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What are the benefits of an online community?

Growing an engaged community of enthusiasts, advocates and fans is key in today’s fast-paced, online consumer-driven world. The ability to listen, and respond to customer’s needs and desires has never been more important in a world that is socially driven and where reputations thrive (or suffer) on other peoples’ positive (or bad) experiences.

Brands need to be responsive, and alert to changes and movements from across all areas of their business, and the ability to listen and engage with their audience has never been so important.

Community isn’t a new concept, it’s something that’s tried and tested and has been taken to stratospheric heights via the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram… to name a few. These giants of social media continue to demonstrate that consumers’ appetite for information, knowledge, and engagement only continues to grow.

Alongside the traditional social media channels, forward-thinking organisations are nurturing their own branded communities to help boost sales, provide knowledge transfer and support their customers and users with laser-focused and granular accuracy.

So what are the main reasons and benefits, why should businesses care about building and nurturing their community?

 

Community Benefits

 

1. Product reviews and feedbackThere are none so pure as the converted!

In 2019 it’s unlikely you’ll ever make an online purchase where you won’t be asked for your feedback, according to www.businesswire.com 50 percent of consumers write reviews for products they’ve purchased, 97 percent depend on reviews to inform purchase decisions and 8 out of 10 millennials never buy anything without first reading a review.

Counter intuitively research studies tell us that even negative customer experiences increase the likelihood of repeat business when issues are dealt with quickly and transparently, in contrast to customers not having had a negative experience in the first place. Offering a customer-driven feedback and support community, alongside the standard ‘quick review’ services available, means businesses have a great opportunity to further develop and nurture customer relationships.

In short, reputation and feedback is more important than ever, and this can further be enhanced through branded peer to peer feedback communities!


2. Customer support

Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and an organisations’ ability to support their customers is vital for growth and continued success…pretty obvious, right!

Long gone are the days when telephone support is the only touchpoint for customer support, not only is this expensive and time consuming from an organisational standpoint, but customers now demand even more simple and effective ways to engage with their queries, requests, and complaints.

Our digitally connected world means a disgruntled Tweet can shame a brand into reply, and once published this digital artifact remains logged for all to see, for all time! Digital accountability highlights the importance of customer support and how others view brands’ responsiveness and transparency to such queries and complaints.

A branded community is a perfect environment to nurture customer support from both the organisation, and from peers who act as brand advocates and thought leaders. Adding a support community into an organisations support channel further communicates openness, transparency, and accountability to their existing and prospective customers.

 

3. To sell more

A community is a great way to sell more products and / or services to an already engaged audience. There’s no lead generation or additional marketing spend specifically required, (although marketing complements a community platform) as the audience has ‘bought into’ the brand. Although selling directly to community members may not be the key driver behind a community, the ability to cross-sell is also an additional benefit.

 

4. Marketing

Fresh user-generated content is a wonderful source of data and information for a marketer. Not only does this give instant, publicised customer insight, further deep-dive metrics and sentiment analysis also allows for further analysis on user ‘mood’. Are customers positive, negative or neutral on a certain topic, are certain customers likely to buy, are they a champion of the brand?

Fresh content also serves as a great catalyst for Google, the more engaged the community, the more content will be generated. If relevant to search queries (providing Google deems the community as relevant and important), the better chance the community stands of being listed within search results.


5. Market Research

An engaged audience serves as an excellent opportunity to gather market research. Authenticated user ‘buy-in’ allows organisations to reach out to a verified audience for opinion and feedback. Posts, videos, pictures, polls, and other engagement touchpoints means there are several ways to gather important market research and feedback on potential product releases, updates and questions.


6. Focused user attention, reduction of customer Churn

Look…it takes a lot of hard work, time, money and effort to build a customer base, and as great as Facebook (and others) are, they are also hugely distracting for the user. I’ve seen enough cat videos on Facebook that yes, I’ve found funny, but they also distracted me from my initial task. The sheer volume of content presented to a user on the big platforms is overwhelming, and the ability to convey the right message to existing, or prospective customers, can be difficult and expensive.

Smart organisations acknowledge that alongside standard social channels, the ability to offer a fully branded community platform allows customers to access the organisation in a less cluttered and far more focused way.

Brand awareness is key, customers are constantly faced with a multitude of options and potential competitors via traditional social media channels. A dedicated branded community helps increase brand awareness and builds and sustains user attention span.


Contact OnSerro today to speak to a member of our sales and partnership teams and discover how we can help your customers increase your sales and develop stronger customer relationships through intelligent community solutions.

About OnSerro
OnSerro empowers companies to brand and customise their own community platform, we help remove the barrier of user adoption by offering our customers solutions across web and mobile. Through intelligent push notifications, recommendations, and gamification we help grow and nurture our client’s communities by making them an important touchpoint for customers and a trusted channel within their business strategy.

Want to find out how OnSerro can help your customers? Get in touch for more information.