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Make the Commitment to Relationship Marketing

June 06, 2016

Make the Commitment to Relationship Marketing


Have you heard the one about the guy who bought the hoodie for his girlfriend for Christmas? No, this is not the beginning of a bad joke. It’s actually a marketing lesson you don’t want to miss if you’re interested in establishing better relationships with your customers.

It goes like this. The guy’s girlfriend broke up with him right before Christmas and he sent the hoodie back to outdoor apparel company, MooseJaw. In the “reason for returning” column, he wrote, “girlfriend dumped me.” Three weeks later he received a package from MooseJaw containing a large selection of T-shirts and stickers, jokes and a handwritten note that said, “We’re sorry your girlfriend broke up with you, we decided to give you a gift.”

If he had simply received a refund or even a note that said sorry our product didn’t work for you, how disingenuous would that have sounded under the circumstances? That extra level of empathy and awareness that MooseJaw exhibited is the perfect example of relationship marketing at its finest.

In relationship marketing, the goal is not to land a transaction; it’s to foster customer loyalty and long-term engagement. And this, in turn, helps companies develop strong, emotional connections to their brands that drive word-of-mouth promotions and lead generation.

Didn’t companies always practice relationship marketing? It isn’t a new concept after all. But think of this from an inbound marketing perspective, which says you want to actively pull in your community and engage in a dialog, not passively wait for them to engage. So you generate a lot of web traffic with your presence on social media, write brilliant blogs and create high-quality content offers. What’s next? It’s establishing rapport you have with your targets via all of these efforts-- social media, web content and email campaigns, newsletters, etc. That’s what relationship marketing is and it will see “explosive growth in 2016,” according to Entrepreneur magazine.

An estimated two billion consumers worldwide currently own smartphones. Through mobile technology and applications, you can build stronger loyalty programs and foster long-term engagement based on an emotional customer connection, not just connection related to a product.

Sephora’s Beauty Insider loyalty group is a good example of tracking the shopping habits of the cosmetic company’s most dedicated customers and using that data to recommend “handpicked” products to the buyer, send free birthday gifts and offer free beauty classes (in participating stores.)

In addition, you have more data than ever before to fuel that outreach and that is what is going to help you make the switch from mass-targeted content and interruptive marketing to solid relationships built on trust. Using CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools is a great way to monitor your customer’s online activity so that you can deliver dynamic web pages that cater to their preferences and put together personal recommendations. The derived data will even ensure that they don’t have to view content twice.


7 Suggestions for Rocking Your Customer Relationships

  1. Let consumers know you’re listening. By responding to their comments on your FB post, you’ve opened a two-way conversation and personal connection every customer wants. It’s important to keep all of your profiles on social media networks up to date so that you can engage with all of your audiences.

  2. Integrate the customer feedback that you get as much as possible in order to improve your products and services. Starbucks, a pioneer in relationship marketing, changes up their seasonal drinks and treats based on customer recommendations.

  3. Follow up fast. After the initial purchase, send your customer an email asking her how she liked the product or service. You can also give her a personalized list of recommended goods that will enhance what she already bought.

  4. Conduct regular polls and surveys of your customer database. And give them incentive to do so. Hilton Hotels offers points to their loyalty program members for sharing their opinions about their recent stay in a brief survey. Go even further if a customer expresses dissatisfaction with a particular issue. Make it right for them in a personal way. Get creative.

  5. Organize customer appreciation events. Once a buyer becomes a customer, you should invest effort in connecting them with other like-minded customers. Provide food and drink and entertainment and give them first crack at your new product. For example, in April, Jimmy John’s sandwich chain created its first ever, day-long customer appreciation event offering $1 sandwiches.

  6. Establish referral marketing campaigns.

  7. Conduct regular training sessions for all members of staff on all aspects of proper customer relations.

Relationship marketing lets your customers know that you do, in fact, care. Satisfied customers are more willing to shop again, as well as promote your business to others. That equals higher organic traffic, lead generation and sales. My bet is that the girlfriendless guy mentioned above a) has become one of MooseJaw’s best customers b) he drove jilted lovers everywhere to check out the company’s products and c) he probably is being pursued by numerous women who like his story (and who will probably like Moosejaw too!)

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Resa Goldberg
Resa Goldberg