Your customers are everything to your business. It’s no wonder then that you focus on acquiring new customers every chance you get.
Yet, while this customer acquisition is crucial, spending more time on creating customer loyalty and retention can be the true nexus of success.
How can you accomplish this, and where do you start? The answer is actually quite simple — build long-term relationships.
You can achieve this by focusing a good portion of your digital marketing strategy on the customers you already have.
In other words, you need to focus on what’s referred to as relationship marketing.
Keep reading to learn more about it!
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What is Relationship Marketing?
Relationship marketing is a distinct strategy for creating more meaningful customer relationships with the goal of ensuring satisfaction with your business and what you offer, and creating brand loyalty, retention, and a boost in customer lifetime value.
It involves the process of developing a true relationship with your customers in such a way that they want to stay with you.
Relationship marketing is thinking long-term about the success of your business and eliminating the sole focus on individual sales and new customer acquisitions.
You can accomplish this in a variety of ways, all of which provide existing customers with essential information suited to their individual interests, concerns, pain points, and needs.
A few examples include:
- Providing access to exceptional customer service.
- Interacting with customers on social media.
- Asking for feedback and making customers feel that their opinions matter.
- Creating a loyalty program or other rewarding incentives.
- Sponsoring events.
Nurture your customer relationships in these ways, and you’ll build trust, authority, and loyalty along the way.
Benefits of Relationship Marketing
If you’re still not sure of the benefits of relationship marketing, take a look at the list below.
Marketing efforts to reach new customers and win them over can be costly. Maintaining existing customers through relationship marketing, however, can be highly cost-effective.
Increase Customer Retention
By connecting with your customers, they feel included and part of a special group that benefits from your business and what you have to offer. In turn, these customers are happy to continue interacting with you and purchase your products or services more often.
Improve Your Marketing ROI
Marketing ROI can be a prime indicator of your success. With higher customer retention numbers, the costs of customer acquisition decrease, providing you with a higher budget for building and implementing your relationship marketing strategy.
Existing customers often return to make more purchases since they already value the products or services you offer. Add to that a higher level of interaction and the building of a relationship, and you can continue to see your sales increase.
Lead to Referrals and Higher Brand Awareness
Happy customers love to share their finds with others, either by word of mouth or online, such as through social media. Consumers often look to referrals and good reviews to take that next step and make a purchase.
Referrals also increase brand awareness. Those who may not know about you or the value of what you offer are now aware and will give you a closer look.
Boost You Above the Competition
Finding ways to get ahead of your competition and stay there can be challenging today.
Relationship marketing can help, creating loyal customers who stay with you and also persuade others to buy from you as well.
Not all of your competitors focus on marketing to existing customers in this way, which means you have a competitive advantage.
How to Create a Relationship Marketing Strategy
While there are several good ways to go about relationship marketing, much will depend on your particular buyer personas.
The following five steps, however, will be beneficial in any situation.
1. Focus on Establishing an Emotional Connection
With relationship marketing, you want to create an emotional bond with your customers.
Look to empathetic marketing techniques to develop that emotional connection. Let them know your business understands where they are coming from and where they want or need to go.
Focus on building authority and trust, then connect through your specific brand voice and personality. Most importantly, always provide exceptional customer service equally to all.
You can also achieve an emotional connection by creating and providing relevant content that speaks directly to your customers.
Use different types of content to reach them, including polls, quizzes, or other interactive content.
Send them notices to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries of their first purchase, and anything else relevant to your business.
2. Establish A Purpose for Your Business
Ensure your business has a purpose or meaningful reason behind everything you do.
Show customers that you’re not just all about how many sales or how much profit you can make. In other words, determine what it is you stand for.
Perhaps your concern lies with environmental issues, such as ridding the ocean of plastic that is dangerous to sea life. Maybe you focus on the value of volunteering or alleviating homelessness.
Being purpose-driven is attractive to consumers and to those who need what you offer.
When given a choice, they will be more likely to go with a business that prioritizes something they care about over another.
While only you know what the purpose will be for your particular business or brand, planning and execution are key and will lead to building more beneficial relationships with customers.
3. Utilize Beneficial Technology
Relationships and technology may not sound like the perfect partnership, but when combined correctly, they can provide results that lead to higher customer retention and sales.
Your customers are all unique yet may share certain pain points, concerns, needs, or interests. You need to know how to reach each one of these, connecting with your customers on a personal basis.
