Have you ever wondered how do all the big names conduct such astonishingly successful marketing campaigns? They seem to barely mention their products, but everyone’s talking about them! It is because communities empower brands!
It is a mesmerizing concept, really. They employ brand communities; they replace the old fashioned one-way flow of information in marketing with a joint experience and approach with their customers. Wait, what? What branded communities do is simple. There’s no person in a business suit telling you what you should buy. Here, the business-suit person invites you for a drink and asks you how they should sell the product. Simple, but ingenious!
Besides forming the bulk of major brands’ marketing effort, branded communities benefit businesses in several more ways:
- A reduction in customer support costs – 49% of businesses with branded communities cut such costs for about 10%-25%.
- Allow you to sell without selling – a marketing effort without any effort. But more on this later!
- Quality feedback – two thirds of all businesses use communities to test new products and services.
- More engagement and more customer retention.
- A pre-formed market for your goods – a perfect channel for placing your product and gathering insights before the official release.
By utilizing interactive or branded communities, you can genuinely communicate with your audience and receive useful feedback. Let’s delve deeper into how each of these is achieved.
Platforms for Expressing Feedback
In order to establish and maintain a solid growth rate, it is crucial to hear back from your community. Keep your ears open for customer feedback – it’s a free tip from the best business advisor you’ll find.
The most effective way of creating an online place for the voice of your audience to be heard is to establish a community platform. This should be a welcoming space for all members of your digital society. A community platform allows customers to share stories, ideas, and experiences. It can be a forum, a chat room, idea contests… Any of these could come in handy; and the more – the merrier! And if you want to go a step further, you will adapt your platform to be mobile-friendly. As mobile marketing is getting bigger, the on-the-go audience is increasing – use that as an additional gateway towards your branded community! All these channels serve to gather insights and feedback, which, in turn, can be implemented into broader business strategies.
There can be no unproductive feedback – even negative feedback serves to evolve your company. Customers love attention. We all like to have our voices heard – your audience isn’t an exception. Gathering feedback gives them just that: the chance for them to express their thoughts and feelings about your product or service. It is a win-win situation: even negative feedback helps you improve in the long-term. Plus, feeling heard can get even the most pessimistic customer on-board.
The Benefits of Consumer Insights
To return to the issue of big names’ marketing – how do they accomplish such success?
Answer: consumer insights.
Consumer insights aren’t just about dry info on how a product affects a specific demographic.
Contemporary consumer insights go all the way to the core of understanding why consumers do certain things in certain ways, how they communicate among themselves, and how they perceive cultural influences… But how does a company achieve this level of knowledge?
The most common answer – community platforms.
Whether you seek a long-term study of the market or desire to conduct a shorter project study, a community platform is a perfect basis. With tools simple enough to be used by everyone, and powerful enough to bring in results, it comes ready for all kinds of research. If your platforms allow multiple customizable modules for interactive tests, you can start idea contests, diary studies, public discussions, and basically anything you can think of, so long as it returns results. Here a different kind of tool comes in handy: tools for tagging and categorising content which help you segment user profiles based on their responses.
So, the secrets of the big brands seem a little more clear, right?
However, consumer insights still remain underrated in contemporary business discussions. We stick to traditional surveys and expect them to produce tangible info which instruct us on what to do next. The truth is very different – today’s consumers dramatically differ from the consumers of past decades. They want to feel part of the commercial process, and truly care about. They won’t go for companies which aren’t listening. There are many cultural layers and different backgrounds to each little group of market consumers. Each segment will react to different stimuli in different ways; those who fail to spot and react to those differences will get left in the proverbial marketing dust.
So, what can you do to make sure you’re at the top?
- Establish initial available consumer data
- Profile those consumers:
- Spot your individual most lucrative consumers
- Highlight traits and reasons for that
- Improve the consumer experience by tailoring your messages, email, and content to each group, specifically with regards to their characteristics
- Use reacting insights to search for similar groups of people according to your strategy:
- Avoid spending money on less profitable customers
And also: don’t use your results within the marketing team only. Use your results to affect everything your business does: this guarantees the consumer-centric orientation of your business strategy.
And the last vital factor in the interaction of communities and brands for the benefit of both is participatory experience.
We’ve already mentioned forums, chat rooms, idea contests, feedback… The last part is to empower individuals to make the wanted changes themselves – and to motivate them to actually contribute to your business and brand. Spot your “preachers”! This is the first step. You can do this with the most useful feedback that you receive: spot these people, and establish a closer relationship with them. They will have high ratings and/or high level of contribution. They will be the most likely to commit further purchases, refer your business to friends/family, and commit some of their time to affect your business in various ways. We’re speaking engagement here.
Ultimately, you can introduce gamification, a concept that maximizes participatory experience. So now your customers don’t just buy and leave. They buy and stay. These are the differences between the brands and other businesses. Why keep yourself in the latter group? Join our community – to develop your own.
So, next time you see a Coca-Cola or Adidas ad and think about how they never fail at making it a good one, remember this: yes, they had failed. But never in front of you. They had their community to rely on for insights and trials.
Do you believe your brand could use a community to rely on as well? And make use of all the benefits it come with?