· 18 min read

Surprise and Delight Marketing (9 Steps towards Success)

Surprise and delight marketing might be the stairway to the heart of your customers. It has the power to make a customer's day and transform them into a lifetime, passionate brand advocate.

To truly differentiate yourself from your competitors, you'll want to go above and beyond for your consumers, offering value at every touch point. For this reason, surprise and delight marketing is a vital strategy you should embody in your business.

Now we will go through all the steps you should be following and some great examples that you can apply today!

Let's begin with the basics.

What is Surprise and Delight Marketing?

"Surprise and delight" is a marketing strategy that uses interactive experiences, surprise gifts or prizes, and tailored content to attract and nurture clients through the lead funnel.

In recent years, the phrase "surprise and delight" has become popular in marketing circles. It has now evolved into a vital component of any professional marketer's customer retention strategy.

Surprising and delighting consumers is exceeding their expectations and boosting their entire brand experience via unexpected acts of generosity.

The goal is to catch your clients unexpectedly and make them feel warm and unique on the inside. We all want to feel special, and our clients are no exception.

This strategy lets consumers feel like they are more than simply a number to your company. This is your opportunity to express your gratitude.

The Importance of Surprise and Delight Marketing

Because consumers have access to so many different discounts, offers, and brand selections, it is becoming increasingly challenging to engage and convert them into loyal customers.

According to CrowdTwist (purchased by Oracle in 2019), 67% of customers said surprise gifts are vital for loyalty programs.

Moreover, consumers love to share their surprises on social media. In fact, 58% of consumers share positive experiences when they talk about brands on social media.

an image with a sentence about surprise and gelight campaigns including two human figures shaking hands with a star illustration between them

By doing something unexpected and impactful, the brand becomes more genuine and establishes an emotional attachment with the customer.

More engaged customers help you improve average order values, get more referrals, a higher repeat rate, a higher LTV, reduced attrition to rivals, and brand evangelists who advertise and refer you for free.

According to data from Merkle HelloWorld Loyalty Report, the best ways to engage consumers are surprise offers or gifts for being a customer (61%).

Another study on surprises conducted by Brown University found that people learn when they meet something new or unexpected.

When customers receive an unexpected advantage or reward, it motivates them to continue doing the behavior that resulted in the reward.

While organizations must maintain consistency in their loyalty efforts, consistently matching consumer expectations may become tedious. After securing their audiences, marketers must devise innovative strategies to keep customers engaged.

Meeting expectations is no longer sufficient. Brands should also include the element of surprise into a long-term strategy instead of one-time activities.

Steps to Follow for the Ultimate Effect

Including surprise and pleasure activities in a marketing strategy takes preparation. Check out these steps if you are interested in pursuing a surprise and delight marketing strategy.

1. Connect a Surprise to a Business Objective

Having a goal is the key to success in most cases. That's why whatever method you choose for your business to delight your consumers, it is critical to first determine a desired consequence from the result.

You, as a brand owner, should define the objectives, such as what you want to achieve or the desired action from customers.

A store, for example, may seek to reactivate consumers who previously spent more money with the firm but haven't purchased in two months.

Another firm may wish to use a surprise to raise basket size or additional expenditure to get a higher ROI. So, set your goal and create your surprises accordingly to have the ultimate effect.

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2. Evaluate the Relevance of the Surprise

Though most people enjoy surprises, especially if they are free, not all kinds of surprises are pleasing to everyone.

Brands should consider what kind of unexpected surprise consumers like and ensure it is relevant to their businesses. If you are not sure about the type of surprise that you want, try some customer feedback tools to simply ask them what they like.

Customers should be polled to determine which rewards they find most appealing. Companies should research which incentives are most popular in a customer loyalty program.

Surprises that are important to most people will have a massive influence on a brand. Personalized awards, on the other hand, may elicit a strong reaction from a limited audience.

At this point, it is up to you to decide which direction you'll sail.

3. Define Your Target Customer Base

If everyone gets a surprise reward, it will lose the hype, right? That's why surprise rewards shouldn't be for everyone.

Brands must clearly designate which consumers or groups should be the intended receivers of the surprise. To obtain the most momentum from your effort, determine which clients might benefit the most from an unexpected joy.

4. Bear the Cost in Mind

It's all fun and games until you face the cost of your actions. One thing to keep in mind while using surprise and delight rewards is the money you spent.

On the one hand, businesses could execute 1 million low-cost shocks that reach a bigger audience, but the effect would be decreased.

