How a community can aid business growth
If you’re keeping your fingers on the pulse of go-to-market strategy trends, chances are you’ve come across community-led growth. So what is all the rage about
Creating and leveraging communities of customers is a smart way to grow your business when done correctly.
If you manage to turn users into your brand’s advocates, they’ll be more likely to share their positive experience with their peers, and recommend your product. They’ll be more inclined to provide their feedback and suggestions, as well as interact with other community members and engage in expertise and knowledge exchange.
The core idea of a community is creating an environment that attracts members and naturally takes them through the customer journey faster - to conversion and advocacy. Think of a community as a never-ending cycle of engaging, retaining, and growing your customer base.
How does community building fit into your business strategy?
Creating a community that supports business growth strategy sounds great, but is it worth the time and effort invested?
Well, word of mouth is known to be a powerful force in marketing, and 83% of consumers say it has an influence on their buying decisions.
According to research, branded communities have contributed to a boost in sales, greater SEO rankings, an increase in website traffic, and lead generation. In addition to that, 49% of businesses that have online communities report annual cost savings of 10% to 25%, thanks to lowering customer support costs.
When logically integrated into your marketing strategy, a community can serve as a powerful means of driving business and supporting your growth efforts.
Where and how to start?
If you’re considering giving community-led growth a try, there are a few steps you can take to build a solid foundation.
1. Conduct research and collect data
Diving right into community building with no set plan or data to back you up is not the best idea - you want to be sure the community you’re building has a purpose and is in line with your company’s goals.
Start out by doing audience research to establish their needs, gather feedback, study the brand sentiment, and set goals for the community you’re about to start.
Dig into your CRM, and product usage data, or send out surveys to your most active users. Consider conducting one-on-one interviews with your customers, or schedule group discussions.
When reaching out to your audience, make sure to meet them where they are. Determine the communication channel that they’re comfortable with. For instance, reaching out to your customers on LinkedIn is a great idea. Not only is it easier to chat than via email, but it also makes the interactions more human, gaining points for your brand. Keeping track of all the conversations on LinkedIn can be tough, but you can use tools like Surfe, which will help you add back data to the CRM with a click of a button.
To speed things up and ensure that none of your customer discovery is lost, you can also implement some workflow automation.
2. Define the purpose of your community
Now that you know more about your audience and what they’re looking for in a community, it’s time to define its purpose and set goals.
When determining the goals and objectives, keep in mind the goals of your future community members, and combine them with your vision of how a community will help your brand grow. For example, Pavillon offers community-based learning specifically designed for Sales and Sales Ops teams, whereas the Rev Genius community is focused on Revenue Operations.
3. Determine why, how, and where people will join your community
People will start joining if they feel compelled to do so. You want to make it look persuasive and attainable, and you should also make it easy for users to join.
Determine what the primary purpose is for customers to join your online community. Create a streamlined and easy process for them to join, and select a platform where the community will grow and thrive.
4. Put metrics in place
To track the progress of your community, carefully select the anchor metrics you will be looking at. The KPIs you set will depend on the goals you’ve formulated for your community.
You can look at your community’s health with metrics like total membership and engagement rate, track member sentiment or community growth rate. Consider studying business metrics in regard to your community - annual recurring revenue (ARR), customer retention rate, churn rate, and community-influenced deals. Don’t forget to track referral rates month-over-month, and website traffic sources, to check if more users are finding out about your brand from referrals, or brand awareness.
Driving community engagement
Now that you’ve set a foundation for your community, it’s time to get the ball rolling.
Here are some tips to help you get members in, and start engaging:
- Encourage members to stay active. Organize events, webinars, Q&A or feedback sessions, come up with incentives, or kickstart discussions.
- Let members be your top priority. Don’t forget that the community you created was made for people - put their needs first, and tailor your activity accordingly. The happier your community is, the more engaged they are, and the more likely they are to stick to your product and brand.
- Establish and recognize your #1 fans. Acknowledge and encourage your top champions with mech, shout-outs, or personalized deals to keep them advocating for you. Setting up an official ambassador or reseller program could be a great option too.
- Dig for insights. Analyze the data your community generates to learn how you can do better, and which initiatives you can try to drive even more engagement.
- Facilitate interactions between members. Make it simple for people to start interesting conversations, and share their experiences and knowledge.
- Reward participants. Show your audience they matter and are appreciated - get them involved by publishing user-generated content on your socials, let them in on new product drops or features early, invite them to a focus-group discovery session, or simply bring them in as speakers for one of your virtual events.
Remember, always keep your community first, and bring people to the center of all you do. If you manage to get your customers engaged and the community thriving, it will create a great presence for your brand, and result in business growth.