Creating brand loyalty is often more difficult than it seems. Today, consumers have millions of options at their fingertips in any given product category. So, how exactly are businesses supposed to convince customers to do business with them, not to mention, keep them coming back?
Well, start by thinking about your relationship with a close friend…
When you think about that relationship, what stands out to you? What makes that relationship different from others?
If the friend you’re thinking of is anything like mine, they do a number of things different from the rest. They are there for us when we need them. When you text them, they text back. They know personal details about you – your interests, hobbies, family background, restaurants you like, etc. And quite often, they even know you better than you do!
When it comes to building brand loyalty for your business in 2020, a solid Relationship Marketing Strategy will allow you to become “BFF” with your customers- predicting their needs and preferences before they even know they have them.
Now, before we jump too far into the deets of relationship marketing, let’s get on the same page with a common definition.
What is Relationship Marketing?
Relationship Marketing is the interacting with each customer uniquely, based on that customer’s specific wants, needs and preferences.
Customer Relationship Marketing is prioritizing the relationship with your customer for long-term success. Each interaction can be thought of as an emotional investment in that customer. Over time (and with more interactions), that investment grows, and eventually, you’ve invested so much in each customer that they can’t imagine doing business elsewhere. Why? Because consumers want to invest in companies who have invested in them. Plain and simple.
Now this investment strategy is not designed for short, explosive growth. Putting the relationship with the customer first, is what builds a nest-egg of recurring revenue. Where short-term marketing strategies are measured by single sales or customer acquisition cost, the power of Relationship Marketing is best seen in customer retention and customer lifetime value.
The end result? A loyal client base that only wants to do business with you. The longer your customers stick around, the less you’ll need to rely on a transactional marketing approach. Marketing teams that are able to communicate in a way that taps into the emotions of their target market excel in growing their business through Relationship Marketing.
The Benefits of Relationship Marketing
Today’s economy gives consumers more options than any decade in history… BY FAR. A simple Google search for “Smart TV” yields 4.7 billion results. Yes, you heard correctly… 4.7 BILLION. The overwhelming amount of options make it increasingly difficult for brands to distinguish themselves from the competition, hold their customers attention, and convince them to purchase.
However, some businesses are beginning to catch on, realizing that investing their time and resources into existing customers, rather than future customers, may be their best bet. In fact, according to Profitwell, customer acquisition costs are on the rise. To really put this into perspective, it can cost up to 25x more to acquire a new customer than an existing customer. That’s a lot of money!
With that in mind, businesses are turning their attention to their current pool of customers, attempting to build trust and extend the customer life cycle with more product and service offerings.
Building the Strategy
Customer Loyalty Programs
It seems almost too obvious, but if you’re looking for a place to start when building your relationship marketing strategy, look no further than customer loyalty programs.
Luckily, there’s already many businesses doing this very well that provide a template for what great loyalty programs look like. For example, Starbucks uses a point-system that customers can tally stars to earn free drinks and other items. Further, incentivizing customers to pay using the Starbucks Rewards App has provided the company with an endless source of customer data.
Amazon uses it’s loyalty program to differentiate themselves from competition who offer similar products and price points.
When creating your own loyalty programs, brainstorm non-monetary rewards that center around your customer’s values. Successful loyalty programs typically provide a variety of rewards and gamify the rewards experience to keep customers excited about earning rewards.
Make Customer Service a Priority
For many businesses, customer service is becoming a priority in their marketing strategies. In the past, the marketing and customer service departments were often thought of separately. But, given the rising difficulty to acquire customers, businesses are now looking at customer service through a new lens — seeing it as a primary technique for retaining customers.
Further, we’re seeing how customer service can deepen customer relationships unlike any other strategy. Here’s why… Customer service often meets customers when they are at a breaking point – when they can either choose to stay loyal to the brand or ditch it for another option. Customer service and support is on the receiving end of customer’s complaints, questions, and struggles. But with the challenge of dealing with difficult customers comes the opportunity to win over the trust of the customer once again with timely, accurate and competent customer service.
Even in a world where a Facetime call can get us talking with anyone, anywhere in the world in minutes, our most personal connections are still done face-to-face. And even businesses that sell products exclusively online are finding ways to succeed with in-person customer interactions.
And if you can’t get face-to-face with your customers, call them! Thank them for their purchase, ask them about their experience with your business. These interactions can be done at scale with some simple technology and they make a world of difference in the eyes of your customers.
People who love your brand expect you to stay in touch with them.
