The holiday season is the prime time to show love and appreciation to your customers. And this year you may have even more to be grateful for than usual. The pandemic continues to threaten and hurt teams and businesses, making it all the more important to take time for gratitude.

Focusing on customer appreciation helps you get into a mindset of thankfulness and gives you an opportunity to really think about what those customers mean to you and your business.

The size of your customer base heavily influences the type of customer appreciation you can do. If a promotion is too exclusive, are you really showing appreciation to the people who have kept you in business and supported you during hard times? But if you plan something too generic and broad, people won’t feel like you actually value them as an individual.

That sweet spot is where your customer appreciation must live.

Here are three ideas for announcing and executing customer appreciation events that don’t require any in-person interactions.

Reply to This Text to Choose a Gift

Many businesses have often given gifts to customers who come into the store on certain dates or at certain times. But right now, even if your business has a physical location that is open on a limited basis, you still may not want to encourage in-person visits.

Instead, if you’re able to do no-contact delivery for appreciation gifts, people will probably like that even more.

The key to any customer gift is choosing something people will actually enjoy and find value in. Because if you choose something willy-nilly, people will be able to tell and it defeats the purpose of showing appreciation. So think about the subset of customers you’d like to give to and then choose gift options based off what you know about them.

High-quality branded apparel, samples of popular products, or small gift baskets with an assortment of items could all be great options.

Once you know the customers who will receive the offer of a gift and you’ve chosen the gifts, add each contact to a group and send an announcement text a couple days before the offer begins, explaining all relevant details.

Announcement text example: Everyone at (business name) appreciates your support so much, [First Name]! To show our thanks, you have the choice of a few gifts. Here’s what we’re giving away: (gift options). So between (date) and (date) just text me at this number to choose which gift you’d like and I’ll get it delivered to you.

Send another text a day or two before the claim period ends to ensure those last-minute customers still get their gifts.

The longer you make gifts available, of course, the more gifts you must acquire or prepare. A shorter claim time may also create urgency so more people participate.

Then, make sure you’re prepared to start sending gifts as soon as the window to claim closes. You don’t want to carelessly throw together the package or have it arrive so far after the fact.

Text [Keyword] to Enter the Raffle

With a raffle, you usually have more freedom to reach a greater number of people. Texting everyone on your customer list could either go really well or really poorly depending on how many items you have to raffle off and how much they’re worth.

For a text-based raffle to work seamlessly, we recommend creating a keyword campaign that people will join to receive raffle entries. Plan out daily texts that ask people a question and then let the campaign automatically send the messages at the scheduled times. Those who respond get additional entries.

If you don’t have the ability to do an automated keyword messaging campaign, simply tell people to text in a keyword and manually add them to a special raffle group and send daily texts that way.

An announcement text can go out to all your chosen customers telling them how to enter and teasing out prizes. A digital flyer could be a great addition to grab attention. Make it clear that by responding with the keyword they will be receiving daily texts from you.

Announcement text example: Hey [First Name], 12/3 to 12/8 is Customer Appreciation Week! Reply with “PICKME” to enter our raffle. You’ll receive daily texts from us to earn more entries. Here’s a sneak peek at some of our prizes: (prize options)

By having customers reply to questions, it’s a great way to learn more about them and engage them in 1-on-1 conversations.

For the prizes, choose goods and/or services from your own business and solicit items from other businesses in the area. Tease some of the biggest or most popular items in your texts, and just like with giving gifts, make sure the prizes are worthwhile.

Use This Code to Get __% Off

If you’re not in a position to deliver on gifts or host a virtual raffle, plan a special sale for customers and give them a code to redeem the offer. This is especially great for businesses that do online orders.

The key? Making the percentage worth it. Your customers won’t feel appreciated by a 10% off coupon that only saves them a dollar or two. And the cost of your products or services heavily influences the deal you offer. Offering 30% off shoes at a store affects profits differently than 30% off a personal training session at a gym.

Send an announcement the day the promo code starts working, clearly explaining when the offer will end. Send a text on the last day telling people it’s their last chance to get X percentage off.

Announcement text example: Thanks for being one of our loyal customers [First Name]. Use code ________ in our online store to get 40% off any item between 12/1 and 12/10.

Above all, make it clear what items or services the percentage applies to, whether it’s one item with an order or the full order. People want the best deal possible, and if you fail to outline the limitations, you could really hurt your bottom line.

An attitude of gratitude

Your “appreciation” won’t seem genuine if you fail to treat your customers or clients like individuals. So, to fully show customers that you care about them as an individual, personalize each message, at the very least with each recipient’s first name. Plus, the more customized each offer is to different groups of customers, the more beneficial that will be.

To easily execute any of these customer appreciation promotions, sign up for Skipio and enjoy 1-on-1 conversations after your automated messages go out.

This post was originally published November 13, 2018 and was most recently updated on November 10, 2020. Each section was updated to better reflect current actions businesses can take amid the COVID-19 pandemic.