At the heart of any successful referral program or social media strategy lie relationships—how you foster true loyalty from your customers and prompt them to evangelize your brand to their friends and family.
In fact, relationships have become such a crucial part of some online marketing strategies that an entirely new term has cropped up to define it: relationship marketing.
It’s a simple concept to grasp. But lots of brands miss the mark on what it actually entails. Here are three ways that businesses are incorrectly thinking about relationship marketing and how your brand should approach customer relationships in the digital age.
1. Relationship marketing is only about marketing.
While traditional marketing methods focused on transactions, relationship marketing emphasizes a personalized, meaningful partnership with your customers. Yes, the end goal is always selling. But in order to truly engage potential leads, you should focus more on listening, not talking. After all, it’s impossible to provide value to your fans and followers if you don’t know what they find valuable.
This means you should respond quickly to questions and feedback, set up effective listening and monitoring systems, and offer valuable content and rewards to loyal customers.
2. An online business doesn’t need to have a personality.
Social media has reshaped brand-customer relationships in profound ways. In the digital environment, customers look for brands that are human because people hate to be marketed at. Instead, if you’re doing it right, fans and followers will want to market your brand for you.
Put a face on your brand by developing a cohesive online voice and posting photos of your employees. Stop selling and start engaging.
3. I’m selling a product, not a brand.
It’s incredible how many businesses believe that simply purchasing a few advertisements on Facebook will lead to sales. However, there are a vast number of products available in the digital marketplace today—what makes your brand stand out?
Relationship marketing should be focused on the benefits and value of your product, not just its various features and price. Your ultimate goal is to ensure that customers are comfortable enough with your brand to make a purchase—and then go tell their friends and family about it.
Think about it this way: You wouldn’t create a profile on OkCupid (a free online dating website) and then expect to get married the next day. So why do you expect people to make a purchase after meeting your brand for the first time? Take the time to nurture a relationship and show potential customers what you bring to the table.
But as you do, keep this in mind: Although making the sale shouldn’t be your only focus, you’re still trying to sell a product, and relationship marketing is a marketing strategy. The point is, having a great product isn’t the only thing that drives sales today.
So if you make some changes and adopt the right attitude toward your marketing strategy, your customers won’t just like your products, they’ll love your brand! And there’s no better way to increase your customer base (and sales) than by seguing relationship marketing into a referral marketing strategy.
How are you forming relationships with your online customers?