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Drivers of Relationship Marketing_blog

Events — 16 Aug 2022

Drivers of Relationship Marketing

Drivers of Relationship Marketing

‘Make a customer, not a sale’ is the well-known advice from 70s retail doyenne Katherine Barchetti. Although, what this actually means is often lost in most business-to-consumer models. 

What it boils down to is this: when you conduct a transaction, make sure that the person you’re selling to goes away happy with the experience, as that is the key to repeat business. 

And repeat business is, make no mistake, where it’s at. The more often a customer purchases from your site, the more likely they are to return to purchase again.

likelihood of another purchase
Source (blog.smile.io)

Think of what this means for customer lifetime value. For this reason, whatever shopping channels, whether you’re using business phone systems, you should be doing all you can to encourage repeat business, whether you work in marketing management for business-to-business or business-to-customer sales. 

This is what relationship marketing is all about. The chances are you’re doing elements of it already. If not, you should be, alongside maintaining a robust customer acquisition strategy

Whether you want to include one or two features or go for wholesale change via platform migration, we’re going to look at how you can get started, or if you’re already on your way with it, how you can perhaps tweak a few aspects to make it even better for your enterprise. 

What is relationship marketing?

Marketing efforts are all about relationships. However, what’s known as relationship marketing is a specific kind of marketing practice. 

It’s a well-known observation that it costs a whole lot more to go down the customer acquisition route than it does to keep an established customer. Statistics vary on this one, but most cite at least a five-fold cost advantage to retaining existing customers over enticing new ones.

retention vs acquisition costs
Source (struto.io)

When you look at how much more fruitful your sales approach will be to an existing customer over a new customer, things really come into focus. Some studies have found that the probability of selling to an existing customer is up to 35x higher than when trying to sell to a new customer. 

Why is this? One of the key reasons is that when you are dealing with a new lead, you haven’t been able to build up a customer relationship with them. Not every salesperson is proficient enough to instantly conjure up an impeccable customer experience. 

Customers tend to be a little savvier than they used to be. Those that are experienced in the market will have a degree of wisdom to fall back on and will not necessarily be easily wowed. Those new to the market may well go into the experience with their defenses up. 

This means that you have to work hard to establish an atmosphere conducive to buying. Effectively, you will to some extent have to win them over. This is where the psychology of selling comes in. 

When you try to sell something to someone, the most important element you need to instill is trust. Trust is essential to all business relationships, but especially buyer-seller relationships. It can be generated by all manner of factors, for instance, brand identity: a customer will feel that they have a relationship with a brand they already have a perception of, because of brand identity. 

They may never actually have come into contact with the product or service providers; they’ve just heard by word-of-mouth that they’re good, so a degree of trust is manifested. You can achieve this kind of partnership via a brand and agency link-up such as that made possible by Affise Reach

Once a customer has used your products or services and comes back for more – then you have bonafide customer loyalty. Why this may appear as if it’s come from page one of the journal of marketing, this is precisely what customer retention is all about. 

With these relationship drivers in place, you’ll have the customer’s trust. You can then skip straight past the getting-to-know-you stage when you’re trying to ascertain the interests of the client, at the same time as trying to seem like the best purveyor of products of all time. 

It’s important to remain attentive and professional, of course, but with established customers, you start from a position of trust, and this is what drives sales. 

And what sales it drives. It has been found that a 5% rise in customer retention can result in a 25-95% jump in sales. This is, in essence, why relationship marketing is important. 

How do you go about starting a relationship marketing program?

Put briefly, you need to get to know your existing customers better. You know they like what you do. But what exactly do they like and why? In other words, what makes customers keep coming back? 

To turn it on its head, here’s a breakdown of why customers tend to stop their association with a business:

customers leaving a company
Source (superoffice.com)

It’s a pretty striking fact that customers need to feel like they matter to the company. Yes, product quality and customer service play their part, but long-term relationships of all kinds depend on both parties feeling like they’re of value to the other. 

You can of course seek to combat this by keeping in touch, and there have never been so many methods by which you can do just this. Email, social media, and postal outreach (yes, this still exists) can work wonders in terms of gathering information from customers and making them feel like they count. 

Obviously, you shouldn’t make a nuisance of yourself, but you should certainly check in regularly to see what customers are currently seeking and how you can deliver this. 

