Why is building an online community so important for organizations today? The bottom line is that it’s the people who will make (or break) your organization, so building an online community to help them thrive is more than just a good idea. It’s a core component of a successful business today.
The past year has left many feeling isolated and disconnected from their networks, peers, and frankly, everything. Perhaps that is why online communities are popping up everywhere, bringing people together to deepen their connections, whether the community is built around a personal or business focus.
Online communities help accomplish three main objectives:
Who knows the best use of your product or service better than your customers and partners? Building an online community empowers users far and wide to connect and share best practices and ideas for using your product effectively.
Leveraging the experience and ideas of users not only helps educate and inspire others, it further enables innovation of your solution. No matter how large or diverse your development team may be, you will never be able to imagine all the possible use cases for your solution, integrations, or tech tricks. According to a survey via Vanilla, “90% of communities say suggestions from the community have been used to improve products or services.”
When you think about brand advocates, many aspire to have as loyal and dedicated a customer base as Apple. Apple has fostered an incredible community of passionate advocates who engage with and support the brand online and off, achieving a customer satisfaction rating of 82 out of 100 in a recent survey. And it’s not only iPhones that Apple customers adore…they love it all.
Salesforce.com is another tech brand that has a highly engaged ecosystem of advocates for SFDC.com products and solutions. Employees and partners are heavily invested in the community as well, and are active in global events, user groups, forums, and of course, many of their robust online communities.
Even if we can’t all be Apple or Salesforce, data on why you should build a branded online
- 66% report an impact on customer retention
- 55% report an increase in sales
- 58% generate new leads
3.Reduced support needs
As users increase, demands and requirements for support teams typically increase as well. A branded online community can reduce support needs by enabling self-service via online communities and customer support portals. This enables peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and answers in near real-time through engagement in forums, chats, videos, and blogs. Much of the content is also user-generated, another bonus of online communities.
How much of a reduction in support tickets can you expect? It depends. However, Jama Software attributes much of their 28% reduction in support
“Building an online community helps democratize knowledge and enables people to connect while sharing their personal experiences,” said Heather Foeh, Head of Workfront Customer Marketing, an Adobe Company. Foeh has been a pioneer in building online communities and driving customer success since her early days at Eloqua, now Oracle. “A community is invaluable in terms of building advocates and champions for your brand. It also helps business scale as members help each other.”
Who can argue with that?
Create & Nourish Your Online Community
The ever-evolving B2B and B2C tech stack are solving challenges that didn’t exist a year ago. Help your ecosystem thrive by building a community that can be part of your journey to address challenges and find solutions. Foster the community and empower users to leverage it. When done well, a branded online community will help you scale your organization while delivering unique benefits that set you apart from your competitors.
We believe in the importance of building an active and engaged online community, which is why inRiver just doubled down on our own online community. Check it out!