Consumer Trends in the Retail Industry: The Power of the Disgruntled Consumer
By Alex JonesOct 17th
Published November 2nd 2016
Relationship marketing is a long-term strategy, and that might put some brands off. If you have the conviction to engage in it and stick with it, your business can see long term benefits.
You basically need to understand your customers and deliver what they want. Not the most extreme of ideas, but there you go.
In this sense, it is the opposite of direct response marketing, which is designed to elicit an immediate response from consumers. It emphasizes attributing each response and purchase to individual advertisements.
This means that relationship marketing understands the long-term value of great customer relationships. It extends content and communications beyond overly promotional messages, intruding into the consumer’s space with a hard sell.
Relationship marketing makes sense in the age of the customer.
With empowered consumers who are spoilt for choice, fostering a relationship to the benefit of the consumer can make you stand out from competitors. And the platforms and technology available mean you can do this in a variety of ways.
Customer service has to be the number one priority for brands hoping to succeed at relationship marketing.
Speaking to a customer service representative is often one of the few times a customer speaks directly to the brand. This exchange will take on more significance for the customer, as the representative they speak to is the brand for them.
It has the potential to be a real game-changer for customer satisfaction. Twitter has reported that companies using the platform for customer service see a 19% lift in customer satisfaction. On the flip side, bad customer service can ruin a relationship. UK Research states that 8 out of 10 consumers say that bad customer service has left them “enraged”, with 11% saying it happens “frequently”.
Great customer service goes beyond putting out fires, and social intelligence can surface relevant conversations that are relevant, like recommendation requests, without being directed at your brand.
Content marketing has been a big deal for a long time now. It goes hand in hand with relationship marketing. Paid advertising only works for as long as you keep putting money into the machine. Content marketing can help you build an audience for the longer term, as good evergreen content will provide years of value.
The way it does this is by providing the consumer with what they want. In addition to this ‘soft cell’, content marketing can support current customers with useful advice.
Social intelligence can support your content marketing strategy by helping you understand what your audience are talking about. You can discover trending content to make sure you are always at the forefront of the conversation. There may be great content from other parties that you could take inspiration from, or you could find content that is outside of your industry that your audience is interested in.
Consumers want to contact you at their convenience. If you are trying to decide which platforms to have a presence on, you need to find out where your customers and prospects are already, and join them. This means committing to it as well, not just having a Twitter bot that tells them to email with their details.
This also includes being available at the time of day they are active. To make a sweeping assumption: if your customers are students, early mornings might be less important than later in the evening. Again, a social intelligence tool can help you understand the hours of the day and days of the week that customers are tweeting about your brand or your product category in general.
Customer loyalty programs are a mixed bag. Some say that they foster loyalty. Others say they eat into profits from customers who are already loyal. However, rewarding customers in some way, and celebrating their success, should form a pillar of your relationship marketing.
It’s also important to celebrate success, and make it an important metric internally if you have an ongoing relationship with clients. From successful onboarding to maximizing product usage and wins, customer success should be elevated to ensure customer are as happy as you can make them.
Finally, use a mix of quantitative and qualitative data to understand your audience. From CRM data and surveys to social media research, understand your clients and prospects and personalize any messaging to them.
This is especially true of email marketing, which is still a powerful channel for customers and prospects alike.
Relationship marketing and the age of the customer go together like two peas in a pod. The benefit for brands is that if you do this well you will create brand advocates. If your customer service delights on social media people will hear about it. If your content marketing is a useful resource it will reach a lot more people than your own customers. In this way, this strategy will help you win new customers in addition to retaining existing customers.