Relationship marketing focuses on the customer relationship, not a 1-time transaction.
It’s about creating and nurturing long-term customers that happily stick around throughout all the phases of your business; it’s about customer satisfaction for the long haul — not a quick sale.
The levels of relationship marketing include:
- Establishing the initial relationship
- Getting to know each other (understanding customer needs)
- Developing a deeper relationship, and
- Becoming committed partners.
Once you’ve reached the last level — interconnectedness through committed partnership — you’ll forge a connection with your customers that’ll be hard to break, and that’s when they’ll love you forever.
Here are some easy ways to make that happen.
#1 Nurture your current and new relationships
The end of a service or product lifecycle (the decline stage) occurs when new customers aren’t interested in your product or service, and old customers don’t return.
That’s why maintaining relationships with existing customers and new customers is an integral part of success.
But, how do you do that? Simple. Just solve their pain points as nobody else does.
Let’s think about this for a moment.
What search engine do you use when you need to search for information about something or someone?
Chances are, you probably use Google.
Google had a market share of 85.86% in January of 2021, while Bing had a market share of 6.84%, and Yahoo had only 2.76%.
Why is that?
Because searching on Google is quick and easy. Their results are accurate and reputable (and that’s what customers crave).
Searching on other search engines typically creates the opposite effect — it’s not easy to find reputable results quickly.
Google has been consistently solving customer pain points for more than two decades. That’s why customers love them and aren’t leaving.
Here are some other ways to increase customer retention:
1. Create a referral program
This type of relationship marketing strategy is a great way to get existing customers to encourage their friends to become customers.
A perfect example is PayPal. PayPal has a refer-a-friend program that encourages current customers to send one cent to a friend from their PayPal account. If the friend links their bank account and spends $5+ before a specific time, the referring user gets a $10 bonus in their PayPal account.
Free money? Yes, please!
2. Know your customers
Knowing your customers is one of the best ways to boost customer loyalty.
Understanding what your customers need and want is the only way to create products, services, and customer service strategies that’ll keep them around.
3. Have an easy way for customers to reach you
One of the fastest ways to lose customers is not giving them an easy and convenient way to get a hold of you. A good idea is to install a chatbot on your website, like this route optimization software company is doing. This way, their customers can easily reach out to them asking questions and receive a quick answer.
Just make sure that when they reach you, you solve their problem well (and fast) so that they feel taken care of. One way of doing this is to organize a face-to-face video conference, as this allows your customers to have an easy and convenient way of contacting you, as well as the reassurance of a face-to-face conversation. Also, giving access to a toll-free number to customers can give them free of cost access to get their queries solved.
#2 Focus on products and services that create long-term customers
Some products or services are transient in a customer’s life, while others are meant to be used for years.
To create a repeat customer, it’s essential to focus on products and services that follow a current customer throughout their lifetime and to include personalization along the way, such as by including custom thank you cards for business in the packages you send physically to your customers. In other words, it’s essential to increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV).
For example, the investment gifting app Earlybird enables parents and loved ones to gift investments to a child’s account and leave them video messages for the different milestones in their lives.
The goal is for parents, caregivers, extended family, and friends to invest in children during milestone moments like birthdays, holidays, graduations, or just because.
This creates an excellent opportunity to connect with customers and beneficiaries over an entire lifetime.
Another way to create long-term customers is to prioritize quality and convenience.
Having a high-quality product or service is crucial, but if it’s not convenient to buy and receive, customers will choose convenience over quality.
40% of U.S. consumers stated that convenience was most important to them at the checkout stage for in-person stores and the beginning stage for online stores.
It’s imperative to create high-quality products and services that are easy to get a hold of.
Here are some other ways to create brand loyalty:
- Create a loyalty program using QR Codes, like a VIP program.
- Send gifts, special discounts, offers, or coupons on customer birthdays and company anniversaries (i.e., BOGO offers).
- Offer an affiliate program for customers who want to be brand ambassadors.
To sum up, it’s important to focus on increasing your CLTV, creating products and services that are both high-quality and convenient, building loyalty programs, sending gifts on special occasions, and promoting affiliate programs to create brand ambassadors.
#3 Create a seamless onboarding process
Advanced customer relationship marketing begins from the moment you onboard a new customer.
According to Frevvo, “With a carefully constructed onboarding process, you can win over your customers from the very first interaction. Even better, you can nurture customers into lifelong brand advocates that provide even more value to your business in the form of referrals, larger purchases, and positive reviews.”
And that’s where customer onboarding automation comes in.
Automating your onboarding process can create a seamless experience for new customers (and save your business loads of time). But beyond all of that, it can turn free customers into paying customers. Free customers that complete onboarding prompts are 80% more likely to turn into paying customers.
Here are some other tips for creating a seamless onboarding experience:
- Create an easy sign-up process (i.e., sign up with Google or Facebook)
- Offer a free welcome gift in exchange for signing up — who doesn’t love a gift?
- Give value immediately (i.e., a free course, teach them something they want to know)
Let’s touch on that last tip, ‘give value immediately.’
