10 Benefits of the Importance of Building an Online Community
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Did you know there’s more to building an online community than creating a Facebook page for your business? Not only does a robust online presence strengthen your brand, but it also improves your SEO, customer service opportunities, and ability to make strategic decisions for your business based on actual data.
If you’re not clear on the need to create a solid online community for your business, here are 10 clear benefits to get you started. It’s time to enjoy some serious ROI from a very simple strategy.
1. Target Your Customer Niche
One positive to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic was the development of online communities as a way for a group of people to connect. These communities include everything from Reddit to blogs, forums, vlogs, and more.
If your product or service is particular to a certain niche, an online community gives them a setting to connect and relate with others. Providing a forum for your customers to find other like-minded individuals adds value to them. It creates an incentive for them to read your content and engage more with your brand.
An online community developed around your particular niche also opens more insights into your customers’ needs and opinions. You learn a lot about your customers by seeing how they engage with each other, what topics are relevant to them, and what their experiences with your product have been.
The more needs you meet for your customers, including helping them create meaningful discussions and connections, the more loyal to your brand they will be.
2. Garner Real Engagement
By “real engagement,” we mean more than “likes” or shares. This type of engagement is valuable in its own right, but real engagement looks like discussions and emotional connections happening between you and your customers.
When you have an online community for customers to discuss topics related to your brand, they engage with your brand in a more personal way. An online community gives customers a reason to keep coming back–there’s something new and valuable for them to read or learn.
The rise of online communities has transformed B2C relationships from merely transactional to personal. Customers now want to participate in a relationship with their favorite brands.
Building a community online allows your customers to see their own values reflected in your brand. This ties them personally to your product or service.
3. Better Understand Customers
Customer surveys have their place, but often they are shots in the dark peppered with leading questions that don’t really offer genuine insights into a customer’s experience.
With an online community, customers have more freedom to share willingly. They can discuss topics related to your products with others who are also using them.
Your business will gain valuable insights into customer habits, opinions, and needs as you offer them a platform to engage with you and each other. These insights will help you shape your business to better suit their needs.
4. Provide Better Customer Support
Your online community members will help you cut costs as you can eliminate excesses in customer support costs. An online community can take care of itself as you allow customers to ask each other questions, give referrals, offer tips, and troubleshoot.
Engage with your customers. Build trust as you enable customers to offer candid feedback about their experiences with your products.
Not only does this save you time and money on customer support, but it also enhances customer satisfaction. Customers can connect with each other and get “outside” opinions on your brand.
This also builds trust in your brand and your willingness to allow customers to discuss your products and services in an open forum.
Owning an online community gives you an inside look into the genuine needs and concerns of your customers. You can better adapt your services or address problems when you can hear from your customers in an authentic setting.
5. Leverage the Power of Referrals
If you haven’t heard of online “influencers,” it’s time to get your head in the game. The Influencer marketing industry is estimated to reach 16.4 billion dollars by the end of 2022 alone.
With the advent of the online community, more and more people rely on referrals, and influencer opinions, to direct their purchasing choices. Thanks to social media platforms, many people rely heavily on what their “friends” recommend–whether they know that person in real life or not.
The power of online referrals is invaluable for your brand.
Creating a platform for your customers to share their experiences with your product is a marketing essential in today’s world. Without it, customers are less apt to trust your business and less likely to purchase as they have no one’s positive experience to go off.
6. Own Your Own Data
Why on earth would you hand over your own marketing data to a major tech or social giant? Even worse, why would you pay them in order to access your own data?
Sounds baffling, right?
Unfortunately, this happens every day. Businesses that rely solely on major social platforms, like Facebook, for example, to attain and analyze their data are basically giving away their own data rights. Creating and maintaining an online community puts you back in the driver’s seat.
It gives you total ownership of your own marketing data.
This allows you to see the whole picture of your audience and analyze their actions yourself. Using an online community platform, you can uncover new insights into your customers without paying someone else to understand them and regurgitate the info back to you.
7. Increase Brand Loyalty
Do your customers love your brand? If they feel validated, valued, and heard, customers’ trust in your brand is strengthened. So is their customer loyalty.
A successful online community will do more for customers than sell them a product. Your community will offer value. You will reward individuals for engaging with your brand and for connecting with you.
Your brand, through the means of your online community, will offer unique support to your customers not available to them anywhere else. This is what will keep them coming back and spending their valued time engaging with your brand and products.
Consider the strategy that you’re not just selling a product or service, you’re selling a way of life that your niche identifies with.
8. Speed Conversions
Amid all this talk of building a brand, strengthening trust, and understanding your customers, we haven’t forgotten the nuts and bolts of running a successful business: conversions.
An online branded community speeds up your conversions.
How? Today, customers are often met with a wide variety of product options. Becoming overwhelmed by options and not knowing which is best for them often leads to higher bounce rates.
Enter, the online community where your existing customers can leave those oh-so-valuable purchaser reviews. Again, shoppers today are almost as likely to value an online review as a word-of-mouth referral.
Thanks to your online community, your customers can narrow in more quickly on the right products for them.
9. Acquire New Customers
It’s business 101 that if you don’t have a new influx of customers, your business will eventually burn out. There are several ways online communities draw new customers.
One is through organic traffic. The more valuable content you publish, the better your SEO. Your content will become more readily available to individuals conducting online searches related to your brand.
Second, the greater your variety of content online, (forums, chats, blogs, vlogs, etc.), the more apt search engines are to pull your content up when people are searching.
Another useful tool for building a community is referral rewards. If you reward your existing customers for each referral link their friends or family use to reach your content, your existing customers are far more likely to share your content.
Let your customers do the marketing for you. An online community is a perfect way to acquire new customers with the least amount of money and effort on your part.
10. See Real ROI
An online community gives you more monetization opportunities. Subscriptions, advertising, and sponsorships bring in new revenue streams.
Consider how an online community can take a 2-3 day event and extend it into a year-long event. Instead of having sponsors man a booth to generate leads, your existing experts can make video sessions available on demand.
This leads to ongoing conversations that last months. You can reach a much wider audience and extend conversations.
Allow your brand sponsors to manage their own channels within your online community. This opens the door for them to continually add new content and demonstrate their value to your niche.
Your online community will allow customers to continue engaging with your content and sponsors long after the initial “event.” Why put a cap on your timeline for generating new leads?
Develop Your Online Community Today
Creating a successful online community for your business does not have to be overwhelming. With expert advice and experience, you can get started today.
Reach out to Cosmik Carrot today.
Our team of successful builders can help you take your brand from stuck to strong. With our help, you can get started on growing your website right away!