Could your marketing department benefit from your organization’s community?
It doesn’t matter what your community is for or why your organization decided to establish one -- it can be a powerful tool for your marketing department. No, that doesn’t mean you can dump all your marketing materials on top of your community members, or that you should blatantly upsell them certain products (community can help with cross promotion if done correctly). But it does mean that your marketing team can learn what makes your members tick and how to bring in more leads.
Hear us out:
1. Business intelligence
Don’t stumble in the dark -- watch your members’ conversations and engage with them to learn what they really care about. Instead of guessing why people bought your product or joined your organization, ask them directly in the community: “how did you make your final decision?” Most members will be excited to talk about their decision making process and highlight what finally made them choose you.
Even if you don’t ask members explicitly what makes your organization stand out, you’ll glean a lot from watching their interactions with each other online. Organic discussions will help you see what your strengths are, what resonates with prospective customers and where your products may fall flat. These insights will help you develop a better product and reduce support costs through members helping each other on the community. They’ll also inform your marketing department on everything from how to structure your marketing email campaigns to what content you should create.
2. Work with brand ambassadors
Your most dedicated members or customers are also some of your greatest marketing allies. Engage your members in a fun, creative way through brand ambassador programs to raise awareness about your organization and products. theSkimm, a newsletter for women, has a strong recruitment strategy tied to their ambassador program -- Skimmbassadors recruit their friends to subscribe to the newsletter by hosting parties and making it more of a social outlet rather than a solo reading experience.
But brand ambassadors can also generate original, quirky marketing content as well. Take a look at Chubbies’ Instagram account (they make men’s swim trunks). Most of their material comes from brand ambassadors and Chubbies enthusiasts wearing the shorts in action. These photos paint a clear picture for who Chubbies wearers are, the best places to wear the gear and that people are REALLY enthusiastic about the brand. Instead of buying a pair of shorts, you’re buying into a club.
3. Inbound marketing
The more open your community is, the more your search engine optimization (SEO) will increase. It doesn’t mean you need to open the doors completely to everyone -- you can configure the community’s privacy settings to fit your specific needs -- but if you want to increase organic traffic, it’s a good idea to open up at least parts of the community. For example, you can open discussions so anyone can read them, but only members can comment. Or make the resource library easy to browse but only members can access or contribute content.
If your community is active, your members will constantly create new content that will bring people into your website. This constant content creation can also help the marketing department come up with new ideas and content pieces -- your community members have insight and expertise that you don’t have, so their ideas are valuable to you as well as other members.
4. Promote events
Whether you need to promote small, weekly webinars or your annual conference, communities are a great place to push events before, during and after.
Make your community the registration hub for all types of events. Most platforms should integrate with an event registration company or software, which streamlines processes for both you and your members. If you have all your event registrations through the community, soon members will know exactly where to go if they either want to register or check the schedule for upcoming events.
Save ad space for you to promote monthly webinars, large conferences or anything else the marketing team needs to promote -- like a new ebook or brochure launch. One tip to keep in mind -- make sure you rotate new ads onto the community regularly. It’s the perfect place to grab members’ attention on a daily basis, and helps promote anything you need to promote.
Communities help build the hype around events, but they’re also good at prolonging the life of an event. After an event or webinar, bring people back to the community to download resources or debrief with fellow community members. Members will find even more value in their registration because the event lives longer, through recordings, resources and follow-up discussions. It also shows members who didn’t attend what they missed out on -- who knows? Maybe they’ll register next year since they now know how great it is.
Really, any department can benefit from and participate in the community (take a look at The Community Roundtable’s Community Skills Framework to help you gauge what pieces fit where). From sales, to customer support to marketing -- each can find a niche within community.
How does your marketing department benefit from community?