Marketing is about attracting and keeping customers by satisfying their needs and requirements. In order to delight the customer, his or her expectations must be exceeded. This is not an easy task, since customer tends to have very high expectations.
Over the years the marketing methods have changed, becoming more effective and efficient. Due to advances in technology, electronic marketing (e-marketing) has arisen. E-marketing offers many more benefits than traditional marketing, and thus, it has been commonly employed by all organisation.
First of all, e-marketing allows selling products and services online to consumers all over the world. Secondly, companies create their websites to give additional customer service and streamline service delivery. Furthermore, doing business online is less expensive, since no running costs are required. Moreover, electronic media, including websites, blogs, e-mail and digital receiving devices, enable integrated marketing communication, which is designed to speak to broad audience.
Integrated marketing communication promotes brand awareness, brand knowledge and brand association. Also, a well designed website, which not only contains relevant information but also looks good visually, has a better chance to grab and retain attention of the visitor.
The focus of marketing has changed over the past few decades, moving from initial concentration on single transaction sales to customer retention and emphasis of high customer service. Even though some companies have focused on relationships in their marketing activities for many years, the relationship marketing concept became more common since the 1990s, emerging within industrial and service.
The importance of creating customer value and continuous customer patronage and the aim of relationship marketing is to establish enduring and mutually profitable relationships between the company and its customers.
People tend to trust those that they have a direct relationship with. In order to build consumer trust, companies should focus on providing reliable goods and services, and be transparent about their mistakes.
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Owing to enormous competition, companies must put the extra effort to acquire and keep customers. Providing a satisfactory product or service is not enough. What makes a customer want to keep buying a specific product or using a particular service are additional benefits or unique experiences that a company offers. What creates relationship commitment is the belief in the importance of maintaining that relationship in the long. When customers are committed to a particular brand, they repurchase its products and reuse its services, resisting trying the offerings of the brand’s competitors. Therefore, commitment not only arouses favourable attitudes towards the brand in customers, but also it results in reduced customer turnover.
When trust and commitment are combined with bonding, there is created loyalty, which is the main goal of relationship marketing. Loyalty is believed to occur ‘when repeat purchase behaviour is accompanied by a psychological bond’. Loyal customers have a strong desire to retain membership in a particular company. Without loyal customers a company’s income is unstable, causing imbalance between supply and demand. Loyal customers are regarded as the most profitable, since not only they tend to spend more, but also they involve little sales and marketing expense.
It can be argued that the greatest change in marketing has been made due to utilisation of database that can be continuously updated, refined and accessed to identify target groups of customers of any size. Database marketing allows analysing the profiles of existing customers to compare their demographic and other characteristics. More importantly, databases allow tracking all interactions between the customer and the company, including previous transactions.
It is needless to say that with an access to customer information, companies find it easier to monitor consumer buying patterns as well as build and maintain long-lasting relationships with customers. An example of a common customer data collection tool is a loyalty scheme. Overall, putting effort into building long-lasting customer relationships can be regarded as a good investment.