It’s The Extra That Gets The Referral

When I buy something online I usually know what I’m going to get. When I get it, I’m not surprised. It’s what I bought.

But when I get more, I’m surprised. That little bit extra might be a beautiful package, it might be a phone call making sure I was satisfied with my purchase and offering a free shipping coupon code for my next purchase, it might be a little “freebie” thrown in with my order.

The words that matter are: extra and free.

I didn’t expect it. I didn’t pay for it. I’m just totally thrilled with it!

Getting what I paid for isn’t going to get me to think about that seller very much. I won’t think badly about them, but I won’t really think especially great about them either. I just won’t think of them. No offense.

The extra, however, will make me think about them. And think about them again. And, when I have an opportunity to buy from them again, I will. And I’ll tell others to buy from them as well.

Next time you make a sale… think: Where is the extra? Start including it and you’ll start to see results soon enough.

Do you do add something special to your orders?  Care to share a tip you’ve learned? I love to hear from you!

~ Kim

Other posts you might be interested in for your Etsy business…

*Beautiful handmade tags by Sweet Findings


  1. says

    Yes, I do that all the time – it is my form of advertising – with my little roses I sell on Etsy – I add a couple of colors they did not order – or a sample of the larger rose. With my girlie items I add a clippie or a coupon code to my weblisting – I will be a new follower of you! Love your blog! ~Therese
    .-= Therese´s last blog ..Reserve listing for Jen- You Pick 24 Fancy Wool Felt Roses for Hairbow making Scrapbooking Rosebuds scalloped felt flower – Posies Dimensional Flowers Scrapbook bobbypins clips Make Your Own Hair Candy =-.

  2. says

    While it is a nice idea, beware that it can backfire.
    The extremely proud customer can be offended by the intimation that they should accept something from anyone for free, and it makes them feel uncomfortable.
    Then there is the customer who will see it as blackmail, and it might leave a bad taste in their mouth.
    If you decide to do it, make sure you haven’t made a rod for your own back. You are going to have to do it every time, because if you have been referred because of the freebie, and only because of the freebie, if the referred customer does not receive a freebie too, they’re going to be upset.
    .-= Di´s last blog ..SPHINX =-.

  3. says

    Sometimes it just has to be a small freebie or that extra nice packaging. I’ve received little baggies with a couple hard candies in them, wrapped in a pretty ribbon. I’ve also received items wrapped in pretty tissue paper with a beautiful ribbon.

    Those little things wouldn’t really offend anyone, but it is that extra touch that makes them remembered.

    I never really thought of a freebie offending someone, but I guess I could see it. I know on ebay, the times I have sent freebies, it was never even acknowledged. It turned to be a huge waste of time on ebay. On etsy though, it seems to be more worthwhile.
    .-= Ginny´s last blog ..Have you signed up for Paybox yet =-.

  4. says

    I’d like to clarify, I’m all for freebies myself. I agree that it is a waste of time on eBay, though. It’s just with years of face-to-face customer experience, I’ve uncovered some really interesting mind-sets.
    .-= Di´s last blog ..SPHINX =-.

    • Juliekins says

      I was clearing out a drawer just yesterday and found a lovely card from an ebay seller I used to buy from for a craft I stopped doing. I recently picked it back up, and because of the card placed a LARGE order. I do a TON of ebay shopping vs etsy shopping and the extras are noticed and DOES get return business…the others are just people I bought from.

  5. says

    I can see Di’s point, I have ordered from Etsy many times and many orders have come with ‘freebies’. Unfortunately they were not anything I would ever use and some were sort of rinky dink and sorry to say ended in the trash.. Once I opened a package and confetti spilled out all over my just vacuumed floor. I guess the seller thought it would be cute…I assure you, it was not. I have included extra items with some of my orders if it has been a repeat customer or someone I had really good interaction with. But ALWAYS the extra is an item the customer would be proud to own and I always explain why I included it.
    Also…I make an effort to package my creations to look as if they were getting a gift. Often that is ‘extra’ enough.

    Love your blog Kim!

    Janet xox

  6. says

    My shop is still pretty undiscovered, but the two sales that I have had each got one of my greeting cards free. I threw it in as a bonus so they could see the beautiful quality of my cards. They were thrilled!

  7. says

    Great tip! We always include a little extra decal marked “a gift for you” and the response has been amazing. It’s something that is easy for us to do (read doesn’t take much time from packing orders) and our customers love it.

    We also wrap our packages in pretty tissue paper and seal them with cute labels. When you take the time to make it look nice customers appreciate it.

    Like Ginny said, it can be as simple as a couple pieces of hard candy just as long as it’s a nice gift that says “gee, thanks for your order, I appreciated your business!”

