8 Benefits of branded online communities
Benefits from a branded community spiral down to increase both consumer and brand satisfaction, growing revenue, and help grow entire organisations, including growing customer loyalty. With a community, you can do the following:
- Create real and authentic connections.
- Stand out from the competition with better customer experience.
- Generate leads and acquire new members.
- Improve your products and programs by gathering and addressing feedback.
- Increase revenue through in-community advertising.
- Drive referrals by giving your advocates a voice in the community.
- Grow your organisation.
Further diving into each one of these benefits and why they are important for your organisation.
1. Creating real and authentic connections
Communities create a link between customers and real people at the organisation. Users with questions can tag fellow members in a discussion or post a question and expect a response from someone in the community. This allows for stronger connections and helps build your community. Most importantly, they can feel connected to something bigger than themselves.
If your customers or members can effectively function, create, and innovate with each other online, imagine the ripple effects throughout their experience and your organisation.
At the end of the day, if your community members know they have a community where their voice is heard, they will become invested in the community. That sense of belonging translates to higher engagement and loyalty towards your organisation, brand.
2. Stand out from the competition with a better customer experience
Online communities have many internal functions for your organisation, from content creation to marketing but for the users, they often play an enormous part in their experience and overall satisfaction. You and your competitors may look similar on paper, but an online community can be a great differentiator.
An online member community or customer community gives you a vehicle to stand out from the competition, answering questions and giving those moments of surprise and delight, either in real-time or by developing products and services that match your customer needs.
3. Generate leads and acquire new members
If you are looking to generate more leads or acquire more members, a community can be a great place to start. This is because a community makes you discoverable, and you’re providing value right away. Online community platforms can help brands/organisations improve return on marketing investment and build stronger relationships with their customers.
Communities with public sections create tons of user-generated content through discussion forums, articles, and updates. When prospects search for solutions to their problems, your community will show up in results, increasing brand awareness. As your user-generated discussions grow, the community grows in search authority, content, and relevance, boosting leads, and brand awareness.
4. Feedback, ideation, and crowdsourcing
If you want users to engage with you and each other, you need to show them that they are being heard and you are taking their feedback and thoughts into consideration. Organisations use online communities to build meaningful relationships with customers or members, which translates into greater brand loyalty and opportunities to convert customers.
Branded online communities are designed to start conversations about your organisation and its offerings. Take full advantage of that by tracking the most common complaints, frequent confusion points, and new feature ideas. All of these are areas where you can improve your product to make it more efficient and appealing to your market.
When you do make a change based on community member feedback, let the community know. People love when their suggestions or frustrations are taken seriously. You may even win more loyal users because of it.
5. Decrease support costs
One of the greatest benefits of an online community, aside from driving positive member-driven and customer-focused communications, is the ability to empower your people to self-serve, reducing time you spend on transactional calls and support costs.
You can launch online branded communities to help users help themselves. Their user-generated content seeds the community with new ideas, articles, and answers to frequently asked questions. Struggling users can search those resources any time, asking questions in discussion forums, or finding answers in videos and blogs.
In this way users can relieve the burden on your customer support team by sharing creative ways to resolve issues and innovative ways to use your product, improving the value for every customer reading the discussion.
6. Drive revenue growth
A branded online community can help you earn more revenue through a combination of awareness, engagement, and data-driven sales.
- Community members can naturally discover a course or product through discussions with other community members.
- Sales teams can identify potential new members or customers through community activity.
- Advertise your partners or sponsors in your community, or drive more interest in your own opportunities through advertising.
Creating a community empowers your users to engage in discussions about your products and services, including providing feedback and sharing unique ways they’re using your products to solve problems. They’ll become more and more likely to take you up on that cross-sell or up-sell opportunity.
7. Earn referrals and create loyalty through customer advocates
Users who follow your organisation (products, services) and what you do want to talk about it. They want to share their stories and pass on their knowledge, and a community gives them a place to do that.
Developing an online community ambassador program helps nurtures your advocates and acknowledges the value they are providing to your organisation. You can also give them special access to advance information on organisation updates and product releases to keep them “in the know” and inspire them to continue advocating for your organisation.
Encourage your advocates to connect with their peers, other users, and prospects in the community at large as well. They’re experts on your products, so they’re great at stimulate discussions, answering questions and helping people find the best solution to their problem, all of which builds loyalty and encourages users to keep buying with you.
8. Grow your organisation
Ultimately, communities help grow your organisation. Check out these online community stats:
- Average overall communities see 4,530% ROI
- Advanced overall communities see 7,071% ROI
- External average communities see 6,130% ROI
- Internal average communities see 1,967% ROI that goes up as communities age.
Thriving communities yield more value for every participant than they contribute.
- On average in an advanced community, a member contributes about $67 of value per year and receives roughly $614 of value per year.
- On average in an advanced community, an organisation that would invest $153 of value per year would receive around $682 per year.
If you are still looking to create an online community....
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An online community or internet community is a group of people with a shared interest or purpose who use the internet to communicate with each other. Online communities have their own set of guidelines and needs, like online community engagement, moderation, and management.
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