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What Can Customer Engagement Buy You These Days?

Written by Joshua Paul | on March 9, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Social engagement is sought-after currency for many brands, B2B companies, and nonprofit organizations. However, how to actually attain and maintain high levels of engagement with your customer ecosystem is less clear. Part of that has to do with a fuzzy understanding of the real business impact that engaged customers can deliver.

For many marketing and customer care executives, customer engagement is still a pie-in-the-sky concept with few metrics and no way to measure its impact. They know that it is important, but can't pinpoint just how engaging your customers can impact core business goals. We developed the following mnemonic device to remind companies and associations of the power that engaged customers or members can bring to an organization.

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Topics: Customer Engagement

How Associations Use Private Social Networks to Impact Legislation & Regulations

Written by Joshua Paul | on March 6, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Today is Super Tuesday! For both organizations impacted by government and the politically-minded among us, today is the biggest indicator thus far in the 2012 election cycle for determining the future of organizations' lobbying strategies for the next several years. Association leaders across the country, from the state level to national organizations, are paying close attention to today's exit polls, candidates, and outcomes.

However, not all associations can afford to influence a candidates "Super PAC." In the age of social networking, many membership and advocacy organizations are utilizing the grassroots nature of their private social networks to consolidate ideas, focus their voice, and mobilize disparate groups.

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Topics: Associations

3 Must-Read Approaches to Online Community Engagement Metrics

Written by Joshua Paul | on March 2, 2012 at 2:31 PM

"The price of light is less than the cost of darkness."
- Arthur C. Nielsen

This pioneer in the science of marketing research has it right. However, consistently executing on the proverb above is challenging for many organizations. Often times companies and associations put so much into designing their online customer or member communities to be valuable to their target audiences (which they should) that they have to scramble to define measures of success at the last minute or after the launch.

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Topics: Customer Engagement

How to Align Your Online Customer Community With Real Business Goals

Written by Joshua Paul | on February 28, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Why Does Your Organization Want an Online Member or Customer Community, Anyway?

Online communities, private social networking, social CRM, member engagement, and social business are amazing, awe-inspiring, life-changing, and the new way that organizations do business. Why wouldn't you want these tools and strategies? Now, ask yourself, why DO you want these things?

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Topics: Customer Communities

How B2B Companies Use Online Communities to Convert Leads Into Customers

Written by Joshua Paul | on February 23, 2012 at 8:30 AM

How would your company and career be impacted if you found a way to convert 2X more leads into customers? Recently, I have heard several business-to-business companies report that their lead-to-customer conversions jumped 200-400% when integrating a social business strategy into their lead nurturing process.

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Topics: B2B Communities

5 Reasons to Take the State of Association Online Communities Survey

Written by Joshua Paul | on February 21, 2012 at 9:53 AM

At the average association, a private social network keeps less than 10% of the members engaged and associations are only engaging slightly more than 10% of the membership using large public social networks.

These less-than-inspiring figures, released by association consulting firm Marketing General toward the end of 2011, highlight a wide discrepancy between how associations use and manage their online communities.

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Topics: Member Communities

3 Audiences You Can't Ignore in Your Enterprise Social Strategy

Written by Joshua Paul | on February 16, 2012 at 10:43 AM

It is clear that the terms "enterprise 2.0" and "social business" mean different things to different people. To move beyond definitions, let's focus on the impact that an enterprise social strategy can have on an organization. Today's companies and associations are networked organizations. Employees, customers (or members), and industry partners rely on each other like never before.

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Topics: Communications

How to Select the Right Mobile App for Your Online Community

Written by Joshua Paul | on February 14, 2012 at 8:30 AM

For many online communities, especially those with members who are busy or don't have consistent access to a desktop or laptop, mobile engagement is a critical part of their online community strategy.

When a business or association decides that in order to keep their customers, employees, partners, or members engaged they need a mobile app that extends their online community, they are soon faced with the decision to develop a native app (the kind you find in an app store) or a mobile web app that uses the phone's browser.

