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Relationship Marketing and the Pivot Away From Conversion Marketing
At the heart of both advertising and marketing is a shared goal: to inform. They inform people that a product or solution can make life better. But information is no longer scarce nor hard to find. People can be more specific now in their search for information than ever before.

In 2018, people are less likely to Google where shoes are being sold. Instead, they’re most likely Googling; “best running shoe for beginning runners with high arches for less than $100.” The way people are looking for information has changed, so marketing had to change with it. People no longer want to be interrupted. They know what they want, and in most cases can get it with a few clicks.

The online ads that may have gotten their attention before have died with ad block. Consumers aren’t interested in a transaction. They’re interested in something much more.

Understanding Relationships for Relationship Marketing

We’re human, so we’re relational beings. We’re relationship driven. Relationships help us not only define ourselves; they help us learn, keep us entertained, and provide utilitarian value. Relationships are often talked about in the context between two humans, but relationships can be had in way more mediums than just the one between people

Key to any lasting relationship is an element of evolution. A relationship does not happen in a moment in time. It happens over time, and it evolves based on the evolving needs of the two parties involved.

Now, change does not equal repetition. While repetitive behaviors may exist, future interactions will change and be different due to prior experiences. As both parties gain a deeper understanding of one another based on past experiences, the relationship becomes more complex.

So, if relationship marketing is where we are going, there are some serious changes we must make as marketers.

Changing Behavior

Today’s marketers can no longer afford to focus on conversions alone. We must instead focus on developing, growing and maintaining relationships with our audiences. Conversions still have a place – they’re the desired outcome of a meaningful relationship.

We must also evolve our understanding of a brand. Once upon a time, marketers determined the narrative surrounding a brand. Social media’s inverted that relationship, and today brands are defined by their audiences.

Now brands must be flexible and offer customized interactions to an audience encountering them on multiple touchpoints. It must do all this while still maintaining the underpinnings of who it is though. Interactions with your brand should be customized, but the experience should be uniform.

Lastly, brands and marketers must partner with machines to make this possible. If we’re to focus on relationships and all the nuances that go with it, then we have no choice but to lean on artificial intelligence, automation and digital innovation to help make that a reality. While the goal may be to get brands to act more like humans, the way to do this is with the help of machines.

Understand The Type of Relationships Your Brand Wants

Using the machines and technology mentioned above, marketers can truly discover not only the type of relationship it wants to have with an audience but the relationship an audience already has with your brand. That’s why these insights are so important in building a strategy.

Use that data to discover what your audience wants. Some brands may assume a relationship they have with their audience, but if that’s not backed by data, a brand runs a serious risk of alienating its audience that has different expectations than what’s being delivered.

A narrative can’t be forced. Not today. Brands must remain flexible, so that when it discovers that relationship with an audience, they can cater to it without seeming forced or disingenuous.