One way to help with this is to incorporate beneficial technology. Use CRM tools to manage your customer relationships by storing information and tracking interactions and communications.
An automated marketing system to ensure customers receive the right communications at the right time is another important tool.
While you still need to regularly interact with customers, such as on social media and through customer service, technology can help ensure you provide the right communications to foster that customer relationship long-term.
4. Regularly Ask Customers for Feedback
Let your existing customers see that you value their thoughts and opinions by regularly asking for and collecting feedback.
This request for feedback may involve something as simple as how a product is performing and if it meets their needs. Another example is to ask your customers what it is they want to learn more about.
As a result, existing customers will feel like they are a valued part of your brand, and you will receive valuable information that can further your marketing efforts.
For example, hearing concerns or questions can help you better your content marketing strategy, providing information on more relevant topics that speak to your existing audience and attract new customers.
You can also use what you learn to adjust pricing, increase offerings (such as packages or rewards programs), or improve customer service.
5. Center Your Strategy on Building Long-Term Customer Relationships
While a good portion of your marketing budget will continue to focus on customer acquisition, fostering relationships as much or more than actual sales will be beneficial in the long term.
To accomplish this, start by developing high-quality, relevant content that speaks to your customers.
Include content to take them through the buyer’s journey and long past that first purchase.
Focus on providing exceptional customer service and make it so easy and enjoyable to do business with you that they wouldn’t think of going elsewhere.
By spending time connecting with customers and letting them develop loyalty to your brand, you both benefit.
Relationship Marketing Examples
With relationship marketing, the focus is on existing customers and how you can provide the most value to them.
Several companies already incorporate this strategy today, and it’s proving highly successful. Here are five examples.
Starbucks is often seen as an innovator when it comes to reaching and keeping customers.
The brand regularly encourages its customers to give feedback on a variety of topics, including new ideas for products, services, or events. It then uses this feedback to strengthen and expand the relationship.
Starbucks also maintains social media interaction with customers and sends customer-specific emails announcing new product launches or special offers.
They also frequently share user-generated content (UGC) on their site and social media channels.
Patagonia is more than an outdoor clothing and accessory provider to its customers.
It is also associated with the higher purpose of being environmentally conscious, uniquely focusing on recycled and organic materials.
By encouraging customers to consider used clothing items instead of always purchasing new, more expensive options, the brand becomes trustworthy, showing they are not focusing solely on how much money they can make.
Another way Patagonia shows it is purpose-driven is by promoting its mobile repair shop for mending such things as rips or broken zippers.
3. Capital One
Relationship marketing for Capital One begins with understanding its customers’ frustrations, needs, concerns, and interests. It clearly shows this with its unique TSA campaign.
Travelers often become impatient and frustrated having to wait in long lines to get through TSA at airports.
Seeing this as a way to foster relationships, the brand offers a perk to reimburse its customers when they choose to pay a TSA PreCheck fee with their Capital One card.
This one act adds value to the brand and alleviates a common customer pain point at the same time.
Celebrity singer Rihanna’s fashion and beauty line, Fenty, focuses its relationship building on inclusivity.
Beauty products are developed to meet the needs of all customers, including those with pale or dark complexions. Her lingerie line, Savage X, includes bodies of all sizes (XS – 4XL), helping to promote more body positivity among customers.
Fenty also offers a membership program, with members receiving first word and opportunities during new product launches and VIP-only sales. They also receive exclusive content.
As a result, Fenty has become an inclusive brand with relationship-building across the globe, making it stand out among the competition.
Marriott Hotels found a new and unique way to reach customers and build loyalty.
The brand created a film entitled “Two Bellmen Three” as a way to attract younger demographics and to build brand awareness on the social platforms they spend time on.
Marriot’s relationship marketing strategy also includes relevant content that provides information on various travel destinations and other relevant topics without appearing pushy or salesy.
You may also be interested in these articles:
- Transparent Digital Marketing: how to master the cookieless era to create valuable relationships
- Human to human marketing: how to create a long-lasting relationship with your client
- 12 Marketing Challenges and How To Overcome Them
While the ultimate goal of marketing strategies is to increase the number of customers and improve sales, there are other ways to go about achieving success.
Relationship marketing is one of those ways, allowing you to focus on building and maintaining customer connections and ensuring they stay loyal to your brand.
For more ways to achieve customer retention and loyalty, find out how to incorporate interactive content into your different marketing strategies.