What is Relationship Marketing?

Have you ever noticed that you tend to favor a particular brand over others when making a specific purchase? What is it about that brand that makes you feel safe and comfortable to keep returning? Is it because they make you feel understood and secure? Or is it because you trust that their products will meet your expectations? Regardless of which brand you’re thinking of, they’ve probably done a great job with relationship marketing.

When you put in the effort to stay connected with a brand – such as subscribing to their emails, following them on social media, or making repeat purchases – they are also putting in the effort to maintain a relationship with you. This method works particularly well for brands that use direct response marketing strategies. By building a strong relationship with their audience, brands can effectively encourage responses from them.

Let’s explore what relationship marketing is, and how marketers can use direct mail to successfully fulfill this long-term strategy.

Key takeaways:

  • Relationship marketing is an approach used by businesses to establish strong connections with customers and encourage future purchases.
  • Using direct mail in your relationship marketing efforts offers improved customer retention, repeat purchases, brand loyalty, customer satisfaction, improved customer lifetime value, and referrals.
  • Customer loyalty programs, cross-selling and upselling, retargeting, frequency and timing, and integration are strategies marketers employ to improve their relationship marketing efforts.

What is relationship marketing?

In today’s competitive market, it’s not enough to simply make the first sale. That’s where relationship marketing comes in. By prioritizing customer satisfaction at every single interaction, rather than just one-off transactions, you can build a loyal customer base that will keep coming back for more. For sustainable growth and profitability, fostering brand affinity is essential – and relationship marketing strategies do just that.

Benefits of using direct mail in relationship marketing

Direct mail offers a range of benefits for those looking to build strong customer relationships, including the ability to improve customer retention rates. By sending a well-timed, personalized mailer to your customers, you encourage repeat purchases and establish long-term relationships. This is because the act of receiving and touching a physical advertisement is proven to form an emotional tie between customers and your brand.

Effective customer relationship marketing through direct mail can also increase customer lifetime value. The best part? Loyal customers often turn into brand advocates. Providing a great brand experience encourages positive word-of-mouth and referrals. This is an effective way to organically attract new customers and grow your business.

All these benefits combined are the perfect recipe for elevating your relationship marketing campaign performance and differentiating your brand from your competition. Plus, 38% of consumers feel mail is the most influential type of advertising, beating popular digital channels. So, if you want to take your relationship marketing efforts to the next level, it’s time to add direct mail to your marketing mix.

Direct response relationship marketing strategies

Customer loyalty programs

Customer loyalty programs encourage repeat business from customers by offering customers incentives for making purchases or engaging in other desired behaviors by offering discounts, free products, or exclusive access to special events and promotions.

Consider how you can use your mail piece to create a limited VIP community that isn’t offered to everyone. Notify your recipients they are part of an exclusive, pre-selected group, or offer a private invitation for them to join the club. Then, keep them engaged with unique rewards or gifts to build stronger relationships and increase their likelihood of additional purchases. You get to show off your generosity while simultaneously creating a devoted customer base.

Cross-selling and upselling

Cross-selling recommends supplemental products or services that align with a customer’s past purchases to add relevancy to your customer’s shopping experience. Upselling, on the other hand, is designed to enhance the customer’s overall experience by offering an upgraded or enhanced version of the product your customer is already interested in purchasing.

Personalized offers, exclusive discounts, and limited-time promotions can encourage customers to engage with your cross-sell and upsell mailings. Employ persuasive language and clear CTAs to prompt customers to consider and act upon these supplementary purchases. You can also create a sense of urgency by including an expiration date for the offer. Using these tips, you’ll maximize the value of their interaction with your brand. Top of Form


Direct mail retargeting is a great way to strengthen your retention strategy with your existing customer base and leads. Your CRM is filled with prospect and client information like past purchases, product browsing and search behavior, cart contents, and more. Combined with variable printing data (VPD) to swap the design and copy elements of your mail piece from one contact to the next, you can deliver a unique and personalized experience for each contact on your mailing list.

Consumers are willing to share their data in exchange for personalized offers, and first-party data is king. Consider how you can tap into the information you have already gathered (or can gather in the future) from polls or surveys to identify new and influential variables that point to customer needs, preferences, and purchase motivations. Following up with your audience allows them to express their opinions, concerns, and experiences in a manner that feels welcomed and valued.

Optimizing engagement: the role of frequency and timing

Your mailing frequency and timing can significantly impact how your message is received by your target audience. The best way to determine your optimal direct mail frequency is to test, test, and then test again. According to our Direct Mail Industry Benchmark Report, over 80% of consumers say receiving four or more direct mail pieces from a single brand in a year is excessive – but it all really depends on your brand. Only 17% of respondents stated that two to three pieces are too many, and industry best practices support multiple audience touchpoints for brands with the objective of current customer retention or renewal.

Mail in-home windows are strategically timed to match an audience’s time-to-market. This critical purchasing window is important to optimize your message for engagement and response. Sending a personalized mailer when your customers are leaning into your brand will feel relevant and trustworthy. Do not forget to use deadlines and urgency throughout the mail piece to encourage consumers to act fast.

How integration transforms relationship marketing

Direct mail and digital marketing go together like peanut butter and jelly, and these channels work in sync to maximize customer retention and encourage action. USPS research even revealed that using direct mail and digital marketing channels together increased website visits by 68%, increased response rates by 63%, and resulted in a 40% conversion rate. Since consumers prefer to interact with brands at their convenience and through their preferred channels, an integrated strategy can lead to a positive customer experience.

SeQuel Surround is a strategy that enhances the efficiency of both marketing channels and overall marketing campaign spend. It works by delivering timely digital ads followed by a piece of mail, giving the recipient multiple ways to respond to your special offer while also boosting customer satisfaction. Another great option is ProspeQtor, an affordable and dynamic multichannel prospecting strategy that utilizes offline data, predictive modeling, and comprehensive testing to deliver multichannel digital campaigns to your perfect audience.


A polished relationship marketing strategy is the key to a happy, loyal customer base. Adding direct mail into this strategy will boost customer engagement and brand trust, but you don’t have to do it alone. Our team of expert strategists are there to guide you down the path of scalable success. Contact us today to see how you can maximize your ROI and cultivate sustained customer satisfaction and retention.

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