Building an online community sets your business up for success and tremendous growth. It establishes a mutually beneficial relationship with your customer base and generates brand loyalty, free marketing, and co-creation within your business. The industry masters can build online communities that are trustworthy, educational, and engaging (or fun!) for your customers.
Maybe you’re ahead of the game and ready to choose the ideal tech to host your new community. Or maybe, you're on the other end of the spectrum, scratching your head over why online communities even matter. Bettermode is here to clear the air.
Bettermode’s recent webinar with industry expert, Kyle Hagge, the Lead Community Manager of Morning Brew, goes in-depth about the incredible benefits of an online community, and how to make those communities thrive.
Kyle Hagge’s diversity of experience brings a wealth of knowledge to Bettermode’s webinar series. Morning Brew began as a simple email newsletter and has grown to over 4 million subscribers. Today, they boast a portfolio of podcasts, online events, and a thriving educational community platform. Their loyal online community guarantees the longevity of their business and presents opportunities for enormous revenue. This article will walk you through Bettermode’s webinar, Grow and Sustain a Community through Customer Education, and tell you everything you need to know about building a successful online community.
Bettermode empowers businesses to build unique and distinct communities under their brand through the Bettermode platform. Bettermode’s webinar series covers essential conversations with fellow industry experts to answer questions about building and using online communities. This article will speak about the overall importance of an online community, why it can bring about fruitful success, and how to build an online community that lasts.
What is an online community?
The term community is ruling the online landscape at the moment. It has over 9.5 billion search results on Google and is deemed essential for your business.
The buzzword is giving business owners a headache. We know it’s a lot of effort to build an engaged community from scratch, and some entrepreneurs might be tempted to write it off as just another social media marketing expense.
However, risk overlooking this business tool, and you could miss out on some massive customer and revenue benefits. Online communities are mutually beneficial for both the customer and the business. Not only are they profitable, but they provide a stable foundation for years of growth.
If you’re curious, good. Morning Brew is the perfect example for this industry discussion because it shows how building an online community can expand your profit margin and take your business to the next level. Now, let’s break down the nitty-gritty of what an online community is and isn’t.
An online community is not an audience. A common misconception is that your customer base, or subscriber list, is your community. However, that’s actually an audience.
An audience is one-directional, which means the relationship goes one way. It's also known as one to many, and the relationship is considered "surface level."
Contrary to popular belief, a community is not just rounding up your subscriber list and throwing them into a slack chat expecting magic to happen. If it is, then it’s a poorly managed one.
There are many technical definitions out there, but as Kyle Hagge puts it, the most basic answer is usually the right one. A community is defined as a group that supports each other through a shared experience. It’s a many-to-many type of relationship, so your customers talk back to you and to each other as well.
It can be a bit confusing, but Bettermode is here to help.
A community-based business model is a smart one. Kyle Hagge explains that when you have a many-to-many framework, accountability goes up, retention goes up, and follow-through occurs. An online community creates immeasurable growth opportunities for your business if you capitalize on it and build it correctly for success.
Why do you need an online community?
If you want to take your business to the next level, an online community can get you where you need to go. Kyle Hagge breaks down the few “why’s," for why community development is smart for business, and why its benefits are almost immeasurable.
Obviously, the most vital reason is that an online community generates revenue. An online community is a sustainable revenue strategy with room for unlimited growth opportunities. If you’re not a direct-to-consumer business, or like Morning Brew, only have ad revenue, an online community opens up the door for more revenue opportunities.
Creates Brand Evangelists
One of the best benefits of an online community is that it creates brand evangelists. You now have the opportunity to develop a strong and unique relationship with your customers. If you create an enjoyable community experience for them, they'll turn into super fans of your brand.
According to a 2018 B2B Buyers Survey Report, buyers have higher expectations and spend more time researching and reviewing their purchases than ever before. This means your marketing efforts must work overtime. Brand evangelists become free influencers and are more likely to purchase other products and send a referral to their social networks. Talk about a great marketing strategy!
Find Pain Points Faster
Online communities create focus group metrics in real-time. Suddenly, there’s a huge amount of data available at your fingertips that you can collect in little to no time at all. According to Kyle Hagge, an online community helps you identify the pain points faster to discover what works for your business.
Communities provide the opportunity to develop authentic relationships with your customers. Customers offer constructive feedback to businesses with high integrity. Now, you have an opportunity to collaborate within your community and maybe even develop a genius business idea together. The most important rule of getting feedback: don’t forget to say thank you.
Increases Lifetime Value of Customer
If you develop an online community, your customer has more ways to find value in your business than just a single product. Kyle Hagge explains that you can now capture more of your customer’s wallet share. A community-based business model means you’re offering more to your customers, so you’re increasing your customer retention, and extracting more value.
