A well-developed relationship marketing strategy is essential for any business that wants to grow, but what does it look like? And why is it so important for B2Bs in particular? Read on.
- What is Relationship Marketing
- Relationship Marketing vs. Transactional Marketing
- Why should every B2B invest in relationship marketing strategy
- How to Develop a Relationship Marketing Strategy
What is relationship marketing and what does it do?
Not to be confused with conversational marketing, relationship marketing is a strategy that focuses on building long-lasting relationships with your customers. It prioritizes retaining existing customers to expand the business’s client base, increasing their loyalty and satisfaction, as well as acquiring new ones through referrals. It’s about building and maintaining those relationships through customer support, product promises, and more.
People will respond better to someone they know and trust than they would if you were trying to sell something without any kind of relationship. Relationship marketing aims to create trust between your brand and buyers so they will continue buying from you over time—even if they might not have originally planned to. That can have a significant impact on your bottom line. For example, in the financial services industry, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% increases profits by 25%.
Relationship Marketing vs. Transactional Marketing
The difference between relationship marketing and transactional marketing is that the former is a long-term relationship, whereas the latter can be considered a one-time interaction. In other words, transactional marketing focuses on getting an individual to buy your product or service once, whereas relationship marketing builds trust over time by offering personalized service that meets an individual’s needs.
Transactional marketers tend to focus on one specific type of customer at a time or even within a single industry segment (e-commerce companies often do this). In contrast, relationship marketers think about how all their customers fit together as part of an ecosystem that includes products or services provided by others within the same ecosystem (and sometimes beyond).
This makes relationship marketing more effective than transactional approaches because it provides value beyond the transaction itself—which means you’ll keep customers longer! And since this approach is tailored to meet each customer’s specific needs, your customer satisfaction increases, which likely means an increase in word-of-mouth marketing too.
Why should every B2B invest in relationship marketing strategy?
Relationships are the lifeblood of any business. They help you build trust, loyalty, and brand equity. Relationship marketing involves a two-way interaction between your business and customers, creating an emotional connection that encourages people to buy from you again and again. In fact, studies show that relationship-based companies are twice as likely to outperform their counterparts on average.
This is incredibly important for B2Bs, as the markets tend to be more finite than B2Cs. Consumer markets can find more customers almost on a whim compared to B2Bs—and it’s simply due to the exclusivity of some industries. For niche or expensive solutions in targeted business sectors, a single lost opportunity can significantly impact ROI and brand equity.
Related post: Niche Marketing: How Niche Is Too Niche?
How to Develop a Relationship Marketing Strategy
To develop a successful relationship marketing strategy, you must understand your customer’s journey, problem, and pain points. Relationships work when we feel valued. High-value relationships—like the ones you’re building with your customers—need personalization.
Create an emotional connection
You need to create an emotional connection with your audience so they feel like part of something bigger than themselves—a movement or cause, for example. The more invested they are in this cause (i.e., what your brand represents), the less likely they will be to switch brands when faced with new challenges or changes in their lives (like moving companies).
Related post: The Importance of Connecting With Your Audience in Marketing
The first step in developing an emotional connection with customers is building trust and rapport through listening, responding, and understanding their needs.
Listen and respond to customer questions OR requests.
By listening closely to customer requests for product features and changes that would improve their experience as customers/clients/readers etc., B2B businesses can ultimately build loyal relationships with their clients.
In addition to building relationships with customers, a relationship marketing strategy can also help you build brand awareness and increase sales. By listening closely to your audience’s needs and concerns, you can identify gaps in the market where your products can fill those gaps. For example, if your clients are constantly asking for new product features or changes that would improve their experience as customers/clients/readers etc., then this is an opportunity for you to step in and fill that need, potentially expanding your market while doing so.
Related post: How to Get the Brand Recognition your B2B Deserves
Use loyalty and referral programs.
Loyalty and referral programs are a great way to strengthen your existing consumer base while simultaneously expanding your clientele. If a customer has been with you for several years, they’ll likely continue to be loyal and recommend your business to others who might also benefit from using your services. In addition, if they know someone looking for products or services like yours, consider offering incentives in exchange for referrals—such as discounts or additional benefits.
Employ technology to automate and scale.
This is where conversational marketing intersects with relationship marketing. Conversational marketing supports a relationship marketing strategy by helping individualize and personalize brand interactions. Conversational marketing—technology such as chatbots or voice assistants—gives customers 24/7 access to information and the ability to interact with your brand on their own terms.
Collect and organize detailed data.
Collecting detailed data about your customers will help inform how best to engage them in the future; this information can be used in everything from personalization efforts at scale through social media, digital campaigns, or one-to-one emails to a bottom-of-funnel prospect.
You can collect data from sources like customer surveys or focus groups, as well as information about purchase frequency and product set preferences. Once all of these data points and more tell the story of your consumer as an individual—and that’s how they want to be seen.
Relationship marketing is a fantastic way to connect with your B2B buyers and build lasting relationships. It’s an approach that can help you deliver more value, increase sales and improve customer loyalty.
The best part? This strategy is not only effective—but it’s also easy to implement! With just a little bit of planning, you can begin establishing yourself as an expert in your industry by focusing on building relationships with customers rather than just selling products or services. Need a little push to take the leap into conversational marketing? Reach out today. We’d love to help!