What is relational marketing? Definition and best practices.
Relationship marketing: definition
Relationship marketing refers to marketing tactics and actions that improve communication with potential customers to guide them through the buying process and with current customers to continue building loyalty throughout their life cycle.
It is always easier to ask for something from someone if you have a good relationship with that person and if there is trust. On the other hand, if you try to ask someone who doesn’t know you and has never been in contact with you before, chances are you won’t succeed in getting a response!
That’s where relationship marketing comes into play, the art of getting to know your customers and developing a relationship with them.
Relationship marketing is a more customer-focused approach as opposed to transactional marketing, which is more focused on the product and the act of making a purchase.
Instead of focusing on promoting your products and being overly commercial, take the time to introduce yourself, let prospects and customers get to know you, and make yourself available to answer their questions.
From the how, why, and for whom? We’ll cover everything you need to know about relationship marketing in this article!
Some context on relationship marketing
Relationship marketing’s main objective is to develop a lasting and trusting relationship between your brand and your customers and/or prospects. What Is Relationship Marketing?
“Knowledge, Interest, Trust”
The principle “Know, interest, trust” is the basis of relationship marketing because it allows you to understand the evolution of your customer relationships within a given framework.
Before making a purchase, customers go through three different stages:
- Know your brand
- Have an interest in your product or service
- Put their trust in you and decide to make the purchase
This evolution takes time and requires you to really focus on developing meaningful relationships with your customers.
A more human approach
The era of B2B (business to business) vs. B2C (business to consumer) marketing is over. Now, it’s all about H2H marketing – human to human.
People no longer buy products, they buy values, a story or a brand. That is why relationship marketing is so effective and so important.
How is relationship marketing different from traditional marketing?
Mass messages vs. personalized conversations
While traditional marketing is mainly about targeting large audiences with the same message, relationship marketing works in the opposite way to establish a more personalized conversation with each customer at the right time.
To achieve this effectively, marketing automation is used to send messages triggered by specific actions performed by a user. The use of a CRM is also advised to collect all the information related to prospects and customers in order to better track interactions.
short-term vs. long term
Traditional marketing tactics generally focus more on short-term goals, such as quickly generating more sales for a specific marketing campaign.
Relationship marketing, on the other hand, is about engaging with customers and prospects to create a long-term connection.
For example, it is very useful for products with a more complex purchase cycle and a higher price, since it allows to build trust and increases customer retention.
But why does it make sense to focus more on long-term goals like customer retention and loyalty? Because it’s usually much less expensive to keep a loyal customer than it is to acquire a new one.
Returning customers tend to make purchases on a more predictable and regular basis, and are much more likely to promote your business to others in their network.
transactional vs. Relational
Traditional marketing is essentially transactional in nature (ie, the end goal is to generate a transaction, or purchase, as quickly as possible). Think ads, prospecting emails, etc.
Meanwhile, relationship marketing seeks to establish communication with potential customers before trying to sell a product.
Benefits of relationship marketing
Relationship marketing simultaneously focuses on acquiring new customers and fostering greater loyalty.
Convert visitors into customers through lead nurturing
Relationship marketing begins as soon as a potential customer comes into contact with your business for the first time (for example, visiting your page, organically searching Google results, clicking on an affiliate link, etc.).
From there, you need to nurture and maintain that relationship to transform anonymous visitors into subscribers, prospects, or customers.
You can do this by using automated workflows that deliver targeted messages and valuable content to move prospects ever closer to making a purchase. This tactic is known as lead nurturing and is part of inbound marketing. wick dipper