Ask a Marketer: Should You Still Send Thank You Notes?

ask a marketer - thank you notes - are they still worth it

We use our expertise to answer this question.

This topic is surprisingly controversial. Like so many other themes in life and business, we have two factors at play:

  1. We should never do things simply because we are “supposed” to. We need to understand the desired outcome before making a decision about taking action.

    Thank you notes are not an end unto themselves. Be sure that whatever you decide to do, you are aligned with the purpose—and not the process. Think about what you’re trying to accomplish with a quick thank you. Does it serve any purpose at all? 
  2. Rarely are things so black and white. Like nearly all best-practice communication behaviors, this decision lies in a world of gray.

    We can know intuitively that thank you notes—if you choose to employ them—don’t belong in every scenario. This is especially true in well-established relationships where regular communication is present. Expressing gratitude doesn’t always require a formal note; it can be done through verbal thanks, efficient actions, or friendly gestures. Overloading emails with unnecessary thank you notes can be, at minimum, mildly irritating to the customer.

When in doubt, ask yourself: Would I appreciate receiving a thank you note in this situation? Or would it come off as bothersome or unnecessary? Here are some instances where you absolutely should send thank you notes:

  • When you’re establishing a new business relationship. Here, you want to show gratitude and add a bit of color to the receiver’s understanding of your brand’s personality. This is especially important when the recipient doesn’t know you well, but you want them to know your brand encompasses thoughtfulness as a core value. You might send a thank you note after an interview, meeting with stakeholders, or beginning a relationship with a big account. Just make sure your thank you note reflects your brand’s personality and is sincere, and keep it brief (around a couple of sentences).
  • After someone places an order. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it sometimes falls through the cracks. As an eCommerce brand, it’s important to both confirm with your customer that you’ve received their order and thank them for their business. The good news is this type of thank you note doesn’t have to be handwritten or created each-and-every time an order comes through; you can write an on-brand thank you email that automatically sends (aka “autoresponder”) when your system detects a new order.  
  • When you need to give visibility to a message in the recipient’s inbox, but don’t just want to say “bump” or something similar. For example, if you’ve sent a request and haven’t received a response or the full request hasn’t been completed, you can follow up politely starting with a thank you. You might say, “Thank you for taking care of x promptly. Can I assist with y?” or “I know you are very busy. I really appreciate you taking a couple of minutes to help me with x, please let me know if you need anything.” But a word of caution: If you  do this, be very careful not to act out of passive aggression. Everyone is busy, and everyone forgets. Always assume the best of others.

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