Relationship Marketing: Definition, Types, Benefits & Examples

relationship-marketing

Acquiring new customers is five times more expensive than retaining existing ones. Similarly, a business that focuses more on acquisition rather than retention finds less time to prioritize customers. Giving less priority to people means less emphasis on customer experiences. Such scenarios are not ideal considering how sales often happen through loyalty and enhanced experiences. 

What does that mean? 

It means your business should care more about building long-term relationships with customers. This is where relationship marketing comes into the picture. It can be used to create a higher level of trust with people. Focusing more on relationships can also help you engage customers more, resulting in better conversions.  

In this blog, we will discuss relationship marketing, and understand its importance, types, benefits, and strategies. 

Before moving further, let’s get started with understanding what exactly relationship marketing is… 

What is Relationship Marketing? 

Relationship marketing is the approach to developing long-term relationships with customers. This form of marketing is based on the foundation of forging meaningful relationships with customers over time. It is key to promoting brand loyalty and inspiring customers to make repeat purchases. 

relationship-marketing-theme

The focus of relationship marketing is on long-term sales goals over short-term increases in sales. This strategy is aimed at enhancing customer lifetime value and prioritizing their needs and interests. A business that adopts relationship marketing is more inclined towards customer retention and satisfaction over transactions. 

Key Features of Customer Relationship Marketing  

Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) is a unique strategy that emphasizes maintaining strong relationships with customers. As a powerful marketing approach, it focuses on improving overall customer satisfaction through understanding customer needs and preferences.  

key-features-of-customer-relationship-marketing

Key features of customer relationship marketing include – 

  • Long-Term Focus – This form of marketing gives preference to long-term customer satisfaction over short-term gains. It recognizes the fact that meaningful relationships are built over time.  
  • Customer Retention – CRM recognizes the value of retaining customers which can be achieved through excellent customer service, prompt after-sales support, and engaging content. 
  • Personalization – Tailored marketing efforts are always at the heart of the strategy to meet the specific needs of customers. Such efforts need personalized messages, offers, and experiences aimed at each customer. 
  • Continuous Engagement –  Engagement is the basis of relationships. Engaging with customers through various channels and maintaining consistency in messaging is key to a long-term bond with them.    
  • Responding to Feedback – Seeking customer feedback is essential to understand satisfaction levels and identify areas for improvement. Feedback and customer inputs are vital to addressing concerns and laying the foundation of meaningful relationships.  

Why is Relationship Marketing Important? 

Engaged customers are more likely to stay with the business and add value over time. However, to keep customers engaged, you need to serve them well and focus on building a long-lasting relationship with them. This is where relationship marketing can help as it’s key to maintaining positive connections with customers.  

why-is-relationship-marketing-important

Relationship marketing is important for various reasons, including –  

  • The real value of relationship marketing lies in maximizing the value of the current customer base.
  • This approach is more important in understanding customer needs and preferences and then taking steps to meet those needs.  
  • A business that builds strong connections with customers finds it easier to adapt to changing marketing conditions and stay relevant for the audience.  
  • Offering positive experiences to customers and developing strong bonds can differentiate a brand in the market and lend it a competitive advantage.
  • A sustained focus on building connections can help increase the lifetime value of customers on account of better retention rates.  
  • Strong bonds with customers drive better customer retention rates that result in repeat purchases.  
  • Loyal customers are more likely to be your brand ambassadors with more chances of recommending the brands to others and bringing referrals.  
  • Building relationships leads to satisfied customers who are more likely to stay with your business and less likely to switch over to competitors. 

Types of Relationship Marketing  

Relationship marketing combines various strategies and tactics to build strong connections with customers. It can take different forms based on the unique needs and requirements of a business. 

Here are the different types of relationship marketing – 

1. Transactional Relationship Marketing

This form of marketing focuses on immediate sales and transactions with individual customers. The main priority area is sales with less emphasis on interaction and engagement. There will be less focus on building connections and more focus on converting customers into sales. 

2. Internal Relationship Marketing

This form of marketing aims to build strong relationships within the organization with active collaboration between different departments. The focus is always on adopting a customer-centric approach and ensuring enhanced overall customer satisfaction. 

3. External Relationship Marketing

This form of marketing is focused on building relationships with external partners with the view to enhance the overall value chain.    

types-of-relationship-marketing

4. Collaborative Relationship Marketing

This type of marketing aims to involve customers to co-create value. More so, it sees the participation of customers through feedback and other collaborative efforts.  

