In the past decade, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software has become the single largest software market in the world. At the same time, businesses have started to slowly transform their sales funnel model into the flywheel model. Finally, web designers the world over attest to the significance of the User Experience (UX). One may trace the root of these and similar developments to the famous “customer-first” philosophy marketers and businesses now embrace. That’s, in essence, the core of relationship marketing; developing a customer-centric approach that inspires an emotional connection and long-term loyalty. But how exactly does one implement such a massive undertaking? Let us explore the best relationship marketing strategies and tools to find out.
What is relationship marketing?
Having already touched on some fundamental principles of relationship marketing, let us now define it more concretely.
As the name implies, relationship marketing is a marketing strategy that seeks to cultivate relationships with customers. To do so, it focuses on customer satisfaction across the entirety of the customer journey. In doing so, it aims to increase retention rates, often cultivating loyalty that yields brand advocacy.
Thus, relationship marketing stands in diametrical opposition to transactional marketing. Much like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it focuses on delivering informational value and emotional satisfaction, instead of simply securing sales.
Best relationship marketing tools
Understandably, then, relationship marketing is a very broad, holistic marketing philosophy. As such, it requires specific tools to inform it and specific strategies to best come into effect. Let us start by exploring the former first.
1. CRM software
CRM software, as highlighted above, is one of the pivotal aspects of relationship marketing. In brief, CRM offers a consolidated customer database, interaction history records, and other relationship management tools. However, choosing one takes due research as CRM solutions differ in 3 key regards; types, industry focus, and exact features.
#1 CRM types
CRM solutions may be general, or specialized into one of 3 main CRM types:
These types focus on different aspects of marketing; service and sales, analytics and segmentation, and channel management, respectively.
#2 CRM industry focus
Then, CRM solutions may also offer a distinct industry focus. For example, moverstech.com offers a solution focused on the moving industry, as the name suggests. This focus typically manifests itself in small or key features that best facilitate an industry’s unique needs.
#3 CRM features
Finally, on the subject of features, CRM solutions differ very significantly in terms of exact features. Two solutions of the same type and with the same industry focus may still offer very different features. As such, it is always wise to carefully research each option before making your final choice.
2. Customer journey mapping tools
Another invaluable relationship marketing tool is customer journey mapping software. As the name suggests, this type of software helps businesses map potential customer journeys across the 4 interaction phases:
- Post-purchase engagement
In the context of relationship marketing, this tool offers a clear overview of touch points, highlighting positive and negative experiences. Thus, it allows marketers to refine the customer journey and improve the overall UX, building deeper connections in the process.
Popular customer journey mapping tools to consider include:
3. Live chat
Finally, live chat software is another notable asset toward relationship marketing that often integrates with other tools. At the same time, it offers to enhance your customer service, and increasingly more customers now expect it. It does so by demonstrably increasing visitors’ UX, as the statistics show.
Live chat software options to consider include:
- Zoho desk
As above, however, one must note that live chat solutions do differ considerably from one another. Especially if you intend to integrate them into a large, complex workflow, careful prior research would be wise.
Best relationship marketing strategies
Now, with these tools at your disposal, you may put relationship marketing to the test. Here are 3 among the most notable relationship marketing strategies that enhance the customer experience to consider.
1. Personalize your outreach
Nothing works quite as well toward fostering personal relations as personalization. You may thus use your customer insights and interaction records to personalize the following and more:
- Marketing emails. The simple inclusion of your customers’ names in the email subject line can increase open rates and denote uniqueness. You may further inform your emails’ copy, such as product suggestions, style and tone, and even timeliness to enhance personalization.
- Retargeting material. Much like marketing emails, effective retargeting can go a long way toward cultivating a solid relationship. Consider omnichannel retargeting, from emails to social media posts, and personalize it according to your tools’ customer insights.
- Direct communication. Finally, you can also personalize customer service interactions, social media responses, and any other means of direct communication. Consider using your customer segmentation data, interaction history, and other acquired insights for personal, genuine, but always professional communication.
2. Leverage social media
On the subject of social media, there are multiple ways to both practice and inform relationship marketing through them. Consider the following examples:
- Interact and engage. Social media offer an excellent way for businesses to directly interact with customers and humanize their brand. Thus, you may use your existing social media strategy as a way to do so. Start discussions, resolve grievances, highlight your mission and values. Do so in a genuine way, with an approachable tone, and in friendly language, and your community will thrive.
- Collect feedback. As you interact with customers, you can collect feedback on an array of topics. Consider surveys, quizzes, AMAs and Q&As, polls, and other feedback collection forms of choice. These will both increase your engagement and amass insights to inform your future direction.
- Onboard new customers. Finally, while relationship marketing aims for retention, retention may hinge on the very first interaction. Consider your new customers, and produce onboarding material for your product or service, such as videos and blog posts. Share them with individual customers as they emerge, and you’ll have planted the seeds for long-term loyalty.
3. Implement a loyalty program and reward loyalty
Finally, as cliché as it may sound, loyalty programs undoubtedly work. Moreover, they specifically work in the context of relationship marketing by definition. In this regard, consider the following:
- Points programs. The simplest, tried-and-tested form of loyalty programs is, simply, points programs. To implement one, you may offer gifts, perks, discounts, or bonuses as rewards for continued loyalty. This strategy both incentivizes more sales and cultivates emotional investment, as customers see tangible proof of your appreciation.
- Birthday and anniversary gifts. Another form of rewarding loyalty is personalized offers and gifts that mark a customer’s birthday, subscription anniversary, or other events. For this, you may use the information your customers have provided you with in conjunction with analytics of your own. A simple “thank you” email can foster emotional bonds, but a birthday gift can cement them.
- Referral programs. Much like points programs, referral programs are a traditional, demonstrably effective tool. Through them, you may reward brand advocacy, which itself offers insights into your strategies’ effectiveness. Customers who refer their peers to you are now brand advocates, which is a great testament to the relationship you’ve built.
To summarize, relationship marketing entails a customer-first philosophy that prioritizes satisfaction and long-term loyalty. Best facilitated by CRM software, it can employ customer journey mapping, live chat, and other tools to inform its direction. Then, it can manifest in personalized outreach, social media interactions, loyalty programs, and other touchpoints across the customer journey. But regardless of the relationship marketing strategies and tools you choose to use, an enhanced UX is the explicit goal. In turn, long-term loyalty and brand advocacy may follow, bolstering your marketing effectiveness and, indeed, putting the customer “first”.