The relationship marketing principles presented below are based on my experience building relationship marketing programs in Europe and the US. Keep them in mind as you design your next website marketing funnel.

In this post, we provide a more detailed overview of using relationship principles as competitive insulation: How to Use Your Website to Create Competitive Insulation.

If you prefer, we produced the short video below that outlines the relationship marketing principles. It’s available on our YouTube channel.

What is Relationship Marketing?

what is relationship marketing

Before we get into the relationship marketing principles, let’s define what relationship marketing is.

Broadly, relationship marketing is marketing that understands and is focused on the state of the relationship between the customer and the brand. It’s marketing that attempts to build the relationship; it creates relationship equity by stimulating microtransactions that deliver value and ROI beyond transactional benefits. It’s based on psychology. Specifically, it’s based on attribution theory.

Attribution theory says that all things being equal—when the relationship is weak or doesn’t exist, people will attribute bad behavior or a bad experience to the person or, in this case, the brand. When there is a relationship, then bad behavior or a bad experience is attributed to external circumstances. He’s having a bad day versus he’s a jerk.

A good example of this is the Social Media Posting strategy that says that 70% of shared content should add value beyond transactional benefits, 20% should be curated content that the audience will value and 10% should be sales-oriented content.

For a deep dive into this, read our post, What is Relationship Marketing?

Relationship Marketing Principles

1) Attract the right customers for the right reasons

Dr. Stephen Epley, the founder of Epley Market Research and Consulting, told me that, based on his research, 90% of loyalty problems can be traced to the sales process. Be sure your strategy and tactics are designed to attract Heavy Category Users for the right reasons. Sell your value. Don’t coerce with a bribe. Understanding the customer’s journey sets you up for success.

2) The most crucial time is the beginning

relationship marketing principles

Buying your product or service does not mean they have a relationship with you. Are they open to it? Perhaps. Do you have to earn it? Absolutely. Their interest in your product is high, and they are willing to listen but don’t be deceived—their interest in the category is also high. They are listening to what the competition is saying. Acknowledge them. Let them know, through words and deeds, that you value their business. Surprise them with value beyond your product’s functional benefits.

3) In established relationships, continually reinforce the decision to buy

Once you have established a connection, don’t abandon your efforts. The most important purchase isn’t the first; it’s the second. Reinforce how smart they are for buying your product. Give them every reason to buy from you again. But keep the plaid jacket at home. Talk to them like you have a relationship, not like some sales guy trying to make his numbers.

4) Good customers expect to be rewarded

This isn’t to suggest that every customer gets a prize. Understand who your best customers are, the 20% of your customers who generate 80% of your revenue, and reward them. Surprise them. Delight them. Make them customers for life. Make them so happy they tell friends and associates what a pleasure it is to do business with you. The ROI on these relatively small investments is huge, especially compared to the cost of acquiring new customers.

5) The second most crucial time is when the relationship is at risk

Again, this isn’t for every customer, but for your best customers take the time to really understand what went wrong and then do something tangible to address their concern. Don’t take the relationship for granted. Whatever went wrong used up some relationship equity. You need to earn it back.

Don’t Leave Empty Handed!

Get Digital Tips & Tricks Delivered to Your Inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We will never share your email address.

Relationship Marketing Principles – Conclusion

An effective website is a fulcrum that’s designed to maximize value creation for users and for small businesses. Understanding relationship marketing will help you craft marketing funnels that attract and nurture heavy category users.

Get the right message to the right person at the right time.

Every successful Direct Marketer

Trust is vital for long-term relationships. We created a handy infographic listing the five relationship marketing principles. When you subscribe to our list, we will happily send you the infographic as a PDF.

A version of this post originally appeared on Red8 Interactive’s blog.

Author: James Hipkin

Since 2010, James Hipkin has built his clients’ businesses with digital marketing. Today, James is passionate about websites and helping the rest of us understand online marketing. His customers value his jargon-free, common-sense approach. “James explains the ins and outs of digital marketing in ways that make sense.”

Use this link to book a meeting time with James.