Clientbook Blog
September 21, 2023

What is relationship marketing and why should retailers be doing it?

In the dynamic world of retail, success hinges on more than just selling products. It's about building lasting connections with customers.

According to research from Gallup, fully engaged customers bring in 51% higher revenue and sales than actively disengaged customers. They also spend over 23% more, on average. 

So how do we engage our retail customers to gain this advantage?

This is where retail marketing, specifically relationship marketing, comes into play. In this article, we'll explore what relationship marketing is, why retailers should embrace it, and how Clientbook can be a game-changer in this arena.

What is relationship marketing?

Relationship marketing is a marketing strategy and approach that focuses on building and maintaining strong, long-term relationships with customers. It goes beyond the traditional transactional model of marketing, which is primarily concerned with making individual sales. 

Instead, relationship marketing and relationship selling places a significant emphasis on nurturing customer loyalty and trust over time.

What are some components of relationship marketing?

Some key characteristics and benefits of relationship marketing include:

  1. Customer-centric approach: Relationship marketing puts customers at the center of all activities. It aims to understand their needs, preferences, and behavior in-depth, allowing businesses to tailor their offerings and interactions accordingly.

  2. Long-term perspective: Rather than viewing each customer interaction as a one-off sale, relationship marketing seeks to create lasting connections. It recognizes that the real value lies in customers who return repeatedly and become advocates for the brand.

  3. Personalization: Businesses collect and analyze data about individual customers to provide personalized experiences, such as tailored product recommendations, special offers, and targeted communications. Personalization is a cornerstone of relationship marketing.

  4. Open communication: Effective communication is vital in relationship marketing. It involves maintaining open channels for feedback, addressing customer concerns promptly, and keeping customers informed about relevant updates and promotions.

  5. Customer loyalty and retention: The ultimate goal of relationship marketing is to foster customer loyalty. Loyal customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, spend more over time, and recommend the brand to others.

  6. Two-way benefits: Successful relationship marketing is mutually beneficial. Customers receive added value, such as personalized experiences and excellent customer service, while businesses benefit from increased customer lifetime value and reduced customer acquisition costs.

  7. Data-driven insights: Relationship marketing relies on retail data analytics to gain insights into customer behavior. Businesses use this data to make informed decisions, track customer preferences, and fine-tune their marketing strategies.

  8. Customer satisfaction: Building and maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction is a central objective. Satisfied customers are more likely to remain loyal and advocate for the brand. One example of a retailer investing in customer satisfaction is Patagonia, the outdoor gear brand. They offer free repairs on all of their gear, promoting sustainable practices and keeping customers happy.

Relationship marketing is particularly relevant in industries where customer retention efforts and a loyal customer base are critical, such as retail, e-commerce, and subscription-based services. It acknowledges that acquiring new customers can be costly and that the real value often lies in nurturing and retaining existing ones. 

By investing in building strong relationships with customers that are based on trust, businesses can enjoy long-term success and sustainable business growth.

Why retailers should embrace relationship marketing

Now that we’ve covered what goes into a relationship marketing strategy, let’s dive into some key reasons why retailers should adopt and prioritize relationship marketing strategies:

Customer retention

Relationship marketing focuses on retaining current customers by building strong connections and loyalty. It's often more cost-effective to retain customers than to acquire new ones. Loyal customers tend to make more frequent purchases and are less likely to switch to competitors.

Increased customer lifetime value

By nurturing relationships with customers, retailers can increase their customer lifetime value. This represents the total revenue a customer generates over their relationship with a business. Loyal customers who feel valued tend to spend more over time, making them highly profitable.

Word-of-mouth marketing

Satisfied and loyal customers are more likely to recommend a retailer to friends and family. Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool in the retail industry, and positive recommendations from loyal customers can lead to new business and growth.

Competing with e-commerce giants

Online retailers and e-commerce giants often excel at personalization and convenience. Customer relationship marketing allows brick-and-mortar retailers to compete by offering similar experiences with a personal touch and by establishing a loyal customer base that values in-person interactions.

Customer advocacy

Loyal customers become brand advocates. They not only make repeat purchases but also actively promote the brand through positive reviews, social media platforms, and referrals. This free promotion can significantly boost a retailer's reputation and customer base.

Data-driven decision-making

Relationship marketing relies on data analytics to understand customer behavior and preferences. Retailers can use this data to make informed decisions about product selection, pricing, and marketing strategies, leading to better business outcomes.

Stability in changing markets

Building strong relationships with customers provides stability, even in volatile markets. Retailers who understand their customers can pivot quickly to meet evolving demands and maintain a loyal customer base.

Enhanced customer experience

Relationship marketing involves personalization and exceptional customer service. When shoppers feel valued and appreciated throughout their customer journey, their overall shopping experience improves, leading to higher satisfaction and repeat business.

Reduced marketing costs

While acquiring new customers can be expensive, relationship marketing often requires fewer resources. Referral Rock cites that it’s 5-25 times more expensive to gain a new customer than retain an existing one. Focusing on retaining existing customers can lead to cost savings and a better return on investment.


In fast-paced retail environments, having a loyal customer base allows retailers to adapt to changing market conditions and trends. Customer feedback and insights gathered through relationship marketing can guide business adjustments and innovation.

How Clientbook facilitates relationship marketing

Clientbook is a retail software solution and customer relationship management tool that empowers retailers to excel by developing long-term customer relationships through clienteling

Here's how: 

  1. Client management: Clientbook compiles comprehensive customer profiles, including purchase history, preferences, and contact information, enabling retailers to personalize interactions. Happy customers are made when they are met with service that is tailored to their needs.

  2. Automated engagement: Clientbook allows sales associates to automate follow-up reminders, marketing efforts such as sending tailored offers and reminders to clients, and celebratory messages and offers based on life events like birthdays and anniversaries. Associates can even set up relationship-based targeted automations so that your clients never miss a chance to celebrate their significant other with a gift.

  3. Data analytics: Clientbook's robust analytics tools provide insights into customer behavior, helping retailers make informed decisions about product selection and marketing strategies.

To begin your clienteling journey today, download our free clienteling starter kit


In today's retail landscape, relationship marketing isn’t just a nice idea, but a necessity for survival and growth. Building connections with customers leads to loyalty, advocacy, and long-term success.

Clientbook, with its useful tools and insights, is the ideal partner for retailers looking to excel in relationship marketing. Embrace this strategy, and book a demo to begin relationship marketing today.

Continue reading

What is predictive AI?

Eight ways to master your customer follow-up