Online customer-facing communities were initially adopted by the tech industry to educate their potential customers who may require more than a how-to-guide to understand the complex product specifications. These communities proved to be fruitful in terms of providing efficient and economical support as well as generating new ideas for the business to create a better product.
Unlike any other marketing efforts, communities proved to be very effective in creating brand advocates who promote the brand solely because they love using it and it solves their problems. The community role evolved from being another customer-facing front to advocacy, branding, and education.
Businesses that are investing in communities are not only creating more value for themselves but they are also helping the masses in achieving their goals. In this article, I intend to cover some highlighted benefits a business can enjoy by engaging with external communities out there.
Facts & Figures
While it is necessary to have a dedicated Community Team in-house, it is also important to align their efforts with a concrete roadmap and a set of pre-defined objectives. According to the report published by the Community Roundtable, 35% of the community programs lack a roadmap, and more than 58% of Community Teams lack dedicated budgets.
The report also highlighted that the community programs that are pre-funded are way more successful and produce far better long-term results for the organization. More than 42% of this budget is allocated to the Community Managers, 24% to platform and technology, and about 10% to events and conferences.
On average business through this program invests $1.380 annually on each member and enjoys 768% ROI. The ROI is directly proportional to the level of engagement and empowerment. As for the Community Team members, more than 71% of them are recognized and approved by HR that shows that these teams are better understood, and valued by their organization.
To put everything into a perspective, let’s look at some of the prominent advantages of having an empowered, valued Community Team in-house.
Awareness & Branding
The Community folks understand the brand and its users better than most of the people. They are the front-line soldiers who are in constant touch with their customers and the people from a similar industry including the competition. As they blend in well with the community, they can effectively translate the company’s/product’s vision to the larger audience.
The conventional marketing and intrusive sales tactics can trigger negative sentiments among the community. But with the Community Team who is focused more on value; a business can penetrate similar segments in a less risky way and produce better results.
Nowadays, communities have become more credible and their members are more focused on offering real value through their expert opinions, research, and content. People respect the opinion, act upon it, and at the same time punish those who come with an undisclosed agenda. Businesses that have successfully deployed their teams into these communities have a better grip on their targeted audience and an open channel for authentic feedback and suggestions.
Lower Support Cost
Support has always been a challenge for both growing and developed businesses. Over the years support scope has changed dramatically and so are the expectations of the users. Communities can help businesses offer real support in the fastest time possible. Community Team members representing the brand are well-known and are easily accessible as compared to the formal support channels.
Similarly, both the customers and potential prospects are more inclined towards these team members to get instant, authentic, and effective support. This does not only reduces the burden on the dedicated support team but also helps in raising the overall customer satisfaction needle.
Brand advocacy is another great by-product of an effective Community strategy. People who already use and like your brand eventually fall in love with it and start promoting it to a wider audience. These loyal customers become advocates and whatever the good they present to the rest of the world is more powerful than any of the marketing efforts.
A loyal customer spends more than 67% on your business than a new customer and more than 80% of the businesses agree that retaining these customers is more viable than acquiring new ones. Having said that, Community Teams can play a vital role in retaining such customers who prefer personalized interaction rather than talking so an AI bot or a customer agent.
Communities are great places to collect genuine feedback about your product. Here, the existing customers share their experiences while Community Team members can get inspiration from competitive products to improve their own. The majority of the communities are very active in terms of sharing their experiences respectfully that can help a brand mold its product according to the market requirements.
Communities are around for a very long time and are evolving with time. It is difficult to measure the outcome of these communities due to their versatile complex nature. However, online communities give us a chance to understand the behavior of their members and also give us the information needed to create solutions to the problems present within. Community Managers help businesses to better understand these problems and also present the solution to the community in a simpler more meaningful way.