For a business, there’s nothing more important than your customers. Moreover, for a marketer or community manager, there’s nothing more important than how you target and treat your customers. Customers unlock heaps of new potential for marketers and companies alike. Whether you’re looking for product feedback, new ideas, or word of mouth referrals - customers should be one of your most powerful assets.
Nowadays, customers are exposed to thousands of companies and products a day. With the increase in competition, companies are finding it harder and harder to build a strong; loyal customer base and finding it even harder to keep them engaged. So what can companies do to combat these changes? How can companies better understand their customers and build loyalty amongst their audiences? The answer, build a community.
Up until this point, we’ve spoken predominately about how influencer marketing serves as a channel to surpass ad blockers and make authentic connections with customers. What’s makes influencer marketing successful though isn’t the sheer number of campaigns and influencers a company works for, how they treat them and how those influencers are engaged. In short, what makes an influencer successful is how strong their relationship is to the brand they’re working with.
Make your customers care
Community building is so much more than a growth hack; it’s a relationship. Moreover, it requires the right amount of groundwork. Tons of businesses brag about sales and exposure, but it's the brands that have passionate followings and even stronger connections with their customer base that take the cake. Companies like, Soylent and Cineplex’s Scene community are great examples of brands that connect with their customers and built ‘customer care’ into their business model.
The funny thing is, when you ask someone what the word community means to them in person, most people will give a society based answer. For example, a community is a collection of people with similarities (i.e. the same area or the same interests, etc.). Weirdly enough, when a company starts building a community businesses tend to forget what it means to be part of one.
Be personableCommunities are more than a business channel Communities need to be engaged, they need to be listened to, and more importantly, they need to feel accepted. Offline aspects of community building are extremely applicable and essential to online community building - even if they seem like they wouldn’t be.
People want to feel appreciatedAppreciated customers are the best place to start fostering a community. A community built on people that love what you’re doing, and are positively impacted by your product are great promoters for your brand. Rewarding them is only part of the equation. Forming a community around your brand requires hard work, and face to face interaction. Get on the ground and start interacting with your customers. Why do they love what you’re making? What would they improve? How do they explain it to their friends?
A Community is a great feedback loopBeyond building loyalty and brand awareness, communities are a great place to engage in organic and scalable feedback. Tap into your customer community to get valuable insights into your product and business. You’re selling to them, find out what makes them care and cater to their suggestions. This form of being heard is a reward all on its own and will help foster a stronger relationship with your customer base.
Humanize your brand
It’s easy to get caught up in the business of things. Data and ROI are important, but it’s also important to remember that a customer is more than a data point - they’re a person. Make feedback and engagement pieces accessible and relatable. There’s always a place for branded and highly tested marketing emails, but engagement emails are all about appealing to their human side. Make your customers feel appreciated, reward them every now and again, and include them in celebrations together.
Celebrate their achievements
Much like when you celebrate a new product launch or feature, celebrate when an influencer in your community reaches a milestone. For example, when a customer successfully refers a new user to your site - send them a congratulatory email or surprise. When a customer’s birthday is coming up, send them a promotion or happy birthday message. The small things matter, just like they do in relationships, with online community building.
Intentionally lead with empathy
The most important thing you can do when engaging your community is to remind them you’re a human too. There’s nothing more comforting than realizing that everyone is the same, and businesses are approachable. Treat customers as equals instead of transactions, and you’ll find yourself building brand evangelists as opposed to consumers.