5. Experiential Relationship Marketing

This kind of marketing is based on creating and delivering memorable experiences for customers. It focuses on creating experiences that leave a lasting impression.

Benefits of Relationship Marketing 

Relationship marketing is an extremely effective strategy for businesses that look to forge long-term connections and leverage customer trust. When used effectively, it can make more customers loyal and ensure other advantages as well. 

Here are some of the key benefits – 

Lower Costs to Maintain Existing Customers 

Reaching new customers and winning their trust requires considerable marketing efforts and resources. On the other hand, employing relationship marketing can be a cheaper way to maintain existing customers and enjoy their trust over time.  

Higher Customer Retention Rates 

Customers feel desired, valued, and included when a business connects with them and forges meaningful connections. Such customers stick through thick and thin and make repeat purchases, resulting in higher retention rates. 

benefits-of-relationship-marketing

Improved Marketing ROI  

When customer retention rates are higher, it indicates that the business needs to spend less on acquiring customers. With lower costs to winning customers, it will lead to improved marketing ROI for the business. 

Increase in Sales   

Engaging more with customers and building connections with them is the first step to winning their trust and getting repeat purchases out of them. This can see your sales increase.   

Higher Customer Satisfaction

Customers who make repeat purchases with a business enjoy a strong bond and experience higher satisfaction levels. They are less likely to switch allegiance and can also be accommodating to errors and price rises. 

How to Create an Effective Relationship Marketing Strategy? 

A business needs to explore and find ways to build connections with customers. Offering discounts, loyalty, and upselling may help forge relationships to some extent, but they won’t suffice as they are mere tactics. You need something more than that to create long-term friendships and strike an emotional connection. 

Let’s look at the steps and ways to create an effective relationship marketing strategy – 

1. Prioritize Customer Service 

Meeting customer’s needs is always at the heart of an effective relationship marketing strategy. To achieve that goal, you need to focus on offering consistent personal support at each stage of the journey. Make sure customer service is integrated in every aspect of the business as it will help you first understand customer issues and devise the right solutions. After all, companies that focus on customer experience (CX) increase their revenue by 80% and you can’t deliver better experiences unless you focus on customer service 

When you prioritize customer service, it shows – 

  • You are concerned about customers 
  • You are willing to help customers 
  • You care for long-term bonds over short-term gains  

Consider adopting a proactive approach to customer service and ensuring a personal touch to the service delivery. This approach will help you understand all the concerns faced by the customer and then you can devise the right steps to achieve your goals. 

2. Personalize Your Customer Communications 

Each customer is unique in terms of their needs and preferences for communication. This shows the value of personalizing your customer communication and tailoring your offers to the needs of each customer. When you adopt personalization, you can create a more engaging experience for your customers and build a sense of connection. 

To personalize your customer communication, you need to take these steps –  

  • Collect and analyze data about your customers, their purchase history, behavior, preferences, and demographics 
  • Create detailed buyer personas and segment your customer base accordingly for a personalized plan for each segment  
  • Boost engagement with customized content and offers based on the customer’s past interactions with your brand 

3. Be Where Your Customers Are 

Effective engagement happens when a business allows customers the freedom to choose the channels and platforms of choice to interact. In this approach, the business needs to be proactive and reach out to customers through the channel they prefer. This approach will demonstrate your commitment to engage customers on their terms, resulting in more meaningful relationships with your audience.  

Let’s look at the ways you can be where your customers are –  

  • Devise a multi-channel presence so that you can effectively meet customers across different touchpoints   
  • Ensure prompt responses to customer messages, comments, and mentions  
  • Encourage direct and real-time communication by implementing live chat on your website 
  • Keep customers informed through regular messages and notifications on mobile  

how-to-create-an-effective-relationship-marketing-strategy

4. Create an Emotional Connection with Your Customers 

Customers often stick with a business when they feel a sense of emotional attachment. If customers are emotionally connected with your business, they will make repeat purchases and add great value to the business as well. However, building an emotional connection is easier said than done as it involves a strategic change to various aspects of the operations. 

