Acquiring Customers with an Online Community
One of the critical questions for any company is – “How much does it cost to acquire customers?”
According to Propeller CRM, it can vary drastically depending on the industry. Given below is a chart:
As you can see it is most expensive for software technology companies. The Customer Acquisition Cost for companies in Telecom and Banking/Insurance is slightly above $300.
In simple terms, the whole process revolves around fine-tuning the buyer persona for your product and services, making sure you are visible when they are trying to solve the problem, and convincing them to buy your solutions. Then, you need to ensure that you can sell additional services (upsell and cross-sell) by creating valuable offerings and keep them as customers as long as possible. This is related to customer retention and loyalty.
With the penetration of the internet, it has become both easier and competitive for brands to capitalize on search engine optimization (SEO). It helps you increase the visibility of your content and thereby puts you in front of your target audience.
An online community sits perfectly in the customer life cycle — especially when it comes to customer acquisition, engagement, and retention. It amplifies your content generation capability by empowering your existing audiences. This allows your brand to garner more web traffic with fresh and authentic user-generated content. Also, the content generated in the online community acts as a powerful resource for self-service. This helps you deliver better customer support and create a platform where customers can help each other.
If a brand can take care of the basics of the online community SEO, it can prove to be a highly effective way to improve content share in search engine rankings. This further results in increased traffic and better brand visibility.
For example, Pipedrive’s sales community (a Tribe-powered community) ranks in the top three results for the keyword “sales community”.
Apart from the SEO benefits and content generation capability, your community can also be a powerful intent-based prospecting platform. You can use the community to see if any high-value prospects can become customers with the help of the sales team. You can put this into practice by scouting for members who are having pre-sales questions about specific topics or features or requesting feedback from the members.
As you can see, this is a great way for your team to acquire new business via consultative sales.
Now, do you have an online community as a social extension of your brand that lives inside your site? Are you effectively engaging your customers to scale content generation, improve SEO, and spread the word about your brand?
Check out the following key tactics to leverage your online community as a channel for customer acquisition:
1. Systematically cover topics with a content calendar
In the previous post, we discussed the importance of a content calendar and how it can help community managers create high-quality content consistently. When you are planning content for your community, evaluate the keywords for which you would like to rank and the type of content that can help you.
Think about certain topics that you have not already covered on your site or blog. For example, reviews around certain features of your product, a long-form guest post by a thought leader, or an AMA session around a certain topic. Your goal is to keep a track of the keywords that you want your community pages to rank and plan content around that.
If you are getting started with keyword research, here is an amazing resource that covers 15 different tools. In terms of SEO, ensure the following:
- Your community pages are offering the best page experience
- Title, metadata, and URL slug are perfectly optimized
- Right schema markup is enabled (e.g., Q&A)
The more high-quality content you can produce in the community, the better the chances of improving SEO.
2. Boost engagement in your community
We discussed the importance of content planning and content coverage. Now we need to explore how we can encourage the members to contribute content. Without community engagement and interaction, the community would eventually become a desert.
The key here is to make people feel valued and show appreciation. Start off by inviting certain members to answer, contribute, and seek help. Then you need to have a mechanism to reward them for their contribution and showcase the appreciation as well. Consider an MVP (Most Valuable Person) or superuser program for your community. Check out this post to learn how you can identify the superusers of your community.
Another tried and tested method to boost content contribution is gamification. For example, you can have a system for reputation scores, leaderboards, and badges — to encourage healthy competition between members.
You can also run incentive-based competitions in your community and reward the winner with something tangible. So, instead of reputation scores, your community members can win a currency use that they can use to purchase products and services.
Given below is an example of a competition that uses the virtual currency feature of Tribe to generate content in a competition format.
Check out this really long list of more than 70 community engagement techniques to get inspired.
3. Add social touchpoints powered by the community
Now that we have covered the content planning as well as techniques to encourage members to contribute content, it’s time for us to fully leverage the value of the user-generated content. For example, you can embed certain community components (e.g., testimonials and FAQs) inside your site to showcase the backing of the community behind your company. This bolsters the confidence level of a prospect evaluating your solution.
This is a powerful way to show how other customers from different industries have analyzed and vetted your product. Your prospects get to experience their peers utilize your product on a first-hand basis.
The ability to add valuable social components across the customer journey is a highly effective way to use social proof and instill confidence.
We explored how an online community can help a company scale content generation, boost search engine presence, and ranking. Now you need to create a community for your brand, engage the members effectively, help them succeed, generate social proof, and amplify the content coverage.
If you can do this and take care of the community SEO, you should be well poised to boost traffic and as a result, customer acquisition. Check out the following post to learn how an online community can be deeply integrated into every stage of the customer journey.