Displays Social Proof
An online community displays social proof. Hopefully, your community is a fun, delightful place to be! If your community members love the experience, they'll tweet about it on social media platforms, share it on LinkedIn or in a Facebook group, and generate organic marketing. Side benefit: if you have better brand awareness, it’s a huge talent attractor too.
Makes Product Feel More Human
Let’s not undersell the importance of humanizing your product. Everyone prefers a comfortable customer experience with a trustworthy seller. Customers like to know the people behind the brand, so the whole experience feels more human and authentic.
Morning Brew’s team is front-facing and accessible to their customers. Their newsletter writer, Neil Freyman, is reportedly a micro-celebrity on Twitter. By giving your customers the chance to develop a deep and authentic relationship with your brand, it'll create a halo effect on other parts of your business.
How to choose a community platform
When it comes to choosing an online community platform, Kyle Hagge urges caution. In his words, tech is on the margins, or rather, there are a few steps to take before pricing different online platforms.
First, he says you should analyze your existing customer base or target audience. Identify your customer’s persona, including the type of problems they may face. Your community should offer multiple types of content, including solutions for your customers.
The best community should provide resources, unique experiences, and the chance to speak with fellow industry peers. It’s about the quality and the ideation of the experience on the platform. As Kyle puts it, it's what you do with the tech that matters.
Shopify’s online community platform doesn't just promote Shopify products. It adds value by helping its customers solve entrepreneurial issues. There are forums, events, marketplaces, and expert industry leaders. All of these components bring that community model to life.
Bettermode is a customizable platform that provides solutions for thriving brands’ communities. Through its no-code platform, Bettermode makes it easy to connect with customers and create communities that delight and support its members.
Bettermode prides itself on sharing the wealth, so it does not monopolize the online community space. However you decide to choose your tech, Bettermode can provide you with the information to make an informed decision. Check out Bettermode's recent blog post, The Best Online Community Software for Your Brand to learn about different types of online communities.
How to build a successful online community
Building a new community takes time and strategy. A successful online community requires pillars of support to turn it into a long-lasting business model that can survive on its own.
Set community guidelines for your customers to follow and set those expectations high! Your community principles can set the tone for new members and incentivize them. Also, consider highlighting standout community members who meet those principles and guidelines. Always take the chance to spotlight a member of your community and all the good that takes place in your community.
Community Managers are architects
As Kyle put it, community managers are the hosts of the party, not the life of the party. Community managers should foster a sense of belonging by creating an environment that supports and uplifts a group of people. Everyone has a role to play in your online community, so there shouldn’t be one person stealing the spotlight. Even if you lose some community builders, the entire machine should still run smoothly.
Onboarding is key
Onboarding is crucial to any good community engagement strategy. When a new member joins your online community, a connection should be made through a personalized welcome message, along with a set of community principles. Keeping engagement high is difficult to sustain, but a stellar onboarding process leads to a higher chance of active members.
Friction is good
Kyle Hagge likes to say that friction is good. What he means is that your community should be human forward, and you should hesitate to automate it. Remember that people love buying from other people. Morning Brew has personalized welcome messages for new users joining their cohorts, so their customers feel heard and special. Humanize and personalize key touchpoints of your community to build a unique and authentic experience on the platform. If you build trust by humanizing your community, it could pay incredible dividends.
Focus Groups on demand
Lastly, ask for feedback, and appreciate it! There’s always room for community growth, so keep an open dialogue with your community. You might end up with some pretty innovative ideas too! If you build your community right, loyal customers will be blunt because they feel comfortable speaking honestly with you. Don’t fear the bluntness but embrace it!
However, don't forget to follow up on the feedback you receive, or you could lose that lifeline to your customers. Thank your customers for their input, respond to it, and even implement it where appropriate.
Receiving feedback provides an opportunity to co-create with your customer. Kyle explains that it’s a buy-in to the company, which adds potential assets to your business. Don’t miss out on this ideal opportunity to provide customer support.
Takeaways from webinar on community growth through customer education
Community building takes time and follow-through, but it’s integral to the growth and success of your business. By deepening your relationship with your customers, you’re guaranteeing the longevity of your business. A human-forward strategy will set you apart from other online communities and develop your customer's trust, something that’s hard to quantify.
As you build your online community, Bettermode is here to help you make the best choices for your business. Kyle Hagge and the team at Morning Brew provided an invaluable resource for everything you need to know about building a successful online community. Bettermode's industry expert webinar series can help you deepen your relationship with your customers, choose the best tech, and build an online community that lasts.
Bettermode is happy to provide a wealth of information at your fingertips. Check out Bettermode’s next webinar on May 12th, Activating Community-led Growth: Lessons from Notion, and their other industry expert conversations here.
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