What Is Relation Marketing? (And Growing Consumer Relations)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 13, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are many strategies in marketing for generating and maintaining sales, but one of the most lucrative is to establish long and loyal relationships with consumers. This is the practice of relation or relationship marketing in which businesses use the connections their consumers have with their products and brand identity to market their commercial offering. Understanding what relationship marketing is, and how marketers use it, is key to creating marketing strategies which generate loyalty among consumers. In this article, we define relation marketing, explain the benefits of relationship marketing, and provide several helpful examples.

What is relation marketing?

Relation marketing is the practice of developing lasting relationships with a brand's consumers to create consumership loyalty and encourage repeat purchasing. This is a long-term strategy for reaching sales and revenue goals, and requires consistent and effective marketing to all of a brand's target demographics. Relationship marketing focuses on creating impactful and memorable marketing, which makes the brand resonate with consumers for longer. This results in gradual increases in rates of sale and revenue.

Related: What Is the Consumer Decision-Making Process (A Guide)

Benefits of relationship marketing

There are many distinct benefits to establishing relationship marketing practices in your brand management process. Some of these benefits relate to how this marketing style generates increased profit over time, while others benefit the consumer as much as the brand. Here are some of the main benefits of relationship marketing:

  • Higher CLV: Customer lifetime value, or CLV, is the total value a customer represents to a business over the duration of their brand-consumer relationship. Focusing marketing on consumer relationships means that the brand's customers each represent a higher value to the business over long periods of consumership.

  • More reliable consumer-bases: Brands that have a strong relationship with their consumers can rely more on their demographics to purchase new or innovative products or withstand pricing changes.

  • Lower long-term marketing costs: When consumers are loyal to a brand, the business is usually less reliant on investment in marketing and advertisement to sustain their business. Loyal customers are also more likely to endorse the brand by recommending it to others.

  • Deeper consumer understanding: The longer a brand maintains a strong relationship with its consumers, the deeper their understanding of their needs, wants, and opinions.

  • Higher consumer satisfaction: Brands that establish long-term relationships with their consumers are less likely to deliver products of an unsatisfactory quality, as they tend to build on their previous strengths and improve where required.

Examples of relationship marketing

Here are several examples of ways that you can use relationship-building to strengthen marketing:

Maximize digital communication

Consistent communication is key to building beneficial consumer-brand relationships. Because digital channels facilitate the majority of communication consumers have with brands, maximizing the volume and impact of digital communication is key to relationship marketing. By making it easy for customers to contact company representatives through digital channels, you can strengthen the relationship you have with your consumers.

Related: What Is Consumer Surplus? (With Examples and Formula)

Diversify your offerings

Many brands target more than one demographic, especially those which offer a broad range of services or products. It's vital to ensure that the marketing material the brand deploys aligns with all demographics who may form consumer-brand relationships. Using a variety of marketing channels can help to ensure that you reach all of your demographics, whether they're existing or prospective consumers.

Increase transparency

The feedback you gain from consumers can be valuable for making improvements. When you receive consistent or public feedback, acknowledging that you're aiming to improve the business, product, or service can help to strengthen consumer relationships. If consumers feel that sharing feedback may lead to improvements, it shows that they know you consider their opinions. Honesty from both consumers and the brand is vital in establishing the trust necessary for long-term relationships.

Related: What Is Consumer Analysis and How Does It Help Businesses?

Create a loyalty program

Loyalty programs are formal arrangements which promote consumers building lasting relationships with their preferred brands. These loyalty programs often give back to consumers on the basis of their continued purchases, with rewards such as points, discounts, or gifts. Systems such as these are useful for establishing return purchases with consumers who may otherwise use a variety of brands, and also to thank consumers who already prefer your commercial offering.

Personalize the customer experience

Customizing the customer experience for all your consumers is vital for ensuring that you create meaningful connections with them. For instance, e-mail marketing is more effective for relationship building when you can include the first names of the recipients. Even if consumers are aware that an e-mail system has simply populated the e-mail with names from a database, they may feel that the inclusion of their name has a personalizing effect. Similarly, if you can curate the products you advertise to consumers based on their shopping preferences, this can also endear them to the brand further.

Seek and use feedback

Actively seeking feedback from your consumers shows that you value their opinions and wish to provide the best quality products possible. You can collect feedback through surveys, direct consumers to product review sites, or allow them to provide feedback on the brand's website or social media page. Requesting feedback from consumers can help to build relationships, as they may feel that they can help to improve your products through their involvement in your brand-consumer relationship.

Reward consumers

Outside of formal loyalty reward systems, it can also be an effective relationship-building tool to offer gifts or rewards to your consumers without requiring specific activity on their part. These are often thank-you gifts, and can be as personal or impersonal as you like. For instance, you may supply retailers with a surprise gift with purchase, or GWP, to offer customers when they buy your product.

Alternatively, you may find your top consumers and send them rewards, thanking them for their continued support of your brand. For instance, a streaming service may determine their top 100 viewers and give them a month of free service to thank them.

Related: What is Demarketing? (Types, Benefits, and Examples)

Improve customer service

Because customer service is one of the fundamental ways in which consumers connect with businesses, it also represents a key factor in maintaining customer relationships. This may mean auditing the current customer service systems in place to help ensure they provide the best service possible, or installing new channels through which new customers can reach the business. For instance, if the business has long been using e-mail and telephone customer support, you can implement text or instant messaging support as well.

With these platforms, more web-savvy customers may be better able to connect with support channels. The more ways consumers can connect and engage with the business to ask questions and share feedback, the more opportunities you have for building a strong consumer-brand relationship.

Offer substantial warranties

Warranties are effective ways to show consumers you value their product satisfaction, rather than simply making a sale to them. If the business usually provides warranties for a year or two, consider offering a lifetime warranty instead. This is a gesture of loyalty to your customers and reassures them you're invested in their consumership. This can result in them making additional purchases from the business, as they believe in the mutual trust you've established between brand and consumer.

Educate your consumers

Although promotional advertising is effective for reaching demographics and communicating your commercial offering, a more effective method for growing your consumer relationship is to provide educational marketing content. This can be in the form of written or video content, which offers free information to consumers on a related topic, but with the brand as the provider of the information.

For example, a snowboard brand may produce instructional videos which they post online for beginner snowboarders. Consumers who are learning to snowboard may watch this content and form lasting relationships with this brand, as they have received more value from them than just a quality piece of equipment.

Related: Customer Surveys: Definitions and Example Questions

Acknowledge your history

For businesses that have been operating for a long time, acknowledging the brand's history is an effective way to endear early adopters of their products and use those previous consumer relationships to invite new ones. For instance, a bank branch may advertise that it's been helping locals secure home loans for over 50 years. This can assure prospective customers that they may also receive reliable service over a long period of time.

Even young brands can build relationships. The most common way for new businesses to do this is by inviting new consumers to join them now when they're starting and establish long and mutually beneficial relationships with a modern company.

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