Thank You Notes

My question for you today is in two parts...

First of all, do you collect your customers' physical addresses?

Second, do you send your BEST customers handwritten thank you notes in the mail?

I do both -- as of earlier today.

(If you don't feel like reading the rest of this blog post... just scroll down and leave a comment answering those questions.)

To be honest, I only switched from the "no shipping" option on all my PayPal buttons... to optional shipping last year... and didn't lose any sales. Last month, I switched from "optional shipping" to required shipping on all my buttons, and didn't lose any sales! In fact, May 2008 was my best month to date.

Don't get me wrong. I am very much AGAINST ignorant order forms like JVManager that require customers to fill in their shipping information TWICE (once to get them in the order system, a second time into the payment processor).

There is no excuse for crap like that. Processors like PayPal will capture the address info and then save it in your logs or even pass it back into a script.

If someone is paying with a credit card, they have to type in their billing address anyway... and if they are paying directly out of a PayPal account, their primary shipping address is already PRE-SELECTED!

Every time I go to a seminar, the big boys who make $10,000+ per week always tell you to take your customers offline. They offer postcards, free CDs (where you pay shipping only), and big markup for those $997 packages with 30 DVDs that probably cost under $100 to produce.

You don't have to get all fancy like they do. In fact I just about guarantee you that if you try to set something up with Kinko's online, or some kind of automated postcard mailing service, that you will make everything way too complicated and get yourself confused.

Here is what I did. I downloaded the history of all my PayPal transactions of the past 6 months or so, onto an Excel spreadsheet.

I filtered the spreadsheet to include only those addresses that contained the phrase "United States" and sorted by highest purchase amount first.

After removing duplicates, I ended up with a list of about 50 Americans who bought a $30 or higher product from me in the last six months. There were many many people who paid less than $30, lived outside the United States, or just didn't provide any shipping information.

How pathetic is that? I average 566 sales per month with an average price of $19.06 per sale... I made 2,829 sales from January 1st to June 1st 2008... and I only ended up with about 50 decent physical leads.

Don't make the same mistake I did... require shipping on your PayPal account, even for online orders.

To write my thank you notes: I sat down on my couch to watch a movie and made use of some idle time. During that two hour movie, I wrote 50 personalized thank you notes.

I printed out that list of leads and a little bit of buying history from each person (because I funnel everything into a list, it is VERY rare for someone to only buy one product from me). I mentioned the product they bought, thanked them for being a loyal customer, asked them to take action on that product.

If I saw a trend in the products they bought from me (i.e. ONLY JavaScript how-to products, or ONLY the scripts themselves, or ONLY copywriting products) I would recommend something else they might like.

I wrote each of these in one of those fat little diary books, one thank you note per page, then hand-addressed each envelope, tore out each sheet of paper and stuck it in the envelope, added a stamp... then today, I stuck them all in a mailbox.

I did this all with mailing materials I had in my house. I didn't have to go outside, I didn't have time to talk myself out of it... I just needed a monotonous task to get me through a boring movie.

Watching the movie on its own would have been too boring... stuffing the envelopes would have been too boring... but I was completely happy doing both of those things at the same time.

So go ahead and check your order history (cross reference them with your mailing list to make sure they haven't unsubscribed) and write some thank you notes if you're going on a plane ride or watching a boring movie.

If you're one of those people who needs to add it as a routine to their schedule, just write and mail 4 handwritten thank you notes per day. Do it on a trial basis... you can stop after 30 days.

It has to be handwritten. I can't tell you how many pieces of mail I've thrown away just because they weren't handwritten.

They have to be mailed to your current customers ONLY. No cold mailing. I've thrown away plenty of those envelopes in my mailbox as well.

Even if those thank you notes don't bring in any more sales, it felt good to write them. George Bush Sr. supposedly wrote hundreds of thank you notes per day. He carried a box of thank you cards around with him and wrote thank you letters sometimes minutes after speaking with someone.

This was just a test. If the thank you note thing works out then I might send thank you's out to all my high-ticket customers, maybe throw in some Starbucks gift cards, hire someone to write them, who knows.

The important thing was: I took my customers offline, even if it was just a little bit.

Are you doing the same thing?

Please answer me in the comment form below because I need 10 comments to continue posting.

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Comments (24)

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  1. I think it’s a decent thing to do. Saying thank you to customers for their confidence and trust IS a valuable sign that clients are important.

    Thanks for the inspiration. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I do not capture postal addresses for my cusomers.
    Robert is it possible I can speak to you privately? I have some questions which I want to ask you.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the insight and explanation, Robert.

    I’ve just been building on the idea of squeeze pages (such as at ) to capture an inquirers full contact data with an aweber autoresponder to request a free booklet shipped through the mail.

    The squeeze page models an offline postcard that is mailed to either purchased leads, or other advertizing acquired leads.

    The postcard has the squeezepage web address printed on it (as well as a voicemail telephone number) to capture their full contact info.

    Seems to work quite well. I’ll be trying out your strategy too.


