty Means Repeat Customers and Brand Advocates

Surprise and delight marketing strategies serve a two-fold purpose:

  • They create repeat customers
  • And, they create loyal fans

Everyone likes to feel special and that their dollars matter. Nothing says “I value you” better than when companies take the time to provide a personalized surprise for their customers. By giving just a little back, customers who already like your brand are incentivized to become on-going customers or repeat buyers.

Repeat buyers are, well, awesome! But loyal customers can help the business get even more visibility by also becoming an advocate for the brand. A brand advocate is someone who elevates the brand through word of mouth marketing. For example, they might leave a review on your Google My Business page, leave a positive comment on your social media, refer new customers and even generate and share content on your behalf…

Isn’t all that worth investing into?

Avatar for Jenny Stradling

Jenny Stradling

CEO, Business Consultant, Researcher and Marketing Strategist

Jenny Stradling is the co-founder and CEO of Eminent SEO, a boutique design and multi-channel marketing agency. Jenny began digital marketing in 2005, started Eminent in 2009 and is actively consulting some of the biggest brands in the US today. Her agency is headquartered in Mesa, Arizona, but her team is currently spread across the US.
Jenny is a mom, stepmom and grandma and there is nothing she loves more than spending time with her family. She also enjoys cooking, reading, podcasts, live music, yoga, singing, painting, writing, organizing and making – anything creative really!
Jenny is passionate about researching and sharing information on a wide variety of topics. Some of her current projects are focused on specific issues and causes she cares about, such as: mental health, recovery, personal growth, sustainability, wellness, cannabis, ethics, equality, marketing and business strategy. She also loves to share reviews, stories and content that helps support and feature other artists.

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