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What is relationship marketing?

Relationship marketing is a highly nuanced and specialised arm of marketing, and one that businesses are increasingly focusing on.

Ask a non-marketer and they’ll probably point to Kim Kardashian roping in new squeeze Pete Davidson to promote her SKIMS range of shapewear as excellent relationship marketing.

In the business world, though, relationship marketing refers to marketing activity dedicated specifically to creating meaningful and strong bonds with customers.

Relationship marketing is a highly nuanced and specialised arm of marketing, and one that an increasing number of businesses are focusing their resources on – and for very good branding and financial reasons.

What is relationship marketing?

When most people think about marketing, what comes to mind are promotional and advertising activities aimed at increasing sales and therefore revenue.

Relationship marketing is not that.

Relationship marketing describes a range of activities that focus purely on growing, strengthening and deepening the relationship between a brand and consumers.

The goals of relationship marketing are generally about boosting engagement and loyalty.

Why is relationship marketing important?

Effective relationship marketing builds loyalty and increases return visits, and that means growth in sales – but let’s break that down.

Research tells us that it’s actually between 5 – 25 times cheaper to retain a customer than acquire new ones. That means the return on investment (ROI) on every repeat customer sale is greater.

Even better, studies have shown that return shoppers are likely to spend about five per cent more than new customers. That’s because the customer already knows and trusts your brand and the products or services you offer.

Even better, consumers that are loyal to your brand are more likely to recommend your business to friends, family and colleagues.

All this opens up the opportunity for relationship marketing to develop and nurture those relationships to create brand loyalty and retention.

Examples of great relationship marketing

Retail brand Target is often cited as the gold standard of digital relationship marketing. Enquiries submitted across its social media and website platforms are responded to promptly and efficiently, and it was one of the first companies to begin following up enquiries with an automated email feedback form asking for suggestions on how they can improve.

Globally, Domino’s Pizza is developing a reputation for their bold relationship marketing strategies. In the USA, the company recently ran an advertising campaign where staff members read out real customer complaints, which was followed by details about what the company is doing to improve.

While advertising their weaknesses broke all established advertising rules, what these companies did do was brand themselves as honest and transparent and attune to the wishes of their consumers.

When it comes to rewards programs, it’s hard to look past the success of PayPal’s referral program, which rewards customers who refer friends and family with a cut of their profits. Since its launch, PayPal has enjoyed around seven per cent greater daily growth than before launching their referral program.

How can your brand drive relationship marketing?

Building relationships is a marathon, not a sprint, but there are steps you can take to build stronger and more loyal relationships with your customers, including:

Websites that engage: Make sure your website is optimised for engagement. Include information that inspires confidence and leaves no lingering questions; consider a chat option that allows customers to engage with your customer service staff in real time; and ensure your website is designed for mobile so it’s easy to read and navigate from all devices.

Email marketing: Enhance your email marketing by integrating personalisation. Remember, personalisation is more than including a customer’s name into the copy. It’s tailoring content to target customers based on their buying habits and browsing preferences and following up with offers or promotions. Never forget, though, that meaningful relationships require sincerity rather than hard selling.

Prioritise customer service: Customer service is the cornerstone of relationships between brands and customers. It’s the reason why people stay loyal to a brand, and why they abandon them. Smiling, friendly staff are a given, but make sure your forward-facing staff have all the information they need to answer questions, and the authority to make decisions to resolve issues.

Reward loyal customers: Loyalty programs are old school, but they actually work. Successful loyalty programs go beyond rewarding customers with discounts, instead offering samples of upcoming events, invitations to special events, as well as freebies. Some companies partner with other businesses, exposing their brand to new customers, and take the time to better understand the buying habits of their existing customers.

Need relationship marketing guidance?

Relationships are complicated and navigating the road to success is not always clear to those involved in them. That’s why it’s particularly useful to engage an external agency to take on your relationship marketing.

Assemblo is a full-service marketing agency based in Melbourne and are specialists in creating relationship marketing strategies, tailored to individual businesses.

To find out how we can help your business, give us a call on (03) 9079 2555 or send us a note via the contact form below.

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