In many cases, your organization is only as good as your insight into your market. This market data is the foundation of decisions about everything from products to positioning to messaging.
Organizations of all types and sizes are leveraging visibility into their customers' activities and sentiments to drive growth and profit. Many research studies, conducted over several decades have concluded that understanding the needs of your customers and prospective customers is the number one factor in creating profitable products with a high sales velocity (meaning they sell fast).
With definitive data like that, it begs the question of why every company wouldn't seek to gain valuable insight into their customers' wants and needs. Truthfully, getting the relevant and consistent market data isn't as easy as it sounds. The disconnect between the amount of data available and having an easy way to collect and analyze that data is a well-documented problem.
Online customer communities - where customers and partners share ideas, provide support, and discuss product feedback with peers - offer a clear opportunity for CMOs, product managers, and other executives to harness that valuable market data.
However, with all that is involved in planning, growing, and keeping customers engaged, it's no surprise that analyzing data from your market often falls to the bottom of the to-do list. Given the benefits that can come from customer and partner insight, you don't want to miss out on the strategic goldmine your online community can offer.
Making data-driven decisions is the key to better marketing strategies, support operations and, most importantly, product/market fit.
Insight into your market can also help:
Testing language in your online community can help your support and marketing messages get a higher conversion rate from both prospective and existing customers.
Your online customer community platform can help you understand your target audience's most urgent and pervasive problems to make sure your product solves them. By shaping your product to align more closely with your audience's biggest challenges, you can create products that "fly off the shelf" faster.
You want to deliver your solution in the same way your markets want to buy them. In the example of a technology company, your online community can help answer the question of whether your customers prefer on-premise or cloud delivery, or whether they want to buy packaged hours of your service or pay session by session.
Knowing how your customers feel about you and what kind of success they're having with your product or service can help you better support them and proactively answer the questions they have.
You can also send surveys to specific trusted customer groups with carefully worded questions to help you identify meaningful competitive differentiators.
Remember the customer revolt Netflix experienced a few years ago stemming from their pricing changes? Your customer community can help avoid an issue of that proportion by testing ideas in your private customer community first and leveraging the support of influential customer advocates.
Your private customer community allows you to passively and proactively collect data on current market problems and prioritize them accordingly without re-create a customer engagement strategy every time you need to test an idea with your market.
Record a video that illustrates the changes and ask for feedback in the comments. Use your online community software to invite small groups of power users to view the video and discuss amongst themselves. This same tactic can work using the secure customer-only blogs or discussion forums built into your online community software to give you the feedback you need before investing one hour in product development.
Knowing where to invest your support resources can increase customer satisfaction by streamlining how you provide what your customers need without them having to ask out of frustration.
Your online customer community platform gives you the data to proactively address the customer's needs and attempt to correct the issues at hand before the relationship is damaged beyond repair.
It is said that, "whoever is closest to the market wins." Market data is your most valuable tool in making the right decisions for your organization and customers. Your private online customer community might hold the key to understanding and solving some of your biggest problems.
By using the data your community provides, you can gain valuable insight into customer challenges, motivations, and feedback. Using this information to make data-driven decisions can make a significant difference in your marketing and PR, product management, support, and sales results.