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The Ultimate Guide to Relationship Marketing

5 min
First published:  
January 13, 2021
Esther Lowde
Marketing Executive @ telbee
 - a.k.a - 
Let's talk! Details at bottom of page...

For years, marketers have known that one of the most powerful ways to advertise to customers is to tap into their human emotions.

To name just a few examples, ‘emotional marketing’ is the driving force behind Nike’s timeless motivational adverts, Dove’s viral ‘Real Beauty’ campaign - and the reason why John Lewis’ heartfelt Christmas ads are such a hit each year!

Why is emotion-led advertising so effective? 

Studies show that when it comes to making buying decisions, most people actually rely on their emotions, rather than information. In fact, HubSpot recently reported that out of 1,400 successful advertising campaigns, those with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31% vs 16%) as those with only rational content.

Essentially, our emotional responses to marketing materials influence our decision to buy far more than the content of the ad itself. 

However, what many businesses forget is that this kind of emotional marketing is effective across all stages of the marketing funnel - and it’s the reason building personal relationships with customers is so important. 

Whether you work in B2B marketing, SaaS sales or do all of your marketing D2C, there’s a person behind every click on your website - and they want to feel valued and be treated like the individuals that they are

Unlike an ad or a slogan, a relationship requires more than a one-way, one-time interaction. Relationships require commitment, and they need plenty of time to grow. That’s where a relationship marketing strategy comes in. 

Today, we’ll be touching on what relationship marketing is, its untapped growth potential and how you can go about creating a successful relationship marketing strategy today.


What is relationship marketing?

Relationship marketing
is a long-term marketing strategy that emphasises customer retention, satisfaction and customer lifetime value.

Instead of focusing on short-term goals like customer acquisition and individual sales (as traditional or transactional marketing often does), relationship marketing aims at developing strong emotional connections with customers. 

This is primarily achieved through initiating conversation, creating online communities and working hard to deliver a consistently great customer experience.  

Put simply, transactional marketing is short-term thinking, while relationship marketing is long-term thinking, and is far more likely to deliver lasting results.

relationship marketing
Image source:

The benefits of relationship marketing

Not only is it more cost-effective to market to existing customers (in fact, it’s about 6-7 times cheaper!), but long-term customers are also less likely to churn. The longer you have a relationship with a customer, the more profitable they become.

Companies that invest in relationship marketing achieve a much greater ROI compared to transactional marketing.

And yet, most businesses are still focused on transactional marketing, which is less about building long-term relationships and more about increasing individual sales. 

This makes relationship marketing a goldmine of untapped potential and growth

Here’s how you can start creating a strong relationship marketing strategy of your own - and getting ahead of your competitors:

How to create a relationship marketing strategy

You may be thinking that you’re already doing some form of relationship marketing in your business – whether that be running a loyalty program for your customers, personalising their on-site experiences or sending them an email on their birthday. 

While these are all very effective marketing tactics, let’s take a step back and assess the bigger picture. 

To truly develop a relationship with your customers, you need to bond with them. This means working to create friendships and feelings that no competitor’s price change, marketing campaign or referral program could ever compete with.

To help you do this, let’s walk through the most important steps of creating a successful relationship marketing strategy.

#1 Converse with your customers

Just like any real-life relationship, if you want to build relationships with your customers, you have to take the time to talk with them. Communication is the key ingredient to building trust and forming bonds. 

This is why in 2021, marketers should be looking beyond automation (yes, we mean chatbots!) towards more human-centric experiences, in order to build trust, engage and retain more customers than ever.

When you arrange to speak with your customers over the phone, a Zoom call or - even more conveniently - through exchanging voice notes via your website, you’ll deliver them a five-star customer experience that will deepen your understanding of your target audience, build rapport and help you stand out from your competitors. 

In fact, according to Walker, customer experience is so important these days that it’s actually overtaking price and product as the key differentiator between stores, while Acquia recently reported that 85% of marketers say “a human touch is always needed, in addition to technology, for a positive customer experience”.

Plus, the insights you gain into how your customers think, what they like (and don’t like!) about your brand and when - and where - they are most active will benefit all of your efforts across marketing, customer support and sales. 

relationship marketing
When you create a personalised voice recorder with telbee, your website visitors can send you voice notes at the click of a button - sparking a conversation that will help you build real relationships with your buyers!

#2 Make your website as ‘human’ as possible

It’s time to take down your walls and let your customers see who you - the people behind your company - are. You can do that by posting photos of your employees on social media, broadcasting your voice using voice messaging software or sharing stories of how you’re supporting the local community in your email newsletters. 

We’d also recommend highlighting your mission statement and values very clearly on your website, so that your customers can clearly see your team are good people who stand for something beyond revenue, profits and dividend sharing.

After all, today’s consumers want to do business with companies that are making a positive impact in the world – whether that be through volunteering, supporting social causes or tackling climate change.

In fact, research has shown that 47% of customers buy from brands that support a good cause, and a staggering 91% of customers would switch brands if a different brand (of a similar price and quality) supported a good cause. 

Essentially, being genuine, ‘human’ and purpose-driven can help you attract more new customers and retain more existing ones - so don’t be afraid to be an open book. Let your passions and personality shine - your customers will thank you for it! 

relationship marketing
Cultivated Wit are one great example of a company who have packed tons of personality and positivity into their ‘About’ page. 

#3 Build a strong online community

A brand community, at its core, is a vital group of customers who support and promote your brand whenever they can.

Building a sense of community among customers has been shown to significantly boost customer loyalty, engagement and number of purchases - as well as dramatically increasing consumer trust and encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations.

To start bringing more of your most loyal customers together, check out our guide to building a strong online community using voice technology

Once you’ve started building your community, remember to listen to its members! Your most loyal customers will read your content, use your product and engage with your social accounts far more often than newer prospects. When they do provide feedback on your campaigns and marketing material, you need to act on it and acknowledge your customers when you do.

It’s also important that you make your online community about your customers - not just you. Shine a light on their work and promote your biggest supporters with the rest of the community. You can invite them to speak at an event, feature them on your blog or include their pictures, videos and voice notes in your weekly email newsletter.

This way, you’ll be creating a long-lasting community of customers who feel bonded to each other and your brand. 

relationship marketing

Final thoughts

Focussing on building relationships as a key part of your marketing strategy is a surefire way to attract, resonate with, and encourage your customers to stay. Think of relationship marketing as the secret weapon you never knew you had!

If you take one thing away from this article, let it be the importance of simply talking to your customers. When you converse with the people who matter most to your business, you’ll gain useful feedback, deepen your understanding of your customers and show them that they’re truly valued - as real people, not just names on your marketing list

When you align these efforts with your overall marketing goals, we'd hedge our bets that your investment into relationship marketing will be returned to you tenfold. The only way you'll look back is to appreciate how far you've come!


To find out how our voice recording and messaging platform can help supercharge your company’s relationship marketing strategy, get in touch with the team at telbee today. We’d love to hear from you!
Get Started with telbee!

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