- What is a relationship marketing strategy?
- 10 different relationship marketing strategies to try.
- Challenges and best practices for relationship marketing.
When it comes to building your marketing strategy, it can be argued that customer retention is more important than customer acquisition, even in B2B marketing organizations. Why? Acquiring new customers is expensive – and it can cost 5 to 10 times more than selling to a current customer. Consider this:
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is between 60% and 70%. The probability of selling to a new customer is only between 5% to 20%
- Existing customers are 50% more likely to try your business’s new product
- Current customers spend 67% more on average than those who are new to your business
While the data shows that nurturing existing customers is lucrative in the long term, only 18% of businesses focus on customer retention.
A key element of customer retention is relationship-based marketing, where relationship marketing strategies are developed that target existing customers to strengthen customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty. Companies that build customer relationships through a relationship marketing concept mix reap the benefits through upselling and generating repeat business.
What is a Relationship Marketing Strategy?
A relationship marketing strategy is a mix of tactics used by companies to build strong relationships with customers, and usually includes methods to improve customer experiences. There are five phases of relationship marketing that should be built into a relationship marketing strategy:
- Attract: This is when the brand and customer-first engage
- Connect: Now, it’s up to the brand to pique the customer’s interest
- Courting: You’ve got their interest, now woo them into a relationship. Start by asking for a name and email address
- Relationship: Your nurturing campaign worked, and now the customer is your new beau. Don’t let them go!
- Marriage: You treated the customer so well that they said yes to your proposal. Congrats, you have a lifetime customer!
What are some Examples of Relationship Marketing?
Remember, the purpose of using relationship development strategies in marketing is to create lifelong customers. This means focusing heavily on the customer experience. Here are a few relationship marketing strategy examples you can build into your plan:
- Simplify your website and checkout process (and other customer actions, like the onboarding experience)
- Create loyalty rewards programs
- Ask for – and really listen to – customer requests and feedback
- Send birthday and holiday greetings – and not just around the December holidays!
- Send corporate gifts to your customers at key relationship milestones
- Implement omnichannel marketing experiences
- Create personalized communications
How do Brands Use Relationship Marketing?
Relationship marketing isn’t a new concept, but it’s quickly becoming a priority for all businesses. Several well-known brands have adopted relationship marketing best practices.
Starbucks changed the way the world drinks coffee. The company taps into the power of social media to connect with their loyal customers, using their social channels and app to send special offers to their followers and build anticipation for product launches. When they bring back seasonal favorites, they have long lines of returning, loyal customers patiently waiting. They also share quick videos and images of customers drinking their product on Instagram. Sharing user-generated content shows that you appreciate your fans, and those fans will come back for more.
Amazon is the master at making things easy for their customers, which drives loyalty and repeat business. They drive sales through customer wish lists, make the purchase and shipping process easy, and offer lightening fast, free delivery for customers who pay for prime membership. They also make returns easy – and free – with their drop-off locations or return shipping labels. People like simple. Amazon makes things simple.
The popular Swedish furniture store uses customer feedback as a means to drive the direction of its branding. An example of this is when they chose to change the font in its catalog. Customers hated it, and they let IKEA know about it all across the internet. The brand took notice and made sure the next catalog contained the traditional font everyone was used to. They also offer perks in their stores that bring customers back, like babysitting services and their popular Swedish meatballs.
How Do You Implement an Effective Relationship Marketing Strategy?
Building and implementing a relationship marketing strategy starts with understanding the various tactics and then choosing the right mix best for your customer base. Here are 10 ways B2B marketers can build in relationship marketing within their strategy.
Strategy #1: Listen to Customer Feedback (and Make Changes)
The example of IKEA changing their catalog font is just one of many you’ll find used by companies across industries. The internet has made it easier to not only see your customers but hear their complaints and feedback as well.
Take advantage of this by soliciting feedback from your customers, and ask them their requests, ideas, and challenges so you can better accommodate them. You can ask for feedback via email, SMS, or a survey/poll on social media. You may just be surprised at what you find out!
Strategy #2: Invest in Technologies that Help with Customer Relationship Management
There are various tools on the market that can help you deliver a great customer experience. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can help you manage customers, personalize messages, and maintain regular communication and touchpoints.
Another tool is an Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) platform, which streamlines your operations and eliminates departmental silos.
Moving beyond the mainstream tools, you can tap into a platform for sending branded swag and personalized gifts, which can be used to send and track corporate gifts to new and existing customers – or leads who are still on the fence.
Strategy #3: Build an Excellent Customer Service Team
One factor that can make or break a customer’s experience with a brand is its customer service. If your staff aren’t knowledgeable, nice, and responsive, your customers will get frustrated – and not come back.