Brands, on the other hand, may wish to run ten high-value surprises to make a huge impression and widen their reach to a broader audience through PR and social media mentions.

Brands must consider what would provide the most bang for their buck concerning their budget and goals. Plus, surprise and delight marketing is very open to going on low-budget as even a small act like a head chef serving dinner could mean a lot to some customers.

5. Make Surprises Meaningful

Brands do not need to spend a lot of money on surprise and joy moments. You can find ideas that are not very costly.

Some examples include a unique acknowledgment, such as being named the super fan of the week or receiving a Twitter shout-out, or one-of-a-kind benefits, such as allowing a limited group of consumers to join an advisory panel to develop brand products.

an image with a sentence about customerloyalty including two human figures with chat boxes and a clock between them

6. Consider Thinking Outside the Box

If you want to surprise your consumers, you'll have to think outside the box a little. You can't just keep doing what you've been doing and expect it to work the same way.

Every day, we all receive around a million emails. Sending another email to your consumers, no matter how wonderful, will not surprise them. So try and find new ways to engage with your customers.

7. Think Simple

Before you keep reading, remember that thinking simply does not mean thinking small. The delight doesn't have to be anything extravagant as long as your clients aren't expecting it.

Instead, think freely. You don't have to give them an automobile to completely please them. In this scenario, it is the notion that is important. This is where your messaging should strive to show your clients how much you appreciate them and their business.

8. Underpromise and Overdeliver

Sometimes, it really works when you lower the expectations.

an image including a text about underpromise and overdeliver with a man figure climbing up the stairs towards success

It is one of the best ways to please customers and get five-star ratings. Invest extensively in customer-friendly project managers as well. Always remember that it is always about the people.

9. Pay Close Attention to the Details

This is a really personal technique that will undoubtedly create an impression on your client-business connection. When speaking with clients, keep your ears alert and take down essential facts.

Perhaps one of them informed you about their favorite lipstick color or that their daughter had recently given birth. A simple congratulatory card or sending a sample lipstick of their favorite color demonstrates that you are paying attention to them.

The significance of this cannot be overstated.

You could send them a million different things, and it all relies on your attention to detail. It doesn't have to be enormous, but it should be as personalized as possible.

Surprise and Delight Marketing Strategy Ideas

Before we get to how industry giants apply surprise and delight marketing to their business, see if we can work it for small businesses as well.

So, if you have a small business seeking to implement a surprise and delight marketing strategy, we got your back. See some examples below.

Write a Personal Note

Nothing makes a person feel more valuable if a business takes its time to personally do something special for them. You may be aware that your customer has recently had a new baby or that they have been experiencing the passing of a loved one.

Handwritten letters demonstrate that you are concerned about what is going on in their lives on a personal level and that they have your support in overcoming any obstacles.

The best part is that it takes nothing more than just a little bit of time for you to create such a special gift for your customers.

Celebrate Birthdays

If there is one day to celebrate, it is the birthdays. On this special day, remember your customers and don't miss the chance to engage with them. You can send a special discount code to a customer on his or her birthday or even a card and a small gift for higher-touch clients.

Acknowledging special days like birthdays and anniversaries goes a long way toward building brand loyalty. The easiest way to do such a thing is using popups. You can use a popup builder to personalize your popups to the next level.

Create a Social Media Giveaway

Hands up if you ever tagged a friend in the comment section of a giveaway post. Been there, done that? So you already know it works.

Creating a social media giveaway will allow you to provide an incredible reward to someone who is already a brand advocate or is on their way to becoming one. Plus, by requiring to tag additional friends in the comments, you will reach an audience beyond those who currently follow you.

Plus, you don't have to offer costly gifts or surprises for this. Decide on what you want to giveaway, considering the size and budget of your business.

Call for Just Checking-in

Nobody likes getting calls from a company that they don't know about and wasting their time. But your existing customers are different. They know who you are, and being called for just checking in creates a bond between your business and them.

an image with a sentence about calling customers just to check-in with two human figures and a phone illustration in a bubble

While you are at it, why not ask some additional questions that start with terms like "What's your perspective on...", "How do you believe...", "To what degree...", "What led up to...", and so on.

Hit two birds with one stone. Surprise and delight your customers by simply asking how they are doing and getting some information about their thoughts on your business.

Don't Underestimate Your Team

Who knows your company better than your team? They are some of your most powerful supporters.

You can take the workplaces of Google or Apple as an example that have strong and distinct business cultures that go above and beyond when it comes to taking care of their employees.

Employers who use the same surprise and pleasure strategies on their staff will undoubtedly generate an army of brand advocates who know your company through and out.

