Relationships are a big deal. Family members, friends, coworkers — no matter their relation to you, the people you interact with impact your life in some capacity. This didn’t just happen overnight, though. Chances are you had to put in the time and effort to build the relationships.

Of course, personal relationships aren’t the only kind of relationships that exist.

Business owners also find themselves in relationships with select groups of people, and they too must put in the work to build and develop connections, especially with their customers. 

That being said, what is a good customer relationship, and what does it take to create one?

Learning how to build customer relationships doesn’t quite come as easily as building a new friendship might. Whether you’re using tailored communication or multi-channel marketing, you’ll have to develop careful strategies to effectively appeal to your customers. But the end result is worth it. And if you have a trustworthy digital marketing platform in your corner, coming up with relationship-building strategies couldn’t be easier.

Why is it important to build relationships with customers? 

You know how the old saying goes: the customer is always right. That may not always be the case but right or wrong, the customer always matters.

Think about it. Even if a brand offers the highest-quality product or most efficient service on the market, it can easily go under if it’s unable to build a solid client base.

The customer holds power, and for that reason, it would be unwise for a business to ignore their wants, needs, and interests. And the only way to find out what those are is to get to know members of your audience and intentionally seek relationships with them.

Simply put, building strong customer relationships can lead to more sales. More specifically, though, investing in relationship-building resources results in:

Customer retention

Sure, new customer acquisition is a high priority for businesses. But retaining current customers is just as important, if not more so. 

Ninety percent of customers want to do business with a brand they already know and trust instead of trying out a new product. Plus, keeping a repeat customer’s attention costs five times less than attracting new clientele.

If those statistics weren’t reason enough to convince you of how crucial customer retention is, maybe this will: repeat customers spend significantly more money (67% more, to be exact) than first-time buyers do. They already know who you are and what you can do for them. New customers, however, are more likely to be more hesitant to give their business to a brand they don’t fully trust yet. 

Repeat customers, or a lack thereof, can make or break a brand. The best way to get customers to keep coming back is to develop and foster healthy relationships with them.

Improved brand loyalty

Brand loyalty matters for a few reasons, the first being that it drives sales. Customers keep coming back again and again, and sometimes, they tell their circle of influence to patronize your business, too. When that happens, you can start spending less on marketing campaigns, as your audience will begin acting as brand ambassadors for no extra cost. 

Second of all, brand loyalty boosts engagement. Consumers who genuinely love a brand and the good or service it offers are more likely to respond to email surveys, attend events, join rewards programs, or support them on social media platforms via likes, shares, tags, and comments. 

Increased CLV

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is a projection of the total amount of money a customer will spend on your services or products in a lifetime. When planning your business’s long-term future, you can’t overlook CLV. 

Your total customer lifetime value ultimately impacts how profitable your business is. If your CLV is low and your customers are likely to buy from you no more than a handful of times, most of the money you earn from them must go toward attaining new customers. That means you’re paying more for marketing and advertising.

On the other hand, high CLV indicates repeat customers. Since those people already know who you are and what you do, there’s no need to spend time and money trying to acquire them again. As a result, you get the full profit margin of all purchases after the first one, making up for the customer acquisition costs you already paid. 

CLV also indicates how customers feel about your brand, products, and services.

A high customer lifetime value usually means your audience is satisfied with what you offer them and think it’s good enough quality to buy again and again. 

There are plenty of ways to increase your CLV, including:

  • Offering incentives for repeat purchases
  • Streamlining the onboarding or purchase process
  • Sharing your product roadmaps
  • Creating content that actively engages your audience
  • Providing personalized campaigns 

However, the most effective CLV booster is learning to build and nurture customer relationships. 

How to build relationships with your customers 

We’ve established a few reasons why taking the time to build customer relationships is crucial. But knowing how to do that is a different beast. 

Figuring out which strategies work best for your brand may take trial and error, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, these basic guidelines make fine starting points for forging genuine, mutually profitable connections with your clientele. 

Know your customers 

You can’t build strong relationships with your customers if you don’t know who they are and what they want, so you must take the time to ask questions.

Don’t just assume — get the information straight from the source and conduct thorough market research by sending out surveys, conducting one-on-one interviews, assembling focus groups, or simply observing the data.

Find out what kinds of content and products your customers respond to and what they aren’t receiving as well as you thought they would.

You may even consider creating a customer avatar to determine your target audience.

Making a customer avatar starts with creating a name and physical description for your ideal customer. Then, identify your demographic. Include factors like age, income level, location, and educational status. Finally, you get to the nitty-gritty: fleshing out your ideal customer’s humanity. Consider:

  • What conflicts are they facing, and how can your business resolve them?
  • Where do they typically get their information?
  • What are their personality characteristics?

Tailor communication

Tailored messages demand more attention. Why? Because they seem more relevant to customers. 

Different audiences prefer communicating in different ways. While some consumers prefer email marketing campaigns, others prefer brands reach out to them via SMS messaging. Some might respond to a more formal tone, while others want companies to engage with them casually as if they’re old friends instead of a business and customer.

Each time you communicate with your audience, measure and assess their responses to find out what works and doesn’t. Then, refine your communication strategies accordingly. Not only will this yield better results and higher engagement for you, but it will also show customers you care about their preferences. 

If email is your primary means of communicating with your customers, consider segmenting your email list (that is, breaking it into smaller and more targeted lists). Doing so means customers are getting messages geared toward their specific needs and interests, and that kind of personalization can decrease unsubscriptions and drive engagement through the roof. 

