Focusing on your customer relationships is key to ongoing growth

No matter what type of business you run, a strong customer base is key to success. However, brand loyalty doesn’t happen overnight. Your existing customers will only stay if you consistently give them a reason to do so. Through relationship marketing, you can build and maintain your shoppers’ commitment to your brand one step at a time.

The internet has made it easier than ever for consumers to pick from the best brands online. If you don’t focus on what your current customers want or need from you, you may lose them for good.

Luckily, building long-term customer relationships may not be as daunting as it seems. This guide will better equip you to increase customer loyalty, which will improve your bottom line.

What is relationship marketing?

Relationship marketing is designed to build meaningful customer relationships. Its goal is to not only cultivate greater engagement but also to encourage shoppers to form emotional connections with your brand. When done right, the result is more consistent sales and a greater customer lifetime value.

This marketing method is unique because it fully focuses on supporting your current buyers rather than seeking new customers. It also recognizes the ongoing importance of the customer experience for every shopper, as buyers can go through the sales funnel multiple times. Relationship marketing techniques drive returning buyers to fully trust your business—in some cases, never considering your competitors again.

Why relationship marketing matters

Most business owners will tell you that finding new buyers can be hard—and it can also be expensive. Customer acquisition can cost up to 25 times more than customer retention. Through relationship marketing, you can strengthen your base of repeat buyers and cut back on acquisition costs.

Loyal customers can help you do more than save money and time. They’re also valuable assets who help you profit more in the long run. When your relationship marketing efforts improve your retention rates by just 25%, you can boost your company’s profits by 25% to 95%.

Despite the power that long-term customers hold, your competitors are twice as likely to set their eyes on acquisition instead of focusing on keeping their existing customers. Relationship marketing is your opportunity to not only win over your target audience but also keep them as long-term and loyal buyers.

5 steps to build your relationship marketing strategy

Creating a strong relationship marketing plan is the first step to growing your business through customer loyalty. By building an organized strategy before you take action, you cultivate more effective relationships and amplify your results.

Here are a few examples of how you can work toward your first customer-focused marketing campaign:

1. Create a customer loyalty program

One of the most effective relationship marketing tactics is developing a program that’s built to especially increase customer loyalty. Loyalty programs can take many forms—including points-based programs and even paid VIP clubs—but their main role is always to reward your repeat customers for choosing your brand. Whether you’re an airline offering frequent flyer miles or a coffee shop with punch cards, you can make sure every buyer feels valued by rewarding their continuing business.

Loyalty rewards provide far more than short-term customer satisfaction. An MIT study found that participants in top-performing loyalty programs were 77% more likely to purchase from the rewarding brand as opposed to competitors. They also tended to spend more money with the brand and recommend the brand to others. So, this relationship marketing technique can even increase your word-of-mouth promotions and online reviews.

If you see more online reviews stream in as a result of your loyalty program, don’t forget to respond to your customers to thank them again—perhaps with the help of a comprehensive review management software.

2. Guarantee reliable customer service

Regardless of whether a consumer bought from you for the first time or they’re back for the thousandth purchase, they may need your support at any time. When they look for ways to reach out, your company should be ready to respond. After all, 96% of consumers agree that customer service has a huge impact on brand loyalty.

Relationship marketing can be as simple as demonstrating your brand’s attentiveness to current customers by providing responses with a quick turnaround—think 48 hours at the max. Some companies will even automate instant responses (often to confirm a message has been received) to help buyers immediately feel heard.

When it comes to responding to your customers’ feedback and inquiries, your team members should be well-trained to provide shoppers with a consistent experience that they love. Once they know how to send consistent support, your team can use Podium to streamline messages from all platforms into one location so no customer is ignored.

Customers also expect responses to their online reviews. In order to maintain a strong relationship with your most loyal supporters, don’t forget to add a review monitoring tool to your strategy.

3. Collect customer data

The richer your data, the better you’ll be able to curate your customer experience to your buyers’ needs. Relationship marketing is all about showing how much you care about your customers. Presenting enough data to prove you’re listening can help big time.

When compiling data, many companies choose to use a customer relationship management (CRM) software to keep it organized in a centralized place. Using your company’s CRM tool, your employees can better understand buyer needs in every customer interaction.

4. Personalize every interaction

With enough customer data, you can continue building close relationships with your shoppers by personalizing every message. When companies add personal elements to their email marketing alone—calling your customer by name is the bare minimum—their click rates end up 27% higher.

This relationship marketing strategy works because it’s an effective method of showing customers they’re more than one face in a massive group. Rather, you see them as individual humans who play a big role in the success of a business. As a result, you’ll drive your customers to return and continue to support your brand.

5. Follow up

When you think about how to build great relationships with your customers, consider how you maintain relationships with your closest friends. You talk and you interact—and then you follow up.

Just as you and your friends keep your relationships strong by checking in and asking each other to hang out, relationship marketing calls for business owners to consistently reach out to consumers. For example, you could follow up each time a customer makes a purchase to check if your product or service has reached their needs. A couple of weeks later, you may reach out again to reengage them in what you have to offer.

You can even turn your follow-ups into an online review ask with Podium Reviews. This not only shows you care about your current customers’ opinions, but it also helps you build your online reputation at the same time.

Create stronger relationships

While earning repeat customers can take time, you can amplify your relationship marketing by implementing helpful tools into your marketing plan. Watch this inspiring demo of our interaction management platform to see how you can pair your relationship-building efforts with our comprehensive tool.

Matt Boyce
Matt Boyce Head of SMB Marketing

Matt Boyce is a marketing and business professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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