4 Areas of Importance to Focus on When Creating a Customer Community
Over the last year I have been busy learning about how a community can not only help with customer retention and satisfaction, but it can also help customers achieve personal and professional growth. By building out a community for your customers, you can show them that you are invested in their success and create a high level engagement for current and future customers. But creating a community is tough! What are the value propositions that you should focus on in order to make your community a success for both your business and your customers? At Marketo, we created our Rockstar Rewards program as a way to gamify and give rewards as our customers achieved specific goals.
Here are 4 areas of importance to focus on when creating a community:
1. Set and track progress and goals
Whatever the purpose if for your community, whether you sell a product or a service, make sure that you set and track specific customer goals. You want your members to engage and be active in your community, by putting milestones in place and giving them something to achieve. Give them rewards for achieving specific goals. Maybe it is a badge, special recognition within your community, or points towards a prize.
Marketo Example: Marketo has many facets to it, so it is very important to be able to set goals and track them piece by piece, instead of trying to master all it has to offer at once. Rockstar Rewards is designed to recommend where to engage more and what behaviors you need to complete in order to achieve a particular outcome, while adding a competitive edge to your progress.
2. Build a personal brand and a professional network
The beauty of a community is that it provides your customers a chance to network with their peers, so provide them with opportunities to do so. Create an open forum for questions and encourage interactions amongst your community members. By creating a culture of collaboration within your community, your customers can build their personal brands and establish a strong foundation of peers that they can lean on when they need help. However, this network shouldn’t only exist to troubleshoot, it is just as effective in sharing success stories and best practices.
Marketo Example: The Marketo Community has always been designed to be a place that our customers can build an extensive professional network. Before the launch of Marketo Community Rockstar Rewards we were seeing an average of 2,000 total engagements a month. Since the launch, we have seen a 79% increase in total monthly engagements from July to October (see the chart below), which includes a 198% boost just in our first week of launching. Our customers are engaging more than ever through activities like posting and voting on ideas, asking questions, and helping others get answers to theirs. Idea votes have also skyrocketed due to the launch of Rockstar Rewards with a 144% increase from July to September this year.
3. Acquire elite status in the community
As you build your personal brand by networking and engaging, you start to transform from a ‘contributor among many’ to a thought leader that other customers seek out for specific questions and look to for expert advice. Acquiring this elite status in the community can be a game changer in your professional career for several reasons, one being simply that you stand out to community users, any of whom could be potential future employers. This is not to say the community is meant for ‘cherry picking’ employees, but engaging with fellow users can only help you become a better user yourself.
Marketo Example: One of the criteria to be a Marketo Champion is community engagement. If you’re contributing quality advice and participating on a regular basis, you can rest assured we are going to notice you, and so will others.
4. Learn about current and upcoming product or service features
Encourage your customers to submit ideas to your community and then actually put some of them into action! Your customers are the ones on the front line using your product or service each day, so give them the opportunity to participate. You also want to give your customers an easy way to learn about what you have to offer. Their lives are busy and demanding, so find a way that they can work at their own pace, and be motivated and rewarded for their efforts. Through your community, they should be able to do that and stay organized at the same time.
Marketo Example: Our customers have submitted over 2,200 ideas in the Community over the last two years, and Marketo has put over 160 of those into the product. We are acutely (and uniquely) aware that although a new product release every month is exciting, it can also be overwhelming if you don’t channel your efforts in a way that works for you and your organization. I have found it’s best to approach all the “whose-its and whats-its galore” that marketing automation has to offer as you would train for a marathon. You don’t go out and run 26+ miles on day one, and if you do, you may want to think about a career change. Most of us tackle it piece by piece until we can work up to doing a more advanced, longer run
Overall, if you build your community with the right objectives in mind, it can be a huge success for your business and your customers. At Marketo, our community has really given our B2B marketing professional customers an extra chance to participate, learn, and get excited! Plus, through gamification, you can really expect your community to take off. Our membership and customers ideas submitted have doubled over the last year and the number of ideas that have become product enhancements has increased by 20%! This was made possible by our amazing customers who are innovative and as eager to learn as they are to help others.
Do you have community success stories? We would love to hear them.