With consumers having more options, and higher expectations than ever before, strong customer experience is becoming more and more vital to organisations. It can often be the determining factor that sets a brand apart from the competition.
Building relationships and loyalty is vital. Companies are increasingly taking a customer-first perspective with their marketing efforts, moving from a quick-win approach, towards a long-term relationship marketing strategy.
What is relationship marketing?
Relationship marketing is designed to encourage customer loyalty, satisfaction, and engagement. A relationship marketing strategy goes beyond promotional messaging and recognises the long-term value of customer relationships and retention.
Why is relationship marketing important?
There are many ways brands can leverage the opportunities that come from building a good relationship with customers.
Studies have shown that repeat customers are more profitable than first-time customers. They spend an average of 67% more per purchase. This highlights the importance of nurturing those who have used your business before, and keeping them happy.
By listening to your customers, you can identify areas of improvement based on their feedback. The more you implement changes based on your customer’s needs and expectations, the bigger chance you have of them becoming repeat customers.
Turn repeat customers into brand advocates. Building a trusting relationship with customers will encourage not only their loyalty but also boost the chances of word of mouth recommendations.
Social media for relationship marketing
Social media is a vital touchpoint for building relationships with customers (particularly millennials). Posting engaging content, which is not overtly promotional, on the networks where your customers spend a lot of their time, helps build a loyal fan base.
Netflix understands its audience and is hugely popular on social media. They have a strong track record of customer interaction, engaging on social media using a witty, authentic tone. Netflix speaks in their customers’ language. They create memes, videos, and play on the “Netflix and chill” phrase in their posts, and use a tone of voice that positions them as also being a “fan”.
Customer reward and loyalty programmes
Relationship marketing allows brands to stand out from the competition. One way of doing this is through a robust customer reward programme.
Sephora is a brand renowned for its Beauty Insider loyalty programme which boasts 25 million members. As with many retail loyalty programmes, members earn points on purchases and can exchange these for future items. But where Sephora has seen success is through what they call “experiential loyalty”. In other words, they build loyalty through experiences. As well as financial incentives, members can enjoy unique perks, such as attending product launches or taking part in beauty classes.
“We actually think that where the real richness comes from is more from an emotional, or ‘earned’, loyalty. And a lot of the way that we actually bring that together is through our rewards. It’s definitely worth it – and it has driven a more meaningful connection with our clients, and the Sephora brand.” Allegra Stanley, Sephora VP Loyalty
Creating desirable content is a great way to encourage customers to engage and buy into your brand story. Social intelligence can help you create the perfect story for your customers by understanding their interests, lifestyle, and behaviours.
Les Arcs, a French ski resort, used audience analysis to build personas of their customers and enable them to reach them with more impactful content. Understanding the affinities of their customers helped Les Arcs to create more attractive brand content and increase customer engagement and loyalty to the resort. Read the full case study here.
Find out more about how social listening can inform your strategy by providing insights on what your customers really care about here.