  8. says

    I’ve only sold two items so I’m going to reply as a buyer on this. The first item I bought on Etsy came in a lovely box, I was pleasantly surprised. Since then I have received items that were wrapped nicely, came with thank you cards, came with freebies that I have used. I’ve also gotten items that came with nothing extra or had minimal packaging. In the long run what is going to make me recommend a seller and purchase from them again is fast shipping, good customer service and quality items. The freebies and pretty packaging are nice but not a necessity.
    .-= Lori Ferguson´s last blog ..Looking for Artists =-.

  9. says

    Great comments! Thanks so much for sharing your thought with us and I’ve already found a couple new ideas from you!

    Lori mentioned fast shipping…well, I love fast shipping. When I find a seller that sends me items fast I stick with buying from them! I try to do this in my shops and I do receive great feedback for it.

    The idea of the hard candies is great! My son orders from a music catalog that sends him a couple candies each time. We all thought that was so nice.

    I think it has more to do with showing appreciation for their purchase from you…however you show it!

    I’m sure there will always be someone that likes or doesn’t like what you give them, but that’s life. I tend to add little items that I think they will like with a note.

    I’ve also heard of sellers making deals with other sellers and including something from their shop as a way of promoting each other. {Did I explain that clearly?}

    Keep the comments coming! :)


  10. says

    Great ideas and points! Thanks for sharing~

    I’ve only had a few sales and for the first two sales have been so excited that I’ve included gifts that were bigger than the items that the buyers had bought (as a first sale and first of 2011 sale gifts) but I haven’t thought that it may “put off” some buyers and the point about referrals ‘coz of freebies! Thanks for pointing these out and giving me a different way of looking at this! I shall think about what types of freebies that will show my appreciation to the buyer and not too extreme as to put them off or may take a lot of effort to keep up~ :)

  11. says

    i have been writing a coupon code on the back of my business card. i’ve received a few freebies that {to be completely honest} just seemed like something the seller was trying to get rid of. i don’t want that stuff & my buyers don’t either! with a coupon code they can come back & pick out something they’re actually interested in.
    this is also a great way to track repeat customers since they’re the only ones who get that code!
    .-= jacqui´s last blog ..cyber monday! =-.

  12. says

    I include a handwritten thank you note along with some tag freebies. I make extras tags from my leftover “bits & pieces” and add them to each order. I like to think my customers enjoy it!! :) Someone above posted about including a coupon code and I really like that idea. I might have to start using that too.

  13. says

    I agree with Di on this one – it must be something that you do with every customer – as one can feel left out. And if a shop owner that I bought something from online where to call me and follow-up I would be pretty unnerved. That is definitely crossing a line of privacy.

    So when creating a courtesty plan such as this, ask:

    Is it sustainable? Can I do it faithfully with every customer?

    Is it respectful? Does it cross any boundaries?

    In the end, having a SUPERB product and an EXCELLENT chain of delivery (from ordering to getting the product to the client is all top-notch) is more important and would make me remember your shop much more than a possibly pushy follow-up.

    Though, I am always open to learn and be corrected on this viewpoint.
    .-= Jessa | ReArtingDotNet´s last blog ..Letters X Y Z Alphabet ABC Vintage Nursery Wall Art Print 11 x 14 USD 3000 =-.

  14. says

    I sell paper bag scrapbooks. When I package them they are “wrapped” in a cotton batting sleeve then I include a business card and thank you note clipped together with a clothespin that’s been embellished with decorative papers…it’s all pulled together with some trim/yarn/ribbon. The clothespin is the “freebie”. I assume everyone could make use of the clothespin…close a chip bag, organize mail, add a magnet and put on the fridge, etc. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the effort because I’ve never had anyone mention the freebie…but the packaging makes me happy when I’m assembling it so I just continue to do it! :)
    .-= Judy´s last blog ..Time to Scrap =-.

  15. says

    All of my customers are special to me, and I go out of my way to make sure they feel they are special! I sell beach glass jewelry and my clients receive their item in a beautiful tiffany colored box tied with a ribbon. Inside the box will hold their purchase plus a few pieces of authentic beach glass from Lake Erie – I do this solely for the reputation of my shop. If my client returns, that is fabulous for me, but if they don’t, they will always remember where the beach glass was found!
    .-= Beth Martin´s last blog ..Barbados Blue Bottletop Necklace from the shores of Lake Erie =-.

    • Juliekins says

      I get a piece of Erie glass to keep and Mom gets a necklace :) Just went to your site. You brought back amazing memories :)

  16. says

    Love this post. I have included a 6 x4″ magnatized yearly calender with my shop logo and address on it. My customer can just put it on their fridge and have a yearly calender at hand. They are fairly inexpensive @ Vista print. Ive gotten great feedback about this and it reminds them to stop by again. I also wrap my items pretty, I am a firm believer in 99% of a sale is in the presentation.
    .-= Tammy/FancieStrands´s last blog ..Champagne Satin Flower- Rhinestone- Feather Bridal Hairclip-Fascinator =-.

