There are communities everywhere around us, whether they constitute our family, colleagues, friends, or people with shared hobbies or interests. Just like in-person communities, online communities work on the same principle, but they operate virtually.
Most organizations in today’s time are enjoying the benefits of online community and helping their customers learn more, share, and collaborate with each other. All this leads to growth and added relevance for an organization within its industry or niche.
When it comes to developing a genuine and trustworthy connection with the audience, building an online community is an effective and easy method. Also, after the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, we believe every company in every type of industry should start an online community.
If you are wondering whether it is worth the effort, let us check out the benefits of an online community.
Create Genuine and Real Connections
An online community will help build a genuine connection between an organization’s staff and customers. Customers love it when they feel part of a big network filled with like-minded people. Users can start a discussion or ask questions in the community, and other members of the community can respond to them.
When customers innovate and create among each other, it will have a ripple effect on a business as a whole. They will show more interest and engagement within the community if they realize their voice is being heard. It is perfect for boosting loyalty, engagement and offers other benefits of online business.
Offer Great Customer Experience and Gain an Edge Over Competitors
For an organization, online communities can be used for marketing, customer support, content creation, and many other things. This plays a huge role in improving customer experience and satisfaction. An active online community can prove to be the difference between your business and your competitors. Companies that invest in improving customer experience earn more revenue.
Through an online customer community, a company can communicate with members, answer their questions, and receive feedback. It can be used to offer surprise announcements and product launches to customers. This is one of the top benefits of community collaboration.
Here is an excerpt from Mary O'Carroll's session at the CLG Summit 2023, organized by The Community Lab, discussing the role of community in a Company.
Generate More Leads and Get New Members
An online community is a perfect place if you want to generate new leads and find active members. It puts you in front of a wide audience and makes your company discoverable. Recent research stated that firms that have an online community boost their returns on marketing investment by almost 35%.
If a community is open and allows public access, users will create lots of content like discussion forums, updates, blogs, articles, etc., that Google indexes. When users make an online search, your online community can come in the results that boost your brand awareness considerably. As the content on your community forums improves, so will your leads and active members.
Gather Customer Feedback to Improve Services and Products
You need to show your customers and community members that you value their thoughts and feedback if you want more engagement and collaboration from them. This will help create a trustworthy relationship with your members that boosts upsell opportunities and brand loyalty.
Your online community is a place where you can hold discussions about your products, services, and other offerings with your customers. Take note of common issues, confusions, improvement ideas, feature ideas, etc., stated by customers. Use this feedback to improve your products and services. Your customers will love it when you make improvements based on their needs and requirements.
Boost Revenue Growth
Through your online community, you can boost incoming revenue through better engagement, brand awareness, data-driven sales strategy, and more. By discussing stuff with fellow community members, your customers can get to know about new services and products offered by your company.
Your team can work on improving products and services based on feedback given by your community members. Your sales will increase when you listen to your customers and solve their issues. Also, by going through activities in the community, your sales team can find potential customers and members. You can also advertise your sponsors or business partners within the community for an added revenue source.
Improve Lifetime Value of Customers
Generating new customers is always important for a business, but the cost of acquiring new customers is going up, and businesses have to focus more on extending the lifetime value of their customers. Staying active in the online community builds a genuine connection with members and pushes them to be long-term customers.
Customers will love to engage with like-minded people, share their thoughts and experience, and get the feeling of ownership and connection. Through this, businesses build more than just a transactional relationship with customers. As a result, customer lifetime value increases, and the need for new ones reduces.
Connect Members with Partnership or Job Opportunities
The pandemic caused a lot of economic turmoil, with many businesses shutting down and talented people left without a job. With limited in-person meeting opportunities and more focus on remote work, online communities offer a great place for recruiters to connect with job seekers. Around 70% of businesses are open to hiring employees through networking and online communities.
Recruiters don’t need to contact a network and can visit an online community to search for trustworthy and quality referrals. Also, referrals from friends, family or other employees have a higher chance of getting selected.
Eliminate Networking Barriers
People all over the world can connect with each other through an online community irrespective of their location, nationality, language, etc. In-person networking is limited to a certain location, and you miss out on millions of talented individuals worldwide.
There are geographical barriers that have gone up with recent travel bans. Time differences also make connecting and collaborating with people difficult. All of these issues are solved through an online community where members can communicate whenever they wish to. Also, new members find it easy to get started and get involved with other members.
Now that we have read about the benefits of an online community, it is safe to say there are many advantages to starting one. Every niche or industry must have a place where people can ask questions, share their thoughts, check out new opportunities, offer feedback, and much more.
Every business needs an online community for active communication with customers, leveraging their feedback and advice, and high customer lifetime value. It helps build long-term, meaningful relationships with customers, and this is vital for the growth of the business.
It is the right time for any organization to invest in an online community, and it will surely lead to good things in the near future.