woman with hands over her heart, practicing gratitude marketing

Gratitude Marketing: 5 Ways to Be More Human

What exactly is “gratitude marketing,” and what does it look like to implement? In a word: human. Let’s look at some quotes from marketing leaders for inspiration.

In marketing, it seems everything we do is labeled a “strategy” or a “tactic.”

But what the job really comes down to is creating a sense of human connection.

Like through gratitude.

The short, TL;DR version of this article? Be human*. Your human audience will like it.

*Note: This article isn’t about AI. But you can absolutely use AI to assist you in doing this!

1. Thank Your Audience

“By showing gratitude, marketers are expressing their appreciation for their customers. In turn, gratitude drives customer loyalty.” – Christine Alemany, CEO of TBGA

I was seeing a therapist for a while through one of several new online platforms.

(I’m a strong proponent of mental health therapy. I think everyone can benefit from talking with a professional listener who’s trained to help you work through the truly important issues in life.)

As a consumer of this valuable service, I was grateful for it. So I left a review.

I didn’t expect to be shown gratitude in return. And not by my therapist (who showed gratitude for the opportunity to work with me in her own way). By the marketing team.

Just for leaving a review, they thanked me, and even sent me my choice of free gift.

Perhaps this was a “tactic” to build loyalty, to get me to come back or to recommend the platform to others. If so, mission accomplished.

But it also simply felt human.

Are reviews and other types of engagement important to your business? (YES, they are!) Let your clients and customers know that, and thank them!

2. Empathize with Them

“Successful marketers realize that consumers have a different relationship with brands now than in the past … The patience for bad advertising doesn’t exist now.” – Haley Paas, Chief Strategy Officer, Carat US

No matter how many times marketers say “thank you” to an audience, it’s going to ring hollow if they’ve demonstrated an inability to empathize with the audience.

Like always asking for a sale in intrusive, annoying ways.

Like when you’re doing research and a stupid ad pops up that you can’t close for three seconds (then you have to find the little “x”), which feels like an eternity because you’re on a deadline.

Because of retargeting, you see that ad over and over and over, clumsily implying that you’re not giving this brand enough of your attention.

I don’t feel loyal to brands that do that (unless they do it very well by working the approach seamlessly into my user experience) and then thank me only once I’ve given in.

I feel loyal to brands that offer me something of value before I buy anything—specifically, content that answers my questions—and thank me just for reading, or perhaps for subscribing.

That’s empathy with a side of genuine gratitude. And your audience will feel the difference.

3. Boost Your Own Morale

“There is scientific evidence that expressing gratitude has various positive benefits on humans—including better sleep, less anxiety and stress, an overall feeling of happiness and hope to take on life’s challenges, and deepening relationships with others.” – Camilla Grozian-Lorentzen, President of KERN

When I first started sending holiday cards out to my clients at the end of the year, I admit that I was doing it as a tactic.

Somebody told me that it was a good way to stay top of mind or whatever. 

So I did it. Begrudgingly. I mean, these were handwritten notes. It was like 95% of the literal handwriting I do all year, so I was looking at the prospect of serious crampage.

But something has happened in the years since. 

I’ve come to look forward to sending out cards to everyone I did business with that year, even to people who are unlikely to help me increase my revenue.

You know why? Because gratitude humanizes the business of marketing.

Sending out personalized print or digital messages of gratitude, whether during the holiday season or throughout the year, makes what we do feel more worthwhile. 

It can help make us happier.

Good luck putting a price on that.

4. Go Deeper with Some (Like Email Subscribers)

“Engaged customers who move beyond a transactional relationship to a deeper, trusting partnership or legacy clients who have been your customer for years deserve special recognition and appreciation.” – Stephanie Trautman, Chief Growth Officer at Wipro Limited

Email marketing is a great way to supplement other channels, like social media.

But it should be way more than just another channel.

People tend to see their inboxes as a personal digital space. This is in contrast to a channel like social media, which feels loud and public.

Your email subscribers are like your inner circle. They’re typically your most loyal supporters, and are therefore most likely to refer others to you.

So while you’re showing gratitude to your audience in general, show your subscribers even more.

Thank them for their support.

Give them advance notice about new content, resources, or deals.

Let them know they’re special.

Make sure your subscribers know that they’re more important to your business than everybody else, because they are!

5. Be Generous with All (Including Prospects)

“[Brands and marketers should] create an onboarding experience where you intentionally give thanks for the actions completed and trust within the first 90 days.” – Kyla M. Jones, U.S. Diversity Strategy at RAPP

I do a fair amount of work with higher ed institutions. It’s a fascinating field that’s going through a sea change with huge implications for marketing.

Imagine that after hundreds of years of communicating how exclusive you are, you’re asked to stop all that momentum on a dime, do a 180, and convince the world of how inclusive you are.

It’s not that colleges weren’t grateful for the privilege of educating people before.

But these days, those who don’t show gratitude to prospects—for their hard work to get in, balance school with work and life, and find enough financial aid to pay for everything—will fail.

At a bare minimum, higher ed marketers must make the user experience of this laborious process as clear, simple and stress-free as possible.

And they must show lots of gratitude to prospective students for putting up with it all.

You want to learn more about consistently showing gratitude to an audience long before you’ve converted them into customers? Talk to us enrollment marketers!

“Gratitude Marketing” Is Humanizing the Business of Marketing

That’s all it is.

Of course, the first thing you have to do is feel a genuine sense of gratitude toward your audience.

Do you? Does your team? Is that a part of your organizational culture?

If you’re interested, I would love to chat with you about how to infuse more gratitude into your marketing.

But even if we never get the chance to meet, thank you for reading.

I appreciate it!