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What is Relational Orientation Marketing_mini What is Relational Orientation Marketing_mini

Tips & Guides — 17 Feb 2023

What is Relational Orientation Marketing

Relational Orientation Marketing

Many businesses use a transactional marketing approach, focusing on quick sales from one-time customers. It allows them to reach milestones and hit the all-important KPIs for their business progress. But, it sacrifices sustainable increases in sales for immediate revenue.

Without a proper customer retention strategy, businesses can lose valuable repeat sales and spend twice as much to regain lost customers. By incorporating relationship building into your current marketing strategies, you can turn customers into lifelong brand advocates, utilizing your customer base to its full potential.

A long-term relationship marketing strategy can be vital for businesses with repeatable products and services to establish themselves and stand out in a crowded market.

Here, we’ll go through relational marketing, how it works, and the strategies you can employ to drive customer relationships and repeat business your way.

What is relational orientation marketing?

Relational orientation marketing is a strategy used to create meaningful relationships with a customer base to ensure customer satisfaction and retention. It’s more commonly referred to as relationship marketing and is a business strategy to build repeat customers.

Most marketing efforts are geared towards customer acquisition and one-time purchases, such as short-term ads or cold-call emails. This transactional marketing strategy excels with quick sales and single purchase products but comes at the expense of loyalty.

Relationship marketing orientation seeks to establish long-term relationships with both established and new customers. Customers want to be more than a faceless set of demographic data companies use for their marketing campaigns. Forming relationships allows businesses to build customer trust and loyalty in their brand, improve customer experiences, and create repeat business.

Many customers leave a brand because of unsatisfactory customer experiences and services. So, relationship marketing focuses on improving internal operations to satisfy customer needs. Finding and managing these partnership marketing opportunities can be streamlined with tools like CPAPI.

CPAPI lets you work with thousands of advertisers and offers to form fast, reliable partnerships. With API integration between sources of offers and your system, offers transfer automatically.

Consumers to new brand

Benefits of relationship marketing

By forming close relationships with customers, you have the advantage of knowing what they think. It lets you develop new marketing approaches and activities to ensure your transactional and relational marketing efforts are successful. Other benefits of this type of marketing include the following handful of elements. 

Creating customer loyalty

Relationship marketing looks to create long-term customers. In addition to lower customer acquisition costs (CAC), businesses also generate a stable revenue source through repeat business. It can increase business market share and growth.

Generates referrals

93% of people look to friends and family for purchasing advice. So, creating positive reviews and word-of-mouth referrals is essential to your marketing activities. 

Through customer retention and strong relationships, you can create loyal customers who will become brand advocates, recommending your products and customer service to their networks. It boosts your revenue and builds your customer base, ensuring business growth.

Improves brand reputation and awareness

With increased referrals, your brand benefits from free publicity. It improves your brand awareness and reputation, leading to more business and increased customer acquisition.

Increases customer lifetime value

Every customer has a CAC, which is the amount of money it costs to acquire a single customer. With transactional marketing, you pay this cost for each sale. 

Relational marketing retains customers, so the marketing cost per customer purchase is much lower. It leads to improved profits over time and increases customer lifetime value (LTV) for your business.

Cost-effective strategy

Relationship marketing isn’t a completely different marketing strategy that needs implementation with separate budgets, staff, and marketing literature. The principles of relationship marketing can add to any marketing campaign, including transactional marketing.

Without the need for extensive financial investment, relational marketing is cost-effective and easy to incorporate into your current marketing efforts and strategies.

Cost-effective strategy

Greater innovation

With loyal customers, it’s easier to get essential customer feedback about new products, features, and ideas. 

For instance, imagine you’re considering new features for your workflow platforms. You have a loyal customer base to ask for ideas or use as beta testers to ensure your workflow software is ready for launch.

Having a close relationship with customers means they will be eager to help and provide feedback to improve your product, as it means as much to them as it does to you.

Additionally, you can use the information you receive to measure metrics, and predict consumer needs and trends, ensuring you continue innovating in the right direction. 

How does relationship marketing work?

Relationship marketing focuses on building customer trust and loyalty to achieve strong relationships that will garner repeat customers and sales. It does this by implementing relationship marketing strategies that improve internal operations and drive customer retention.

It sounds simple. But, there are several things to consider before moving ahead with any relationship marketing methods. 

For instance, one key aspect of relationship marketing is an established customer base to target with your strategies. Small businesses and startups can find this difficult because they need to build a customer base. So, how can they form strong customer relationships if they’re stuck at this basic marketing stage?

