5 Ways to Use Packaging Inserts to Increase Customer Loyalty and Revenue

5 Ways to Use Packaging Inserts to Increase Customer Loyalty and Revenue


It’s almost always cheaper to retain your current customers than it is to constantly acquire new customers. That's why it's so important to build customer loyalty and exceed expectations with every sale you make.

In a previous post on creating a memorable branded unboxing experience, we briefly touched on adding package inserts like discounts, samples and gifts with each shipped package and their effectiveness. In this post, we’re going to dive deeper into packaging inserts so you can make the most of every shipped package to drive customer loyalty, repeat purchases and revenues through the roof.

Why Are Package Inserts so Important? 

Package inserts can be a cost-effective and versatile medium for building a solid relationship with your customers. It's these relationships that can help increase sales, average order size, and profit. Consider this, with every package shipped, your customer's experience with your brand will either: 

  • Fall below expectations
  • Meet expectations
  • Exceed expectations

There are many ways, some even out of your control, that your customer's experience with your brand can fall below expectations. If everything goes well and the post office isn't late, you may meet your customers expectations. It's the little extra things though, like using the right packaging inserts, that will help you stand out and exceed expectations, time and time again. 

Let's take a look at some of the other top reasons packaging inserts are so important:

  • Packaging inserts are low cost - Below we will discuss five package insert opportunity types, each of them are very low cost, yet can yield high return.
  • Inserts can be highly targeted - They are already a customer and you know what they bought. This can allow you to tailor your package insert closely to the exact person receiving it. 
  • The cost of delivering the message has already been paid - The package is already being shipped so you might as well make the most of it. 
  • Package inserts are perfect for cross-selling - Because you know exactly what the customer already likes, you can add highly targeted cross sell opportunities. 
  • Package inserts are a great channel for liquidating merchandise - Hard to move merchandise can be converted to a marketing expense and used to bolster you relationship with current customers. 
  • The right inserts increase loyalty - By making the customer feel special, inserts make the customer feel like they are important and provide a reason for them to share their story. 

Package inserts seem pretty simple - just throw a flyer or coupon in the box whenever you ship an order. In fact though, there are a lot of options on the table you can use and mix to deliver more value and build greater loyalty with your customers. Let's take a look at some of the most popular types of packaging insert options.

5 Types of Packaging Inserts

1. Discount Offers

One of the, if not the most popular type of package insert is a discount offer. Sure these could always be delivered by email, and you may even choose digital delivery as well to deliver your discounts by including discounts or credits for future purchases right in the box ensures your customers will receive the offer and leaves them with a tangible reminder. 

As an example, Julep, an online beauty brand makes use of several types of discounts to build loyalty. 

1. Discount Offers

One of the most cost effective ways to create discount or deal offers to be included with your packaging is to print them at business card size (business cards are such a commodity at this point they are extremely inexpensive). You can use a service like OvernightPrints or, for a more premium quality, Moo Cards and upload your images for print. You may want to consider including two discount cards with each purchase, one for the purchaser and one for the purchaser to give away to a friend. You may also want to test out different types of offers to see which one your audience responds best to.

For example:

  • Free Shipping On Your Next Order
  • $10 Credit Towards Your Next Order
  • 25% Off Your Next Order

2. Product Samples

Samples can be a great value add to your packages for a few reasons. First, depending on the products you sell, you can sometimes get samples for free from your vendors. Second, product samples provide a great way to cross-sell customers and introduce them to other products and product lines that they may not know about or have been curious about trying. 

Beardbrand, a premiere beard grooming brand specializing in beard oil will sometimes provide small beard oil samples to their customers and wholesalers. This small sample provides customers with additional value and increases Beardbrand's exposure.

2. Product Samples

3. Small Gifts

Much like samples, small gifts can be a great way to surprise and delight customers without them feeling like you are trying to sell them on other products. The gift you give doesn’t have to be expensive. Since it’s not expected, most people will be pleasantly surprised by any additional gifts.

Take for example what Ryan French did. As the founder of GameKlip, he decided to add a small package of candies with every order. It was so well received by his customer that they talked about it all over social media, forums and blogs. Today, if you search Google for “GameKlip Rockets Candy” you’ll find nearly 27,000 results of people talking about the pleasant surprise they received. 