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Topics: Online Community Software

Why Every Company Who Cares About Customer Retention Needs a Community [Data]

Written by Joshua Paul | on February 8, 2012 at 9:15 AM

I am willing to bet that the question, "how can we find ways to grow?" is echoed through the halls of corporations and membership organizations over 10x more than a call for ideas to keep current customers.

One may be surprised by the impact that losing a customer can have on a business's performance. Not only do the strategy, marketing, and sales hours it took to get that customer to give you their money go down the drain, but there are many other long term consequences of weak customer retention.

This makes customer retention job #1 at any organization. Companies and associations must strive to meet and exceed the expectations of both individuals or business customers. It doesn't generally require large overalls or massive expenditures to engage and retain these customers, but holding onto customers or members is vital towards the stability of any membership organization and corporation. As the statistics below show, going after new customers is much more expensive than investing in holding onto current clients.

4 Important Reasons that Marketing and Customer Care Execs Must Focus On Customer Retention

Reason #1) It costs organizations 5 to 8 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain a current customer.

The revenue that come in from customers is a result of an organization's business development investment. Most often this takes the form of outgoing cash flow focused on sales and marketing. The payday on the investment is only recognized if the customer remains a customer. Sometimes, it can take over a year to reach a break even point.

This means that holding onto every customer or member is vital for the longevity of any company. The cost savings resulting from holding onto customers, rather than having to increase your investment in attracting new customers, affords an organization additional funds to invest elsewhere. (Stat source: Lee Resources, Inc.)

Reason #2) A 2% increase in customer retention is the same as cutting expenses of the organization by 10%.

Profitability and sustainability are top-of-mind for most executive teams. Why not boost profitability in a way that won't kill morale and productivity? Businesses and member organizations can use the extra cash flow from their customer retention strategy to invest in new customer acquisition, expand into new markets, or upgrade current customer engagement systems to further improve the relationship between the company and its customers. (Stat source: Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmet Murphy & Mark Murphy)

Reason #3) 73% of customers leave a company because they are not happy with the customer serviced provided.

With the advent of simple social networks, real time support, and easily researchable alternatives, customers' customer service expectations of companies have spiked over the last decade.Companies and membership organizations are turning to online tools to keep customers engaged so they can catch at risk customers sooner and provide a much higher ratio of positive customer experiences to cushion the blow of the occasional frustration that all customers face.

Along with building stronger, more collaborative relationships with customers or members, many organizations are also utilizng social business tools to encourage peer-to-peer support in order to control customer service costs and focus their effort of higher-priority customers. (State source: Harris Interactive)

Reason #4) 91% of customers don't ever return to a company after leaving.

Compound all of the stats above and the fact is, once you lose a customer, they will most likely never do business with you again. This is why maintaining a high level of customer engagement and satisfaction is paramount to the wellbeing of any business or membership organization. (Stat source: Lee Resources, Inc.)

BONUS FACT: In some industries, as a customer or member stays with a given organization, the value of the customer actually increases.

The longer a customer stays with your company, the more likely they are to invest additional time and money with your organization. Customers or members who are just starting off with your company or association are generally more timid. They often only spend the minimum in order to check out the organization and see if it is worthwhile. This makes both engaging new customers and retaining long time customers extremely valuable and must be a top priority for any company and association.

Online Community Takeaway

Online communities and private social networks provide companies and associations with a platform to keep customers or members engaged. Some companies (usually B2C) are comfortable using public social networks as the center of the customer retention efforts, while other organizations choose to launch private online customer communities.

The flexibility of online customer community software allows organizations to reach diverse customer segments and shape their engagement strategy around the social tools and information that are relevant to each customer.

Customer retention relies on your customers finding success with your products and services. From peer-to-peer discussion groups to searchable file libraries to proactive customer service tools, there is no other format that can have a greater impact of your customers finding the answers, people, and advice they need to get results.

Download your free guide to buying and implementing a customer portal.

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Topics: Customer Communities, Customer Retention

How Associations Increase Revenue Using Online Community Software

Written by Joshua Paul | on February 2, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Marketing, customer management, and membership professionals are family with the obvious revenue impact of creating a private social network for members or customers. These benefits include:

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Topics: Associations

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