Communication, Customers, and Connectivity
Relationship marketing is not a new marketing concept, however, it has become an increasingly more important concept in the modern economy. Relationship marketing basically uses a company's relationship with its current customers as the basis of targeted marketing efforts. This relationship is fostered and closely nurtured to ensure that customers are satisfied with their products or services and that they remain loyal to the company.
The most important element of relationship marketing is customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction, which can be achieved through quality customer service, quality products, and quality service, is used to not only retain customers and generate referral business, but it is also used as a source of marketing data. After all, satisfied customers are more willing to talk with company representatives about their experiences, to make recommendations (those all important word of mouth referrals), and to accept marketing materials.
There are several ways in which customer satisfaction can be used in relationship marketing. The first way is through an online opt-in communication system. Customers that want to receive promotional materials and communications from the company opt-in to an electronic mailing list. Viral marketing techniques can also be used as a part of a relationship marketing campaign that is designed to promote customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction can also be measured and monitored through the use of relatively new social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. Two great examples of companies that actively monitor social media channels (especially Twitter) are General Electric and Chili's. Both of these companies employ very aggressive tactics in the realm of social media to monitor what is being said about them, their products, and services.
Customer retention is another focal point of relationship marketing. In this case the marketing professional would take steps to ensure the customer remains loyal to the company. This is usually accomplished by offering loyal customers special perks such as discounts, promotional items, private sales, and other rewards and incentives.
Once customer retention programs are in place and a relationship has been established, then the marketer can utilize relationship marketing strategies to mine data from the customer. This data may then be used to create customer retention measures, to identify problems, and to develop corrective plans for those identified problems.
Unlike other types of marketing, the success of any relationship marketing campaign hinges on the ability of the marketer to establish an ongoing relationship with their customers. Relationship marketing has really come to the forefront for many companies, especially in the online/Internet realm. With debacles such as the "Motrin Moms", "United Breaks Guitars", the Nestle problem, and the @keyinfluencer/FedEx issue, it's become more and more apparent that companies need to dedicate time and effort in developing, maintaining, and monitoring appropriate relationship marketing tactics.
As social media continues to develop and grow, relationship marketing tactics will continue to evolve and change as well. Companies large and small need to take a proactive step in their relationship marketing - especially in the main online communities such as Twitter and Facebook. With the speed in which bad experiences, poor service, poor performance, or inappropriate actions can be reported and spread online, the need for vigilance in relationship marketing has never been greater.
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