  17. says


    So many good points!

    As a jewelry maker, I have also seen suppliers include both “freebie” items that they obviously are not going to use, as well as items they are looking to introduced me to as “new” in their line. As most of us can probably attest, one of these is very helpful while the other is a complete waste of time.

    However, when I started shipping out my completed pieces of jewelry, it was very important to me that each one of my customers felt like their buying experience in my Etsy shop was individual and personal. Really, isn’t that what we’re all trying to do? Each order I send out gets very special gift wrapping and a thank you note (my mom would be so proud!). Now with the exciting new Etsy coupon codes, each customer also has the chance to become a returning customer, as there is a coupon code enclosed with each order. Juicy!!

    Overall, I do my best every day to communicate with positivity in all my relationships and that really has an effect on my Etsy shop. Of course, we will all come across customers from time to time who have the tendency to bring us down. The trick is to let those customers be the exception rather than the rule!

    Keep those awesome tips coming Kim, I sure love them!

    ~ Jenn
    Wild Apple Design
    .-= Jenn´s last blog ..Reserved listing for JJHUPPERICH =-.

  18. says

    I always wrap my items in tissue paper, then tie twine in a bow with my card attached to the package. I have included freebies in the past, but the pretty packaging gets more comments than anything else.

    I also offer free shipping to return customers. Not as a coupon code (can you do a coupon for free shipping or does it have to just be %?), but I let them know in an email that any future purchases get shipping refunded. I’ve had good response to that!
    .-= Heathahlee´s last blog ..For My Facebook Friends =-.

  19. says

    Yes, I started with a free gift bag. Now I include what I call a “grateful heart”, a simple sewn, stuffed heart ornament, to let my customers now that I appreciate there business. Coupons are a good idea, also.

  20. says

    I always add an extra! I make cards and tags and paper things. It doesn’t take much to make an extra tag and my customers (the few that I have had) love it!

    Another thing that I consider an EXTRA is prompt shipping. I usually only order from places that take 1-2 business days for me to get my order. Quick shipping does count! =)

  21. says

    I always include an extra. It started out that I had extra 1″ tiles which were fill ins on a 12″ sq. grid that I purchased. I was putting them in a box and stashing them. Then I decided I would stamp them up, put a magnet on them and toss them in with all my sales. They have been well received by nearly every customer ( based on feedback). Now I buy 1″ tiles, sell them at my shows, but continue to add them to all boxes going out to customers.
    I also include a pre-printed thank you card that has a 10% off return custom coupon code. That is a standard which goes in all boxes as well as my biz card and any info pertaining to the item purchased. I wouldn’t stop doing it simply because someone might be offended at the “blackmail” or whatnot. I owned a B&M shop for years. I know how customers feel when they get a little extra they didn’t expect or pay for.. it goes a long way in positive marketing feedback. I would rather someone speak badly of the extra goodness I sent along than speak badly of receiving only what they paid for!

    • Juliekins says

      I can’t see any buyer complaining that they were given a freebie and shown appreciation. In this economy, it could mean the difference between you and the next guy, even if yours wasn’t quite as good the customer felt VALUED and it will be you they return to. I have NEVER received gratis and thought I was being blackmailed. What I DID do was go to work and tell everyone about the amazing experience I had. The Brighton store always sends a thank you as does Coach. It is a nice touch.

  22. says

    Hello! I always enclose a 20% off your next order coupon code and send the item gift wrapped. Sending a freebie is a good idea I’ll have to consider.
    Thank you for your advices!

  23. says

    Great tips everyone! We are just starting out and have been including a hand made thank you mini-card that matches the full size greeting cards we have for sell. We hand write a thank you message and coupon code for future purchases. This along with nice packaging seems to be working well for us so far!

  24. says

    Hi, Really interesting to read everyone’s comments. I have been thinking a lot about customer service recently and about whether or not to include a small free gift with each order. We just started business on Etsy earlier this year so we’re learning all the time.

    I agree with everyone that prompt shipping is really important. We generally ship either the same day as the order is received or the following day (although our policies say that we will ship within 4 days – I put this in just in case we were away for a long weekend and couldn’t get something shipped immediately – they say it’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver…).

    As soon as I find out about an order, I email/convo the buyer to say I’ve got their order and to tell them when I’ll be shipping. I email them again to let them know once the item is shipped.

    We enclose a discount code with every order and several customers have already made use of this.

    We also enclose a hand-written thank you note with each order.

