Relationship marketing is about forming long–term relationships and focusing on customer loyalty. It stands in contrast to the more traditional transactional marketing approach, which focuses on increasing the number of individual sales. In the transactional model, a customer may be convinced to select your brand one time, but without a strong relationship marketing strategy, the customer may not come back in the future.
It’s like with people. We want to spend time with those who we have a great relationship with and who care about us, rather than with people we don’t know anything about and whose communication style is official. If it’s so obvious, it’s hard to understand why some brands seem to don’t get it.
Why it’s worth to focus on a relationship marketing?
Brands can focus whether on relationship marketing or transactional marketing. I believe relationship marketing is always better because once you create a bond with your customers they become loyal. Where there’s a relationship, there are emotions and we often buy items based on our feelings, not the price itself.
The opposite, transactional marketing, may work once or twice per customer. At the end we always come back to brands (and people) who make us feel good, who we share values or who we simply have a good connection with.
Think about brands providing great customer experience, like Starbucks or Disney. They create an emotional connection with customers because of their casual communication, great atmosphere and unforgettable experience. They make you feel like a friend or even more – part of the family.
I bet most of us associate Starbucks with a friendly, warm and cosy place you want to come back to. Preferably every morning. Why? Is it only because of the coffee? Or do you like the whole experience you get there?
I remember when I moved to a bigger city and started going to Starbucks. Almost every time I experienced something nice. Whether I get tips on brewing coffee or I got a customized coffee that’s not on the menu. After a while clerks started to recognize me, and knew how I wanted my coffee. That’s something nice and unique in a big city. They created a connection with me and I always want to go back there. It’s about the atmosphere, funny small talks and positive communication, not only the product itself. We have a lot of Starbucks in a small area but when I have to choose I always go to the one where they know how I want my coffee.
This is one of many relationship marketing examples. Check out the post about The Magic of Customer Experience: Lessons from Disney on How to Improve the Customer Journey.
There’re a lot of aspects which you can improve in your already existing customer relationship marketing. Read on.
How to improve your customer relationship marketing
Creating relationship marketing is not very hard, but there are some necessary steps you need to take.
That’s number one on our list and it’s a must. Many customers leave a company because of poor customer service. To change that you need to implement a more customer–centric culture at your company. Here’s how you can do it in short:
2. Social media marketing
Social media are one of the best ways to stay in touch with your readers. You not only can share a daily dose of knowledge regarding your industry or tips for the best ways to use your product, but you can also answer their questions and feedback there. You just need to make sure you have a person responsible for managing all your social media accounts. If you don’t, remember not to create too many channels just because everyone else does.
Think about which channels are the best for your business. If you run a travel agency, Instagram and Facebook are the ones to go with. You can share photos from all the places around the world you organize trips to. But, if you have a hosting company, you don’t need no Instagram. Because it’s not about how you look, it’s about how much you can do.
3. Content and customer education
Content is the best way to educate customers about your company’s products, the solutions you implement or anything that helps your customers run their business smoothly. Let’s say you have a real estate agency, here’s what you can do:
I just mentioned 3 types of content, but there’s a lot more, like: infographics, reports, product reviews, ebook, podcasts etc. If you only have time and resources, I guess all of them are worth a try. Just measure the results and watch customers’ feedback to know which one they like the most.
4. Loyalty programs
To strengthen the connection with your customers, you can offer some extra services that add additional value to your product. A loyalty program is a great idea. This can be a special discount for the products customers purchase, or a simple point system, which is the most common loyalty program methodology.
Customers earn points, which translate into some type of reward. It might be a discount, a freebie or some benefit. Get your customers hooked as early as possible. You should include the first transaction a customer makes and enroll them in the loyalty program when they set up an account or buy their first product. This way you will make it their personal matter to accumulate more points right from the start.
5. Gathering feedback
Part of showing that you care about a relationship with customers is to listen to their critical opinion. You should not only gather feedback but also admit rights to customers when you did something wrong. Let’s say a feature you published is not working so great and customers are pointing it out in their feedback surveys. Don’t be stubborn by saying “it supposed to look like this,” “there’s nothing we can do at this point.” Admit that not everything is as you expected by saying: “the feature doesn’t work as smoothly as we expected, we faced some issues with it, but we’ll try to improve it as soon as we can. Once we do it, we’ll let you know.”
Solutions to customers’ issues are important, but sometimes it’s not just the outcome that matters but how you handle the whole situation. Customers are understanding if they only see your engagement and putting your heart in what you do.
Customer relationship marketing
As you see there are many possibilities to keep in touch with your customers and to strengthen the bond with them. At first you might think that it’s not as important as gaining new customers. But think about it – it’s easier to nurture a customer who already uses your service than gaining new ones and convincing them to trust you.
I already wrote the post about customer engagement strategies and let me tell you this: at this point, business relationships are no different from private ones. If you want to keep strong relationship with your customers, you need to talk to them, listen to them, sometimes hear them whining and prepare gifts for special occasions.
Relationships have two sides and either you give up on them and always look for new ones or you’ll embrace the ones you have and live happily ever after with your customers.
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