What Is Relationship Marketing and How Can You Apply to Your Online Business
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Alright, I’m going to be a bit “Businessy” on this post – but bare with me here.
I’m going to share some amazing tips that both Fortune 500 Businesses, Private Entrepreneurs or even Internet Marketers can learn from and apply into their own businesses.
Expanding your client base (or your email list) is one of the greatest challenges facing entrepreneurs today. A business can incur huge expenses in earning a potential customer’s attention, making a successful pitch, and eventually increasing sales.
Business authors Emmet C. Murphy and Mark A. Murphy note (in their Book, Leading on the Edge of CHAOS) that:
businesses are faced with a dilemma concerning their strategy in reaching out to new customers. Some businesses opt to lay an emphasis on the existing clients.
The term relationship marketing is used to refer to a marketing strategy that stresses an emphasis on developing and managing trusting and long-term relationships with ones clients. It encompasses maintaining the customers profile, purchasing patterns, transaction history,and compiling a client’s data on on databases.
The term relationship marketing is neither the opposite of traditional marketing nor does it exclude other marketing channels such as content marketing and email marketing. Rather, it is a marketing strategy which is designed to develop strong connections with the customers and provide them with business information that is tailored to meet their needs, wants, and interests.
Characteristics of Relationship Marketing
There are several characteristics that define relationship marketing. To start with, it lays a great emphasis on customer retention, or keeping your customers or email lists happy. The major way in which entrepreneurs achieve customer retention is by ensuring optimal client satisfaction in the provision of their products and services. Generally, satisfaction of clients is largely based on the price, quality, and customer service of a product or service.
Second, it transcends the normal buyer-seller relationship and lays an emphasis on long term value of a customer. In this regard, it determines the root causes for defection of a client and not mere symptoms.
Third, it employs a personalized engagement with the client. In this regard, individual needs of a specific client are put into consideration. I can not stress enough how IMPORTANT is to maintain a positive relationship with your customers or your email list. Put yourself out there to help them, make yourself available via email or even phone.
Fourth, it involves improving and streamlining the internal operations of a company. It’s been noted that many clients opt out of a company or email list due to frustrations about the internal operations such as a non-responsive customer service department. Or again, if you’re an email or niche marketer – not responding to your customers emails.
Fifth, relationship marketing is a cross-functional marketing strategy. This means that it touches on all aspects of the organization. It is due to this reason that some business commentators call relationship marketing “relationship management.”
Lastly, relationship marketing exploits the probability that customers, through the word of mouth, can generate leads.
Implementation of Relationship Marketing to Your Business
There are several ways in which businesses can implement relationship marketing.
First, the appropriate use of technology is indispensable. With the the invention of the internet, it has never been easier for businesses to track, store, and analyze data concerning clients and eventually make deductions from such analysis. In this regard, clients are offered personalized ads, expedited service, and special rates. This serves as a token of appreciation for their sustained loyalty.
Second, social media has become an effective relationship marketing strategy. Experian Marketing Services carried out a study which revealed that 16 minutes of every hour online was spent on social networking platform such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The greatest advantage of the social media is that it allows companies to interact with the clients in a less formal way. Social marketing expert Mari Smith notes that business should shift their focus to using the social media to build a loyal following that will garner leads, publicity, and sales. Similarly, Ted Rubin, co-author of the book Return on Relationship, says that relationships are the new currency. With the different social media channels available, businesses should capitalize on them and build a following.
Third, branding is one of the most significant component of relationship marketing. If the brand reflects who the customer is, a client is more likely to remain loyal to the company. One of the best advocates of your brand are the employees. It is therefore very critical that the management is in a good relationship with the employees as this can have a great impact in the reputation of the company.
Fourth, companies should have a comprehensive understanding of the clients. This include the demographic and historical data of the client, who they are, what they buy, and how to attend to their individual preferences. The company should compile data and information concerning its clients. Consequently, it can carry out clients segmentation. In addition to that, the company can develop unique marketing strategies that will suit each group. The bottom line is that the clients are loyal for different reasons. Consequently, tailor made relationship marketing will reach out to the different groups with good results.
Lastly, the use of a referrals program can come in handy in enhancing relationship marketing. Referrals is a mutual strategy that benefits both the company and its clients. One one hand, the company generates more sales and promotes its brand name. On the other hand, the clients may benefit from a reduced price of goods and services and may also earn a commission.
Notable Examples of Relationship Marketing done Right
- First, Ikea, a Swedish furniture manufacturer, has established a network of loyal customers all over the world.
- Second, Direct Recruitment, a direct mail marketing firm based out of the UK, sends out handwritten birthday cards to its clients and associates every year.
- Third, American Airlines rewards its loyal customers with free flights and discounts. Lastly, Dell has created a special online store for high volume corporate clients.
- Fourth, and probably the most applicable for my readers is Anik Singal. Anik is an affiliate marketer, entrepreneur and speaker who has coached well over 100,000 students to online marketing success. Despite his success, he has multiple live events per YEAR where his students are invited out to places like Las Vegas, or Washington DC for a weekend to hang out, network, learn from Anik and a rather impressive list of other entrepreneurs.
Effective marketing of ANY type is about building relationships that last. The best way of implementing a relationship marketing strategy is through a comprehensive marketing plan. Relationship marketing channels include customer service, content, the social media, email, loyalty, and customers feedback.
In contrast to transactional marketing focus, relationship marketing focuses on the word-of mouth marketing and repeat customers. Overall, relationship marketing is indispensable for the survival, growth, and expansion of a business.