3. Small Gifts

GameKlip isn't the only one taking advantage of adding small gifts to their package. 

Johnny Cupcakes, a popular streetwear brand, knows exactly how well additional inserts can impact a customer's experience. They include a variety of items in their packages that provides additional value and leaves customers with a smile.

When Nikki Mueller received her package, it contained the following in addition to her t-shirt:

3. Small Gifts

On her blog, Nikki said:

There was also several little branded ziplocs with a gorgeous mini-brochure, a Power Rangers card, a button, and a breath mint! Digging the randomness. So basically Johnny Cupcakes is my new hero.

Just how effective can a small, almost valueless gift be? It's been well documented that the little candies delivered by servers at the end of a restaurant meal help increase tips. 

Two experiments were conducted to evaluate the impact of this gesture on the tip percentages received by servers. Experiment 1 found that customers who received a small piece of chocolate along with the check tipped more than did customers who received no candy. Experiment 2 found that tips varied with the amount of the candy given to the customers as well as the manner it was delivered. 

So what can be learned from this study? The little, seemingly valueless gifts, combined with some personalization makes people feel special and makes them want to return the favor. It's the law of reciprocity and is a powerful psychological trigger.

Consider how you can can use small gifts and personalization in with your packaging inserts to create customers for life. 

4. Thank-You Cards and Personal Notes

The simplest, least expensive and most personalized insert you can add to customer packages is a handwritten thank-you card. A simple card, can be a really thoughtful gesture, that can help build loyalty. This can be particularly effective when first starting out, as it’s a competitive advantage that most larger scale companies can no longer compete with. Use this to your advantage.

Brandon Eley, founder of 2BigFeet posted the following photo in a popular ecommerce forum:

4. Thank-You Cards and Personal Notes

He went on to explain:

One of the ways we encourage repeat business is by sending our best customers a handwritten thank you card with a coupon for future purchase. It's my goal to send 1,000 cards every year, which works out to just 4 cards every weekday. I write all of them personally, but I'm automating the procedure of running the reports, making the coupon codes, etc to cut down on the amount of time it takes me every day.

A customer appreciation campaign like the one from 2BigFeet has the ability to produce massive results and can be done with a very small financial investment for the cards and just a small time commitment to write and send them.

As another great example of a really personalized note comes from TrunkClub, a premium menswear service. TrunkClub includes hand written notes from personal stylists explaining their selection of products with all orders:

4. Thank-You Cards and Personal Notes 

Here are some quick tips on writing a thank-you note to your customers from Gregory Ciotti from Help Scout that he posted in a previous guest blog post:

  • If it's financially feasible, try to use quality stationary.
  • Be sure to use the customer's name.
  • Express your gratitude, clearly stating the reason for sending the note.
  • Mention details about what you enjoyed about your experience with this customer (a fantastic opportunity to be specific and thoughtful).
  • Allude to your future interactions with the customer.
  • Close with professional but warm sign-off and a signature. (i.e Best, Kindest Regards, Sincerely, Cheers, etc.)

5. Product Review/Share On Social Media Request

Since the shipped package usually represents the end of the transaction for most customers, packaging inserts can also be a great place to ask for a product review or to share their experience on social media.

Frank Body, a coffee based body scrub encourages social interaction at almost every touch point. This includes adding an insert which further bolsters their brand and a request to share their experience on social media.

5. Product Review/Share On Social Media Request

As a result, Frank Body has built a massive community (615k on Instagram) of fans all promoting their product which provides social proof to others and further builds their brand exposure.

5. Product Review/Share On Social Media Request

5. Product Review/Share On Social Media Request


In the end, packaging inserts are really about providing more value by exceeding expectations and matching the right offering with your particular audience.

As with all direct marketing efforts, be sure to test different package insert programs and different offers to build your own successful program that will increase loyalty, sales and profit for your business.

Bonus: Packaging inserts are just a part of the entire customer experience. Check out How To Create a Memorable and Sharable Unboxing Experience For Your Brand.


About The Author

Richard Lazazzera is an ecommerce entrepreneur and Content Strategist in charge of customer success at Shopify. Get more from Richard on his ecommerce blog.

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