Have you ever tried referring acompany to a friend? Sure enough, you’ve recommended one brand that once unconsciously turned you from a customer into an advocate. That rewarding and over-the-top customer experience or product that led you to refer a brand to someone is one of the benefits of relationship marketing.
Compared to making a sale, the role of relationship marketing is to forge a brand-customer relationship that goes beyond a single transaction. It focuses on a more personalized approach that makes customers feel valued which in turn make them stay for the long haul and do business with you without increasing your marketing budget.
First, let's define relationship marketing, its benefits, and the brands that successfully used it to retain the majority of their customer base, leading to repeatable sales.
Relationship marketing is a cutomer retention strategy of brands that aims to build long-term relationships to customers. The marketing campaigns take the extra mile of ensuring a smooth and unforgettable customer service, leaving customers feeling valued, included, and appreciated. Relationship marketing also involves:
More than TikTok or Facebook content, a business that adapts a relationship marketing strategy needs to understand its customers and strive to gain their satisfaction by using tailor-fit marketing campaigns for them.
Modern relationship marketing has a more humanized approach when dealing with customers. The four elements involved in investing in a relationship between your brand and your customers are as follows
All relationships, interpersonal or business, won’t thrive without proper communication. In relationship marketing, communication is heavily involved since you’ll be reaching out more to your customers beyond product or service complaints. You need to:
Your interaction with your customers is crucial since it is your offline opportunity to make them feel valued. Your customer-facing staff must have an aligned SOP when interacting with customers such as calling them by name or recalling their favorite products by curating their purchase histories.
A crucial part of the interaction element is being able to train your staff and have experienced employees that will nurture and satisfy brand-customer relationships. There should be value in every conversation with customers that will make them feel a sense of community when purchasing anything from your brand.
The core element of relationship marketing is the value that you give your customers that will make them happy and satisfied with being a part of your brand. Giving value can start with answering their questions correctly and promptly and giving them an unforgettable customer experience. The goal is to achieve a win-win relationship where both the brand and the customer get value from every transaction.
The connection is built between a customer and a brand through a more complex and targeted personalized approach. Each customer will be treated as an individual with needs and wants. To create a personalized customer journey, you must establish or define similar values with your customers to work on the same vision.
Traditional marketing strategies revolve around making sales. However, as the modern-day market becomes more competitive, building a meaningful relationship with your customers can gain you more repeatable sales than acquiring new customers. It is backed by the belief that it costs more to acquire new clients than to retain those customers who already know your brand and products.
In hindsight, you may think that nurturing a relationship with your customers will be costly. In reality, it doesn’t and only shifts your priorities to focus on your current customers. The relationship not only gives repeatable sales through increased customer lifetime value but also taps into the gold mine of understanding customer insight.
Simply put, if you know how your customer feels about your products, their fears, and aspirations, you’ll be able to produce more products or services catered to those specific needs. You’re doing business with them but sprinkle human touch into the process.
The beauty of relationship marketing lies in the domino effect of one benefit to the other. It happens because one positive remark from a customer can give birth to tons of opportunities. Check out the details about each benefit and how it gives birth to another benefit.
In relationship marketing, you need to know your customers beyond their purchasing power. You identify them as an individual with stories and values that relates to your brand. You understand what parts of your product or services help them the most and what can you improve as a brand.
Getting to know your customers allows you to peak into their personality, role in society, common problems, motivations, and aspirations. It is similar to building a personal relationship where you can tailor-fit your products or services to better meet their needs and aspirations.
In simple terms, relationship marketing taps into the emotions of your customers, translating your services into a more humanizing approach. In a 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review, researchers studies hundreds of brands and found a common ground called emotional motivators. Examples of high-impact emotional motivators are as follows:
Relationship marketing also allows your customer to voice out their concerns through solicited feedback. Their concerns can be extracted from a CRM, surveys, interviews, or focus group events. On the technical part, you may also know them through their purchase history, demography, and routine through web analytics.
