How Online Communities Create Customers for Life
Online communities require a ton of labor and oversight to manage. Fortunately, they’re often worth the high investment. There’s almost no better way to create brand loyalists than by introducing them to peers that share the same values. By creating an online community, you give your customers their very own self-service platform to ask questions, suggest ideas, and engage with others.
Online community forums also give you the opportunity to closely engage with your customers or track their requests. The insight that they offer is priceless. When you hook a customer in as a member of your online community, they’re more likely to become a loyal customer for life.
Here’s why —
Can online communities boost customer retention?
Most forums die because they either never reach or don’t retain their critical mass — the total number of active members needed to keep a community alive. But you can build a community around almost anything. There are obscure forums out there for almost every topic imaginable, like urban exploration, for example. If there is an entire online community built around a topic like urban exploration, you can probably build a community centered around something as basic as your brand.
An online community has the potential to help customers use your products and services more effectively. It also helps you to keep them close or identify customers at the risk of breaking their relationship with you off. The longer you retain a relationship with a customer, the more they’re bound to be worth to you. That’s probably why big names like Mozilla and Fiverr have worked so hard to find great success by building online communities.
You can even use your community to test certain aspects of your website with survey tools or submissions. Here’s how you can engage your customers to keep them coming back to your community for more.
Engage your customers
There’s a reason why we offer community forums on our website. They’re a great way to let your customers build your brand while they connect with one another (and you) in the process.
Large, international brands like Canon, Buzzfeed, Nokia have optimized their online forums as a great way to support their customers. You can, too. Use your online community to harness the power of engagement through discussion forums, blog comments, or user-generated articles.
According to the 2018 User Generated Content (UGC) Report, 75% of respondents believe that UGC content is more authentic than non-UGC content. Marketers agree too. 48% of marketing professionals think that customer-created content helps to humanize marketing efforts.Encourage engagement from your community by rewarding those who participate, make additional purchases, or refer friends. Once you’ve built up your community, offer up self-service articles that solve support problems.
How the self-service support that online forums provide can help your business
Online forums or communities provide a self-service alternative to traditional customer service options.
In 2018, nearly half of the customers believe that solving product or service issues themselves is important. The Moz Q&A Forum is a great example of a self-service community platform.Self-service options have also been known to increase revenue, reduce the total amount of frustrated customers, and boost overall satisfaction rates.
All of those factors translate into customer retention. But if you want to truly win at self-service, you need to make helpful community posts easy for users to find. That’s where a “search” button can come in handy. Here’s how Sephora is using it with their online community:By letting customers search for specific keywords, you make their self-service experience seamless.
If you want to start an online community, be prepared. They’re a bit of an investment. But they’re worth it if they’re managed correctly. If you want to create some brand loyalists, connect them with peers who have similar values as they do. Tons of forums don’t survive because they can’t maintain or reach the number of active users needed to keep their community thriving. That’s why you have to come up with some unique ideas. Post exclusive product teasers on your forum to get people talking. Always engage your customers. A large chunk of engagement can be racked up through user-generated content created by your customers. Comment on it, share it, and recognize it. Create webinars, ebooks, or online courses that are exclusive to community members.
How are you going to capture lifelong customers through your online community?