One of the best ways to do that is by giving free valuable advice that you know your audience is looking for.
For example, let’s say you own a real estate company and a potential customer found you by doing a Google search on reverse mortgage calculator.
When they reach your website, they click on an option to sign up for a free Real Estate service. From there, the onboarding process is automated.
After signing up, the customer immediately receives a free guided tour and a helpful post about how high FICO scores influence better mortgage rates.
Not only was it easy for your customer to sign up, but they also got a gift and some invaluable advice to put them on the right track to homeownership.
And guess what? You did that, and they’ll love you for it.
#4 Put the power back into your customers’ hands
Putting the power back into your customers’ hands means giving them plenty of options so they can make the right decisions for their buying needs.
Here are some ways to put your customer in the driver’s seat:
- Make your business economy-proof — create a type of business that’s sustainable from bull to bear markets (and everything in between).
- Consider teaching your customers how to save or make more money — the more income your customers have, the more they’ll be able to spend on your products and services.
- If you’re a global business, use a fair currency exchange rate and don’t charge excessive fees.
- Have a balanced approach to supply and demand — unless you have a good reason, don’t produce more goods and services or fewer goods and services than customers are currently buying.
- Price your products and services fairly — unless you’re catering to a wealthy market, products and services that are too expensive reduce customer purchasing power.
- Offer comparisons and filters — whether your customers are comparing the best colleges or just trying to find the right shade of lipstick, users love being able to sift through multiple choices (but remember not to overwhelm them with too many options, or it could backfire). The image below is a perfect example of this.
- Send quizzes, polls, and questionnaires — what products and services do your customers want? What problems are they having? What do they need? What do they dream about?
- Add an FAQ section or easy to fill in FAQ form — Customers appreciate being able to see answers to their questions before trying out products and services.
Not only do customers appreciate being able to make their own decisions, but prioritizing consumer purchasing power helps you create products, services, and prices that match customers’ needs and have them coming back for more.
#5 Showcase and promote customer testimonials
Showcasing and promoting customer testimonials is a powerful way to show potential customers what they could gain if they choose your brand’s products and services.
In this section, we’ll show you:
- A few testimonial examples we love
- How to ask for testimonials
- Where to promote testimonials.
Take a look at this example from Excel Builders, a home construction company.
In this example, the brand is showcasing a trio of testimonials on their website.
Here’s why the testimonials they chose are gold.
The first testimonial raves about high-quality standards, methodology, customization, and long-term satisfaction. The second beams about expertise, saving money on utility bills, and feeling cared for. And the third is a testament to dreams coming true and quality craftsmanship.
Does it get any better than that?
Here’s another example we love by a Toronto Home Care Services provider:
This testimonial is sized extra-large. It’s featured as the first testimonial on their website, and for a good reason. It focuses on improvement in the most crucial area of our lives — health.
This testimonial gives hope that there are cases where patients can improve.
On the flip side, they also feature this testimonial right below:
While this testimonial isn’t as hopeful for wellness improvement, it shows that there is still loads of support to get customers through the hardest of days, even in the worst of cases.
How to ask for testimonials
One of the best ways to ask for testimonials is to make it easy for customers to say yes.
By providing a customer testimonial template to guide them through the process.
If you know your customers well, you’ll be able to tailor the template in a detailed form.
If you don’t know your customers well, you can create a general template or a questionnaire that will guide them through the process.
The trick is to make it easy.
Where to promote testimonials
You can promote testimonials on your marketing campaigns, website, landing pages, social media pages, email newsletters, and personalized emails. Pretty much anywhere!
#6 Create personalized content and customer service
Creating personalized content and epic customer service is no longer marketing “nice to have” but a requirement for business success.
Here’s a summary of how to do it.
First, conduct a customer behavior analysis, segment your audiences, and then based on personal preferences, customer experiences, and customer data you collected, do the following:
- Make relevant offers you know customers will love.
- Send personalized emails.
- Create long-form optimized blog posts, which will also please Google)
- Connect emotionally with your customers via blog posts, social media posts, and directly whenever possible (think Zoom calls).
- Use custom landing pages for each of your marketing campaigns.
- Treat customers with compassion, care, and gratitude. Prioritize killer customer service both in-person and online. Ensure your team is 100% on the same page about how you expect customers to be treated.
When you segment audiences by categories, you have a better chance at tailoring your content and customer service to match your customers’ preferences.
From like to love
Taking your customers from like to love is relatively easy as long as you focus on them.
Remember, it’s essential to nurture your new and existing customers, focus on long-term growth, create a seamless onboarding process, put the power back in customers’ hands, show why other customers love you, and create personalized content and customer service.
The key is relationships, relationships, relationships.
It’s all about relationships.
Axelle Dervaux has experience in digital marketing with a focus on B2B marketing for SaaS companies. She’s working in various marketing fields such as SEO and SEA, social media, lead nurturing, customer retention, product marketing. She is the Marketing Manager at ClicData, a cloud-based business intelligence, and data management platform. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.