Everyone knows that pleasant feeling of opening the mailbox expecting to see the day's accumulation of junk mail but instead finding a personalized, hand-addressed note or card. Imagine if your company instilled this kind of excitement in your customers?
Well, the fact of the matter is it can. Whether you are sending personalized postcards, letters, or inserting notes into your mailed packages of product, handwritten notes delight your customers and win loyalty for life.
Best of all, you can create this personal connection at the cost of about ten seconds spent writing the note. That’s a bargain considering the delight and excitement that you can inspire for your brand and your product. Take, for example, this amazing package from John’s Crazy Socks that includes a personalized handwritten card signed by the founder.
There’s no question that handwritten thank-you notes are a great way to win over customers. But there are a few things to consider before getting started. Who’s in charge of writing all those handwritten notes, and how do you do it in a way that makes sense for your company?
For most business owners, being stuck behind a pile of thousands of holiday cards just isn't realistic. So how can you write and deliver memorable thank-you notes quickly and efficiently?
Getting supplies for cards and notes
Before we get too deep into where and how to buy cards, and whether to get them in bulk, here are a few tips to keep in mind when working on notes for your customers:
- Use quality stationery or unique cards that express your brand.
- Use the customer’s name, and personalize it!
- Say thank you and be specific about why you’ve sent the note.
- Be thoughtful—reference a conversation or part of their order that shows this card is specifically for them.
- Sign off the card warmly, but professionally. (Thanks again, Cheers, Kind Regards, Sincerely, etc.)
This example from Chewy hits all the right notes, from the branded postcard featuring a pup to the personalized and warm greeting on the back.
Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s up to you to determine the best way to scale this thoughtful gesture from your business.
Buying regular cards
The first step in the process of writing hand-written notes to your customers is making sure that you have cards to write them on.
Luckily, some fantastic Shopify stores sell beautiful hand-crafted cards if you are writing notes on a smaller scale. This option is perfect for businesses who may want to try sending a few letters to see how it goes first, or for stores that don’t have a large customer base.
A few good options to check out are:
Using a unique and independent press offers a few advantages. First, you get to build a relationship with a store owner just like you and know that you are helping contribute positively to a small business, but also you’ll likely have stationery that your customers have never seen before.
Even if you end up not customizing your stationery and instead opt for a pre-made design, you still benefit by using beautiful pieces that will stand out amongst the vanilla-looking mail most of us receive.
Buying paper and envelopes
For more established businesses, it may be more cost-efficient to buy larger pieces of paper and slice them up into smaller pieces for stuffing into boxes, or envelopes if you are writing letters. The benefit to buying in bulk is that it’s much less expensive. The potential downside is that the card itself is may not be as fancy or well-designed as a one-off.
What about branding?
Branded stationery can add a nice personal touch to your messaging or notes, but personalized anything can be tricky to manage. If you’re just getting started, spending the money to pay for personalized stationery might be hard to justify—it’s often cheaper to buy in bulk. If you run an established business, it can be costly just for the sheer amount of cards that you need to purchase.
Given how popular customization is nowadays, you’ll be able to find plenty of companies that allow for personalization at a fairly inexpensive cost for a smaller volume of purchase. Two options worth checking out are Vistaprint and Inkhead, though there are also local stores that you may be able to partner with for a discount.
Another option, if you're looking to save money, is to buy your own printer and print on items yourself—so long as you have the time to learn that craft. Lastly, using stickers to spruce up your store-bought stationery or envelopes is an excellent way to maintain brand awareness while cutting slightly on cost.
For large-scale operations, heading down to the local print shop isn’t always the best option. Companies like those above can enter into contracts if you’re willing to order a large number of cards or stationery through them every month. Doing so could give you a significant discount and ensure that you always have the amount of product that you need to send out to your customers.
Ultimately, if you want to keep costs down but quality high:
- Buy in bulk, and shop around locally for deals from smaller stores
- Get creative with stickers, stamps, or DIY branding
- Use high-quality plain paper and delight with your words instead
After you have your cards or materials in hand, it’s time to figure out how to write and mail them at scale.
Ways to write and send cards at scale
Personally writing and sending every card to every customer certainly stays true to the principle of delight, but it can become pretty exhausting once you try to figure out the logistics behind it. Here are a few practical approaches you can use to keep this time delightful rather than dreaded.
Do it yourself
Each team or person takes a turn
For a set amount of time, each person within the company rotates through being responsible for writing the notes—this could be as short as a day, depending on the size of your company and how many letters there are to write, or could be as long as a month. Consider whether you want each card personalized to the individual, as well, or if you can task them with bulk writing out notes.
At a larger company with a more expansive customer base, this would likely be on a team basis. The process, though, would look quite similar: the team would take turns writing out the notes for a set period of time and, when finished, pass it along to another team.