Invest your time and money into hiring and training a team to support your client’s needs. Consider creating a customer service Q&A template based on the demands of different customers. This will help your team prepare for and navigate through positive and negative situations.
Strategy #4: Take an Omnichannel Approach
People today are used to engaging with brands in different ways. They may visit their website one day and then reach out to the company via its Facebook or LinkedIn page the next day. Making it convenient for your audience to interact with your business in the way that they’re most comfortable with is vital.
This means having a presence on the web, social media, corporate apps, email, SMS, phone, and online chat. If you can incorporate a chatbot, even better.
Strategy #5: Reward Customer Loyalty
Make your customers feel special by rewarding them! You can create a loyalty program where customers earn points when they use your product or service. For instance, if you’re a SaaS, you can offer points for using your product regularly, which can be used to reduce their next month’s bill. You can also reward customers for referring leads that convert into paying customers.
Strategy #6: Nurture Relationships with Email Marketing
Email marketing is a useful tool for nurturing leads into buyers and customers into loyal fans. But, you need to deliver the right message at the right time. This will require segmented campaigns. A CRM or Customer Data Platform (CDP) with AI capabilities can support your email marketing efforts.
Through these tools, you can quickly analyze customer behavioral data and use it within your campaigns. For example, if you see customers asking about a new product, you can send an email about its features. You can deepen the interaction by including links to your blog that showcases how it can benefit them.
Strategy #7: Incorporate Proactive Retention Methods
When a customer’s subscription is about to expire, what do you do? The answer is not to sit back and hope they remember to renew! Reach out and remind them to renew before the date passes and drive customer retention proactively. Doing this boosts the odds of customers completing the renewal process. You can even send along a corporate gift as a friendly reminder vs. a typical email.
Strategy #8: Automate Your Customer Communications
Just because customers want a personal touch doesn’t mean you have to send each message manually. You can implement automation tools that are faster and more reliable.
For instance, you can create lead nurturing emails that are automatically sent to new customers. Or you can use triggers to automate relevant emails to be sent. For example, when a customer is logged in and visits your website’s blog posts, you can trigger an email with a download for an eBook on a related topic.
But email isn’t the only thing you can automate; you can do the same with SMS messages, social media posts, and chatbots.
Strategy #9: Make Tracking Detailed Customer Data a Priority
It’s nearly impossible to win customers’ hearts without collecting lots of data about them. Outside of the general information like their name, company, position, and technologies used, you can use technology to track their behavior:
- Past purchases
- Browsing habits
- Birthdays and anniversaries (excellent time to send a corporate gift)
- Engagements with your brand (across all departments and channels)
This is easier to pull off when using the right data management platforms.
Strategy #10: Track and Analyze Your Relationship Management Campaign
Not every method is worth adding to a relationship management strategy. And while it’s good to test different options, you want to ensure your tactics are actually working.
To do that, you will need tracking tools that determine whether specific metrics are improving, declining, or remaining stagnant. Some of the metrics you should be tracking include:
- Customer lifetime value
- Conversion rates
- # of referral conversions
- Strength of your network (are your followers engaged?)
- Website metrics (traffic, social monitoring, CX ratings)
- Customer support team metrics (case resolution time, duration of calls, # of follow-ups, etc.)
- Onboarding success
Whatever methods you’re using within your campaign, be sure you’re tracking the right metrics to determine success.
What are the Challenges of Relationship Marketing?
Figuring out how relationship marketing can help build a loyal customer base is one thing. Overcoming common challenges you’ll face while implementing it is another. Here are some common roadblocks you may have to overcome:
- Adopting omnichannel methods if you don’t have the staff or tools to do so
- Responding to customers questions and concerns quickly
- Personalizing content and campaigns based on data
- Trying to rekindle interest from an old customer
- Getting company-wide adoption of a relationship marketing approach
- Dealing with complex software tools
Best Practices for Relationship Marketing
Building a relationship marketing strategy with a solid foundation is possible when you follow relationship marketing best practices. Here’s what to focus on when adding relationship development strategies in marketing:
- Focus on the needs of your customers
- Listen to your customers’ feedback
- Be available on your customers’ terms
- Be authentic and informative with your content and message
- Add a personal touch to your customer experience (i.e., personalized offers)
- Offer ongoing support to customers
- Show customers you appreciate them (i.e., send gifts or use loyalty programs)
Using Sending Platforms in Relationship Marketing Strategies
If your corporation is ready to dip its toe into relationship marketing, we can help. We will guide you through how to start, build, and maintain relationships with prospects, clients, and employees through corporate gifting.
Everyone loves to receive a gift, even your customers. Let us help you start your relationship marketing journey. Request a demo today.