Think of your business-to-customer communication like a dating relationship. You go out on a first date, it goes really well, and then the other person never contacts you again. That would be frustrating! However, calling them multiple times a day may send the wrong message.
The best businesses understand that good communication falls somewhere between absent and obtrusive. Finding that middle ground is essential to establishing a two-way communication channel with customers.
Some easy ways to get started may include keeping your customers up to date with new product releases, discounts, or upcoming events can be an easy way to stay top-of-mind. Implementing a solid follow-up strategy shows your customers that you matter to them.
Steps for Getting Started
Now that you’re convinced of the importance of relationships marketing (hopefully!), here’s three simple steps to take in getting started.
Step One: Interview your customers
To build a Relationship Marketing strategy from the ground up, it’s necessary that you know who you’re building a relationship with. This may sound obvious to you, but the reality is, few businesses do this well, and without it, the rest of your strategy falls apart.
How do we do this? Get direct feedback from your customers by asking them! Simple, right? Ask them what they like about your products and services? How do these offerings improve their life? Help them reach their goals and aspirations? What are they dissatisfied with when it comes to your business? Ask as many questions as you can. The more data points you have, the more areas of improvement you will discover, and the more your business will thrive! You can use interviews, phone calls, in-store engagements, or surveys (check out SurveyMonkey and Google Forms) to gather data from your customers.
Social media, and other online communities, can be another great tool for gathering data on your customers. Find the places where your cusotmers gather online, and digest everything you can about them (look particularly at the questions they ask as it relates to your industry/product category). As you do this, it may feel like you’re drinking from a fire hydrant of customer data, but don’t worry! The more research you do, the more in-tune you will be with your customer’s pain points, soap operas, aspirations and goals.
If you’re looking to speed up this process, here are a few tools you can use in better understanding your customers.
Step Two: Build offers that predict customer needs
With in-depth customer research to support your strategy, you should now feel confident when creating offers that engage your customers. Now, keep in mind, that “offers” refers to any value that you provide for you customers, not just the products they are paying for. Any content creation, lead magnets, or freebies should be considered when strategizing an approach to targeted product/service offerings.
Now, the key here is to use the data you’ve gathered to be proactive, not reactive, in presenting your customers with products that solve their problems. If your offers are not readily available to your target market the moment they start typing in their inquiry in Google, then it’s too late! Knowing your customer’s preferences and anticipating their needs, will turn one-time buyers into life-long advocates for your business.
Step Three: Use CRM to automate follow-up and gather data
The on-going conversations that businesses have with their customers need to be savvy and nuanced in order to do it successfully. Customers don’t want to be bombarded with messaging. They want businesses to be empathetic to their struggles without wasting their time. It’s not easy being the business in this relationship, and it requires a high level of emotional intelligence with each interaction.
The only solution to accomplishing this level of personalization at scale requires processes to analyze data in real time and automate relevant messages throughout the customer life cycle. A CRM allows you to automate the entire customer journey implementing hyper-targeted emails, ads, and offers along the way. Creating automated processes within your CRM will save you huge amounts of time and will give you precious data on your customers each time you interact with them.
There’s a lot of great CRM’s out there. Choosing the one that works for you business can be difficult. So, we’ve picked out a few of our favorites.
Step Four: Repeat
Do it again and again! Using these three steps, you will continue to understand your customers needs and preferences more accurately, tailor your product/service offering, and use technology to reach your customers more effectively.
It’s a recipe for Relationship Marketing success!
Taking the time to set up a Relationship Marketing strategy is an investment in the long-term success of your business. The brand loyalty that you will establish as a result, will keep existing customers coming back, increase word-of-mouth around your brand and offers, and maximize the CLV of each customer.
In a digitally-driven world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to build genuine relationships with your customers. Maximizing touch points and making your brand personal, ensures a strong brand amidst a sea of digital distraction.
Talk to us about your relationship marketing questions, web design inquiries, and digital marketing needs!
At Lazarus Design Team, we provide a full service, full stack marketing team of experts for companies that are hungry to grow. Drawing from deep pools of talent, our team consists of a unique fusion of creatives and entrepreneurs. We start by creating an incredibly designed and remarkably effective websites that converts visitors into customers. Then we build out a digital marketing strategy that drives your audience to your high-converting website. What makes us stand our from typical digital marketing agencies and web designers is that we build your entire digital marketing funnel from beginning to end as your “in-house marketing team.” Meaning, we are a tight-knit team that learns your business and focuses on your growth.