What is Relationship Marketing? Types, Strategies & Examples

What is Relationship Marketing? Types, Strategies & Examples

Today, marketing is expensive, and many marketers are switching to a more sustainable strategy which includes relationship marketing. In this article, we will discuss what relationship marketing is, the various types of strategies that you can use to implement it, and some examples of successful brands that have implemented this strategy.

What is Relationship Marketing?

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Relationship marketing is focused on developing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with customers. The idea is that when you have a strong and emotional connection with your customers it leads to an improved customer experience and better customer retention. This in turn might motivate your customers to spread the word about your company.

Traditional marketing is different than relationship marketing. With traditional marketing, conversion rates were the main focus and often times the only concern. In contrast, relationship marketing pays attention to repeat customers instead of individual sales. We all know that retaining customers is more cost effective than acquiring new ones, which is where relationship marketing gets its name.

As marketing strategies have changed over the years, organizations now use a combination of traditional and relationship marketing to accomplish their goals. This forms the basic core of a customer relationship marketing strategy for many businesses in the more modern era.

Companies trade a quick acquisition of customers for a long-term relationship. Rather than aggressively pursuing new customers, companies are more concerned with their current customer base to see if there is anything it can do for them. They still want to meet the needs of the customer and have them enjoy their experience enough so that they will come back again.

Types of Relationship Marketing

As each customer is funneled through his or her own path in the company, relationship marketing also has to happen at different stages. Therefore, relationship marketing can take place very close to the customer's lifecycle throughout the company.

There are Five levels of Relationship Marketing.

1. Basic Marketing

To acquire as many customers as possible, you employ Basic Marketing. This form of marketing is primarily used for a product that must sell. There is no feedback from the customers because they don't care about how their feedback will help you improve your product.

Traditionally, products were sold in a way where the selling concept was at its peak. It was important to label your own product as the best, regardless of the post-sales experience of the customer. Over time, this has been improving and changing for the better.

2. Reactive Marketing

Reactive marketing, also known as real-time marketing is any marketing that takes place outside of your traditional advertising channels, or in response to audience feedback. Customers provide feedback on a product after purchasing it, which helps companies improve their products and services.

One advantage to this form of marketing is that it makes the company more reactive to the market. This means that they can react to feedback and change products/services to match what customers want. Hotels and small businesses would use this marketing strategy, asking customers how their experience is with their company.

3. Accountable Marketing

Being accountable is being responsible for the promises you made. You might make them before selling the product, but you have to keep your word and deliver on those promises with customer service and post-sales support.

When a company commits to being accountable, it has proven that it is trustworthy. Accountability is the key to relationship marketing — when you are accountable to your customer, they will know that they can trust you.

4. Proactive Marketing

Proactive marketing is a form of Relationship Marketing where you proactively reach out to your customers with questions and take their feedback into account. This type of marketing works because it goes above and beyond, so it's an ideal choice for both long-term relationships and quick sales. The only downside to this type of strategy is that it may affect your customers' privacy.

Advances in technology, like the growing popularity of smart speakers, have made it easier to build a relationship with consumers. However, the privacy implications of these devices are increasingly putting companies on uncertain ground.

5. Partnership Marketing

Have you ever considered a partnership marketing? It's an enhancement of the basic level of branding that happens when the seller gets very close to their customers. It includes regular updates and optimizations, to make sure your partnering business thrives.

A great example would be Android as an operating system and Samsung as a company that uses Android OS in their smartphones. A relationship has to develop over time, meaning Android has to keep making changes based on the smartphones capabilities. And this is where investment on development is necessary to ensure the partnership is a success and Android as well as Samsung remain at the forefront of the market.

Now we know what Relationship Marketing is, but what are the benefits? Why is it important and why should you do it?

Importance of Relationship Marketing

Any company can benefit a lot from investing in Relationship Marketing. That's why focus a customer-centered approach to your marketing campaign. Keep the customer by continuously delivering value and amazing customer service, and they'll keep coming back for more. Read some of the reasons that make relationship marketing so important below.

Builds Customer Loyalty

When you invest in improving customer relations, it naturally leads to more loyal paying customers. We'll give you an example: Starbucks.

