4 ways an online community can grow your business
Online communities influence business growth. From awareness to conversion and beyond, an online community provides a space where you can guide your prospects through the decision-making process, offering the support and engagement they need to buy into your brand and keep extracting value from it – becoming loyal customers that, in turn, become advocates for […]
Online communities influence business growth. From awareness to conversion and beyond, an online community provides a space where you can guide your prospects through the decision-making process, offering the support and engagement they need to buy into your brand and keep extracting value from it – becoming loyal customers that, in turn, become advocates for your business.
We call it the Community-Led Growth flywheel – a continuous cycle of engagement and interaction that keeps developing and enhancing your users’ experience with your brand. Any organisation can use it to generate growth if they have a well-managed community and strategic thinking to facilitate it. In 2020, adults in the UK spent an average 24.9 hours a week online: so much of the customer’s path to purchase now takes place online, that you have to be ready and available at every point in that journey if you want to influence their behaviour.
Here, we look at four ways that an online community can grow your business – with examples from Zapnito customers that have already done it and reaped the rewards.
Improve customer experience
Use your community to offer support to your customers, and you’ll have better retention rates. Offering support and advice tailored to every customers’ unique experience is nigh-on impossible, or at best very expensive, but an online community can create a space where your team and your customers both contribute to creating a better experience. By facilitating connections, offering resources and guidance, and creating clearly signposted journeys that deliver ongoing value, your community can become fundamental to retention, which is the foundation for growth. Happy customers are also more likely to become advocates for your business. In an increasingly online (and arguably more cynical) world, these advocates are critical to growth – helping you to inspire trust by demonstrating how you deliver value and experience to your existing customers. Leverage these advocates by offering community-based referral and loyalty schemes to recognise their engagement and further cement their loyalty to your brand.
See how Springer Nature used their online community to improve customer understanding and build value in the customer experience, by strengthening relationships in the scientific community.
Listen and learn
Did you know that Nintendo is over 130 years old? It used to manufacture playing cards, but diversified over time, changing what they did to reflect what their customers and audience wanted. The lesson here is that no business can grow by staying the same, and your community provides an open door to allow you to listen to the needs of your customer, and evolve in line with their expectations. In a rapidly-changing world, keeping track of this dialogue in real-time and implementing fast change as a result is essential to growth.
Chemist + Druggist (C+D) used their online community to diversity in response to industry, and customer, demands – and saved their annual C+D awards in the process. Discover their story here.
Generate awareness – and leads
An online community can draw in leads by presenting expert content, problem-solving and unique connections that they wouldn’t find elsewhere. It’s a powerful awareness tool, sparking a more complex and nuanced conversation with potential leads than an advert, or an isolated piece of content. It helps to guide prospects along what we call the flywheel – the journey that your customers take with your brand – engaging and building trust at every stage of the process. The result can be highly qualified leads that exhibit buying intent.
Febs & Wiley, a charitable STEM organisation, used their online community to deliver value, and convert passive members into active community experts. It’s a valuable lesson in conversions, and you can read the full story here.
Convert those leads
Your online community doesn’t just serve the function of introducing new people to your brand – it can be instrumental to converting them into new customers or paying subscribers. With a well-managed online community, you can provide everything that a prospect needs to make a decision: from peer-to-peer conversation, to informative guides and resources. Much of the customer’s path to purchase is now online, and people increasingly want to take matters into their own hands as they weigh up a spending decision, using information available to them rather than talking it through with sales.
SaaS based talent assessment company, Sova Assessment, used their online community to build calls to action that channeled members through the decision-making process. Read more about their process and the results it achieved here.
Are you exploring how an online community can drive your business growth? Whether you’re looking for tips to develop an existing community, or starting from scratch, our community will give you access to the experts who have the answers – and other community managers who are going through the process.