By guest author Marsha Kelly
Although it can often be challenging to attract and retain customers, there are plenty of ways an e-commerce business can make the purchase feel special, and that includes how you actually package their order, both with the materials you use to ship and what you put inside the package.
Package inserts—print items, small gifts and more—are an affordable and easy way to market to your customers. These inserts can help increase sales and profits, with minimal effort on your part—you’re basically spending a few pennies on something that could result in a one-time shopper becoming a loyal customer. Here’s why you should invest in package inserts:
- They are great marketing tools that can cater to individual consumers and help improve brand loyalty. For example, sending a mini catalog of stylish footwear to someone who just ordered shoes
- In most cases, it’s cheaper to include your insert with an existing shipment versus mailing it separately
- They’re the perfect tool for cross-selling, since you’ll know what your customer likes
Here are five marketing techniques you can use to make your packages stand out:
1. Coupons and Discounts
Among the most popular inserts, discounts are some of the best. Yes, you could just sent a discount code or coupon via email, but including them as a package insert can help assure that your customer sees the offer instead of it ending up in their junk mail.
A cost-effective way to send discount offers is by printing them on smaller cards (think business cards) and using online printing services to fulfill your printing needs quickly and cheaply.
Here are a few discount offer ideas:
- 30 Percent Off Your Next Order
- Free Shipping On Your Next Order
- $5 Off Your Next Order
- You could also consider using a two-offer approach in which you provide one discount card for your customer and one for them to share, potentially doubling your reorder rate.
Be sure to set up a specific code for each promo so you can track the order rate.
2. Small Gifts and Free Samples
To add value to your package, consider including a free sample or a small gift. This is a fantastic way to please and surprise your customers. Even small and essentially valueless gifts can make a big impact. After all, it’s the thought that counts.
Free samples are a great choice for a couple reasons. This can introduce your customers to other products that you sell which they may not have known about before. If they like the sample, they will be more likely to make another purchase from your in the future. Depending on your business, you might even receive samples from vendors for free. In this scenario, sending out free samples will not cost you nothing extra.
Free gifts are another great way to boost customer happiness and turn first-time buyers into repeat customers. A small, and useful, gift is a surprising way to show your customers that you care. Plus, since they will not be expecting anything, the gift does not need to be expensive.
Consider including free stickers, postcards, pens or sticky notes branded with your company logo and website. The key to appreciated and valued items is their utility value to the niche customer’s needs—a shoehorn for shoe lovers or, for the mommy niche, a height chart for growing kids. One of my customers, a designer clothing site, included inexpensive earrings (imitation diamond studs in a gift box that cost the business $10 per pair) in their larger orders and their customers loved it.
3. Thank-you Notes
As far as marketing inserts go, including a customized note is one of the most inexpensive, personal, and effective methods for customer retention. In today’s digital age a physical note stands out and is remembered. Adding a personalized, handwritten note to every package is a simple gesture but it can go a long way. This method is effective at boosting brand loyalty and offering above average customer service. This shows true customer appreciation.
Writing thank-you cards to your customers is an especially great technique to use when your e-commerce business is just starting out. This is because it is much harder for larger businesses to keep up with this sort of customer service. You should take advantage of this fact.
In order to write a thoughtful and effective thank you card, follow these tips:
- Use quality stationary
- Address the customer by name
- Clearly express how thankful you are for their business and why you are writing the note
- Be detailed and thoughtful
- Hint at future interactions with the customer
- End the note with a warm but professional sign-off and signature
4. Make a Request
Because shipping and receiving the package is usually the last step in a successful transaction, it provides a great opportunity to make a request to your customers. Add an insert that asks them to write a review or to share their experiences on social media. This is a great way to build brand awareness as well as gather social proof for your products. The more people see your company name out there, the more likely they will be to try your products.
5. Branded Packaging
All of your marketing does not need to happen in the package. Don’t forget to get creative with your packaging materials.
If you have the resources, consider purchasing customized boxes and shipping envelopes that are branded with your company name and logo. If you are working with limited resources, print branded stickers and place them on your packaging. Another inexpensive, but very effective, marketing method is to buy logo-branded packaging tape. This gives your name, logo and website URL exposure to every person along the shipping route to your customer. Effective company branding is using your logo design in as many ways as possible. Another way you can do this is to add your company logo to your shipping labels. Each time a person sees it is another opportunity to make a sale.
Wrapping your product in tissue paper is a growing trend. This will make your customers feel like they are receiving a gift instead of a product they ordered, which will, in turn, boost your customer happiness and loyalty. My recent purchase of jeans from NYDJ was wrapped in white tissue paper with a branded logo sticker. I liked the upgraded presentation and it reinforced my positive brand perception.
Packaging industry studies report that your box forms a first impression within 100 milliseconds and will remain intact even when contradicted by actual facts. Make your first impression a good one. Here are some great packaging ideas from successful online businesses.
The Bottom Line
Going above and beyond with your packaging can be the deciding factor in your customers’ minds when they are considering whether or not to purchase from you again. These packaging efforts require minimal resources on your part and can make a huge difference to your customers.
About the author:
Marsha Kelly sold her first company for at least a million dollars. She’s shared her own experiences as a successful serial entrepreneur on her website Best 4 Businesses. Marsha also regularly shares business tips, ideas, and hints in addition to product reviews for entrepreneurial readers. She is a serial entrepreneur who has done “time” in corporate America, Marsha has learned what services and products work well in small business now.