‘It is not your customer’s job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have the chance to forget you’ – Patricia Fripp

There are a number of tactics you can use to ensure that you not only have a thumping base of loyal customers but also to nurture that relationship quality to help even with your acquisition costs. 

Personalization

In a world that can sometimes seem cold and distant, driven by automated processes that appear impersonal and uniform, people crave individuality. This is the case both in terms of what a business puts out about themselves, but also about that business’s perception of the customer. 

By getting to know your customer individually, you can establish what it is that they are likely to want to buy going forward and gently nudge them in this direction. What you need to prioritize firstly is metrics, so that you can capture and utilize information on customer behavior with all due speed. This is where a service such as Affise BI and CPAPI can really help, so do investigate what these can do for you.

Try to communicate in a way that seems like it’s just you-and-them.You can provide them your business voip phone number. This is called dyadic communication and is the complete opposite of impersonal mass communication. 

Here’s a good example of personalization from Society6, which gives the recipient a reminder of all the products they had a look at recently. The idea is that customers will sometimes forget where they were in the sales funnel so a friendly nudge will always be appreciated.

personalizing emails
Source (sendgrid.com)

Customers will invariably appreciate this friendly gesture aimed at making sure they have all the relevant information laid out in front of them and you’ll derive a competitive advantage.

So, use your CRM wisely. Build up a profile of each customer and create a rounded picture of what they are likely to want in their lives. Then provide it. 

Connection to the brand

Marketing theory has it that repeat customers tend to go on a journey of increasing brand connection.

Admittedly, sometimes there may be a pre-existing connection. Perhaps that customer’s relatives have always bought from you, and they’re going to do the same. More likely however is that the customer grows to love the brand due to their experience of it. 

brand love curve
Source (thefinancialbrand.com)

The great thing about this is that the customer feels that they’re taking an active choice in picking your company based on elements that mean something to them, and sticking with it. Brand loyalty then results. If a customer feels less manipulated, they will be more likely to be a happy individual and customer satisfaction will benefit. 

Emotional resonance

There are many legs on which emotional resonance stands, perhaps the key one of which is trust. As we’ve seen, trust is a prerequisite for a sale, and prolonged trust is necessary for a relationship. How do you go about enhancing trust, long-term? There are several ways to do this.

Display your trustworthiness

Get those five-star reviews front and center. Make any awards you’ve won nice and visible.  It’s often a case of retailing yourself first and foremost. It can be a beauty pageant out there sometimes, so pucker up and face the spotlight.

Experience counts

Reviews and awards are great tools for telling new customers about just how you’re safe to place trust in, but what about customers who have already used you? Your priority with them is to give them as good a customer experience now as the day they first came to you. This is down to great customer service, which can propel greater spending.

customers excellence
Source (superoffice.com)

Whether you use customer experience management software or other means, it’s quality and consistency of UX which will see you enjoy the results. Nothing can irritate current customers more than feeling like their loyalty is being taken for granted while the company prioritizes customer acquisition. 

A big part of nurturing an emotional resonance is creating the impression that the individual customer means everything to the business. We’ve seen how customers tend not to like being ignored. Actually, this is where that personalization we talked about can really make an impact. 

Make your communication with your clients plentiful but at the same time always make it relevant. You can enhance relevancy by finding out more about customers through means such as purchase history or the use of questionnaires.

A case study demonstrates the importance of targeting. AppricotAds, using the assistance of affise.com, set about smart targeting so that its output hit the right sector. Through this and other means, the company achieved a 58% increase in ROI. 

If the customer thinks you know them as an individual and your emails to them demonstrate this, the emotional resonance will grow and your figures will dramatically improve.  

Ethical resonance

87% of customers will buy a product for a company that advocated for an issue they care about. Ethical purchasing is huge, with a lot of consumers feeling that they can make more of a difference with their dollar than their vote. So, sometimes it makes sense to be very visibly ethical on matters of the environment.

It’s even been reported that matters of ethics are up to three times as important to a customer as matters of capability.

ethical resonance
Source (about.ads.microsoft.com)

However, be careful what you say. It’s great to have a conscience but the more you tie your brand to it, the more likely you’ll be to distance some members of your customer base. 

