Relationship marketing is one of the most popular ways to promote a business today. The name may sound new, but the strategy has been around for years. It’s actually a simple concept:
Promoting your brand through the creation and maintenance of relationships with your customers.
But what does relationship marketing actually accomplish? Sure, it builds relationships, but what does it involve? And how can your marketing team use it?
We have the answers here, and they’re surprisingly simple.
What does relationship marketing accomplish?
Relationship marketing helps your company improve in a few different areas.
- Customer interaction
- Customer loyalty
- Long-term engagement
These four areas are important to your company for a number of reasons, and they all help grow your bottom line. But beyond that, relationship marketing also develops a sound foundation for your brand. Customer support is integral to a company’s continued success, and that’s exactly what you get when you establish a strong, consistent relationship with potential customers.
It also helps turn casual customers into raving fans (or “brand evangelists”) that recommend your company to other potential customers. That word-of-mouth advertising isn’t always measureable, but it’s still an excellent way to get new customers. Last, relationship marketing works wonders for your brand reputation and SEO.
When you have positive relationships with your customers, you can expect more positive reviews on major sites like Google, Yelp, and Amazon. And if your audience is tech-savvy, you could enjoy lots of new links to your site from blogs. Fortunately, you can accomplish all of that with a number of reliable strategies.
How can you use relationship marketing?
Short answer: You need to forge relationships with your customers. Long answer: Relationship marketing is complex, and it requires a multi-pronged approach to actually work.
Fortunately, there are a few tried-and-true strategies that can help you get started.
Strategy 1. Content marketing
We’ve talked about content marketing before, including how your marketing team can measure its ROI. Online, content is often your first point of contact with a potential customer. That means from the moment a visitor arrives on your site, your content initiates the relationship with them.
That initial contact is incredibly valuable because it determines whether a visitor will leave your site, browse through a few pages, or even convert into a customer. The more informative, helpful, and comprehensive you make your content, the more likely it is that visitors will stay on your site and convert. On top of that, creating great content also shows that you’re a knowledgeable resource in your industry.
That gives you the ability to develop a positive reputation with new visitors and returning customers at the same time. Whether you help someone solve a problem or just introduce them to your industry, you provide a valuable service that they’ll remember. And even if they’d never previously heard of your business, they’ll remember you because of your content.
Strategy 2. Listen to customers
Customers will always have opinions about your business. They can be positive or negative — but either way, it’s important that you listen. Every customer wants to feel like they — and their input — are important, even if it won’t change the direction of your company.
The best way to make your customers feel valued is to acknowledge their thoughts and respond in a supportive way. The word “supportive” is important there because even if you’re not going to take their suggestion, you should still thank them for it. How you handle customer feedback from that point is up to you.
But it’s important to establish that groundwork. And while negative feedback may stick out more than positive feedback, don’t just respond to negativity. That risks making your company appear like you don’t value your supporters or only care about criticisms.
It will take time to respond to both positive and negative customers, but thanking someone for saying “Your service is great!” is every bit as important as taking their suggestions into consideration.
Strategy 3. Branded merchandise
Companies have used branded merchandise for decades, offering customers everything from free T-shirts to duffel bags with emblazoned corporate logos. Athletic-wear companies like Nike, Adidas, and Reebok are legendary for this. Their logos are famously everywhere on their products, even if they’re giving things away for free.
But the point of branded merchandise isn’t to make money — it’s to advertise. Branded merchandise essentially turns a happy customer into a walking endorsement of your brand. That means whether they paid for your product or got it for free, other people are seeing it.
And, like a billboard, you can never tell when someone needs to remember your brand. But unlike a billboard, your merchandise goes everywhere — grocery stores, airports, and even the businesses of your competitors. Branded merchandise also promotes the idea of customer loyalty and affiliation.
It makes great freebies, and every industry in the world can use it. Even if your company operates on a B2B business model, you can still ship your clients some water bottles or t-shirts with your name and logo. The key is that you create something with your logo on it — even if it’s as simple as branded stickers — and introduce it to the public.
Building relationships with your customers
If you want to start building relationships with your customers, content marketing is a great place to begin. And after you publish your first few pages, you can listen to the feedback that you get as a result. Keep the conversation going and engage with your followers, and you’ll be well on your way to growing a dedicated customer base.