Top 8 community growth strategies for 2023
Sustainable, long-term business growth is something that all senior leaders strive for, but it’s not an easy thing to crack. There’s no surefire formula for instant success in the business world but making an online community core to your efforts is a great start. Community growth is a business trend that’s getting more attention these […]
Sustainable, long-term business growth is something that all senior leaders strive for, but it’s not an easy thing to crack. There’s no surefire formula for instant success in the business world but making an online community core to your efforts is a great start. Community growth is a business trend that’s getting more attention these days; as it offers a unique way to connect more deeply with existing customers, attract prospects, and drive lead conversions. Community-led growth and exponential business growth are one and the same.
This piece will cover the eight community growth strategies that drive greater business performance long term.
Savvy business leaders know that their customer comes first. Traditionally, that might have been a customer support motto, but it now extends to lead generation, conversion, retention, and more. A well-thought-out community growth plan will help to onboard new customers to ensure they have the best first experience of your products and services, retain existing ones with exclusivity and high-value interactions, and attract prospects.
1. Leverage wider community marketing channels
Having regular check-ins with the marketing team can help to take community growth to the next level. Your online community sits within a wider business strategy. Smart community managers know that they need to partner with their marketing, sales, product, and customer success colleagues to create high-growth communities. Many marketers now realize that community marketing is a powerful tool for customer acquisition, retention, referrals, and support. With a far-reaching impact across the marketing mix, it makes sense that community managers and marketers are in lockstep.
Each part of the marketing mix brings benefits to an online community. Social media platforms can attract new members to a community and broaden its potential reach. Events can generate buzz in the community and help members to meet up in real life (for in-person events). And data from email and digital marketing can be used to understand members’ (and potential members’) behaviours and desires.
Business growth hinges on showing your customers that you understand and care about their interests, goals, and needs. What better way to do that than through personalising their community experience? Serving only the content, courses, events, and discussions that interest them will make it more likely your community members will engage and continue returning to your community. It makes the experience more valuable and cuts through the noise of all irrelevant content on social media and public spaces.
3. Highlight your expertise and influencers
Today’s consumers are saturated with advertising and content. Brands need to stand out from the noise to acquire customers. Becoming associated with industry expertise is one way to attract prospects and retain customers, and a knowledge-driven community will help you get there. Showcase your experts, from members of your community and speakers you’ve invited to events, to internal experts like your CEO or product leaders. Create discussions and content that’s completely unique to your community — this could include a behind-the-scenes look at your product development, a Q&A with a speaker, a monthly CEO update, or an insider look at a trend currently impacting your industry.
This will encourage people to join and engage with your community. You can also create tiered memberships or paid-for areas that become an additional revenue stream for your business. Make sure you communicate the value of this premium tier to members so they are tempted to sign up. Some premium perks you could offer include exclusive content, events, access to industry experts, early product access, discounts, and beta testing/first looks.
4. Retain customers
Retaining customers is cheaper than customer acquisition, and improving your retention rate by just 5% can drive profits up over 25%. Your business growth, therefore, relies on your community not just attracting customers but also retaining your existing customer base. Better still, discussions and recommendations within your online community can improve upselling and cross-selling. That will drive up customer lifetime value and your average order value — both effective ways to increase revenue.
5. Deepen customer relationships
Hand-in-hand with retaining customers comes deepening the relationship between your brand and your customers. If customers have a meaningful connection with your brand, they will be more loyal and more invested in your long-term success. They may also promote your brand more readily to their peers.
Online communities are ideal for building stronger customer relationships as they offer a regular touchpoint between your employees, experts, and customers.
With the right content and experts, customers can gain more value from your products and learn knowledge that improves their performance and results. If they get to a point where they cannot live without the community, by association, they cannot live without your products. And because your community is helping them work more effectively, your brand will benefit from the goodwill this generates.
6. Find and promote your customer advocates
The members who welcome new customers and who help to spread the word about your brand and products are your customer advocates. They are invaluable to your community-led growth as they will introduce new people to the community and create content that retains others. Treat them like VIPs and they’ll soon boost referrals. That’s a powerful way to grow long-term, as referrals are up to five times more likely to convert prospects compared to any other marketing channel. It can be a huge growth engine for B2B organisations too, with 84% of B2B decision-makers starting their buying process via a customer referral.
7. Test different pricing and revenue models
We touched briefly on this earlier when discussing premium tiers, but there are other revenue models you can explore in your community. Sponsorship and advertising can be offered to partners and others in your wider network, or you could create and sell online courses. Your community can also be a place for upselling, cross-selling, and event ticket sales.
8. Act on your insights
Your community is a goldmine of first-party data that’s invaluable to your business. You can use this data to inform your community-led growth strategy and uncover new growth hacking tactics. Data is generated whenever your members engage with your community, from creating new content to posting to discussion boards. You can analyse this data and share its insights to improve your community growth, product development, marketing and sales, and customer support.
Bonus: Choose the right community tech stack
Even the best community growth strategies will come undone without the right community software to support them. Once you’ve outlined how your community will support business growth, it’s time to choose your community platform. Always start with your business and community goals, as this will ensure your chosen technology can fulfil what your business needs now and in the near future.
Also, consider the member experience offered by your community platform. Members need something that’s intuitive to use, to find content, and to network. If they cannot easily navigate your community, they may lose interest. That’ll ultimately hinder your community’s growth. Choose a vendor who offers great customer support, this will be a goldmine for your community growth strategies.
Moderation is another important aspect, as it helps members feel safe in your community. Plus, having comprehensive analytics features will ensure you get all of the benefits of community data previously mentioned.
There’s a lot more to consider when choosing your community technology, so we’ve covered it in another piece.
Community growth in the limelight
Community-led growth is a trend that’ll only get more attention with time. It’s a clear way to drive business value through your community and the strategies discussed here are all integral to your long-term business growth. It attracts and converts prospects, retains happy customers, and creates lasting relationships and customer advocacy. Now is the moment for smart growth communities to shine.