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August 24, 2012

What's Relationship Marketing?

By Jessika Phillips

How can you market effectively to reach your target audience? With the migration of entire business platforms to the online forum, companies have had to focus their marketing budgets on whole new strategies for interacting with their target audience. Everything from employing search marketing by optimizing your website for more traffic, to becoming involved with relationship marketing – also known as social media marketing – for long-term networks of loyal customers. In the past, you might have focused on things like passing out business cards and erecting advertisements on large billboards; none of these methods encouraged much of a personal relationship between your business and clients.

The Social Network Revolution

This all changed with the emergence of the tech giant Google onto the cyber-scene; with its bold and simple search engine feature that revolutionized marketing in general. Now; instead of pouring capital into the numbers game that are television commercials, billboards, and flyers – most of which were discarded by uninterested people – now you could actually spend to market only to targeted traffic. Using popular keywords to describe your product or service turned out to be a goldmine, because people were already looking for the stuff you were putting out, and your marketing efforts could be directed to reach them only. Despite the huge success of search engine optimization (SEO), it’s just one half of a dual marketing platform that your company can use to launch itself into the stratosphere.

The explosion on to the scene of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, have opened wide new vistas of relationship marketing. Metrics show that their importance and growth rate may even outstrip SEO someday; although both will always remain a one-two punch when it comes to enhancing your business. The focus of social media marketing isn’t actually your product or service; but the community you build and with which you interact even when you don’t have a direct, product-related upgrade or information to share.

Some of the most successful companies with large and explosively growing social networks are the ones that remain engaged with their community. Actions as simple as tweeting about the presence of company managers at a Superbowl game and sending a picture to your business’ Facebook Wall from your mobile phone (without mention of your product) will often elicit positive responses. In the long run, relationship marketing will lead to a more tight-knit and loyal community; and, they’ll think of you anytime they happen to need what you’re selling, or when recommending your brand to a friend.

The key to being successful at relationship management is simply taking the words at face value, and following through. Much like a close friend with whom you speak even when you don’t want something from them, social media marketing is all about consistent – as opposed to constant – engagement with your audience. Frequent, pointless posts and tweets about every little development will eventually be relegated to spam, and you will lose much of your audience. But bi-weekly, or even daily (this can depend intimately on the specifics of your company) correspondence can keep them always “in the loop”, just as you would a close friend. It can be anything from cool, relevant quotes you might have heard, to sometimes riskier quotations on current events – you certainly don’t want to alienate anyone with politics. Never forget that the end goal of your relationship management efforts is to expand your audience; either slowly-but-surely, or virally, with an especially clever post or video about your services posted to YouTube. With the right knowledge and effort, you can hit on the perfect combination to grow your social network.


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Tags: relationship marketing, inbound marketing


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