Traditional marketing focuses on acquiring new customers through individual sales. In contrast, relationship marketing is the employment of strategies that develop strong relationships with existing customers, which ultimately contributes to long-term business success by keeping customers happy and increasing customer retention and loyalty while decreasing returns.
Good relationship marketing centers around addressing customer needs, interests and providing open communication. Social media in particular has made relationship marketing strategies easier to implement. Whether you do it online or over the counter, here are some approaches to relationship marketing that can build customer loyalty while driving revenue for your business.
1. Collect Feedback From Your Customers to Truly Understand Their Needs
Know your customers well. Be sure you are aware of their demographic information as well as the reasons why they choose to do business with you. Once you have this data, you can dig deeper to discover your customers’ biggest challenges and where they might need (and appreciate) help.
2. Use Customer Feedback to Implement Improvements to Your Offerings
When your customers are telling you what they want, don’t disregard what they say. Show them that you’re listening by adjusting your products and services accordingly. But don’t try to placate everyone, because doing so can actually be detrimental to your product and business. Focus on your target customers, and try to approach your product and service from their perspective.
3. Establish a Social Media Presence
Social media can provide many benefits to your relationship marketing toolbox, as it gives your customers a forum to voice their opinions, concerns and questions. It will also let you view their conversations about your brand and, more importantly, let you directly interact with your business’ supporters.
4. Use Social Media Monitoring Tools
By utilizing helpful tools to manage your social media presence, you can better understand your customers by analyzing how they interact with your various profiles and content. By carefully paying attention to these metrics, you can build stronger relationships with a loyal customer base.
5. Institute a Social Media Policy
Write a go-to set of guidelines that can be referenced by your employees to eliminate the risk of having your team members say or do anything that jeopardizes your business or brand. This way, your employees will be able to provide consistent and professional service both in and outside of the office. If possible, assign one of your employees to manage your social media efforts. Doing so will give it a consistent voice and will limit any inconsistencies that arise from having multiple admins for your various social media profiles.
6. Successfully Use Online and Offline Marketing Tactics
Every interaction that your business has with customers can be an indication of how your business markets itself. This includes any and every form of communication that your business creates. Therefore, you have an opportunity with each interaction to grow your business by demonstrating your company’s value. Do not underestimate the power of positive interaction. This can help you build a solid word-of-mouth following, which is often the most effective form of advertising.
7. Turn Your Fans Into Customers and Advocates
Acknowledge that the people who admire your company are very valuable to your business. Empower these followers by giving them a voice, and they will ultimately contribute to your business’s bottom line by engaging with your company and encouraging others within their networks to do the same.
8. Train Employees on Customer Relationship and Social Media Best Practices
Your customers and employees are your brand advocates. However, unlike your customers, employees can be provided with a written or verbal handbook for company interactions. In any medium, communication is key to good relationship marketing, so coach your employees to ensure they communicate your brand message in the most effective way possible.
9. Stay Up-to-Date
Stay abreast of technological advancements, and implement them when appropriate. Your company should keep up with the times, not fall behind them. This can be a great way to introduce your business to new customers and younger demographics while showing existing ones that you can keep pace with modern innovations.
10. Maintain Strong Relationships With All Stakeholders
Regularly check in on all parties that engage with your business, and get to know them well. Keep a list of your suppliers, partners and other businesses that integrate with yours. Provide referrals to them, and make efforts to receive referrals in return. Even big companies have sales and account reps, so get to know yours personally. Not only will you make their jobs easier, but they will also go out of their way to do a great job for you.
11. Strive For and Achieve High Customer Satisfaction
Once again, your customers are key in helping you grow your business, as their recommendations will be vital for spreading the word and helping you attract additional customers. By consistently impressing your customers—not just appeasing them—you will go far.
12. Show Your Customers That You Care
Demonstrate to your customers that you value them and their business. Make sure they are acknowledged and recognized for their loyalty.
Through relationship marketing, you focus on creating good business with good relationships, instead of a traditional hard-sell attitude associated with transactional marketing. Your business can reap rewards by providing valuable information, resources and assistance to your customers.
Use every interaction as a way to show your customers and other stakeholders that you truly care. Take the time to point them in the right direction, even if it means referring them to information or resources that are outside of your company’s purview. Building these types of relationships is key to ensuring long-term growth and success for any business.