Offering a Friday work lunch or regular and meaningful acknowledgment can encourage good work and effective outreach.

Now that we have an idea of what to do let's see what big brands do in accordance with surprise and delight marketing.

Examples of Surprise and Delight Marketing in Action


Everything started with this sweet little message from dear little Luka, a 7-year-old child who accidentally lost his Ninjago character.

the screenshot of the email that Lego received from a boy named Luka

Lego melted our hearts when they replied with advice from brand mascot Sensei Wu and sent a unique gift to the little kid that we bet he loved.

the email reply from Richard at Lego Consumer Services to Luka's email


Remembering anniversaries might be hard for some, but if you do, it is priceless. This is what theSkimm exactly did.

an email by theSkimm celebrating their customer's second anniversary with balloons and a woman illustrations

They spread the delight by not only remembering the anniversary but also offering customers to become a brand ambassador which makes the customer feel special.


MasterCard collaborated with All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry and his personal Toronto barber to provide Raptors fans with an unforgettable experience.

When fans arrived at the barbershop, they expected a haircut and a complimentary Raptors T-shirt in exchange for paying with their BMO MasterCard. Instead, they received a Priceless Surprise.

See the surprise and delight marketing in action below.


Is it only me, or do you also find it difficult to say hi to your neighbors sometimes?

Nescafe understood the assignment and created a sweet moment and a clever surprise and delight marketing strategy for these lucky neighbors. After all, who doesn't like a chit-chat over a hot cup of coffee?


Sometimes your best customers inspire you to go ahead and take a remarkable surprise and delight marketing action.

This is precisely what happened when Carter Wilkerson tweeted asking for free chicken nuggets for a year.

a tweet by Carter Wilkerson asking Wendy's for free nuggets including Wendy's answer and like, reply, retweet buttons

Wendy's played along, and this tweet became a Twitter sensation.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell saved the day when the people of Bethel, Alaska, got pranked that the town would be getting its own Taco Bell restaurant franchise.

When Taco Bell headquarters got the news, they immediately took action. They surprised people by airlifting a truck to the town filled with 10,000 tacos. They definitely took surprise and delight marketing strategy to the next level.

See the CNN news below.


As part of the promotion for Alice Through the Looking Glass, actor Johnny Depp helped Disney with a pleasing surprise.

He was visually placed on a billboard, and bypassers were amazed when they found out the board was not actually static, and they could have a conversation with one of Hollywood's top actors.

Wouldn't you be surprised and delighted if you encountered such a moment?

Lord and Taylor

Lord and Taylor announced a week-long Twitter campaign to boost awareness and catch up to their competition. They issued a simple request to their customers: share a photo of an item from their store with the hashtag #obsessed and watch what happens.

a tweet by lord and taylor asking followers to share product images with the image of #obsessed above

Weeks later, a rush of retweets poured in from customers who were startled and surprised to receive the item they were #obsessed with.

This absolutely free gesture resulted in a flood of positive consumer-created material, re-engaging them in the game which shows that the surprise and delight marketing strategy was on point.

Before You Leave…

Surprise and delight marketing can be a highly effective method of making a brand feel more one-of-a-kind to its customers, and it all comes down to the element of surprise.

You can apply easy and effective methods like popups offering particular advantages or unexpected communications.

Either way, this marketing strategy has the potential to go a long way toward reinforcing brand loyalty and strengthening the perception of certain companies in the eyes of both customers and consumers alike.

The bottom line is that surprising and delighting your customers is a great way to generate good word-of-mouth, get people talking about you, and drive sales growth.

The tricky part will be identifying which surprises and delights work for your business and then developing the right implementation strategy. But luckily, we have covered many examples that can guide you along the way.

How do you use surprise and delight marketing? Does it work for you?

Meet me in the comments below!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Makes Surprise and Delight Marketing So Different?

Surprise and delight campaigns, unlike some other marketing methods, are mainly intended for existing consumers.

The goal is to build a group of clients who are so enthusiastic about your company that they become brand ambassadors.

What is the Difference between Customer Satisfaction and Customer Delight?

While satisfaction matches client expectations, delight entails exceeding them and elevating the entire experience to an emotional level.

A thrilled customer is less likely to switch to a competitor than a happy customer.

What does Delight Mean in Marketing?

The practice of surpassing a customer's expectations in order to generate a favorable experience with your product or brand is known as customer delight.

Delight is about giving consumers a memorable experience by concentrating on their requirements, interests, and desires.

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