Relationship Marketing: How to Leverage Relationships for Your Business
Rapid digitalization and proliferation of the Internet in the past two decades have allowed us to connect with almost anyone in the world. Facebook helps us find relatives and friends and stay in touch with them, whereas Instagram enables us to communicate directly with celebrities and share stunning pictures and visuals. Twitter allows us to stay abreast of the latest news and trending topics, and LinkedIn helps us connect with the people in our industry or niche for business purposes.
Still, you can’t turn these connections into relationships. A relationship requires awareness, commitment, and a certain level of trust, even if it exists purely in the social media realm. So, a relationship isn’t just a click away, contrary to what most digital enthusiasts claim. It needs nurturing and time to grow.
However, if you look at the trends, businesses hardly have the patience or inclination to develop customer relationships. They want quick results. It happens mainly because digitalization has brought everything to our fingertips, and everybody seeks instant gratification.
However, the truth is far from it. Regardless of the environment and technology you live in, people’s reactions are based on their emotions, feelings, and motivations.
It can be big marketing to treat online profiles simply as digital existences. There are real people behind these digital profiles who would like to be treated as humans. So, if you expect people to respond to your marketing, focus on building relationships rather than completing transactions. Remember also, that you build relationships with people and not digital profiles.
What is Relationship Marketing?
Unlike transactional marketing, relationship marketing aims to build long-term relationships with your customers. When you implement it as a strategy, you start achieving your business goals swiftly. It includes almost everything from generating revenue and sales to attracting more clients, getting repeat purchases, and making loyal customers.
Relationship marketing aims at providing the best customer experience through top-notch service and building trust. In transactional marketing, brands focus on completing sales, making it a closed-minded and myopic approach.
Brands that resort to transactional marketing may soon lose their customers to their competition as they don’t invest in building lasting relationships. When closing sales becomes their primary focus, they move from one customer to another, increasing their churn. A high churn rate can become fatal for a company. It can become even more lethal if you run a subscription-based business.
You can run customer success programs to arrest churn. According to The Customer Success Association, “Customer Success is a long-term strategy that is scientifically engineered to offer proven value that is also sustainable. It’s professionally directed to maximize customer value and achieve business goals through it.”
So, to sum up, customer relationship marketing is a long-term marketing approach. You might think that most businesses must be practicing it because of the apparent benefits it offers, but the research proves otherwise.
Tracking Relationship Marketing Industry Trends
Every business owner knows that establishing long-term customer relationships is crucial, and 85% of companies affirmed this in a Super Office study. But are they really investing in relationship marketing? If studies are to be believed, the truth might shock you.
According to a 2013 Econsultancy study, 30% of businesses invest in relationship marketing. Whereas in 2021, only 24% of companies used relationship marketing as their long-term marketing strategy. So, there was a sharp drop in the number of companies practicing relationship marketing in these six years.
The study also revealed that relationship marketing is linked to a higher ROI as compared to transactional marketing.
So, why are companies not taking relationship marketing that seriously? It’s not a lack of awareness but a lack of strategy that prevents them from taking the plunge.
This article discusses how to formulate the strategy to implement relationship marketing into your marketing plan.
How to Formulate a Sound Relationship Marketing Strategy?
You won’t get much traction if you only use a few tactics such as offering discounts, personalized services, and introducing loyalty programs & rewards. It is simply because you can’t refer to these tactics as a strategy.
Start by bonding with your audience. Use social media for forging friendships and leveraging the power of feelings. It’s a given that no marketing campaign or offer can ever score over customers’ emotions.
Customer relationship marketing allows you to go into the heart and minds of your customers. Here are some of the ways you can do that!
Take some of the biggest, most successful product/service-based companies in the world. We’re talking about companies such as Tesla, Apple, Nike, Amazon, and Starbucks. You’d think they don’t need to invest in relationship marketing anymore, but you’d be wrong. All of them, in fact, is highly customer-centric brands.
The love & respect for these brands is so high that if someone talks negatively about any of these, their customers get offended and defend their beloved brands.
What else can you wish for as a brand?
Again, it is not limited to just B2C brands; emotional bonding also affects B2B brands.
In B2B transactions, too, someone who visits your website watches your videos or downloads a white paper isn’t a business but an individual.
These individuals have feelings, so you can easily tap into their emotions and build a bond with them. It’s their emotions that will make them spend their money on your brand and not facts, stats, or logic.
Here are a few tips to formulate your relationship marketing strategy.
1. Be Real; Show Your Vulnerable Side
Tell your real struggle, and don’t just brag about your achievements. According to Adam Enfroy, you need to show your vulnerable side, so that people can relate their struggles with yours. Authentic stories that showcase your weaker side help you establish an instant emotional connection with your audience.
2. Build Trust
Deliver on your promise throughout the customer journey and build trust through positive reviews and testimonials on your website. The important thing is to ensure that these reviews and testimonials are authentic and verifiable. You should also bring your communities together to inspire and build trust.
3. Use Storytelling
Since humans are emotional creatures, storytelling has emerged as a powerful technique to establish emotional bonds. Tell them stories about your business that may include the following:
- Inside stories
- How you treat your employees
- Your mission and vision
- How your business was founded
- How you overcame the fierce challenges and failures
You can also ask your audience to share their stories. Videos are the best content formats you can use to inspire trust and bring authenticity to your stories.
4. Personalize Your Communications
According to a University of Houston Victoria research paper, personalized interactions enhance the recipient’s experience. For example, you can try sending handwritten personal notes to your customers along with their orders. They will love it.
5. Keep Your Communications Consistent
Consistency leads to better customer experience, and excellent customer experience inspires confidence. So, keep your communications consistent across different locations and individuals. It would also help to keep it uniform across various advertisement campaigns and sales presentations.
6. Strive to Provide an Excellent Customer Experience
To give customers a fantastic experience, treat them exclusively. You can use CRM to craft custom messages and videos to make them feel valued. Address their queries and offer solutions to their problems. Ask them to provide their feedback and suggestions and inspire them to create user-generated content. It will help you boost your brand image. It’s a proven fact that excellent customer experience is the only factor that helps you make loyal customers.
7. Offer Real Value
Successful businesses have a purpose-driven strategy and offer real value to their customers. This is the reason it’s tough to replace them in the marketplace. They don’t position themselves as product suppliers or sellers. Instead, they focus on adding value to their customers’ lives. For example, many cosmetic companies don’t perform testing on animals and people love them for it.
Here are some of the companies that offer cruelty-free products.
It can be a cause, social responsibility, environment-friendly products, charity, or affordable products that people perceive as valuable.
Successful organizations try everything in their capacity to turn every customer into a long-term one. Long-term customers can ensure your success and growth and protect your brand against market fluctuations. With the help of an army of loyal customers, you can successfully decrease your marketing and advertising costs and scale your business.
Technology has impacted business activities in many ways, but the bottom line is still the same, and that is building, nurturing, and growing your customer relationships. Be mindful of how your customers feel regardless of the competitive advantage you may have over others.
With the relationship marketing strategies mentioned in this article, you can directly appeal to your customers’ emotions. Profitability keeps you in business, but if it becomes your ultimate objective, you may soon find yourself in deep trouble.
So, the best strategy for a business is to stand for a good cause and build a community of passionate supporters, who will likely turn into your brand advocates. Customer relationship is the most crucial element of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), so you should focus on relationship marketing to survive and grow in this highly-competitive, cut-throat environment.