Why is online community engagement so important? Because it helps build stronger relationships, and stronger relationships mean that customers will be more to be loyal to your brand. Loyal customers bring with them repeat business, which is likely to be the biggest portion of your future revenue.
The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%; whereas the prospect of selling to a new customer is 5-20%.
Here are five actions to take if you’re looking to build stronger relationships through community engagement:
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the customer who understands all of the features of your product or service is more likely use it, recommend it to others and spend more money on your products in the future. Forbes recommends educating your customers instead of marketing to them: “The more informed and empowered customers are, the more satisfied and confident they are with their choices.”1 Here are two ways to explain the benefits of your products while also educating your customers:
Share webinars in your community and social networks that offer customers a way to learn about and experience your products’ benefits.
Offer Google Hangouts, Facebook Live videos or Slack ClickMeetings to guide users through product offerings.
Your customers appreciate feeling valued, so boost your online community engagement by finding ways to reward and celebrate them. Gamification encourages customers and employees to share with each other more frequently and more passionately, increasing overall engagement with your brand. It’s also a critical step in building an online community your customers will love.
Implement automated gamification tactics for everyday actions, like awarding badges the first time an online community member posts, replies to a post or gives kudos on another member’s post.
Celebrate your users by rewarding them for good behavior with a more personalized response from your customer care team. This can be as simple as thanking them for sharing your content or as robust as running a contest for free products and services.
If you’re struggling with which of the many gamification techniques to choose, Lithium’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Michael Wu, has patented a continuum of gamification techniques that can help you find the right gamification plan for your customers, depending on the behaviors you want to drive. Download the white paper: Drive the Right Customer Behaviors with Gamification.
Gamification motivates customers and employees to engage with your brand or each other more frequently and more passionately.
Leveraging your customers to help is a relatively new concept to most brands. However, you may have already enlisted your customers to assist you without even realizing it. When customers share your content with their friends, they are helping you market your product. Customers trust user-generated content over branded content and are more likely to engage with it. Take your enlistment strategy to the next level and boost your online community engagement by creating a vibrant social hub of user-generated content.
Reward your superusers and advocates when they create in-depth how-to articles that provide free support.
Don’t stop with enlisting just customers. No matter the size of your company, your employees should be engaged as well. Incentivize every employee to support and participate in the community—from the CEO down. According to Social Media Today, if customers can interact with company executives, they feel even better about the product or service and will recommend it more often.2
If the customers can interact with the CEO or the CIO, for example, they feel even better about the product or service, and will recommend it more often to others.3 – Social Media Today
If you’re looking to boost your online community engagement, you must connect with your audience on an emotional level. Videos are an excellent way to do this.
If you haven’t yet embraced live streaming, now’s the time. A great first step to jumping into live video is to identify your top FAQs and answer them in a weekly video series.
Use your superfans to share video testimonials about how they use your products and how your product makes their lives easier.
4x as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.4 – Animoto
There is no better source of feedback and ideas for improvement than the criticism of your customers.
You should continuously be soliciting questions, comments, and encouraging them to tell you what they dislike as well as what they love.
Listening also means knowing when to sit on your hands and wait to respond. When customers do have negative comments, it is exponentially more powerful to have their peers come to the defense of your brand rather than your customer service team. If you’ve followed the steps to build stronger relationships through community engagement above, your customers will become your greatest brand advocates.
A thriving branded online community sets the stage for creating great digital customer experiences. But how do you choose a community platform and vendor that will enable you to deliver the digital customer experiences your customers expect? Download the The Online Community Checklist, a helpful guide for selecting the best online community for your business.