  4. Harry says:


    One of the nice things about PayPal IPN is that it can be used to automate a lot of back-end processes that can include adding someone to your e-mail mailing list, as well as extracting mailing address information.

    Fantastic suggestion about sending out personalized thank you notes by mail… very few people do it!

    Here’s what I’m having trouble with… people talk a lot about Aweber and GetResponse, and even EmailAces to a certain degree… but I would love to have the flexibility and freedom that comes from using a script that’s on my own server… a script like List Mail Pro, or PHP List, etc.

    That would enable me to really take advantage of PayPal’s IPN and funnel 100% of my buyers into a list. I’m petrified that I’ll be blacklisted in 30 days, have 0% deliverable e-mail, and essentially be out of business.

    That’s an exaggeration, but what gives? So many of your awesome suggestions (especially in the area of list building) are made SO much easier when you have your own solution like List Mail Pro, PHP List, or something similar… I’m quite honestly F–KING SICK of pulling teeth at one popular 3rd party ESP to just get a custom verification subject approved…

    Can you (or anyone else reading this comment) give me the confidence I need to actually use a server based script to manage my mailing lists? You’re doing it Robert, and I would have thought that you would have been out of business 6 months ago based on the “end of the world” attitude that a lot of people have about using a script instead of an ESP… and it has even infected MY brain, to the point where part of me thinks you have to be NUTS to use anything other than an ESP…

    Alright… insights, advice, comments… I’d appreciate them…!!!!

  5. Joel Osborne says:

    This is a very good way to build a great relationship with your customers.

    It works great for affiliates to ๐Ÿ™‚
    I promoted some things for Jimmy D. Brown last year, and about a month later I received a nice card in the mail with a gift card attached.

    That sure did make me want to keep promoting his great stuff!


  6. Dave W says:

    When I getting my thank you letter and when are you posting pictures of your house? Dave

  7. I appreciate the detail related to requiring from the customer their shipping address… That is standard procedure for physical goods but for goods we download from the net, we tend to bypass this very basic business principle…
    Thanks Robert for reminding us …!

  8. Dean Kennedy says:

    I’ve been using hand-written thank you notes for a long time: they are effective. Often when visiting a client the card is still sitting on their desk/nearby shelf — shows how little personal attention they’re getting!

    I use cards with my own photos with either “thank you” or “congratulations” on the front (as I’m a copywriter and graphic designer, it’s good to show off my own skills with a nicely designed thank you card).

    One thing we do differently a few times a year: the card itself is printed commercially (as always), but the recipient’s name is printed on the card as part of the design: printers who do “variable data printing” can offer this, using high-end digital machines (like HP Indigo or Kodak Nexpress).

    Still has a handwritten note inside – but it definitely gets extra good feedback because the customer’s name is printed on the card.

    Michael Port has a great idea in his book “Book Yourself Solid” — which especially applies if you visit clients “on the road” (not so much for web-based businesses): keep a stack of cards with a handwritten note ready to use — just add in salutation, address the envelope and get them out quickly.

    Even when our printer sends stuff directly from their factory to our clients, it includes a handwritten note of thanks which we pre-prepare and supply to the printer a few dozen at a time.

  9. Robert,

    I believe we had this exact conversation in Philly! Glad to see you started implementing it. I, too, use the 4 a day rule. I got it from Murray Raphel’s book “Up the Loyalty Ladder”.

    Basically, the idea is that everyday you take the time to personally connect with four people… either via email, phone, in person or in the mail. So simple, but so effective.

    Anyway, when are you gonna run your next WSO? That section looks lonely without your name on the 1st page.

    -Jason Fladlien

  10. Robert,

    I’ve used thank you notes for years. First learned it from Tom Hopkins in his book “How to Master the Art of Sales”. It produced extra sales, and referrals… Nice coin for the price of a stamp & a few minutes.

    Unfortunately I stopped sending out thank you cards, until a few months ago. And it still works! In fact one of the people I sent a card called me to do two new projects. One of them looks to be long term.

    Not to shabby for a thank you card.

  11. Kelvin Brown says:

    Hi Robert,

    I collect physical addresses for all of my Autoresponders customers, clients for 2 of my search engines / portals.

    I have only sent a few letters, but I have called them more often. Many see appreciative of a call, because they almost never expect to ” hear ” from an internet marketer.


  12. @harry

    i use oempro from octeth <– evil link

    if you send from your own server, a dedicated ip is optimal. otherwise you are at the mercy of what other spammers are going that share your ip just like at aweber and getresponse.

    and you have to treat your customer list like gold if you automate it like that.

    if they buy x, send them updates, autoresponders, etc. about x.

    don’t start sending them info about y,z,c,d and so on just because they bought x. that is where your deliverability will go down the tubes.

    maybe down the line you can send them related offers after building the relationship, but it is always good practice to ask them if they want to be on your regular newsletter, etc. <– lot of different variables, etc with that.

    anyways, hope that helps

    big jason

  13. I do not collect addresses from my customers nor do I send anything in the mail.
    As more of a customer perspective the mail thing does not reach me at all.
    I feel like I am being got at “on the ground” and it is not my choice to have that. Funny really, just takes things out of the space I have allocated.
    The only time I was happy to get something in the post was a card from John Delavera ๐Ÿ™‚
    Customers view point here

  14. Bill Johnson says:

    Many years ago (1980s, maybe) I learned from Tom Hopkins’s “How to Master the Art of Selling” that thank-you notes had been one of the secrets to his success. I believe he claimed he did not got to bed at night until he had written at least 50 thank you notes that day. When I was doing direct selling, I also did lots of thank-you notes.

