Maintaining a constant level of communication with your current, former and potential customers using digital channels, with a goal of achieving better relationships and better business results.
What is relationship marketing and why is it important?
Relationship marketing is a business strategy through which a company maintains a constant communication with its target audience. You could say that, through relationship marketing, you want to transform your customers into your partners rather than having solely a transaction oriented relationship. The idea is to give something to your customers – an added value and a feeling of importance before you expect anything back. Direct economic benefits are sometimes hard to derive from relationship marketing and that’s why many companies are reluctant to use it, but benefits that usually come out of it are invaluable:
- your customers feel they are important to you
- your customers become your partners
- your customers amplify your communication by becoming brand ambassadors and spreading word of mouth
- you get free promotion which results in new customers and better business results
The beauty of digital relationship marketing
Relationship marketing takes time, manpower and can sometimes be very demanding – budget-wise and time-wise. In its definition, digital relationship marketing is about maintaining a constant level of communication with your current, former and potential customers using digital channels – partly or completely automated. And this ‘partly or completely automated’ is the focal point of it. It saves time and money while still bringing all the benefits of relationship marketing.
Even though they are not aware of it, many companies are already using some channels of digital relationship marketing, like social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – every channel with two-way communication.
Higher level of digital relationship marketing comes with automation of communication. By doing this, one can achieve biggest savings, faster and better responses and have a seamless constant communication with their customers. This can be achieved either through the development of custom tools and processes or using existing tools such as Intercom, Kahuna, Urban Airship or many other that are on the market. Such tools can be connected to ERP systems as well as web or mobile analytics tools to create segments and different triggers for different messages and different types of communication.
At this level it is important to notice that all digital relationship marketing activities can be measured, quantified and rated as successful or unsuccessful based on KPI’s that are set before starting those activities – either through standard analytics tools or through data that’s provided by automation tools themselves.
A bright example of digital relationship marketing is Camping Village Šimuni. Two articles on this blog have shown that digital marketing cycle and user feedback are very important for the camp, and how they are an integral part of their digital relationship marketing.
Additionally, in cooperation with Camping Village Šimuni we have created an automated communication with their guests. There were a few main reasons/goals for this:
- to keep the constant communication with guests while removing the workload from camp’s employees
- to improve guest’s satisfaction and create easy-to-use channel of communication
- to find an efficient way of gathering timely guest feedback
- to find an efficient way to remember guests on their birthdays and other milestones to show them that we care for them
To make this work, we have connected camp’s ERP and guest database with an automation tool. This enabled us to use user data that was necessary to create different triggers for different messages – names, nationalities, date of arrival, date of departure, date of birth, etc. We have created a few main groups of messages, all of them personalized and localized through different languages:
- pre-stay emails with information about check-in, weather, traffic and emergency contact information
- post-stay emails with a thank you note and feedback survey
- happy birthday emails with birthday cards
- new-year emails with best wishes for the new year as well as early bird discounts for loyal guests
Results achieved with this process were amazing:
- more than 200 hours of workload per month removed from camp’s employees
- acquired feedback from more than 40% of camp’s guests
- positive sentiment about the camp increased – indirectly affected higher booking for the next camping season
Our above mentioned experience in tourism is just one piece of evidence that confirms the importance of consistent communication between clients and their customers. It is a business strategy that demands a larger initial investment (time and money), but it is the basis of long-lasting relationships and a methodology that will keep any brand in their customers’ minds. Take advantage of the tools the market offers (automation, analytics, sales and others) to really learn about your customers, evolve and get even better results.