The way we purchase products and services, and interact with brands is changing faster than ever before. We no longer journey through a (relatively) simply path to convert, buy and ultimately own.
Instead we buy into brands that give us access to the goods and services we want.
Prepared To Pay For A Long Term Relationship
Rather than a single conversion, we are now prepared to pay for a long term relationship.
The growth of businesses that focus on the sharing economy like Airbnb, Zipcar and Uber or a subscription model like Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime, reflect the desire consumers now want, and expect for long term, meaningful and ongoing relationships.
Instead of expecting little more than a transaction, at the cheapest piece, consumers demand more from brands. Like all the best relationships, we now want connection, context and commitment over the period of our interaction. So marketers need to move their mind set from focusing on a single transaction to focusing on a long term relationships.
Focus On The Relationship Economy
Even if your business model focuses on selling real, actual products that customer own and buy, you still need to focus on the relationship economy.
Consumer expectations of brands have changed forever and while you might not be a sharing or subscription business, the goal posts when it comes to how brands communicate have moved, and you must adapt to stay relevant. As we enter the relationship economy, brands are increasingly defined by consumer experience – to a point where the relationship with consumers comes to define the entire brand.
We need to move towards a model when we put relationships at the centre of marketing efforts, putting the customer first, meeting and exceeding their expectations as they interact with us.
Label Your Relationship
Think about what kind of relationship are you looking to have with your audience? It’s no longer just a top-down relationships such as seller-to-customer, perhaps your model will look more balanced, and cooperative such as friend-to-friend, that position your brand as a helpful assistant ready to provide personalised advice.
Think Long Term
While the consumer economy focuses on conversion as the optimal outcome and success metric, relational marketers need to think long-term. Retention, loyalty, lifetime value are the new KPIs to watch in evolving relationships.
Be A Friend
Embrace the role of friend and supporter by helping customers win with contextually relevant information: whether it’s pointing out short-term offers on desired products, opportunities to upgrade their service experience, or rewarding loyalty with exclusive deals – marketers need to design lifecycles that inject relationships with added value at every turn.
Trust Comes First
Legislation such as GDPR leaves marketers no choice but offer transparency in their data collection. But rather than treat this as a chore, think of it as an opportunity to build trust in a relationship.
Ask consumers for relevant data – stored in universal consumer profiles – with clear language around opt-in. In return, offer great levels of convenience through one-click ordering, seamless payment experiences, ultra-fast checkout, again and again.
Get Automation Or Targeted Marketing Tools Right
Spam and long term relationships just don’t mix. Building real relationships at scale via automated marketing platforms is possible. Choose a platform that leverages consumer insights into personalised lifecycle campaigns.
Relate with personalised messages across the right channels at the right junctures (opt-in, pending renewal, anniversary), incorporating touches across email, SMS, push, social, website, and more.
Tell Stories That Are Personally Relevant
Every relationship needs a story. Maintain the personal focus with individualised content – tailored to relationship type, current situation and lifecycle stage – and show customers you are paying attention by celebrating milestones and remembering past achievements.
Personal stories also power a more prospect-centric sales process, because the genuine customer wins you deliver attract new customers to discover your brand. Keep the spark alive by retargeting at the right time – based on browsing behaviour, purchase data, social listening – and offering opportunities for deeper engagement.
Let Your Customers Speak
Happy consumers in meaningful relationships will tell their friends about the experience, and bring new prospects on board with no extra marketing spend required whatsoever. According to a recent study, customers will share a positive brand experience with six more people on average.
Plus, fan-generated content and testimonials on social media build credibility and sustainable brand buzz.
Keep It Personal And Relevant
Play your part in scoring wins for your customers, and keep learning about their goals, habits, and unique needs. Get more personal and translate these consumer insights into noticeable service improvements, exclusive offers and VIP experiences.
Also make the relationship feel unique by sprinkling the customer journey with milestone rewards (anniversary of joining/subscribing, loyalty rewards, referral bonuses, etc.). Communicate with empathy and remember that the story of your relationship is not written by one side only — you and your consumers are both deciding where this journey is headed.
By adhering to the above marketers will be able to successfully navigate their way through this new relationship economy and stay ahead of the competition in the fierce battle for customer loyalty.