Want to get better consumer insights whilst spending less? Here are 5 ways an insights community platform can help.
Consumer insights communities are designed to provide an alternative to traditional research while using only a fraction of resources needed. In other words, an insights community platform can get you more consumer insights while costing less!
Imagine if your customers could ask questions and provide answers to each other, reducing time spent on engaging with your customer service team. How much more efficient, and less costly for your company, might that be? Empowering customers to become active members of your community is one of the landmark principles of insights community platforms.
The concept behind active community members relies on the accumulated experience i.e. the most vocal participants will help spread the information that they receive from your customer support service. They in effect become a part of customer support service themselves! For example, imagine that one of your customers approached your customer service team in order to ask how to use an advanced feature of your product or service. In the classic customer support system, the cycle ends with the customer receiving the answer and instructions.
Inside an insights community platform, the customer who has received that info can then relay that knowledge to the rest of community either by sharing their experience or replying to a fellow community member’s question on the very same topic. Sometimes the “community customer service” team can be quicker and more efficient than the regular one! When your community and the core group of active members become large enough, there will always be a member online who can help those recently joined with tips or info. In fact, identifying highly active and engaged members and then asking them to become volunteer brand ambassadors (and community administrators or leaders) is a great way to recognize them for their passion.
This relieves pressure from your support group and allows it to focus on more complex or urgent issues, practically allowing a small, dedicated team that is well-integrated in your insights community to do the same job as the one with several times more employees. Less spent, more done!
In Hubspot’s 2017 State of Inbound report, 63% of respondents noted “generating traffic and leads” as their number one marketing challenge. This could be tied back to another issue: they’re also having problems retaining existing customers. It’s also commonly believed in the business world that acquiring new customers is 5-25 times more expensive than keeping current customers. Suffice to say, satisfied community members (clients) can become your best salespeople. It’s incredibly important for you to deliver a remarkable customer experience each and every time.
Happy customers equal happy referrals. However you look at them, as brand evangelists, word-of-mouth promoters, or loyal contributors, members who adore your community will work to spread the news and benefits of your brand.How to spot them? We’ve already mentioned the active core group: it is the 10% of your community who regularly contribute and interact with your brand and your content.
(Image credit: Hugues Rey)
Scan for people who are evocative enough, or employ gamification efforts to incentivize activity and bring out the best in people. But first things first – you have to create an environment that caters towards the well-being of the members of your community. Those members who are regularly tended to and feel cared for are nearly twice as likely to recommend your brand through word-of-mouth! Give them a space to express themselves, an ear for their needs, and show that you care. The insights community platform provides all that and more, without extraordinary efforts of investment of tech-savvy upkeep. This means that you’re on the right track already!
Integrate this benevolent attitude into your platform through the business culture and code, and soon your brand will flood the social media profiles of your customers! Free of charge, of course.
The benefits of active, contributing communities are plenty, but one of the most prominent ones is the self-development, do-it-yourself evolution of your insights community platform. Personal developers become optional or obsolete – the community members receive in their own hand the tools that are necessary to upgrade their digital space.
Much like choosing their own Lego blocks and assembling things the way they would prefer, with community software modules like forums, idea contests, and automatic creation of user segments based on evaluated interests, the opportunities are nearly endless! You do not need to break your head over predicting what your community might like or dislike – you can simply ask them! You could create a challenge idea contest asking “How would you improve our cozy little community?” and watch the most productive and creative of your members devise and vote on ideas that resonate most with them! The winner of the contest gets the reward, and your community (and you) get a fully implementable innovative perk of your brand community.
So engaging your community in your project is a worthwhile initiative, and this is just one path that your platform can take. You can spot those who create additional content and offer them a strategic partnership, or utilize the highly-integrative nature of our software to import third-party mechanics and software that you like! There is nobody better to inform you of what the market likes as the market itself – the concept of self-improvement is bulletproof. Not to mention that it saves your resources (money, time and people) for other activities, too. Bonus!
Aside from the self-development of your community, customers wield the power to help you both with your product and your market-expansion strategies. Gathering insights is a highly sought strategy of development for one single reason – it completely eliminates the luck, or trial-and-error method, from your growth curve. No longer do you need to cross your fingers and hope that a new initiative won’t hurt your customer base.
Gathering insights means that you know what’s working and what’s not working in your business at any given point in time! The process is relatively simple: you form a test group of the most loyal of your customers and organize trials of your product/service, then roll out the changes that you want to implement in that controlled environment. The benefits are twofold: you get free expert advice on your changes, and your community feels valuable and contributing.
Market-expansion, in general, works out similarly to the second point of this article, but some of the more experimental strategies can also be verified on the sample customers taken from your community pool.
Lastly, you can always encourage and look for business opportunities within your own community. The chances are that you will have valuable assets to your brand that you wish to promote from a mere occasional contributor to full-fledged business partner.
The middle ground between these two positions, a mere contributor, and a business partner can be achieved through the process of gamification, which is mentioned a bit before, where you can organize friendly competitions and gain valuable products or services in the process. This provides a basis for business networking in your community, as well as cross-company business referrals, which beats blind prospecting any day!
A great case study of how growth through referrals within a community works is the evolution of the Yelp Elite Squad. Thanks to its passionate community, a well thought-out community growth strategy, and brilliant execution that involved hiring community managers, Yelp became a contagious superuser community that spread across the globe.
There are many ways to benefit financially from an insights community platform, and we’ve covered five of them in this post.
Your business can benefit by:
- Creating a space for customers to provide customer support to each other,
- Getting free marketing from community members
- Saving on hiring developers thanks to DIY software modules
- Gaining valuable research and development insights from your community, or
- Generating business opportunities through community referrals
Discuss these with your team and identify which of these makes sense for your business to take advantage of next, then put together a plan and execute!