Helps with Cross selling and Upselling

Having a loyal customer base will help you know what product would be most profitable. For example: Amazon knows that customers are looking for the latest and greatest, so they have great deals on site posted all of the time.

Builds Brand Awareness

If customers are happy with your product, they may choose to become brand ambassadors for your company. This leads to better brand awareness, which provides more benefits than you could ever imagine.

Boosts Brand Image

You want to make your customers happy and delighted, right? You also want a great company brand, which makes relationship marketing a key pillar of any successful fulfillment strategy.

Helps with Customer Retention

Why would existing users leave you if they are happy with your service? You can improve your retention rates by catering to your current customers and finding out what they want.

Gives a Competitive Advantage

A company who invests in and builds customer relationships will always have the upper hand and it will have a competitive edge. An example is Bosch.

Reduces Advertising Costs

The focus of the company is to build relationships, not spend time on customer acquisition. This sudden change in focus means you no longer need to invest money in acquiring customers. Instead, you can use the saved funds and money spent on advertising to invest in building meaningful relationships with your customers.

Higher Margins in the Long term

For a business in the long-term, keeping more customers and having high customer satisfaction is integral to earning higher margins. Think of Apple as an example here.

Increases Revenue and Sales volumes

Customers who are happy with your product will lead to new customers and increased revenue for your company. That's why it's essential you do everything in your power to make sure they're satisfied every step of the way.

Relationship Marketing Strategies

If you're looking for excellent relationship marketing tactics, lets find out some and how they can help you market your business.

1. Creating a Customer Database

Before you start improving your customer relationships, it's important to create a customer list. You cannot market effectively without knowing your customers. Once you know them, you'll know what their preferences are and be able to make better business decisions.

Starbucks uses loyalty cards to track customer purchases, and the company has data on its customers for the last 12 months. That means it knows customers' preferences, which stores they're most likely to visit, and what types of coffee they drink. By using this information to segment its market and types of coffee that are popular, Starbucks can serve just the right products to the people who are most likely to buy them.

2. Take Customer Feedback and Listen to them

Marketing became more powerful when companies started listening to their customers. Today, we have many different tools which we can use as marketers to collect feedback. Email Marketing, SMS Marketing, Coupons, Face-to-Face feedback and website feedback pages are all available to take the feedback of consumers.

For example, video game companies like Riot games inspire gamers to share their views about what could be improved. They improve the graphics and game content based on the feedback they receive.

3. Customer Relationship Management

Customer relationship management is an important part of a business. You can use CRM software to help you keep track of your customers, their inquiries, and their purchases. Using "supporting software" like email and SMS automation can help you to stay in contact with these people. On the other hand, ERP software will help you run smoother operations so that you can serve more customers easily and confidently.

One way businesses use these CRM and ERP software is to send coupons, personalized gifts, or marketing paraphernalia with the contact information filled in.

4. Customer Service

When you provide a great customer experience via your marketing efforts, it's easier to build accountability. Marketing becomes relationship marketing, and the best type of accountability is when customers are happy with your service and come back often. If you want a good customer experience and for more people to rely on your brand by sharing the products or company name, then you need to invest in customer service.

At least good customer service is the cherry on top of a cake. Bad customer service, though, can really affect your company in a bad way. In this social media age, bad news spreads quickly and it's why you need good customer service at all costs.

One way to improve customer service is to keep track of metrics like KRA (overall customer satisfaction). Give your team meaningful feedback and make note of how they're treating customers.

Good customer service might sound like a huge expense, but it will bring you more revenue in the long run with very little customer attrition.

5. Customer Loyalty

There's a close connection between customer loyalty and your relationship marketing strategy. Your customers are more loyal, which means you have fewer complaints and issues to resolve. If any of your products perform poorly, however, your loyal customers will be quick to point that out.

You may have noticed that companies like Apple and Samsung generate a lot of revenue just by retaining current customers and upgrading them to the latest and greatest.

6. Email Marketing

Almost six out of ten people have internet access, and one of the first things to do with it is to get an email account. Whether you want an Apple IPhone or a Samsung Android phone, you need to have an email account in place. The same is true for purchases on Amazon, e-commerce portals, or other online places. As a marketer looking to build customer relationships, it's vital that you use email marketing.

