Relationship marketing isn’t a strategy—it’s a mindset that needs nurturing and careful implementation.
Businesses have begun to realize that marketing efforts should be focused on building relationships with partners and customers—not on pitching products to people.
But which methods are effective, and how do you adapt existing plans with a relationship goal in mind?
We share the best strategies you can adopt right now to improve customer relationships—which will eventually help companies improve their bottom line.
- Choose the Right Channels
Marketers can’t build relationships with customers if they aren’t occupying the same spaces—choosing the right channels is an essential step in this process.
The online world is massive—encompassing websites, microsites, blogs, social media channels, email marketing, and search engines.
In recent years, several companies have branched out into podcasts, another sphere that is not only growing but also attracting new client groups that were so far untapped.
While businesses have long believed that having a presence on every channel is the best way to manage customer relationships, this isn’t true for every company.
Small businesses have neither the manpower nor the financial resources to be equally present on all these channels.
Instead, it is better to understand where your customers are spending most of their time online and optimize the use of those channels.
You can learn how customers are reaching your website using analytics tools—this data will help to define which platforms need more attention than others.
The numerous marketing channels each have their USP and modes of engagement—which can’t be easily replicated across other media.
Perfecting one’s presence on a core group of platforms will make relationship marketing easier—once businesses are comfortable with those channels, they can diversify further.
- Prioritize Onboarding
Nothing frustrates a customer-brand relationship more than not being able to understand how a product or service works.
It can completely derail all the hard work that goes into building brand awareness and encouraging conversions.
That is why businesses need to make customer onboarding a simpler process—take new acquisitions through the product so they can familiarize themselves with it.
There is no harm in sharing as much detail as possible—write blogs about the best uses and practices for the product. Share posts on social media with images and GIFs explaining how.
Consider designing product tutorials or create a demo video for social media and YouTube that customers can follow along when using the products or services.
Create a FAQ page or FAQ section dedicated to product usage—including troubleshooting tips in the FAQ will ensure customer satisfaction.
Take the time to walk in your customer’s shoes to make the onboarding process better and improve your relationship marketing.
- Express Your Gratitude
Customers are an integral part of a business—without their patronage, it would be impossible for a company to generate revenues and pay their employees.
Showing gratitude—especially to long-standing customers—goes a long way in building a brand’s relationship with its client base.
Sending a ‘Thank You’ note when a customer subscribes to your newsletter or loyalty program, or when they make a purchase, helps your brand stand out from the crowd.
Going the extra mile for a customer to show how much you value them can make a difference in how they view your brand in comparison to others.
Sharing gated content like white papers or exclusive webinars with loyal customers shows them how important the brand thinks they are.
These pieces of content would otherwise have been inaccessible—or would have required some input from the customer.
Making it available to select patrons not only makes them feel valuable but it acts as an incentive to new customers to subscribe or join the loyalty program.
Showing your clients how important they are to you will build a stronger relationship in the long term.
- Streamline Processes
If business processes are slow or convoluted, it will impact the customer relationship. Working on streamlining customer experience by automating processes will improve engagement.
Certain areas of relationship marketing can be easily automated—email marketing tools like Moosend can be used to send automatic replies.
Many email tools also have premade templates the can be customized for different target segments and scheduled to send out at particular dates and times.
Marketers can also use tools to manage multiple email accounts so that customer service, general queries, and email marketing campaigns can all be handled from one interface.
Social media automation tools give marketers the freedom to load up posts in advance—not having to post manually means marketers have more time to reply to comments instead.
Because of the nature of social media, it isn’t enough to send posts out into the ether—engagement is required to make customer relationship marketing a success.
While comments can’t be auto-generated, by automating other aspects of social campaigns, marketers can take the time to build relationships with customers on social channels.
- Open Lines for Customer Feedback
Relationship marketing requires open communication to work—brands should give customers the tools to share their concerns, and implement changes that are brought up.
Not every suggestion can be executed—but if a large number of customers are calling for a certain adjustment to be made, it is worth looking into.
Social media is a good place to get feedback—comments, and replies give marketers a sense of the sentiment around their brand and how they can improve upon it.
Aside from social media, marketers can also get feedback using surveys—it is best to make a simple form with radio buttons instead of asking people to write long answers.
But it isn’t enough to get feedback—there must be processes in place to institute the changes. Show your customers that you not only listen to them but act on their suggestions.
- Relationship-Saving Systems
Ensuring that brand-customer relationships remain intact requires more than hard work and good intentions—companies need systems in place to handle problems that do arise.
A customer service team is a must for any customer-facing company—and they should be focused on putting customers at the center of their conversations.
Institute policies for dealing with angry customers, negative feedback, large-scale issues, as well as problems that are beyond the company’s control.
Service teams should be trained to be compassionate and understanding, but also know when to escalate an issue that is above their level of training.
For some companies, it can be expensive to find and train dedicated personnel for this task—but there are customer relationship-saving tools that can be used instead.
Implementing live chats or chatbots on your website and social media ensures that customer queries are answered promptly, no matter what timezone they may be located in.
The sophisticated chatbots of today learn from every interaction, making their conversations with customers more life-like and sincere—worth the investment to keep customers happy.
- Implement Loyalty Programs
Digital loyalty programs have become all the rage over the last few years—companies are seeing success with their relationship marketing because of these programs.
Marketers can create programs that reward customers for their patronage—thus, giving them a reason to return to the brand repeatedly.
Most loyalty programs are based on a points system—once a customer gains a certain number of points, they receive a reward such as a gift, discount, or a cash prize.
Customer loyalty can also lead to referral campaigns—where customers advocate for the brand with or without incentive.
Building brand loyalty amongst a core group of customers leads to business growth and eventually, more customers and better relationships between clients and brands.
- Track Customer Success
Implementing strategies to build a consumer base only works if marketers track how and why their customers are loyal to the brand.
There are numerous steps in tracking customer success—marketers need to define the customer journey and outline customer profiles.
Building consumer relationships based on specific interests increases the chances of long-term customer loyalty.
To understand how to improve customer success, brands should monitor the following metrics:
- Acquisitions by channel
- Brand sentiment analysis
- Customer acquisition rates
- Customer churn rates
- Conversion rates
- Onboarding success rates
- Retention rates
- Website traffic and analytics
Use data visualization techniques to monitor these customer relationship metrics—this will make it easier to create reports that will drive further customer success.
Relationship marketing is necessary in a digital world where customers are more wary than ever before.
Marketers should also remember that their brand is not the only one available to customers.
With so many options to choose from, the brands that go the extra mile to build strong relationships with their customers are the ones that will be favored in the long run.
Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic maker and design platform. Ronita regularly writes about digital marketing, visual design, and small business growth.