The getting-to-know stage in relationship marketing is the most tedious part of the strategy but comes with a huge payoff. When customers feel appreciated and valued, they will have a good customer experience which breeds a new list of benefits for relationship marketing. You get to establish trust and track their insights and behavior that will keep them coming back for more
Customers feel valued when everything you offer as a brand caters to their personality, needs, and your services gives value for their money (whatever it means to them). It satisfies their expectations which makes them stay and increase their customer lifetime value. Happy customers will keep buying from you even in the face of cheaper and better competition because of their guaranteed good experience.
Getting to know your customer and serving with over-the-top customer service puts you in a position to earn their trust. Consistent follow-up and appreciation for being part of your brand can turn even the most skeptical people to be your loyal customers. When picky and critical buyers become your loyal customers, their influence can attract new customers to try your brand. You simply piggyback on their credibility and gain more customers through them.
Customers will more likely buy from brands they trust because they’ve proven that your product or service solves their problems and they know what to expect when buying your brand. Therefore, it’s cheaper to offer your products or services to those who’ve tried them than to those who have no idea what to expect from your brand. It may even take one message or offer to an existing customer for him to purchase from you than one to three outreach to prospects.
Relationship marketing focuses on the old customers who keep on buying from you because they are a goldmine of opportunities to save on costs and still get at par sales. They contribute to your customer acquisition and you can grow your business with them with less investment.
When customers are happy and satisfied with your services and products, they naturally recommend your brand to their loved ones. Word-of-mouth recommendations are crucial to any business, especially in today’s day and age where every business entity is observed through a bandwagon of reviews and testimonials.
As a brand, you may leverage the potential of your loyal customers as an advocate for your brand through referral programs. You may offer them discounts or incentives for successful referrals. To subtly encourage them to refer you, include your referral program information in all your social channels and website.
Another domino effect of positive customer experience is their increased chances of sharing their positive experience in the review section as a form of gratitude. Though not all happy customers will do positive marketing for you, you need to provide over-the-top customer service that will push them to be proactive in boosting your brand reputation naturally.
When customers have a positive relationship with your company, they're more likely to view it in a positive light. This can lead to increased brand awareness and loyalty over time. With a positive reputation, any issues and negative reviews won’t easily affect how your loyal customers view you. They would easily forgive you for minor lapses in service or scandals and your reputation can bounce back faster.
Relationship marketing will require more outreach from the end of the brands to build a relationship. With consistent follow-ups and positive customer experience, customers will become more engaged with your brand. They’ll be excited about new product launches, sales events, and sharing the technicalities of your services with a wider audience.
Relationship marketing involves identifying the same values with your loyal customers. Having the same vision and values makes it easier for you to initiate advocacies that will make customers love your brand beyond the products and services you offer.
Nike successfully identified the value of their customers through emotions of perseverance, hard work, and competence. It says it all in its tagline “Just do it.” which has been quoted in several motivational books about success and being the best in any field. Nike fans not only buy because of the quality of the shoes but the what the brand represents. The impact of their advocacy is even enhanced by collaborating with basketball superstars which further increased their sales.
In today's increasingly competitive marketplace, it is becoming more and more difficult for companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors. By understanding the needs and preferences of your ideal customers=, your brand can create a loyal customer base that will continue to support the company, even in the face of competition.
There are simple to complex ways to adapt a relationship marketing strategy in a business. It only varies on the industry and the type of products or services offered by a business. To give you an idea, here are some of the classic or usual examples of relationship-building strategies of brands in almost any industry.
Some of the brands that gained massive success and billions of sales managed to have an accelerated growth through carefully strategized relationship marketing tactics and the right collaboration with public personalities.
Starbucks rose to popularity because it carefully adjusted its brand based on the needs and wants of its loyal customers. From greeting you by your name to customizable orders, they can be flexible to meet you where you need them.
They leveraged personalized emails and social posts and listen to their customers through feedback. They also adjust their local stores based on the location of the shop in respect to the local community. There are Starbucks shops where the interiors match the culture showing off local artisanal designs that give customers an experience beyond a cup of coffee.
As the aviation industry was crippled in the face of COVID-19 lockdowns from 2020 to 2021, Delta Airlines remained at the top of its competition by leveraging the values of empathy and humanity. Its CEO Ed Bastian sent an email to its loyal customers addressing the issues of long wait lines, delayed flights, and being short-staffed.
