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Acquiring customers and retaining customers are two different things. If you ask marketing professionals which pays more, they would say it’s the latter. That’s because they will buy again when you make existing customers happy.

A simple “thank you” could be what stands between brand curiosity and brand loyalty.

How vital is appreciation?

Starting a business means committing to creating life-long relationships with your clients.

To maintain these relationships, there are investments you should make. Creating positive emotional connections with your clients, such as making them feel seen and appreciated, will  help you develop strong emotional relationships. This is true in other relationships you form in life as well. After all, why would you stay in a place where you don’t feel valued and seen?

The happy feeling you get when you receive a heartfelt thank you note along with a box of goodies from your boss is the same feeling that drives relationship marketing. 

Feeling appreciated drives engagement. Feeling appreciated results in loyalty.

What is relationship marketing?

Relationship marketing aims to connect on a deeper level with existing clients.

Unlike brand awareness campaigns, this connection does not immediately translate to sales. Instead, relationship marketing is all about satisfying customers.

When customers are treated right, they have no reason to look elsewhere to fulfill their needs.

There are tons of products and services like yours. The way you can make your business stand out from the competition is by how you make your customers feel. This is the very reason why relationship marketing is so important.

What is the role of gratitude in relationship marketing?

Studies have pointed to trust and commitment as the reasons behind effective relationship marketing.

For example,  a study done at the Foster School of Business points to gratitude as one of the key factors in successful relationship marketing.

According to the researchers, gratitude encourages reciprocity. When a person experiences kindness and empathy from another, the natural response is to do something in return.

This makes sense when applied to customer relations as well.

For example, when you go out of your way to solve a client’s problem through your customer service channels, they will remember that act.

And while it is your job to provide excellent customer service, they will be grateful for it.

How is this reciprocated? Through a positive review on your website. Or maybe through a shoutout in their Instagram story.

Nothing beats a positive review on social proof in building brand credibility. It’s a win-win situation for you and the customer.

How is relationship marketing done?

  1. Personalization and gift-giving

    This is one of the most common ways you can show appreciation toward a customer. When a customer signs up for your newsletter, you get their basic information. Use this to create tailored messages for special occasions.

    On their birthday, send them a greeting. And to show appreciation, give them exclusive offers—perhaps a discount voucher or freebie if they make a purchase during their birthday week.

    Gifts for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and holidays work, too. For your business’ anniversary, you could create a special event and invite all the clients that have stayed with you from the beginning.
  2. Rewarding loyalty

    Loyalty is what you are after, and if a customer shows the potential of being a loyal client in the coming years, you should work to realize that potential.

    For example, on their 3rd or 5th purchase, you could send a simple thank you note or give them a special gift. In short, you should express how much you appreciate that they keep coming back to your business.

    And most importantly, commit to providing value through what you offer. And make sure that you deliver on that.
  3. Listening to what they have to say

    One of the ways to show you care about a customer is to simply listen to them. Whether it’s a complaint or a suggestion, be sure to respond in a timely manner.

    For this reason, surveys are important. Read the reviews and ratings on your products. And be sure to read and quickly address the comments on your social media accounts.
  4. Making them feel special

    You have a new product. Before launching it, why not send some samples to your loyal customers and wait for their feedback?

    It will make them feel special to receive these new products,  and in return, you’ll get valuable feedback.
  5. Interacting with them on social media

    When a user tags you in an Instagram story, they will love to see your reaction and that you even added their story to yours.

    This is what has been happening on TikTok lately. Brands are so active on this app that it has become a form of entertainment for them to receive comments on their videos.

    Some videos have captions that ask viewers to mention their favorite brands and see if they reply.

    And if you do reply, that is a major plus for your company.

Big brands have been using different forms of relationship marketing with great success.

For example, at one point Ikea changed the usual font they used in their catalogs. Customers took notice and responded negatively. Ikea was quick to react, and in their next catalog, the familiar font was back.

From the smallest to the grandest gestures, there are so many ways to express your gratitude to customers. When you start paying more attention to your customers’ needs and preferences, soon enough, you will be building more than just a 1:1 relationship; you will be creating a community.

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