Three Steps to Begin Relationship Marketing

Kate Jones

Relationship marketing begins with knowing and understanding your audience in order to provide the information they are interested in when they are interested in receiving it. We hosted a webinar, How to Move Up the Ladder of Relationship Marketing, this week with a panel of association experts: Lisa Campo, Marketing & Communications Manager at ACTFL; Fran Vincent, Marketing and Membership Manager at IHS; and Vivian Swertinski, Sr. Digital Marketing Strategist, Informz; and moderator Maddie Grant of Social Fish and WorkXO. We had a great discussion about relationship marketing and how to implement it at various levels of your association. They walked us through:

  • How to get started with relationship marketing.
  • Tracking and dividing your audience, from basic segmentation to defined personas.
  • The importance of relationship marketing to attract, engage, and nurture millennials.

Check out the recorded webinar here and view the slides here.

During the webinar, we took a poll to understand if and how organizations currently use relationship marketing. It was great to see that many of our attendees have taken the first step to personalizing their marketing content by including first names. Some attendees have begun leveraging demographics in order to send customized messages. Even fewer incorporate preferences, behaviors and buying patterns into their marketing.

Begin Relationship Marketing Today

If you’re wondering how to get started with relationship marketing, here are your go-to steps.

Step 1: Clean Data

Make sure you have clean, trustworthy data. Begin with a database audit and review the data that you have available. Start small by looking at whether the first name field in your database is consistently filled out and correct. Are email addresses in the proper format? As you review the data you have for your audience, keep in mind what data could be useful in crafting personalized content for your audience.

Step 2: Select a Personalization Starting Point

After completing the database audit, select a personalization starting point. Are you currently sending out emails to your entire list? Examine available criteria in your database to begin segmenting your audience. For example, you may have different membership types that warrant different communication. By segmenting members based on their type of membership, you can provide helpful information based on their area of interest.

Another idea is to segment by membership length. New members can be placed in a new member welcome campaign that walks them through how to get the most out of their membership. For long standing members, remind them of the benefits available and of new benefit options.

A third example that has proven successful is to use location data when you are planning an event, as long as you are confident with your address data. Pull a report of your members’ addresses within a certain number of miles from your event. Use this data to send an email inviting them to the event that is within driving distance. This shows your audience that you are thinking of them and how they can easily attend your event close to home.

There are endless ways to segment an audience and begin creating personalized content. Get started today and select criteria that you have data on and can be used in a way that will benefit both your member AND your association.

Step 3: Test and Evaluate

Throughout your relationship marketing journey, make sure to conduct A/B testing to figure out what works best for your audience. Try testing a subject line with first names and without to see which gets the most attention from your audience. Try not to make assumptions about what your members want. Running A/B testing will help you understand what members truly respond to compared to what you think they will respond to. As you increasing your personalization efforts, test and evaluate what works, you will continue to improve your relationship marketing.

What is holding you back?

Leveraging relationship marketing should be mutually beneficial for associations AND members. This begs the question, what is holding marketers back from in engaging in relationship marketing if it is so beneficial? Fortunately, we polled our audience and found out.

Begin Relationship Marketing

Now that you know where to start (data) and how to start (small by selecting one area to segment and personalize) it’s time to make it happen! Slowly but surely you can improve your data and segment your audience leaving them wondering if you are in fact a mind reader by sending them the information they want when they want it.

We’re going to leave you with some relationship marketing inspiration. Texas Medical Association used personas and automated campaigns to provide their audience the information that they wanted which led to TMA increasing sales by 313%!

Now go forth and begin your relationship marketing journey!

About the Author
Kate Jones

As Digital Marketing Specialist at Informz, Kate manages the company website, social media strategy, press releases and marketing collateral. Outside of work you can find Kate chasing her toddler and dog and laughing at the chaos with her husband.