Also, you may be trading long-term relationships for short-term gain. Should the issue your company supports shift in public perception, it could end up looking, at best, a little outdated. So, wise customer relationship management goes hand in hand with an ethical profile. 

Economical resonance

It’s always been this way: customers like economy. A company that prides itself on offering  low-cost products or services will benefit from customer loyalty. Cut-price supermarkets and distributors are a good example of this. Customers at certain chains will often shop there, because of a perception, accurate or otherwise, that they get more donuts for their dollar there than at any other. 

So your messaging needs to be on the money, literally. A product will always be worth more to one individual than it is to another, but you can’t escape market price, so always bear this in mind. Unless, of course, you have something else up your sleeve, like…

Local resonance

Sourcing of goods is gaining in popularity. With an eye on planetary protection and community invigoration, a lot of attention is being given to how local neighborhoods can get involved with these admirable aims. 

If you’re an ecommerce company looking to effect a .nz domain launch shortly, then the chances are this avenue will be all but closed to you if you’re looking at generating local resonance in New Zealand. However, you can give it a try by working to have a community presence by getting involved in social efforts, clean-up campaigns, or kids’ care among many other efforts. 

By using any of these resonance tactics, your relationship marketing strategy can derive huge benefits. 

Encourage community awareness

Your customer base forms a community that you can, with the right treatment, use to launch some very effective marketing partnerships

It might be a somewhat far-flung community across several platforms, social groups, ages, and territories, but it’s a community nevertheless, with at least one thing in common – your business. Your business is the hub around which this community is formed, which is a pretty nice place to be for a commercial concern wanting to grow.

The most obvious way to connect your community of customers is via an online event. Getting people together, whether in person or online, can result in tremendous benefits in terms of idea generation and process improvement. 

You can treat it as a big focus group, to organize a product, loyalty program launch, or stage a competition with prizes and giveaways as incentives to take part. Give it a hashtag and that’s a community insignia right there. 

Importantly, once you’ve got this community together and to recognize itself as a body with a degree of commonality, you need to listen to it. It’s an unfortunate fact that most customer unhappiness goes unreported (96% according to one study), and businesses carry on making the same mistakes as a result. So this represents a golden opportunity to get fulsome and honest customer feedback. 

And when they come up with the good stuff, act on it, and acknowledge where the idea came from. This will encourage others. Before you know it, your attempts at improving marketing relationships have resulted in a hotbed of ideation. 

Crucially, don’t treat your community of customers just as a guaranteed market to fling goods at. They’ve taken the time and trouble to invest in you, so you should invest in them. It’s good for you and it’s good for them. That’s a functional relationship for you.

Having community brand ambassadors create UGC (user-generated content) to promote your brand is also a top marketing strategy. These sorts of marketing partnerships are often free, they’re usually fresh, and they’re certainly effective.

jukin media
Source (blog.hubspot.com)

And so it continues…

The more you succeed at driving relationship marketing, the more your business is promoted by an army of unpaid marketers.

Customers who go home mad tell their story, whereas those who go home happy tell your story – Jake Poore, Disney. 

Jake Poore’s potent observation explains why a concentration on customer retention makes so much more sense than an overwhelming concentration on customer acquisition. 

Customer retention actually encompasses the latter, in that your loyal customers encourage greater engagement in a state of self-perpetuation. Over the course of a well-managed long-term customer relationship, your business stands to profit significantly from this kind of peer-to-peer rapport. 

Conclusion

The good news about relationship marketing is that its principles are simple to incorporate, either bit by bit or by the whole platform migration hog. 

As with a lot of business, it’s the basics that count. And customer happiness is a basic, that needs nurturing. It’s tempting sometimes to sit back and figure that if you sold to one person, you can do so again without any bother. 

However, this is thinking fit for fairytales and cartoons. In the real world, businesses need to take time to address customer needs and ensure customer success and satisfaction, otherwise, repeat business will not happen. In the real world, the ever-unfulfilled Wile E Coyote would have ditched Acme many “meep-meeps” ago. 

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Richard Conn - Senior Director, Demand Generation, 8x8

Written by

Richard Conn is the Senior Director for Demand Generation at 8x8, a leading communication platform with integrated contact center, voice, video, and provides voip phone service. Richard is an analytical & results-driven digital marketing leader with a track record of achieving major ROI improvements in fast-paced, competitive B2B environments. Check out his LinkedIn.