Most community managers agree that getting members to return to their community is one of the most challenging parts of their job - if not the most.
For years, the way to overcome this challenge was to make the customer journey as effortless and predictable as possible. Ahir Gopaldas and Anton Siebert drew on five years of research to prove us wrong.
“While in some instances customers want their journeys to be easy and familiar, in others they want to be challenged or surprised.”
They examined a wide range of product categories and created a framework to design customer journeys. Although their work is focused on products and not communities, there is no reason why we shouldn’t steal these best practices. After all, our community is our product.
They categorized the customer journey into four archetypes:
The routine is an effortless and predictable journey and is perfect for recurring tasks. The goal of this approach is to streamline the customer experience and deliver consistency. Use this method for any community rituals such as recurring polls, or digest newsletters. If customers use your community to seek product support, The Routine is a great method to follow. Remove any unnecessary touchpoints to streamline the member experience, and keep your processes consistent to eliminate the need for relearning stuff.
The joyride is effortless and unpredictable. It’s still important to eliminate unnecessary touchpoints, but you should swap ‘consistency’ for ‘variety.’ Any one-off or themed event, or your giveaways can follow this model.
Treks are predictable and demanding. If you offer courses or have shaped your customer community around a challenging goal like retirement saving, or weight loss, this model is a perfect fit. Members keep coming back to these kinds of communities because “they need support to make progress towards their goals.” To design your customer journey, find ways to break these challenging goals into well-defined, achievable objectives, and use gamification, a reward system, and peer acknowledgment to motivate members to move forward.
Odysseys are challenging and unpredictable and “are fueled by a customer’s enthusiasm, determination, and sense of purpose.” It is the best model for a community of practice where members want to learn and grow. An Odyssey journey doesn’t have a predefined goal, as the purpose is to help members reach their own potential, but it offers a variety of tasks and challenges and motivates members to move forward.
None of these archetypes are better or more powerful. The only question is whether your chosen archetype(s) fit your community, your offerings, and your audience or not.
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A solid content strategy is the lifeblood of any customer community. But producing fresh and new content is a never-ending challenge, and even the brightest minds eventually run out of ideas and spark - it's only human!
That’s why we weren’t surprised when one of our webinar attendees asked about where to look for inspiration for their community’s content. This is how Anna Grigoryan and Pablo Gonzalez, who were our guests in that webinar, answered this question:
Anna advised starting an accountability group to gather information and ask members about their interests. She also dropped a major gem: head to answerthepublic.com to see what people are searching for when it comes to your topic of interest.
Pablo agreed it’s important to talk to your members but also suggested community managers look at other communities and see what’s working for them.
And this is what our team can add to Anna and Pablo:
Dig into your community’s analytics to see if there are any topics that keep coming up in your members’ searches or questions.
Get internal help by consulting your customer success, product, sales, and marketing teams. Any of these teams have their own means of gathering information on your customers (or potential customers) and you’ll be surprised by their unique ideas.
Consider different member segments in content ideation sessions. Richard Millington, the founder of FeverBee, suggests segmenting community members into long-term inactives, learners, first-time contributors, irregulars, and top contributors. The goal is to design a content calendar that caters to all these segments.
Use different content mediums in your community. Webinars, AMAs, and blogs are great for sharing insights and information, but Show & Tell sessions or Insider Peeks are also great for humanizing your brand and improving engagement.
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