    I am not currently collecting names or addresses (not even email addresses). But I’ll probably start collecting one or the other (or both) sometime soon. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of Thank-You cards.


  15. Debbie says:

    I have several e-commerce stores and only recently started to sell information products. Of the information products I sell or my clients sell – 90% of them are delivered via the mail AND through digital download.
    So, between the e-commerce stores and the information products in a physical format I collect the mailing address of all my customers.
    That was one of the hard parts about selling information products through download, I’m used to having more “contact” with my customers.
    When I ship their product they get an email and of course when I update their account in our stores, they get an email. Occasionally I send out email notices telling of specials or new products.
    Once a digital download customer comes through and buys, you really have no other contact with them.
    I find its kinda impersonal.
    One other note. Less than 10% of my customers use paypal as their payment option. It’s 90% credit card so when they go through my shopping cart, they enter their information once. If they are a repeat customer, all they have to do it log into their account and their billing and shipping address is already there.
    For my digital products I use Fantasos (JVManager2) and for my Physical products I use Zencart.

  16. Chris says:

    I love the way that every so often online marketers rediscover direct marketing like it’s something new!

    Coming from a position of sending out over a million enclosures a year by mail (with the directly employed staff to match) I can tell you that online marketing is WAAYYY easier and cheaper but… getting in direct contact with your live customers every so often, as Robert writes here, is incredibly powerful.

    A good half way house I found was to hand write notes onto already printed pieces. That then got their attention enough to actually read the letter or advertising material. Either way, yes, it absolutely does work and is well worth doing.

    On the PayPal thing, you do have the option to select an alternative address at the checkout and I always select one that doesn’t accept mail if it’s a digital only product and they’re asking for my physical address. I just take the view that there’s enough of my details floating around in cyberspace without adding to it (having had two unauthorized payments taken from my card already this year – one for over 3000 bucks – I’m getting a bit twitchy OK).

  17. Ab Majid says:

    Hi Robert:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I think it is good if you could write personal thank you notes to your customers, but as the number get bigger and bigger I don’t think you can really do it, can you ?

    Ab Majid

  18. Mike says:

    Fortunately I’d swallowed and put the coffee cup down, so that no liquid was expelled through my nose and thus to the keyboard, in respect of the comments on JV Manager :-))
    Anyway, great tactic with the hand-written notes to qualifying customers Robert. More and more people are seeing the value of integrating tried and tested offline marketing methods with their online endeavours.

  19. Theo Baskind says:

    Taking your customers offline is the key to running a REAL business… Just because you started your business online doesn’t make it any different than a brick and mortar business… think about it….

    Great Post Plank

  20. Robert Plank says:

    I think it is good if you could write personal thank you notes to your customers, but as the number get bigger and bigger I don’t think you can really do it, can you ?

    That’s why you sort it by the highest paying customers first. If you have tons of customers, you’re still only mailing out to the top 20 or top 50.

  21. Harry says:


    Thanks for the fantastic tip! Thing is, and what leaves me feeling significantly less confident in the solution you suggested, is that the sign-up form on the front page of your “Big Marketing Online” website is powered by Aweber.

    I’m confused… That’s the type of ESP that I’m looking to MOVE AWAY from, not embrace further.


    In a lot of ways my comment, while relevant to list building, might seem off-topic as it relates to thank you notes. Anyway, maybe this is a FANTASTIC idea for a future blog post regarding list building. Talk about what people should know about using server based scripts like List Mail Pro, PHP List, heck, maybe even Auto Response Plus.

    This is a VERY critical topic that I think you, as someone who works “outside” the ESP system, could probably address in some detail.

    You da man! Thanks!!

  22. Robert

    In your reply 20 you wrote: “That’s why you sort it by the highest paying customers first. If you have tons of customers, you’re still only mailing out to the top 20 or top 50.”

    Consider this: who pays the bills? The top 20 or top 50 — or the hundreds of people who DO buy although they might not need all your products…. Worth considering. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. Can’t it be automated somehow? I mean, how about handwriting a note, and including it as a automated shipping option in your fulfillment house?

    I am just not able to digest the thought that I have to send a note myself..sorry if you didn’t intend to say that.


  24. Robert Plank says:

    I mean, how about handwriting a note, and including it as a automated shipping option in your fulfillment house?

    I guess you could automate it… but the point is that it’s personal and handwritten. 4 a day isn’t that hard…

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