The best marketing strategies evolve and grow with the consumer. In this series, we focus on Relationship Marketing and how to get started with a marketing strategy that matures as a consumer’s relationship with a brand changes.
We all want customers to be repeat or, ideally, lifetime customers, right? Ongoing engagement between business and consumer requires some kind of relationship. So, why leave it to luck for them to come back before you engage in a meaningful way? Relationship Marketing begins with the first interaction, where you meet the person by offering a rewarding experience. From there, you can transform the unknown customer to the known, engage with their personal wants in real-time, and accompany them into the valuable and mutually beneficial lifecycle of a loyal customer.
Value Exchange: The Foundation Of Relationship Marketing
Whether you’re looking at it from the marketer’s or the customer’s perspective, it’s simple: ask, receive, give, repeat. Marketers want your information. Customers want personalized experiences, and marketers need personal information to deliver that. This is the Value Exchange, and it’s a match made in relationship marketing heaven.
Data collection, infused with honesty and embracing the value exchange, can successfully procure qualified consumers. While buying data and spying on online behavior may get you a bucket of addresses, the real quality of those addresses and likelihood of long-lasting value is questionable. Time and resources are better spent acquiring reliable information directly from the consumers. They want to tell you about themselves, as long as you use that information to improve and customize their experience, and you use it responsibly. In fact, 55% of consumers are comfortable sharing data about themselves in return for better service. That data they give is called zero-party data and can include customer preferences, personal information, communication ideals, and purchase intentions.
Forrester defines it as follows: Zero-party data is that which a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize her.
Data Enrichment: Know All That Is Knowable About Your Customers
This is the time for Data Enrichment. It’s the “getting to know each other” realm of the relationship, when a basic data point (like a name or email address) transforms into a real person — with unique likes, dislikes, and motivations. Only when you begin to know your customer can you begin to engage with them in any meaningful way.
But one or two interactions does not make a relationship. Enrichment is the key here. What you know about your customer should expand and deepen with each exchange. It’s a continuous progression: collect information, enrich what you already know, engage better, repeat. Data enrichment is ongoing and ever-evolving. There’s always more to learn about someone. As you know more, you can develop increasingly effective ways to connect with your customers.
Pull It Together In A Single Unified Platform
To intelligently and efficiently act upon the collected data, marketers need a true single view of the customer that pulls information from a variety of touchpoints into a comprehensive data platform. Customers are interacting with brands on the web, in email, at physical stores, on social media, and through purchases or transactions. All of that information is relevant, it paints a more well-rounded picture of your customer, and it’s necessary if you’re to understand how to take the relationship to the next step.
Engaging with customers the way they want to engage and providing more relevant experiences makes for a happy customer and, hopefully, a loyal one. And that’s the ultimate goal, right? It’s what Relationship Marketing is all about, after all: establishing long lasting relationships, with data providing actionable insights, and delivering on them in the right moments that matter.
So, it’s great to collect that first-party data (basic info). It’s better to beckon that zero-party data (the info the customer intentionally offers). But that’s not the end of it.
Keep It Going
It’s critical to nurture your customers. Yes, the data is what forms your understanding of the customer. But remember: they’re actual people. Real, live, people. Through not just acquisition, but robust enrichment, you’re transforming data into people. And people change. Their needs, wants, habits, and purchasing potential can change. So check in with your customers and continue to refine and deepen your knowledge of them to deliver a better experience that will, in turn, deliver increasingly higher lifetime values.
We’re cultivating relationships here. Be an active participant.