In the company's newsletter, Bastian mentioned the challenges they are facing as flights resume and the mitigation plans they have set in place to make their services more convenient for their customers. One of the commendable moves they did was to extend the frequent flyer status of customers where they enjoy certain benefits from it. They also mentioned other steps such as hiring more staff and improving their system to accommodate increasing demand for their services.
With a simple message filled with empathy, Delta Airlines was able to achieve a boost of 22% Net Promoter Score, which further increased in the years later.
Haus Labs is a brand that supports a lot of advocacies from using earth-friendly cosmetics to color inclusivity. They have shades of foundations ideal for dark skin which is not offered by their competitors. Therefore, their customer base remains strong due to the value they put on the universal definition of beauty.
Fenty is another celebrity-owned beauty line that offers cosmetics, clothes, and bags. One of their relationship marketing strategies is to put a value on body inclusivity. They offer clothes for men and women of all sizes ranging from extra small to 4XL. They also offer cosmetics for light and dark-skinned individuals.
To cater to their loyal customers, they have VIP-only sales and membership programs. These programs aim to provide high-value products and services to their loyal customers.
Relationship marketing evolves as technology continues to advance and customers use varying types of technology. Today most people have smartphones that increases the demand foreasier ways to access a product or service. With the rise of AI, you can expect a more tight competition among businesses in digital platforms. Here are some of the trends that most brands use to jumpstart their relationship marketing efforts:
While there are a lot of benefits attached to relationship marketing, it also comes with a few risks. Since you’ll be learning more about your customers, your outreach programs can take a while or be time-consuming to bear fruit. There will be a lot of research involved and your staff must be trained on how to handle loyal customers versus the new ones.
Consumers also change their preferences faster than before due to their exposure to a variety of digital media. Therefore, the market research will be a recurring part of your marketing efforts. Lastly, the expectations of some customers may be too high for what you can offer, especially when your competitors can give it to them. Nurturing your relationships with customers is a real struggle but with enough time and proper tactics, you’ll soon gain a loyal customer base that matches with your values as a brand.
Your relationship strategy depends on your industry and your buyer persona or ideal customer. The goal is to attract the ideal customers that you want to buy from your brand and repel those that can be too demanding and abuse your brand-customer relationship. In general, here are some of the steps that are similar across any industry that you may try:
Most of the time, the values of the CEO or the owner of the business extends to the values of their business. By knowing what you stand for as a brand and the values you hold dear, it will be easier for you to connect to like-minded customers. Also, customers are attracted to purpose-driven brands as they feel they belong to something that gives them, purpose or worth.
Relationship marketing is empathetic marketing that allows you to produce content and stories that are relatable to your consumers. It gives you an opportunity to show them where your products and services fits in their day-to-day life. You get where they are coming from by using a series of the following domains:
Catering to the demands of customers can be exhausting with systems. You must utilize technology to organize where you can get customer insight/ These include any of the following options:
Continuously seek for your customer's opinions regardles ifit is positive or negative. Their insights can give you an idea on what product to launch and how to improve your services. Check out about the following:
Focusing on your loyal customers means your new customers may not get the same attention and experience. However, you can craft campaigns that may target both audiences. Make sure to make content that speaks the language of your audience and gives them a walkthrough on your buyer’s journey. Lastly, be a remarkable business by making it fun and enjoyable to work with you.
Building a relationship is one thing but maintaining a warm and fun relationship with your long-term customers is another level of challenge. You have to keep them engaged and happy with your services so that the competition won’t easily snatch them from you.
You must always keep in touch with your customers and solely conduct events and promos exclusively to keep them engaged in your brand. Keep your warm relationshiop with your customers through the following tips:
The success of relationship marketing efforts lies on the details and genuine intent to help. Your campaigns must be rooted on shared values with your cyustomers to naturally make them feel you have onel vision. At VexPower, we aim toequip you with knowledge and making the most of your tools to find your best customers and turn then into lifetime customers.
With years of ecxperience in helping businesses through agency dihgital marketing agency ownership, Mike Taylor and James Phoenix would like to share their expertise with marketers and startups. Check out our courses on digital marketing by becoming a member today.