The benefit of this rotational method is that everyone gets to talk to the customer and experience the warm fuzzies of sending personal notes.
Everyone does it at the company once a month
Another option is to have everyone get together and write notes once a month. This approach does not work for personalized messages but does work well if you send out swag or other packages and just want to include a little, delightful personal touch with each one.
Make this an event with food and music so that all of your employees come and get involved. You can have things like a Polaroid camera where you take pictures of people, or other fun craft items to make the notes unique and personalized to the person writing them. Then, at the end of the event, you should have a bunch of personalized notes that you can send out with throughout the month.
Our friends at @TailwindUK know how to keep it personal with their handwritten notes! Did you know Tailwind is distributed in over a dozen countries around the #world? #gotailwind pic.twitter.com/RRdQhMaolR— Tailwind Nutrition (@gotailwind) September 5, 2018
Outsource or automate the entire process
If you’re operating a solo business, or you don’t want to rotate out through teams, and you want a more personalized experience than mass-producing a bunch of notes, the next best thing may be to automate card creation.
There are a few things to consider when thinking about outsourcing or automating anything in your company, let alone notes to thank your customers.
For example, it will likely be more expensive to outsource the writing of notes to a third-party company, because you are paying them for their labor and time as well as materials. To compare the costs versus handling it in-house, you can add up the cost of materials as well as the cost of salary that would have been used writing and sending notes.
So consider the opportunity cost: what time and money are you missing out on by writing the cards, and what benefits would it provide for you to automate or outsource the process? The benefit is that you are always able to test-run whatever option you choose. Take a few months of time (or weeks, even), and see if the new process works for your needs before committing to it fully.
Luckily, plenty of companies will create handwritten notes and letters for you. Here are a few that might work for your company:
- Bond: Bond allows you to create handwritten notes or letters, and you can even personalize your stationery. They offer business pricing.
- Thankbot (featured above): Primarily for simple letters rather than cards or fancy stationery, Thankbot is built for businesses. Pricing becomes cheaper as you order more.
- Handwrytten: This service allows you to send pen-based notes on the stationery and in the handwriting style of your choice. An integration with Shopify is available via Zapier.
- Punkpost: Personalized and funky, Punkpost letters are all handwritten with artistic flair, like the example below. They will also design custom cards for business.
Preparing for the holiday season
You have your cards, and you’ve established a basic process to get them written and sent. Progress! Now it’s time to jump over your next hurdle: how you’re going to handle your next big spike in volume.
It’s all well and good to have a reliable process in place for when things are steady, but everything might break if you haven’t planned for Black Friday Cyber Monday, or other holidays that affect your business. Here's how to make sure you have everything in place to knock it out of the park.
1. Look at your history
If you have historical data on how sales and support requests have fared in the past, now would be the time to learn from it. Using your customer growth to plot out the number of sales you can expect this year is valuable outside of thanking your customers, but it will also hint at how many cards you may need to send.
In the event you were already sending out hand-written notes, it’s also worth examining how that has gone so far. Did you encounter any bottlenecks? Or any areas that kept tripping you up? If you have a team or previously hired temporary help, talk to anyone that managed the cards during the last holiday and see if they have any feedback to offer.
2. Take stock of your current process
Is there anything that is potentially broken with the current process that you have been using to write handwritten notes to your customers? Has anyone, customers or otherwise, complained or shared any constructive thoughts on the things that aren’t working? If no, great! If yes, now is the time to make shifts to your strategy to prepare for the holidays.
Reliable processes are often crucial to delivering consistently delightful experiences.
Ask your team members or, if you’re working with a third-party service for automation ask them, if there’s anything that could be made better or more streamlined about the process. Use the time between now and the holidays to get it in place.
3. Bolster your efforts with automation
If you haven't already tried automating certain steps, now might be the time to consider it. If you’re anticipating a high volume of sales, higher than you can currently support writing notes for, automation is an excellent route to help your team.
You could choose to automate the entire process during the holiday season, freeing up precious time to work on other tasks, or you could choose a combination of automation and team-written notes.
Ultimately, it depends on your business, and how you define a stand-out experience. Though it's worth noting that today’s automated handwritten letters are artfully done, and it's unlikely they'll compromise the customer’s experience should you choose to send them.
Experiment until you find an approach that works
Handwritten notes show customers that you are genuinely grateful for their decision to buy from your store. That said, you shouldn't discount the importance of being efficient—however thoughtful the gesture may be, you have to find an approach that works within the confines of your budget and current staff.
Whatever option you choose, whether it be plain cards prewritten by your whole company or automated letters sent out by a third-party service, the end goal is to shake up customer expectations and make each purchase from your store one to remember.