In this section, we’ll look at what you need for relationship marketing, the different stages, and best practices.

Who is relationship marketing for?

Repeated customer acquisition is costly, and every business must look at ways to reduce their CAC to drive profits upwards and grow their business. Relationship marketing is the way to do it. Strong relationships let you increase customer retention, sustain sales, grow customers bases, and widen your reach.

relationship marketing

It can be invaluable to small businesses, who rely on short-term growth hacks to power their business and lack the resources to acquire new customers quickly. The effect of relationships can be profound on customers and can empower brand advocacy, increasing revenues.

However, large companies can also benefit from relational marketing. While they may have long-term marketing campaigns aimed at acquisition and more resources at their disposal, they’re in constant competition. 

With rival businesses and products aiming to capture their customer base, forming close relationships can create an emotional bond with customers. This bond can make leaving the business for another company an emotional and financial decision. As a result, customers find themselves reluctant to switch, even if they do find a better deal.

Regardless of the type of business, relationship marketing can solidify your market position and establish you as an industry leader. But, before getting into relationship marketing, you need to ensure your business is in the right shape to form strong customer relationships. Here are a few essentials:

  • You must have an existing customer base – Without an established customer base, there aren’t any customers to form relationships with. Your efforts focus on brand awareness and customer acquisition. 

So, to incorporate relationship marketing into your overall marketing strategy, you must have previous customers you can use to build relationships with and drive sales.

  • You need robust marketing tools – One of the necessities of forming strong relationships is gathering data about consumer interests, behaviors, and purchases. This information lets you predict and target customers with effective incentives and offers. 

For example, the right partnership marketing platform can assist you in forming valuable and profitable relationships to better target customers. Technology investments can be costly but there are many marketing tools available to fit your marketing needs and budget.

  • Your products and services should be repeatable – Whether you’re selling business-to-business or business-to-consumer, your products or services must be frequently sold items. 

For example, a coffee subscription service delivers freshly roasted coffee to a customer’s door when they need it. It’s a regular subscription service. So, a coffee roastery has repeatable products and is well-placed to benefit from relational marketing.

Long term growth and brand building

5 stages of relationship marketing

Marketing doesn’t take place in one step. Much like a customer acquisition funnel, it happens in multiple stages, and relationship management is the same. There are five stages where customer relationships can be formed, from initial customer acquisition to partnership marketing.

1. Basic marketing

The initial marketing step involves customer acquisition and guiding customers through to a sale. By improving the customer experience, you’re investing in improving your services marketing and streamlining the customer acquisition funnel. It’s a vital point to boost customer retention and begin forming relationships.

Small businesses and startups can focus their relationship-building methods at this stage as they’re still in massive need of customer acquisition.

2. Reactive marketing

Often companies will have forms or emails letting customers post feedback after buying a product. It could be about their purchasing journey or specific products or services. It shows consumers reaching out to form a relationship with the company, and it’s crucial to capitalize on this opportunity.

3. Accountable marketing 

This is the previous point in reverse. Here, it’s the business reaching out to customers for their feedback on the product, customer experience, and suggestions to improve it. 

They may even ask the customer to write a review if they found their experience positive, increasing brand legitimacy and showing customer satisfaction to prospects. Customers feel the company values their input, and it can be the starting point of a long and loyal relationship.

4. Proactive marketing

An important stage in forming relationships is to act on customer feedback and reviews. By making changes, customers feel their voice is being heard, creating a connection between the business and consumer.

Businesses must be proactive in their approach to customers and contact them to further improve their products and services.

Proactive marketing

5. Partnership marketing

Other businesses and brands may have access to your target audience.

For example, a coffee roastery and a company selling coffee brewing equipment have the same target audience. By partnering up, they can target twice as many consumers. It drives revenues, grows customer bases, and builds new relationships.

Collaboration improves customer experiences and satisfaction, creating stronger customer relationships. Partnership marketing platforms, like Affise Reach, can make finding partners easy. They source reliable partners to drive ecommerce traffic, expand your partnerships, and grow your business.

It’s crucial to engage your relationship marketing at every stage for maximum effect. Start with basic marketing to build your customer base and move to the next to improve customer experiences, services, products, and accessibility. 

Using relationship marketing strategies at each stage will increase customer retention, build loyalty, and improve marketing management.

