How to Align Your Online Customer Community With Real Business Goals

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Why Does Your Organization Want an Online Member or Customer Community, Anyway?

Online communities, private social networking, social CRM, member engagement, and social business are amazing, awe-inspiring, life-changing, and the new way that organizations do business. Why wouldn’t you want these tools and strategies? Now, ask yourself, why DO you want these things?

Many organizations still see these emerging technologies as a checkbox for managing customers or members in the age of social media. However, the most successful companies and associations, that are experiencing a lasting impact on their organization’s key performance indicators, build their communities around established business goals.

Based on Socious’ 10 years of working with companies, associations, and user groups, here are 6 prevalent reasons why businesses and membership organizations create online communities for customer or members:

  1. To improve customer retention
  2. To increase sales
  3. To improve lead-to-customer conversions
  4. To generate more non-dues revenue
  5. To spur event attendance
  6. To gather better market data and customer feedback

We have written before about setting goals and metrics for your online community. Companies and associations must build their social business strategies on “traditional” business objectives.

Customer or Member Communities: Uncovering the Real Reasons Your Organization Wants One

Try This Exercise: Complete The Following Sentence.

To succeed, my organization needs to ____________________________________.

Tip: Make sure your declaration aligns with your organization’s core goals.

Good Examples of Reasons to Create an Online Customer Community:

  • To succeed, my organization needs to increase customer retention.
  • To succeed, my company needs to differentiate ourselves from the competition during the beginning and middle of the sales cycle.
  • To succeed, my association needs to increase non-dues and event revenue.

Bad Examples of Reasons to Create an Online Customer Community:

  • To succeed, my association wants to build a private member community.
  • To succeed, my company needs to implement social CRM
  • To succeed, my organization needs to increase member engagement.

You’ll notice that all of the bad examples don’t touch on major organizational goals. Companies and associations must dig deeper. Why do you need more engagement? What will a private member community do for your organization? Which major goals will social CRM help you achieve?

Tip: Evaluate your reason for wanting an online community by asking ‘why’ until you run out of answers. Real-life example:

“To succeed, my organization needs to increase member engagement.”

Why is this important?

“More engaged member remain members.”

Why is this important?

“We have been losing members over the past 2 years and need to improve member retention.”

See how asking ‘why’ got this membership professional to move from thinking about the tactic to the underlying strategy linked to concrete organizational success factors.

Online Community Takeaway

A tangible, purpose-driven approach to building community is essential to creating lasting value for your company, customers, members, and other stakeholders.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joshua Paul
Joshua Paul is the Director of Marketing and Strategy at Socious, a provider of enterprise customer community software that helps large and mid-sized companies bring together customers, employees, and partners to increase customer retention, sales, and customer satisfaction. With over 13 years of experience running product management and marketing for SaaS companies, Joshua Paul is a popular blogger and speaker on customer management, inbound marketing, and social technology. He blogs at http://blog.socious.com.

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