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Why customer loyalty is vital to relationship marketing

6 minute read

Loyal customers are your brand's biggest sales opportunity–spending an average of 67% more than comparable transient consumers.

A new era in consumerism is ushering in highly personalized service models and deep, lasting relationships with a loyal customer base. This shift towards relationship marketing emphasizes building a strong customer loyalty program to facilitate that relationship.

Key Takeaways:

  • Personalized experiences create brand affinity and drive loyalty. 
  • Strong relationships transcend temporary instabilities such as a recession.
  • 52% of consumers choose brands based on loyalty programs

What is relationship marketing?

Relationship marketing is a long-term strategy that creates opportunities to nurture customer relationships. For many brands, repeat customers are willing to spend more and happy to keep coming back.

It's still just one piece of the marketing puzzle, but priorities are shifting. Instead a singular focus on new conversions, a relationship marketing strategy invests in retaining the customers that have already converted.

From a return on investment perspective, it's a logical approach.

A relationship marketing strategy might include:

  • Obtaining and Listening to Customer Feedback
  • Curating Personalized Experiences
  • Enhancing Customer Service Delivery
  • Establishing a Rewards Program
  • Embracing an Omnichannel Approach

Why relationship marketing is important

Consumers increasingly demand deeper commitments from the brands they shop with. According to Salesforce, 73% of customers now value trust when choosing where to shop. Understanding relationship marketing and customer loyalty can help companies connect with their consumers.

Increased Sales Opportunities

Focusing on customer relationships can increase customer loyalty. This benefits the brand in several ways. First, customer acquisition costs go down while sales numbers likely go up. Loyal customers spend more–and more often.

Second, loyal customers stick around. In one survey, 75% of loyalty customers had been with a brand for over a decade. Imagine the purchasing power of an engaged customer over 10 years.

Generating Brand Awareness

Loyal customers are your strongest advocate. A deep-rooted part of our social human nature hinges on modeling behaviors. We're born with the instinct to mimic, look for examples, and adopt modeled behaviors from those around us. We’re also equally inclined to share or model for those around us. 

For brands, this means that happy, loyal customers are eager to share the good news. And interested prospects are willing to hear it turning loyal customers into a perfectly primed engine for boosting brand awareness.

Long-Term Stability

Strong relationships transcend temporary instabilities. A dip in the economy often leads to consumer pullback on spending. When buying resumes, purchase power is fair game. Brand loyalty is the tie that binds bringing familiar faces back to the brands they trust.

Relationship marketing drives loyalty and retention

If repeat business drives sales growth, the hidden potential in loyalty-driven retention is an opportunity many brands have not yet fully realized. As marketers lean into creating customer experiences and cultivating deeper engagement through emotional connection, both brands and consumers benefit from relationship marketing.

Consumers get a positive, personalized experience ripe with satisfaction. Brands see more sales, a better return on ad spend, and growing loyalty that continues to feed an efficient marketing cycle.

Relationship marketing strategies to increase customer loyalty

The key to increasing customer loyalty is in your approach to managing that relationship. Let's look at effective ways to make the most of your relationship marketing strategy.

Customer feedback

Obtaining customer feedback through surveys and using that data to inform business decisions like product development, marketing strategies, customer service models, and supplemental services provides a brand with the best chance of finding and fulfilling customer needs. 

On top of providing genuine solutions, customers feel satisfied when their needs are heard and addressed. Engaging a 360-degree customer feedback model grows brand affinity through deep satisfaction creating loyal customer relationships.

Personalized experiences

Nobody likes to feel like another face in a crowd. We're wired to belong but driven to stand out. As consumers, we want the accessibility of commercial products delivered with personalized service. 

Brands can use intel generated from quality first-party data streams to personalize customer experiences. Doing so creates a sense of familiarity that breeds trust while simultaneously addressing the ego and connecting with customers emotionally to build loyalty.

Great customer service

It sounds simple – deliver great service and win customer loyalty. The problem is that priorities shift, and balls get dropped. While most brands would like to believe they're providing great customer service, reality paints a different picture.

The majority of consumers base purchasing decisions on the level of service they receive. This means providing attentive service from knowledgeable, trained staff. This can increase customer loyalty better than offering a lower price.

Rewards programs

Consumers love incentives. Over half (52%) of consumers say that loyalty programs influence their decisions to shop with a particular brand1.

A rewards program is a specific type of loyalty program. Rewards increase the perceived value from the customers' point of view, providing a strong anchor for maintaining loyal customers. It's a simple concept, reward your most loyal shoppers for every dollar spent with your brand, and they'll spend more. 

First-party data from Cardlytics can help brands identify loyal customers and customers at risk of leaving based on the share of spend in competitive categories. This data can then help brands personalize rewards based on unique customer relationships. 

Omnichannel approach

An omnichannel approach recognizes that customers engage in a variety of ways. The same consumers who shop in stores will also interact with the brand on social channels. Similarly, shoppers that gravitate toward in-app purchases might also be eager to leave reviews on aggregate sites.

Customers aren't siloed to independent channels, and your marketing strategy shouldn't be either. An omnichannel approach builds trust and loyalty by providing a cohesive brand experience across all touchpoints.

With an omnichannel approach fueled by Cardlytic's first-party data, brands can easily identify new or lapsed customers so that you can deliver personalized re-engagement offers through uniquely personalized messaging and offers.

How Cardlytics Helps Brands Grow Customer Loyalty With Strong Relationship Marketing

The untapped potential in your loyal customer base can be reached through effective relationship marketing. Cardlytics solutions can support a stronger loyalty program by providing unique insights on customer behavior, including the share of wallet spend across competitive brands. Your brand can use this information to provide personalized offers to engage and re-engage customers every step of the way.


1“Shopper Story 2020: The New Consumer Mindset,” Criteo, 2020

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