It is important and necessary for businesses to consistently acquire new customers to thrive. It is even more important to remember that cultivating loyalty among existing customers is key to the success of any brand. Research has shown that a business spends 5-25 times more; to win over a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. That means that improving customer retention rates can go a long way in helping a brand’s bottom line.
That’s why it is important for brand custodians, managers as well as business leaders to develop interests in, and study relationship marketing. Relationship marketing is an aspect of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that puts special emphasis on establishing close relationships with customers. Relationship marketing is all about creating and maintaining engagements with customers, over time, through different channels or strategies that increase their chances of returning to your business in the future. Loyal customers are especially important as they are great sources for referrals and feedback, and are also likely to make repeat purchases.
Fostering these relationships takes a different approach compared to that used for getting new leads, but if implemented correctly; relationship marketing strategies can unlock a number of benefits for brands.
Who cares about relationship marketing?
The modern-day consumer has choices like never before. A five-minute visit to any social media site may yield well over half a dozen adverts for a variety of products and services. Consumers are practically swamped with choices, making it difficult for brands to capture and hold their attention.
Brands that put emphasis on customer value – the satisfaction the customer expects to experience when taking a given action in relation to the cost of that action – have a far greater chance of standing out in the market and developing long-lasting mutually beneficial relationships with their customers.
Depending on your business model, focusing on repeat customers, as opposed to pulling in a continuous stream of new customers, is often very beneficial (and anyway, a satisfied customer will likely bring another). While not every business utilizes relationship marketing in their day-to-day marketing endeavours, the vast majority of businesses can benefit from this marketing strategy.
Below are some ideas to keep in mind as you craft a successful relationship marketing strategy.
1. It’s all about customer service
As the name implies, relationship marketing is all about relating to your customers in a positive manner. That means offering consistent, personal support. Customer service should be a focus in all aspects of your business model, as it shows that you care about the customers’ needs. Simply making sure the people operating your support/help desks or touch points are friendly, courteous, and helpful isn’t enough. A proactive, personal approach to customer service goes a long way in terms of customer retention, and customers will appreciate the personal touch.
In every facet of your operations, you should consider potential customer service issues that might arise, and how you plan on handling them, if they do. Once you’ve compiled a list, create a protocol to address these main concerns, whether through direct mail, telephone call, visit or another outlet. Taking this proactive approach to customer service will solve some problems from the get-go and present your brand as more user-friendly.
2. Drive engagements with content marketing
While traditional forms of advertising can still be worthwhile, reminding people that your product exists and maybe even striking an emotional chord, content marketing provides a different kind of value to both you and the customer. Compared to paid searches, for example, content marketing generates three times as many leads. When focusing on relationship marketing, much of your content should help your audience get more from your services. If you supply your customers with truly valuable content on a regular basis, they’ll develop a natural interest in and loyalty to your brand. This is especially true if your content teaches people how to get more out of your products and services.
3. Social media is the new arena
A strong social media presence is key in any marketing approach. As many as 85% of ‘online adults’ follow a brand on social media. It’s also important, however, to ensure that your social media campaign is in line with your company’s goals and your brand. Keep your audience’s desires in mind when creating a social media marketing campaign as part of your relationship marketing strategy, but also think about the type of company your target audience wants to do business with, and make sure your social media identity conveys the right personality.
4. Reward loyalty, again and again
Determining the best way to promote customer retention and commitment can be a tricky process, but an effective loyalty programme can work wonders. Although it isn’t always easy to craft an effective loyalty program, you’ll benefit from substantial customer engagement if you do.
5. The most important thing is ensuring that your loyalty rewards programme is genuinely attractive to your customers and provides real value. You can use a loyalty programme in your relationship marketing strategy to incentivize a variety of behaviours, so it’s important to first think about what your company needs. Depending on your goals for the programme, you can reward customers for any number of things. In this area, I score airline brands above many other brands. Most airlines do loyalty rewards excellently. Make sure your loyalty program actually corresponds with your overall business identity.
6. Know your customers
If you want to get to know your customers better, you don’t have to play guessing games. Surveys are an effective relationship marketing method of learning what your audience wants from you and what you could be doing better in a direct, accurate way. Choose your questions carefully and have specific goals in mind. Each question should move towards that objective. Decide what exactly you want to learn before sending these out through your email marketing. You can use data from these surveys to improve your customer retention, service, and business practices. Even better, customers will appreciate that you took their feedback into account.
Last line: You can forge the strongest of bonds with your customers simply by being a more human brand, and being a more compassionate marketer.