view all blogs

How to surprise your customers (in a good way)

Strategies for eCommerce brands to retain Black Friday customers and encourage repeat purchases.


Kleenex is a brand that's so popular, so proven to be effective, that the company name has made it into the dictionary. They have dominated their market enough to have become synonymous with any piece of tissue paper, regardless of its manufacturer. The key to Kleenex’s success is much more than just offering a highly sought after product at an affordable price. They are masters of the market, as evidenced by their wonderful ‘Feel Good’ surprise and delight campaign, put together with the help of Smoyz creative agency.

The company scoured Facebook for users who were feeling a little under the weather, picking out 50 status updates about being sick with the flu. With the help of those 50 poorly people’s friends and families, Kleenex sent out specially made surprise Get Well kits. And they managed to deliver them within 1-2 hours! The lucky individuals felt they had been treated so well by Kleenex that 100% of them shared their positive experience on social media. This fantastic example of surprise and delight marketing created a huge buzz. Kleenex obtained over 650,000 impressions and over 1,800 interactions: a resounding success from just 50 kits.

The Feel Good campaign shows that surprise and delight can do a world of good for a business. One thing that stands out as particularly impressive is the speed with which Kleenex was able to deliver their kits. 1-2 hours delivery while relying on friends and relatives for the Facebook users’ personal details is incredible. Just imagine what they could have done if they had the recipient’s addresses already on hand.

If Kleenex can pull off a campaign this effective with a group of strangers online, anyone should be able to deliver something similar with their longtime regular customers. By giving your customers that little something extra once in a while, you can help cultivate brand loyalty and build impressive levels of interest, from both direct recipients and those that hear about it. Here are a few tips on how to pull off your own surprise and delight campaign.

Stick With the People Who Love You

Surprise and delight can only benefit from having an established customer base! Studies have shown that surprise and delight tactics work better on customers that are already loyal to your brand than it does on those that feel less of a connection with you and your products. The team analysed the impact of ‘special benefits and experiences that go beyond the core offering’ (or simply, surprise and delight) on a variety of predetermined customer types. They found that surprise and delight lowered churn rates by roughly 5% in loyal customers, and increased the likelihood of further business from regular customers by 8.6%.

However, surprise and delight should only be used to encourage loyalty in established customers and grow interest in potential leads. It is generally unsuccessful in converting those with little to no interest in your company. These individuals are considered to be ‘Sceptics’. The Sceptics viewed an example of a surprise and delight tactic with suspicion, assuming that perhaps it was a form of compensation to make up for an inferior product, increasing rates of churn by 5.8%.

Get to Know Your Customers

It’s important to do you research. Henderson, Steinhoff, and Palmatier identified four key customer types: Loyalists, Dependents, Sleeping Dogs, and the previously mentioned Sceptics. If you have access to customer data, particularly a purchase history, you should try identifying which of these four categories certain customers fall into. This will also help you to segment your customers into groups and devise different marketing tactics to more effectively approach them. If you are planning an amazing surprise and delight campaign, you should only focus on the Loyalists and the Dependents.

Loyalists are easy to spot. They are the ones that can’t get enough of you. They often spend the most money and come back to you over and over again. Just skim through your data for repeat purchases and high engagement levels and you’re bound to find a few Loyalists.

The Dependents are those who love what you do. They regularly buy your products and follow what you're up to, but for one reason or another they’re just not quite there on the loyalty. They don’t engage with you as much as Loyalists and don’t feel they experience the same levels of customer care. Perhaps giving them that extra touch of love will tip them into your favour, transforming them into brand new Loyalists.

These customers are your prime targets with a surprise and delight campaign. They regularly do business with you and are already devoted to your brand (or have potential to be). They are the type of customers that would really appreciate the personal touch that transcends their expectations.

Why not send them an intimate handwritten letter?

It's the perfect opportunity to surprise your customers and let them know how much they mean to you. This could be a simple yet effective move to increase sales and levels of customer satisfaction. It can also help decrease the number of customer defections. With Scribeless’ quick and easy service, you can send personalised handwritten letters at mass to your most loyal customers. Just come up with the words and we’ll do the rest, delivery included.