Here are some of the ways to create an emotional connection with your customers – 

  • Take measured steps to build trust with your customers and look to fulfill promises at every stage of the customer journey 
  • Be genuine in your communications with customers and show the human side of your brand through relatable stories 
  • Evoke emotions through visuals, leverage user-generated content, and lace your marketing materials with imagery 
  • Respond to customer concerns and inquiries with a sense of compassion and empathy  

5. Focus on Long-term Customer Relationships 

Relationship marketing is an investment in a long-term vision where your business requires a strategic approach to maintaining strong customer bonds over time. The goal is to make enduring connections with your customers by delivering value and by being responsive to their needs. It’s equally important to view customers through the lens of relationships rather than transactions when you set out to build a bond with them. 

Here are the strategies to focus on long-term customer relationships – 

  • Adopt a customer-centric approach in every aspect of your business with a clear focus on meeting their needs  
  • Focus on delivering your promises and commitments continuously and prioritize transparency in communications  
  • Look to educate your customers through value-added content and information and position yourself as a trusted source in the industry  
  • Devise and run loyalty programs aimed at the long-term and implement a robust feedback mechanism in place 

Examples of Relationship Marketing 

Building long-term relationships with customers is a goal that businesses from across industry vertical aspire to achieve. The right approach is to engage with customers the way they want and ensure value to them at each stage of their journey. Let’s look at some real-life examples of relationship marketing from different industries –  

Customer Loyalty Program of Delta Airlines 

The aviation industry is a good place to find and analyze examples of relationship marketing, and the example of Delta Airlines stands out. Its loyalty program – The SkyMiles Program – gives customers a chance to earn “miles” based on the money they spend. Flyers can redeem those miles for future travel and get discounts on journeys. The airline has also partnered with top credit card companies to help customers gain points on their purchases. This loyalty program has proven as a solid relationship marketing strategy, helping the company build a long line of loyal customer base.    

delta-airlines-loyalty-program

Customer Relationship Management of Amazon

Amazon is a worldwide ecommerce leader across markets. Its huge success can be attributed to many factors, but its thoughtful approach and single-minded dedication to reaching out to its customers stand out in the true sense. The company has an algorithm in place to capture shopper’s interactions with the platform and show results based on their interests. While users get a responsive experience when they visit the platform, those with complaints can hope to get a quick resolution from the support team. More so, buyers can leverage reviews and Amazon’s descriptions of products to make informed purchase decisions.    

amazon-customer-service

Personalized Rewards Offer of Starbucks

Starbucks has truly transformed the way people get their cups of coffee. The company had a humble beginning but its engagement model and efforts have made it an iconic brand. The way it uses the mobile app and loyalty program to offer personalized rewards is unique in many ways. More so, it regularly engages customers through social media and shows its cups of coffee in social posts. Apart from personalized offers, the company regularly sends out emails to keep its customers informed of the latest offers, offers, and launches. In addition, it uses social channels to connect with customers and answer their queries.  

starbucks-personalized-awards

The “Higher-than-Profit” Approach of Patagonia

Brands looking to build profits somehow fail to focus on building relationships with customers. Patagonia is a good example of how to stand for a bigger purpose than profit. This approach has struck a chord with like-minded consumers who always rally behind a brand that demonstrates their values. The company has built an identity on the standing of an environmentally conscious business which has helped it appeal to people who use organic and recycled materials. Among many other radical steps, the company regularly encourages customers to purchase used Patagonia clothing rather than new and also offers clothing repairs and DIY solutions free of charge. 

patagonia-approach-for-customers

Final Thoughts 

Engagement is at the heart of relationships. The more your business engages and interacts with customers regularly, the more opportunities it will create for relationship marketing. 

At REVE Chat, we understand the huge role played by technology in boosting customer engagement and that’s why we ensure your business is always on par with the needs of the market. 

With us, you will find a variety of customer engagement tools such as AI-powered chatbot, live chat, video chat, co-browsing software, and a ticketing system.

You can sign up with us and check all our tools, analyze their performance, and understand how they can prove a great value addition to your business.

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Praveen Singh
Author’s Bio

Praveen Singh is a content marketer, blogger, and professional with 15 years of passion for ideas, stats, and insights into customers. An MBA Graduate in marketing and a researcher by disposition, he has a knack for everything related to customer engagement and customer happiness.

As a writer and analyst, he pours the heart out on a blog that is informative, detailed, and often digs deep into the heart of customer psychology. He’s written extensively on a range of topics including, marketing, AI chatbots, omnichannel messaging platforms, and many more.

Mr. Singh also has a passion for subjects that excite new-age customers, be it social media engagement, artificial intelligence, machine learning. He takes great pride in his learning-filled journey of adding value to the industry through consistent research, analysis, and sharing of customer-driven ideas.

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