“Wow!” your customers

example of how to build customer relationships by responding appropriately on social media
Responding to complaints with empathy is a prime example of good customer service. Image source: Twitter

Of course, you want to offer high-quality goods and services, but being good at what you do can only go so far. Exceptional communication takes good customer relationships to great. This includes:

Being empathetic

Showing gratitude for their support of your business, apologizing for issues on your end and putting yourself in their shoes lets the customer know they are understood and validated. Use empathy-expressive phrases like, “I’m sorry to hear that,” “Thank you for getting in touch about this,” and “I can see how frustrating that may be.” 

Providing excellent customer service

Little things like taking the time to listen to your customers’ concerns and promptly responding in a friendly way do more for building relationships with your audience than you might think. Top-notch customer service can even include reaching out to customers who have been silent or inactive for a while. Something as simple as sending a text message or email to check in lets them know they are appreciated and special. And because going that extra mile is something not every business does, they will respect the extra effort you put in.

Giving them more than they expect

No one is suggesting you give your goods and services away for free, but occasionally offering small discounts, gift cards, or product samples goes a long way. Besides, everyone loves surprise gifts, so at the very least, you’ll put a smile on a customer’s face. 

Reward customer loyalty

Starbucks has become a leader in customer loyalty thanks to the brand’s rewards program.

Telling your customers how much you appreciate their loyalty is one thing. Showing them, on the other hand, is another. Making a conscious effort to do that doesn’t just make customers want to stick with your business; it also encourages them to tell their friends and family about you. 

There are many ways to reward customer loyalty.

Highlighting a featured customer every week or month, offering longtime customers something exclusive, and offering a referral bonus are all noteworthy examples. Though each strategy is different, they all serve the same purpose: telling your audience you’re grateful for their support. And when your customers know they’re seen and appreciated, they’re more likely to continue buying from you and advocating for your brand. 

Provide value

The Pareto principle, aka the “80/20 rule,” makes a stellar guideline when deciding the best ways to interact with customers and how often you should do so. Eighty percent of your content should be educational or entertaining and geared toward driving audience engagement. The other 20% of content falls into the promotional category, intended to encourage people to buy something from you.

Why does the 80/20 rule matter when attempting to establish long-lasting customer relationships?

Because it can be incredibly frustrating for a consumer if the only time they hear from you is when you’re asking for money. It can be so frustrating, in fact, that it wouldn’t be surprising if they considered unfollowing you or unsubscribing to your emails.

However, if most of the content they receive from you is useful to them — teaching them about who you are, what you do, and why it matters — they’ll be more inclined to engage with you. 

Be an active part of the community

Engaging with the community in which your business is a part can be highly impactful for your business.

Beyond showing current and potential customers you care, community engagement can do wonders for your brand awareness.

Getting out there in some capacity, maybe by volunteering at a local event, sponsoring an activity, or hosting events, lets people know who you are and what you do. Even if those you’re directly interacting with aren’t exactly your target audience, they might mention you to their friends and family members who could benefit from your services. 

Be thankful 

People love feeling appreciated, which is why taking the time to acknowledge your customers and how much they mean to you and your business is a great way to establish a meaningful connection with them.

Saying “thank you” doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking; it can be as simple as penning a heartfelt email or creating a thank you video to be sent out at the end of the year, on holidays, or even on the customer’s birthday. 

Whether you choose the email or video route, be sure your “thanks” is genuine. When customers sense that you mean what you say, they’ll be eager to continue doing business with you. 

Online marketing can help build long-lasting customer relationships

When paired with one, a few, or all of the suggestions outlined above, an effective online marketing strategy can help you build customer relationships. But how do you make online marketing work for you? 

Utilize cross-channel and multi-channel marketing

If you aren’t already using multi-channel marketing to build customer relationships, now’s the time to start.

The aim of multi-channel marketing is to expand your brand’s reach by communicating with different members of your audience through the platforms they most frequently engage with.

This strategy is about meeting customers where they are and altering your approach for different audiences. For example, you might find that more sales-driven content performs better on Facebook or Instagram (sites notorious for delivering high ROI), and more casual content is best-suited for platforms like TikTok and Twitter.

Cross-channel marketing is similar, but it has one core difference: it entails sharing one united campaign across all of the marketing platforms you use to get customers to engage with one specific message.

Cross-channel marketing could look like posting on Instagram about something new your business has to offer, then using the platform’s story feature to link to your website so that customers can read more about it. Later on, customers get a reminder of what they saw on Instagram, more than likely via text message or email, and maybe an incentive for purchasing. 

Ultimately, these strategies only work if you stay on brand across marketing platforms. Brand consistency — using the same logo and design elements, keeping your voice consistent, etc. — makes you recognizable to consumers and gives them a clear image of who you are and what you do.

And when a customer knows, recognizes, and remembers you, they’re one step closer to trusting you with their business. 

Follow Best Practices

To get the most out of your online marketing it’s important to get things right the first time. Not perfect but right.

Doing so allows you to effectively attract new customers while hanging onto your old ones. 

Make the most of your online marketing efforts by following these best practices:

The power of relationships

Business is about more than just dollars and cents. You dream of your brand being lucrative, but it’s quite difficult to make that a reality without attempting to build customer relationships.

Don’t let yourself get swept up and overwhelmed by the thought of cultivating brand new relationships with prospective clientele, though.

Start small and with a group of people you already know — like your current customers. Ask them for feedback and alter your marketing strategies accordingly. Then, reward them for their loyalty and communication. You’d be surprised at what a big difference these little efforts can make in building relationships.

Learn more about The Power of Relationships and how to get started building stronger relationships with our customers by downloading our guide.

Constant Contact educational guide on The Power of Relationships