    Every item is wrapped as if it were a gift. As we are always looking to reduce our impact on the environment (and because I like wrapping items in quirky ways!) we use things like wallpaper samples, vintage fabric, old maps, old sheet music and recycled tissue paper. These are tied up with rescued yarn, ribbon or lace. I do my best to make orders look nice (though this can be tricky when wrapping tea sets which need extremely careful wrapping to ensure they reach the customer safely).

    So – a free gift too? I’ve resisted this so far as I HATE to create waste. Personally I would prefer NOT to be sent a freebie with an order UNLESS the item would be useful to me. And that is my difficulty… so I am still pondering this question…. I have been thinking that I could make some very small notebooks (a size that you could fit in any bag or pocket) as free gifts…… I wonder if anyone out there has any thoughts about whether that would be a good idea or not….

  25. says

    So I have only had one sale, and it was for a friend. She said it was a gift for her niece, so I delivered it to her ready for gift giving, so she didn’t have to worry about wrapping it. She loved it, and so did her niece! Since reading these comments, I was wondering if there was something better to do if it wasn’t a gift, because I want my customers to feel special and not just that I put it in a gift bag with tissue paper and sent it off. All I make is little knitted toys and felt stuff, so I was thinking a coupon or a greeting card. Any suggestions?
    .-= Molly Kade´s last blog ..Stan the Monster Nibblet Hand Knitted Softie =-.

  26. says

    hi! i have a question! :)
    after reading your blog, i went to make a coupon! and now i am wondering. i can give the same coupon to more than one customers? or i have to create a new one everytime i want to give a coupon?
    .-= mouse design´s last blog ..wooden hearts earrings =-.

  27. says

    I have purchased items that have come in a plain envelope or box, but I really enjoy the ones that have put some time in their packaging. I purchase a really cute vintage pin cushion and it came wrapped in paper from an old story book. I thought how creative, and it went with her very vintage store. I have receive freebie items with only a few that I really liked. I would rather not receive anything than receive something I don’t want or need. I package my items in cellophane with a nice bow and include a coupon code for return customers on the back of my business card. Nashville Wraps offers some nice packaging options.

  28. Dena says

    I’ve always enjoyed getting packages that smell good…. nothing perfumey though, mainly clean scents or cinnamon. Anyone object to this?

    I like to include a small stationary card with something I’ve drawn on it as a thank you. The card stock I use can be put in a frame and has an instant mat on it. It’s my way of saying ‘thank you’.

  29. says

    There is a company (in North Carolina, made in the U.S.A) that sells the most delicious mints. They are the mints you are used to getting with your bill when you leave a nice restaurant or that you grab a handful of when you leave Chik fil A. They will sell one case quantities of their “Thank You” mint or you can order custom wrappers with your own logo and info. This company is in the are I live and is a wonderful small company. Just passing on the info!

  30. says

    I love all the ideas. My Etsy shop is still in its early stages. Now that Etsy allows coupon codes, I always send a coupon good for 10% off next purchase to all my first time buyers.

  31. says

    I include beaded bracelets along with a discount coupon code with every order. I figure if the bracelets are too small or big, they can use the coupon code. If bracelets fit, then hey, they have two freebies! Either way, I want my customers to be happy whether or not they come back to my store.

  32. says

    We include mini handmade thank you notes with our orders which seem to please people and lets them know how much we appreciate their business. We could also consider including a larger version for the customer to use since everyone could use a thank you note at some point in time.

  33. Abby says

    Looking back on things I’ve ordered online, one specifically comes to mind: (unrelated to Etsy) I purchased some E-liquid online and a few parts for my ECig. I wasn’t find of the liquid flavors, however they have great prices on hardware so I’ve ordered from them a few more times. Aside from absolutely AMAZING and personal customer service, I always remember the first time (along with each purchase following) they sent along a Bill Nye the Science Guy fact card, a dinosaur fact card, and an old-school Pokemon card!:)

  34. says

    I was just researching sending an extra something with some orders I have to ship out today. Normally I sell toy and doll pdf sewing patterns, but last week I had a flash sale of my sample dolls and wondered how to make the parcels special. I live on an extremely tight budget so I have to use what I have. I wrap in tissue paper and have a bunch of new place cards. I thought to wrap in one color tissue and then wrap around paper doll chain in a contrasting color and include one folded for the customer to use as garland, plus a thank you card. Then, because I ship plastic-free, I can also cut the last piece of gummed paper tape in paper doll fashion before putting it around the outside of the parcel. I already have these items and they match what I do – dolls! I also have received some little freebies now and then and while it was a hoot at first, I didn’t really know what to do with them. I agree a wrapping that feels festive or like it’s a gift, even though I’ve bought it, makes me feel special more than a small trinket I don’t need.


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