In Marketing, It's All About Building Relationships

Customer Strategy
Customers are expecting their favorite brands to treat them as individuals and invest in building a relationship with them. Responsys' Scott Olrich says customers want a long-lasting rapport with the companies they do business with.

Customers are becoming more demanding and also more discerning. One of the reasons behind their amplified expectations is an increase in choices, which mean that customers no longer have to settle, but can choose the best products and brands they do business with.

But more than anything else, customers are expecting these brands to treat them as individuals and invest in building a relationship with them. Rather than one-off interactions, customers want a long-lasting rapport that starts even before they've decided to start doing business with a company. The relationship doesn't start when money changes hands, but as early as the marketing phase.
When I caught up with Scott Olrich, the chief marketing officer of Responsys, at Responsys Interact 2012, he highlighted the importance of building these relationships and how companies are moving from concentrating on acquisition to a focus on relationship-building:

Why is it important for marketers to really know their customers and market to the individual rather than the segment?
You want to focus on building a relationship with your customer because that will ultimately create a long-term high value customer. It's about acquisition-first versus relationship-first companies. Acquisition-first companies are very focused on instant gratification, the first purchase, and they're spending more money on that acquisition than on creating an incredible experience. The companies that are really winning are investing in building incredible experiences and have great relationships with their customers. Then, the relationship becomes the acquisition machine because those people end up telling other people. [The relationship] ends up driving word of mouth. And you have higher lifetime value, so you can spend more on acquisition if you want to.

How can marketers merge multichannel customer information to better target their customers?
There's the traditional data, like purchase and profile, and there's also email click data and Web behavior.... Data is stored in multiple [locations] and you need to pull the critical data to where you need it to be able to access your programs. Data is changing and social data and Web and mobile behavior are of most interest because these are the channels that customers are embracing and that marketers can use to better target their customers.

Companies should personalize interactions or they will lose customers. What do companies need to do to use data to provide relevant information?
You need to first figure out the campaigns or programs you want to execute and then see what data you need to make that happen. For example, most people won't give you birthday data, but they provide it on Facebook. The most powerful data source is Web behavior and social data--these two areas are new-school data sources that companies should really be taking advantage of.

What are the marketing trends you expect to see in the coming months?
The first is a shift from acquisition-first to relationship-first companies. The most advanced companies are shifting to spend more in relationship building rather than acquisition. That's going to be a huge shift.

Mobile is making everything interactive. For example Dominos Pizza is using its pizza box and turning it into a portal for a digital experience. Mobile is a portal for interactivity and it's already starting to become huge.

Display is now becoming a relationship marketing channel, and it's probably the biggest shift that's happened in marketing in the past 20 years. Companies are bidding to buy individuals in real time, but the problem was that they don't know who the individual is and can't marry this information with historical data. [Today companies can have] targeted interactions by bringing together Web behavior and CRM information, allowing businesses to bid for display ads specifically for an individual in real time.