Best practices for relationship marketing

There are several strategies you can employ for your relational orientation marketing. However, unless you stick to the key principles of this type of marketing, your best efforts might fall short of your loyalty and success aims. 

Here are some best practices to ensure solid marketing management and relationship building:

  • Know your audience and understand their behaviors, desires, and needs. It lets you continually create effective strategies for better relationships
  • Form a customer relationship team. It focuses efforts on connecting with customers and streamlining your marketing processes to build bonds faster 
  • Invest in internal marketing. This means ensuring employees understand their role in forming strong relationships and have a solid understanding of business products and services

For instance, imagine you’re providing VoIP services. Your employees must confidently answer common customer questions like: How does VoIP work, or what metrics or features does it provide?

Brand Loyalty Matters
  • Build a comprehensive customer relationship strategy that works with your current marketing campaigns
  • Conduct regular employee training to ensure they understand how to interact and engage with employees in positive and negative situations
  • Focus on maintaining high customer satisfaction rates and tell customers how much you appreciate them
  • Use technology and automation to streamline your business processes
  • Use monitoring tools to gather employee and customer data and continually improve your relationship marketing strategies

Relationship marketing strategies

Unlike transactional marketing, relational marketing prioritizes customers over a product or service. It helps build long-term relationships and should be a key part of any strategy or plan you implement. Below are relationship marketing strategies to drive customer retention and build a base of reliable, enthusiastic, and committed customers.

Put the customer first

Putting customers first is at the core of relationship marketing, and it’s the first strategy you should implement. It involves getting to know and understand your customers. It could be through: 

  • Surveys
  • Tracking their purchases, wishlists, or website searches
  • Monitoring social media responses

While this customer data is useful for transactional marketing, you’re not doing this to offer up a sales pitch. Instead, it’s to engage with customers on the channels they spend their time on and give them something they value or are interested in.

For example, you could send customers birthday emails or discounts. It makes customers feel valued and opens the door to repeat business.

Consumer loyalty to brands

Create a loyalty or referral program

In the landscape of the business world, rivals are selling the same products and services as you at a competitive price. So, how do you stand out and drive customers through your doorways?

Creating a referral or loyalty program incentivizes customer loyalty and builds long-term relationships. These programs offer the possibility of rewards when repeatedly purchasing products. They promote continued customer engagement and generate additional customer revenue and interactions, leading to a strong bond forming over time. 

For example, many coffee shops, supermarkets, and airlines offer loyalty points for each purchase to trade for products or services. It encourages customers to stay loyal to your brand.

Another way to incentivize customer loyalty is to provide surprise gifts for loyal customers, like when airlines upgrade customers to first class without them requesting it. Customers talk about their experience online, driving positive word-of-mouth marketing, and they feel their commitment to a brand is valued.

Improve internal marketing processes

A key part of any marketing campaign is employees that understand how to carry out your strategy. It involves good communication to and between employees to ensure no vital information is left out or miscommunicated. It’s known as internal marketing.

Training employees and identifying improvements to your internal operations guarantee that your relationship management and marketing are working effectively. It removes any bottlenecks or pain points preventing your business from connecting with your customers.

There are many ways to do this, including:

  • Breaking down communication silos 
  • Updating your process library, so current and future employees understand how work occurs at your company and no information is forgotten
  • Using training to improve cross-team communication

Investing in internal marketing helps your marketing strategy by coordinating employee efforts and strengthening their performance in forming bonds with customers.

Marketing and sales team less siloed

Use personalization in communications and offers

Creating a successful relationship with customers depends on engaging with them effectively. To do this, you must focus on treating your customers as individuals instead of a set of demographics or metrics. So, personalization is a key relationship marketing strategy.

Consider how to treat your customers like they want. It could be personalized emails, discounts, or interacting with them via the channels they use the most, such as Instagram or Twitter.

You can use segmentation to group customers by their interests or habits and craft messages that appeal directly to them, using personalized information like names or locations.

For example, a gaming company might notice a group of customers buy video games when they receive a discount code, while another group prefers multiplayer games. Personalized communications allow effective targeting of each group to garner repeat sales. 

Create compelling stories

Creating a compelling story is necessary for any marketer, but it’s even more crucial when forming customer relationships. Once customers have made a purchase, they have the product or service they require. An extra ad or promotional email isn’t going to turn them into loyal shoppers. Instead, customers need to feel the value of a business.

Here, it’s not about facts. It’s about creating an emotional connection and making customers believe the brand reflects them and who they are. Using compelling customer stories makes it harder for customers to switch to other brands and makes your business part of their lifestyle.

