If you want to develop long-term relationships with customers as a brand, they need to be built on trust. According to Edelman, 81% of customers agree that they need to trust a brand to do what is right to make a purchase — let alone become a repeat customer.
One of the best ways to earn that trust as a brand is to leverage the power of relationship marketing. Instead of focusing on short-term sales, relationship marketing is about nurturing customers over a long period of time so they keep coming back to your brand.
To create lasting connections with customers, start by implementing these four key relationship marketing tactics.
Always Be There for Your Customers
Think about your personal relationships. What’s one of the worst things you can do that, more times than not, leads to some type of conflict? If you guessed ghosting people, then you’re spot on.
Likewise, being unavailable to customers can be potentially damaging. People are busy, and it’s frustrating when a company’s business hours don’t fit a customer’s packed schedule. Unfortunately, there are obvious time constraints that also apply to businesses as well. Standard operating hours for many businesses overlap with the hours most people are at work.
This is where relationship marketing can step in to make a difference and really help transform that customer experience.
One solution is offering a 24/7 chatbot for customers to connect with. You can set up a chatbot to answer FAQs and perform simple tasks — such as return initiations and order status updates — when live reps are unavailable outside of business hours.
Source: Lululemon Facebook Page
But always being there for your customers doesn’t just mean widening the range of hours customers can connect with your business. Another type of relationship marketing you can implement is getting your live reps to check in on customers and their product experience.
These checkups should be short — typically over email, taking only five minutes or so. Reps can ask customers about their product experience and whether there’s anything the rep can help the customer with.
These check-ins show customers that your business is always paying attention to customers and their needs. Not to mention, the communication can help your business find problem areas as well as potential upsell opportunities.
Engage With Customers on Their Terms
Customers shouldn’t be forced to engage with your business through a single content or communication channel. Make your brand available on multiple channels so customers can easily reach you.
Start with a strong understanding of what platforms are best for engaging with your primary audience. The audience segments you’re targeting may not be as active on channels you currently use, so you need to adjust accordingly.
For example, you might find you’re putting a lot of effort into posting content on your brand’s Facebook page. But if you have an audience that skews toward a younger demographic, you might be completely missing a large part of that audience that spends more of their time on a channel like Instagram.
Do your audience research, and start by offering content and support on two or three channels that you can realistically post regularly on and answer questions through. These channels might include company-monitored social media platforms or automated conversational agents.
Along with choosing channels, tailor your content for the different channels you’re posting on. A brand video designed for channels like Instagram and TikTok needs to be short and succinct. If you’re creating a video for a channel like YouTube or even your company website, you have more freedom to dive deeper into subject matter with more time on the clock.
Ask for Feedback, and Actually Take Action on It
Customer feedback should always be taken into consideration and at the forefront of all business decisions you make. This input is a learning tool for your brand and an opportunity to strengthen customer relationships.
To collect feedback, ask open-ended questions — ones that encourage more than a one-word answer from customers. Below are a few quick examples of the types of feedback questions you might want to ask:
- How would you describe your experience using our product?
- What aspects of our product do you love? What aspects could we improve upon?
- What specific pain point has our product helped you resolve?
These questions can help you get a better idea of where a customer’s head is at when it comes to your product.
Compile all feedback — whether it’s from a survey, an email, a chatbot, or another communication channel — into one centralized location. Once you’ve consolidated this input, assess the biggest areas of overlap among customers, and prioritize those items.
It also doesn’t matter if the feedback is positive or negative: You should always act upon both. If you’ve received extensive negative feedback about a particular product, you can address that with your team before pouring more of your marketing budget into it. On the other hand, if you’ve received lots of positive feedback about a product, consider investing more marketing dollars behind it to broaden its reach. Remember, resolving a poor product experience should hold the same weight as making a great product experience even better.
Reward Loyal Customers
Customers want to know that your brand loves them as much as they adore your brand. Make sure to show gratitude for customers to keep them happy and loyal over time.
Loyalty programs are one of the best ways to keep customers coming back to your business. To take it a step further and really reward customers for their brand affinity, set up your program in tiers based on how much customers have spent on your products. Also, assign bigger benefits as tiers go up.
Department store Nordstrom, for example, has four different membership tiers. While there are still enticing benefits to being a free member, someone at the Ambassador level (spending $5,000 and up, annually) has noticeably more benefits.
You can also send past customers special discount codes or promotions via email. This offer is a great way to unexpectedly delight them when they aren’t necessarily expecting anything from your brand.
Last but not least, recognize top brand advocates and fans on social media. If you’re noticing customers championing your brand through social media channels, acknowledge them on that platform and reward them. After all, these people are driving positivity around your brand in the public eye.
You can even get these top brand advocates to create user-generated content. This type of content is especially valuable in creating an authentic aura around your brand. The goal is to get people who love your brand to share new products or drive interest around specific campaigns.
Make Relationship Marketing a Priority This Year
Building a successful relationship marketing strategy really boils down to caring about customers beyond a single sale and creating long-term partnerships with them. If you want to learn more about your customers and their interests, Alexa can help your business get on the right track with a number of great features that can help you dig deeper into your target audience. Try a free 14-day trial today!