Customer segmentation increases the likelihood of correctly targeting your audience. Knowing this, include email marketing campaigns in your overall plan and utilize triggers to send messages to those who have already shown interest in what you're selling. Make sure to keep in touch with both current and past customers by telling them about upcoming discounts and special offers, as well as seasonal inventory.

7. Social Media

By being in regular contact with someone, you establish a connection. This is equally true for your company and your customers or followers on social media. You can make frequent high-quality posts that are your own content or use other people's user-generated content.

One smart way to build your brand is by using social media cookies for retargeting. Commonly called retargeting, you can show ads to your website visitors and eventually push them towards buying from your brand or following it.

8. Automate

The tools available in the market provide a lot of automation that can help you execute your marketing strategy. Automation results in more customer interactions while building better relationships. Here are a few approaches to implement automation within your marketing efforts.


Reward your customers with retargeting campaigns. Give them discounts, special offers, and updates about your brand or product. A customer who visits your website will receive updates about new products from you on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Email Marketing

How do you increase your customer's brand awareness? Send them personalized emails and targeted communications. This will reinforce the idea that they are interacting with a real, and excited, brand.

Social Media

Use social media to drive long-term customer engagement and foster customer loyalty. Regular updates on social media combined with multiple types of content will offer a number of benefits for your business.

9. Collect Data

The key to Strategic Relationship Marketing is having adequate customer data so you can use a strong strategy. Once you gather enough data on your customers, you will be able to implement many Retention Strategies and improve relations with your existing customers as well as studying New Customer Acquisition.

Your business strategy should be grounded in collecting customer data from the very beginning. For example, Amazon collects user data and uses it for marketing purposes. It's all about customer retention - a single customer might buy multiple products from Amazon over the course of their lifetime.

10. Be Proactive

One of the most effective ways to improve a customer's experience is by aiming for consistency. One of the ways to do this is to make sure you're keeping a track of customer requests, so that you can act on them. Just by consistently listening to your customers and acting on their feedback, like offering loyalty programs or suggestions specific products or delivering relevant information, you'll see increased sales and better relationships with your customers.

Relationship marketing is all about understanding your target audience and gauging what they're looking for. If you know this, then you can tailor your business offers accordingly to help ensure more people convert into customers. This helps in onboarding success - as well as helping to capture additional potential customers.

Examples of marketing relationships

Let's look at what specific companies have mastered in their strategy to build long-term customer relationships.

1. Starbucks

Examples of Relationship marketing - Starbucks

One of the most common Instagram posts that influencers share is of them holding a Starbucks coffee cup in their hand. As customers find this familiar, they instantly recognize themselves and feel connected to the brand. That emotional connection leads to high customer retention and growth, as well as high profit margins for your business.

2. American Express

This is a great example of relationship marketing.

When it comes to American Express cards, a lot of people boast about the fact that they have one. As the number two credit card company in America, Amex is aware of their reputation and knows that customer experience is a key component to maintaining that lifelong loyalty. They work hard on providing different offers, which are offered on their credit cards rather than focusing solely on individual sales.
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3. McDonald’s

Examples of marketing that draw people closer to your brand - Mcdonald's

McDonald's has localized their menus according to their customers' preferences. Different countries have different menus, offerings, and messages which McDonald's is constantly implementing. They are trying to make sure that customers across the world feel valued and BMW know it through the various avenues they have in form of feedbacks.

4. Domino’s

In this campaign, Domino’s did more than just simply share these customer feedbacks on live television to obtain their goal of bringing back the lost customers. They were also able to improve their brand image, and in the end the company is found to be sharing the best feedbacks its customers gave them on live television! After this, Domino's promised to provide its customers with improved pizzas that tastes even better than ever before. With this step, they demonstrated how they're an honest and transparent brand who honors their relationship with its customers.


Relationships are vital in business, and with the development of marketing strategies, that has never been truer than today. More tools exist than ever before to help you establish these relationships. Whether you need blog-building tools or your own service platform, take advantage of them so that customer delight can become your company's focus.


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