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How to Build High Value Customer Relationships in Any Industry

By Bobby Ritterbeck, CMO, Marlette Funding

Bobby Ritterbeck, CMO, Marlette Funding

Like many other businesses in the financial field, the personal loan industry can be considered a relatively low-engagement space. What I mean by that is, when businesses in the industry communicate with consumers, the communications typically consist of transactional messaging, like sending payment confirmation emails and due date reminders – content they’re unable to engage with. These one-way communications leave businesses with little opportunity to build valuable relationships with their customers.

So… how can you foster the growth of high value customer relationships while operating in a low-engagement industry?

The simple answer? Apply a high-engagement approach to your marketing.

The first step we took to start building more rewarding relationships with our customers was shifting our internal focus as a business by holistically implementing a customer-centric approach.

Yes, the term has gained buzzword status – but we should all know by now that customer-centricity is completely different than living by the adage, “The customer is always right.” Seeing your business through the lens of consumers will reframe your perception of what email can be used for, and once we saw email for what it really is - a channel that allows us to have ongoing, meaningful dialogue with our customers - things started changing for us.

Effective relationship marketing is crucial for building fruitful connections with your customers. The difficult part, especially in low-engagement industries, is finding something for them to connect with.

"It’s possible to take a generally low-engagement relationship and make it highly valuable for both parties"

It all starts with content.

Whatever industry you’re in, people are in need of your services. The fact that people require your services means that they have questions about what you provide, and maybe even about your industry as a whole. By taking the time to create personable, thought-provoking content that provides solutions for peoples’ pain points, you position yourself as a trusted resource they can come to for answers. You add value to their lives through your interactions, and because of that, many are willing to continue the conversation.

However, it’s worth noting that the “if you build it, they will come” mentality will only get you so far when it comes to people engaging with the content you create. To get a leg up on the competition, there are a few capabilities you should leverage to ensure that your relationship marketing is effective. Here are three capabilities my team and I recommend taking advantage of to build long-lasting, enriching relationships with your customers.

Email Targeting

The only way people are going to see the value you’ve created is if you put it right in front of them. With that said, your customer base is likely comprised of many different types of people with their own particular wants and needs. How do you know what content will be relevant for each unique individual? A robust test and learn agenda.

Every interaction your customers have with your content will give you a better idea of their preferences, which you can then use to segment them into specific populations. The customer clicked through your email and read three articles about debt management? Next time try leading with some content revolving around managing debt and building credit. If they decide not to engage with the content on building credit, you now have a better idea of what they’re looking for from your interactions.

By adding machine learning into the mix, you gain the ability to distill thousands of these interactions at a time, helping you send each customer the content they’ll find most useful.

Emotional Language

Even if your content reaches the right people, it’ll take some convincing to get them to engage with it. With the use of machine learning language capabilities, you can find what type of emotions and language resonate with your customers, then use those findings to inform the feeling your subject lines, body copy, and content should evoke.

Through testing we’ve found that our second loan customers overwhelmingly respond to offers that include language gratitude and exclusivity. For example, a potential headline with these emotional factors could be, “For being an exceptional customer, we’d like to invite you to apply for an additional loan!” By using language that elicits these emotions in our messages, customers are significantly more likely to engage with the content we provide them.

Enhanced Personalization

It’s the little, thoughtful touches in your messages that make a customer’s experience great, even if it’s something as simple as including a header image of the city they live in or the weather in their area that day. These small touches of personalization remind customers they’re not just another number for us.

It truly is a win-win situation for everyone involved; we provide relevant content to our customers, we learn how to make it better for them through our interactions,rinse and repeat. We’re getting better at providing our customer base with valuable, personalized content every day, which is showing them that a relationship with us is one that’s worth keeping.

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