What is Customer Relationship Marketing?

What is Customer Relationship Marketing?

Relationship marketing is an aspect of customer relationship management (CRM) that puts special emphasis on establishing close relationships with customers. Relationship marketing is unique in that it seeks to use long-lasting relationships to encourage repeat business from pre-existing customers.

If implemented correctly, relationship marketing strategies can unlock a number of benefits for businesses. For example, customers are more likely to take on the role of a brand ambassador – promoting your products and services to their family, friends, and social circles free of charge. 

Why is Relationship Marketing Increasing in Popularity?  

The modern-day consumer has choices like never before. A five-minute visit to Facebook may yield well over half a dozen ads to a variety of products and services. Consumers are practically spoiled with choices, making it difficult for businesses to capture and hold their attention.

Businesses who put an emphasis on customer value – the satisfaction the customer expects to experience when taking a given action in relation to the cost of that action – have a far greater chance of standing out in the market and developing long-lasting mutually beneficial relationships with their customers.

Depending on your business model, focusing on repeat customers, as opposed to pulling in a continuous stream of new customers, is often very beneficial. While not every business utilizes relationship marketing in their day-to-day marketing endeavors, the vast majority of businesses can benefit from this marketing strategy.  

Examples of Relationship Marketing Strategies in Action

Image source: https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/our-beliefs/our-food-policy/clean-ingredients.html


In 2014, Panera Bread issued a statement that it would remove all sweeteners, artificial flavors, and preservatives from their products by 2016.

As a result of Panera’s transparency and willingness to take accountability for unhealthy products in their foods, customer loyalty skyrocketed. Today, they are considered one of the top businesses in the restaurant industry when it comes to customer loyalty.

Image source: https://www.kohls.com/feature/wallet_home


Kohl’s provides yet another example of relationship marketing done right, utilizing a combination of mobile apps and big data to personalize the shopping experience of their customers.

Their Yes2You program works as such: When customers enter a Kohl’s retail store and log into the mobile app, the software queries a database that contains their past purchases. It also taps into the GPS of their mobile device to ascertain their physical location within the store.

This information is then used to offer exclusive deals and product suggestions by combining past shopping preferences with the physical location of the customer.  

Kohl’s demonstrates that when relationship marketing is implemented effectively, both the business and the customer benefit mutually. In this instance, customers are given a focused and personalized experience. Meanwhile, Kohl’s is rewarded with brand loyalty which in turn could lead to the creation of brand ambassadors and repeat business.

Transactional Marketing vs. Relationship Marketing

Whereas relationship marketing focuses on the long-term strategy of building a close relationship with customers, transactional marketing focuses on increasing the number of individual sales.

Because transactional marketing is primarily focused on acquiring new sales, it doesn’t dedicate as much time to create a great customer experience. As such, transactional marketing can be said to be the exact opposite of relationship marketing.

Transactional marketing is considered to be the more traditional approach, but often fails to see much profit when it comes to customer acquisition costs. Without a strong bond with a brand, customers may only see a one-time value, and will often move on once a purchase has been made.

Many businesses use transactional and relationship marketing in concert with one another.  However, the increasing prevalence of social media in our day to day lives has made developing close relationships with consumers through relationship marketing strategies increasingly important.

How to Implement a Relationship Marketing Strategy

Implementing a relationship marketing strategy takes a multifaceted approach. With the right tools at your disposal and a willingness to take a hands-on approach with your customers, you can implement a successful relationship marketing strategy in your business.    

1)   Utilize Customer Data

As Kohl’s has demonstrated, using the data collected on your customers and using it to deliver a personalized experience can be a powerful way to build brand loyalty among customers. For example, birthday emails can go a long way to boosting customer retention and increasing satisfaction. Even small gestures like this – whether you choose to include a discount with them or not – can be effective relationship marketing strategies. This data can be collected from a number of sources – social media campaigns, surveys, etc.

Image source: https://webappmeister.com/review/mailchimp-review-2015/

MailChimp does a fantastic job of providing businesses with customizable templates that tailor emails to every individual on your email list, allowing you to personalize each email with their name, business, and other relevant information.  

Show your customers that you care and you will significantly increase your chances of running a successful relationship marketing campaign.

2)  Leverage Great CRM tools

CRM tools allow you to find, nurture, and convert leads to help you build stronger relationships with your customers. In relationship marketing, communication and follow-ups are crucial – features that many CRM tools offer.

Additionally, CRM tools allow you to automate your marketing efforts. These means implementing tools such as chatbots and automated email sequences to engage with your customers instantaneously. Doing so allows you to maintain a constant point of connection with your customers during and after business hours.

Some of the top CRM tools in the market include Agile CRM, Hubspot, and Zoho amongst many others.

3)  Establish an Active Customer-Facing Presence

In a world dominated by texting, social media, and email, there are multiple ways you can interact with your customers. One way you can go about doing this is dedicating employees to managing social media accounts, emails, and customer service lines.   

Image source: https://geekflare.com/chatbot-on-landing-page/

Many businesses save money by implementing a chatbot service, such as Landbot.io, that will interact with your customers quickly and efficiently. Fast and courteous interaction is a substantial facet of relationship marketing in 2019 and beyond

4)  Focus Heavily on Customer Service

A heavy emphasis on customer service lies at the core of any relationship marketing campaign. Your customer service team should be adequately trained to deal with customer interactions to get to the root of problems and inquiries.  

Networking company Amped Wireless can attest to this fact. Customers were often loyal to the brand not so much due to their products, but due to their US based customer support that answered inquiries expeditiously.  

Implementing Relationship Marketing in Your Business

The most effective way to achieve a long-term relationship with your customers is interacting with them on a one-on-one basis. Personalizing their experiences, implementing tools like chatbots and automated emails sequences, and utilizing CRM tools are all steps in the right direction.

With the world moving closer together everyday, relationship marketing has become a crucial strategy to generate repeat sales and improve the reputation of your business.

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