For example, many smartphone owners align themselves with an Apple or Android device. Despite the growing similarity between the two platforms, switching is an emotional and practical decision. So, most people stick to one platform and use it to define themselves and also for reasons of practicality.

Mobile phone companies use customer stories for ads, videos, and online content to form an emotional bond rather than a merely transactional relationship. Think about the acquisition channels you can use and the stories you can spread to achieve this.

Create compelling stories

Ensure great customer service

Not all positive relationships form through intensely proactive means, and customer service is one place where this is true. 

Customers often have issues with products and services, such as returning an item or troubleshooting an error. Providing excellent customer service is a crucial part of building and rebuilding relationships.

For instance, consider a customer that’s sent the wrong size of running shoes. If the customer service team promptly addresses the issue and provides plain instructions for the exchange, customers will remember the seamless process. Despite being sent the wrong size, they’ll consider buying from the same company due to positive customer service.

Additionally, they may recommend their experience to their network, increasing customer acquisition, growing your user base and potential relationships.

Connect through social media

Social media is a busy place with over 3 billion users worldwide. It’s a great place to power brand awareness and customer acquisition. But, it’s also ideal for customer interactions leading to better relationships.

For instance, if you want to target Gen Z, TikTok is a perfect place to interact and engage effectively. Creating content and finding ways to boost the customer experience on these platforms can reach out to your target audience to build relationships.

Research the social platforms your specific demographic uses the most and find ways to reach out to them on these platforms. It shows a willingness to cater to your customers’ lives and encourages users to interact with your brand. 

Global Social Media Users

Encourage feedback

Every customer wants their concerns heard. By encouraging regular customer feedback, you make customers feel their opinion is valued. It forms the building blocks of a positive relationship.

You might send automated post-purchase emails, random surveys with a discount code incentive, or monitor real-time issues posted on social media. But, feedback is a two-way street.

Once you’ve received customer suggestions or concerns, act on them. Look at improving your product, customer experience, or business processes to align with customer desires.

Make it a habit to reply to customers once their suggestions or issues are resolved. It increases their connection to your businesses and makes their voice heard.

Use technology to boost your efforts

For small businesses with a few customers, one-to-one engagement is easy. Providing the same personalized marketing approach to a larger customer base is impossible. It’s where technology can help.

Tools like customer relationship management (CRM) software can automatically track and monitor the customer journey. It records every important interaction and analyzes it to find trends, create accurate customer profiles, and anticipate customer needs.

There are many marketing tools available. For example, workflow automation, AI personalization, and business intelligence.

Solutions, like Affise BI simplify data gathering and analysis by providing teams with self-service access to analytics. They compile unstructured data from multiple marketing channels onto one dashboard, giving valuable insights and trends.

Consider what your business needs for better relationship marketing management and invest in those areas to boost your strategies.

Technologies in marketers' toolkit

Be accessible

Finally, don’t be a stranger to your customers. Make it easy for them to get in touch with you through the method and channel they prefer. It could be Instagram DMs, over the phone, or via an online video chat.

Focus on creating a comprehensive set of contact options. Use your customer research to target channels where your audience spends most of their time. Remember, don’t wait for customers to get in touch with you. Be proactive in your approach.

Answer online comments or questions, and respond to social media posts. Customers see that you care about their experience and your brand awareness increases. It helps with acquisition and relationship-building.

Give your customers a reason to stay

Relationship marketing employs customer-centric strategies. It drives loyalty, increases customer LTV, and provides a sustainable approach to sales. Its long-term, cost-effective process ensures full utilization of customers through relationship-building and addressing consumer needs.

Every business can implement relationship marketing strategies to turn one-time buyers into lifelong customers. However, you need an established customer base, repeatable products or services, and a robust set of marketing tools for success.

For instance, partnership marketing platforms like Affise have become invaluable in quickly building reliable and valuable relationships to benefit your business. 

By following the best practices listed here, you can begin moving through the different stages of relationship marketing and give your customers a reason to stay brand loyal.

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Alister Esam - CEO and Founder, Process Bliss

Written by

Alister Esam is the CEO and Founder of Process Bliss, a work management software that is reinventing how businesses execute day to day tasks. He is an expert in strategic planning, business process management, and business process optimization. With more than 15 years of experience in helping businesses run at peak efficiency, Alister has dedicated his career to make work easier, and more motivating for managers and employees alike.

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