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Why Offering Access to Your Customer Community Converts Better Than Static Content Offers

Written by Julie Dietz on April 27, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Offering access to your online community converts better than static content offers like eBooks.

Did you know that B2B companies that blog generate an average of 67 percent more leads per month than companies that do not blog? Creating high quality, relevant content, such as regular blog posts, is an essential element of effective content marketing strategies today.

Blogging works with other types of content and offers to get businesses found and convert visitors into leads and, ultimately, customers. Let's look at the basic content marketing visitor-to-lead conversion model:

  1. A potential prospect has a problem they need solved.
  2. After using a search engine to find a solution to that problem, they find your content—thanks to your expert keyword use and SEO.
  3. They read a few of your blog posts and want to know more, so they click on your CTA to download a free eBook.
  4. To access this content, they arrive at a landing page and provide you with some basic contact information: their name, email address, and possibly information about their interests and industry.
  5. They have now become one of your leads.

This model has been successful for organizations across many different industries, but it hinges on helpful, hyper-relevant content. With the right blog content and premium content offers, you can improve your conversion ratios by attracting more new leads and converting more of those leads into customers.

The Problem With Static Content Offers  

Now that so many businesses are using content marketing, static content offers such as blogs and eBooks don't command the attention that they did in the past. There are tons of blog posts and eBooks are so commonplace that they're no longer a premium offer. eBooks and guides still work, but to stand out from the competition, your content has to be exceptional.

Then there's the problem of maintaining your content. You need to update content on an regular basis to ensure you're providing your target audience with relevant information.

Sometimes even updated content may not be enough to draw in a prospects. With so many offers available, many people are hesitant to give out their information because they've probably been burned by poor content in the past.

The good news is that there's a solution to these problems. Rather than lose the interest of your target audience by offering the same static content offers as your competition, you can entice them with something fresh and valuable: access to your private online customer community.

Premium offers, like access to prospect-specific areas in your online community, are more likely to convert visitors into leads for three main reasons.

3 Reasons Why Your Online Customer Community is a Great Conversion Tool

Reason #1) People Trust Their Peers

Your online community's discussion forums are valuable resources for prospects as they navigate the buyer's journey. They work in similar ways to referrals, giving prospects the ability to ask questions and have them answered by other customers who have first-hand, unbiased experience with your products.

These objective opinions give prospects the perspective they need to make a purchasing decision, and help them feel less pressured by your organization.

Reason #2) Better Insight Into Prospects' Needs and Motivations

When a prospect downloads an eBook, you don't learn much about them beyond what they volunteer on their landing page form. You won't know if the eBook was helpful, if they're interested in learning more, or even if they actually read the eBook.

With an online community for prospects, you can gather ongoing activity data and information about your prospects' motivations and problems. Track their questions and interests through discussion forums and page views to learn what they're interested in, and use that to create a more personalized and relevant marketing strategy.

Reason #3) Dynamic and Fresh Value

Unlike static content offers, an online customer community accessible by prospects isn't something everyone is already doing. This makes it a new and exciting offer that will help your company stand apart from the competition.

Your online community should also have content, such as information on the best uses for your products. Carefully chosen content that highlights your products and services will provide value, and help prospects understand whether or not your solutions are right for them.

Segmenting Your Online Customer Community for Prospects

Using your online community to provide value and convert visitors into leads is great marketing, but don't forget about your existing customers. Your online customer community is meant to be an established and valuable place for your current customers, so you shouldn't open the entire community to the public. Instead, segment the community to create an area designed specifically for prospective customers.

The prospect areas of your online community might include a file library full of topics that would appeal to prospects, for example. It's also helpful to include discussion forums where they can have their questions answered by company executives or existing customer advocates.

To get prospects involved, invite them to the community and explain what types of content and discussions they may find most useful. Once they join, their membership will be noted in your CRM or marketing software, and you'll begin collecting ongoing activity data as they engage with the community.

With the right online community software and system integrations, you can combine this ongoing community activity data with marketing and sales data for a comprehensive look at prospect interests and intents. Your marketing and sales departments can then send customized campaigns and conduct personal outreach based on your prospect's behavior and individual needs.

Offering Prospects Access to Your Customer Community Takeaway

When you utilize your online community as a means of connecting and marketing to prospects, you stick to the basics of content marketing that work so well, while offering the innovation and value your target audience craves.

By providing your visitors with a chance to participate in your private online community, you create a high conversion, win-win situation. Your prospect is excited by a unique offer and receives access to valuable information, peers and experts. In turn, you are supplied with ongoing activity data and insight about your prospective customers. You can use that activity data to build stronger relationships with your leads, nurturing them into customers and then encouraging loyalty to your organization.

Tips for developing a great online customer community strategy.

Topics: Customer Communities, Customer Advocacy, Online Community

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