Creating an online community: How to use your existing Martech tools

Every brand benefits from having a growing online community. Today you have the opportunity to build a strong online community from the different Martech tools at your disposal. 

Whether you are interacting with Drifters, Supporters, Lurkers, or Insiders, you can use the Martech tools in a variety of ways to capture attention, incentivize engagement and boost purchases. 

Community Persona Matrix 1

To help you choose the right Martech tools for your online strategy, we’ve put together a list of the best of them so you can create an online community in no time. 

Understand which Community Persona makes up your brand community by taking our quiz

📩 ESPs (email service providers)

Emails are one of the best ways to maintain a regular connection with your customers. Email marketing also engages every type of customer in your community. 

For Drifters (who don’t engage with your brand) automating relevant and engaging behavior-based emails from the very start is critical to limiting their apathy towards your brand. Similarly, personalizing and automating your emails is the best way to get them involved. 

When it comes to these personas, try sending them loyalty emails that remind them they have loyalty points in their account that they can redeem for rewards. You could send these on a monthly basis so they don’t forget they can get value from your brand.

Screenshot 2021 09 20 At 16.03.01
Screenshot 2021 09 20 At 16.03.01

When it comes to customers who are more invested in your brand, take a slightly different approach. 

A Supporter actively engages with marketing emails. So use email to encourage these customers to leave product reviews and create user-generated content (UGC). 

And for your most valuable community members, the Insiders, treat them like true VIPs by using email to invite them to special events (like secret sales), give them the chance to provide feedback on upcoming products and styles.

Screenshot 2021 09 20 At 16.04.22

LoyaltyLion currently integrates with a variety of ESPs including CM Commerce, dotdigital, Hubspot, Klaviyo, Mailchimp, Ometria, Omnisend, Oracle Bronto, RedEye, and Zaius

📱 SMS 

SMS is similar to email when you are trying to encourage engagement and build an online community. With a nearly 400% increase in marketing SMS texts sent in 2020, text may be the new channel your customers respond best to. 

With both Drifters and Lurkers use SMS to make signing up more appealing. You could send texts that show them they get points and rewards through your program by creating an account. 

To boost your Supporter’s activity, use SMS to encourage them to create UGC which you can use later in marketing messages. Product reviews are great for influencing consumers to purchase. Drop your community members a text asking them for help. Tie this up with your loyalty program and you can even reward shoppers for leaving you a review. 

LoyaltyLion integrates with SMS Bump – find out more about the integration here.

💖 Loyalty program

A loyalty program is useful as it gives you a way to provide community members with experiential perks and extra special experiences. This is especially important as 45% of customers say they will engage in a community if they’re made to feel like a VIP.

The eco-clothing brand, Zorali, rewards shoppers with points (that equates to real trees they plant!) when they spend with the store or complete community-minded activities. If a shopper earns 10 points on a purchase, Zorali plants 10 trees on the shopper’s behalf. 

Zorali Loyalty Program 1

A loyalty program is a chance to get Supporters on the same wavelength as you. Where Supporters may have recommended you behind closed doors before, by rewarding them with loyalty points for referring others to you, they won’t be able to keep quiet. 

🔥 Paid media

There are many ways you can enhance your online community through paid media. 

Over the last five years, Shoelace has helped hundreds of merchants tell powerful brands stories with ads that their audiences want to be a part of. They do this with Customer Journey Marketing, a proven method that aligns with where your buyers are in their journey to show them specific messaging and creatives to give your ads a personalized touch. 

Creating campaigns that persuade Drifters in your community to sign up for your newsletter or to get exclusive promos is a great way to engage and connect with them. 

Meanwhile, you could also set up campaigns asking your purchasers for reviews or UGC in exchange for special perks. This will make your community members feel more connected to you and part of the conversation.

❓ On-site quizzes and surveys

On-site quizzes and surveys are fantastic opportunities to collect community feedback so you can improve your product offering and customer experience. 

For example, a top DTC whitening brand, Snow Teeth Whitening, send surveys to its community members through email to ask them what products they’d be interested in next. This survey has a 60% completion rate and the brand can use this feedback to better their product. In the end, community members will purchase more as they know they’ve been involved in the brand’s growth.

When pursuing this strategy many companies use Octane AI. The platform provides an all-in-one platform for engaging quizzes, data collection, and personalized Facebook Messenger and SMS automation. 

⭐️ Reviews and UGC

The value of reviews and effective UGC should not be underestimated. 90% of consumers claim that authenticity is incredibly important when they’re choosing a brand to buy from. Reviews and UGC build this authenticity and trust. 

Using the valuable product and customer attributes that your reviews provide, you can segment your audience and deliver hyper-personalized messaging. Further, asking customers for reviews opens up a two-way dialogue that helps you create deeper relationships with your community and generate engagement.

LoyaltyLion integrations with a variety of review platforms including: Judge.Me, Loox, Okendo, Reviews.io, Stamped.

🎨 Personalization

No two consumers are the same – whether they’re shopping on-site or engaging with your brand through off-site channels. 

One way to pique the interest of Drifters is to get them excited about what you have to offer. Using a home page notification that offers an incentive for Drifters to learn more about your brand is a simple (but effective) place to start. On the other hand, you can lure in Lurkers with enhanced email communication and FOMO marketing.  

Fomo Marketing

For Supporters and Insiders, take a slightly different approach and offer personalized perks. If you want to differentiate the experiences offered to a Supporter and an Insider, offer the latter even more perks for their loyalty across other channels and through multiple campaigns. 

🛠 Help desk provider

90% of Americans use customer support to determine whether to do business with a company. Use customer service to track how Supporters and Insiders are engaging with your brand and ensure you’re there if they have any questions or concerns. 

Most importantly, ensure you’re not making your community wait. A big factor in excellent customer service is first response and resolution time. The quicker you respond and resolve your customers’ questions, the better their experience is (making them much more likely to engage in your customer community). 

LoyaltyLion integrates with a variety of help desk providers including: Re:amaze, Zendesk and Gorgias.

💬 On-site notifications

Use simple pop-ups to learn more about low-effort buyers like Drifters and Lurkers. These two groups can be engaged using on-site notifications that collect more information and spur desired actions. The more information you can collect on Drifters and Lurkers, the more personalized and effective you can make your marketing campaigns. 

For more committed customers, like Supporters and Insiders, you can create VIP experiences with pop-ups. The key here is to use pop-ups in a way to reinforce their special status. Give them the red carpet treatment and let them know how much you value them. 

On Site Notification

📦 Subscriptions

In 2020, merchants with a subscription function saw their subscriber base grow by 91% and average order value (AOV) was up across the majority of verticals. Clearly, subscriptions are a great opportunity to engage your community. 

For Lurkers, who may have created accounts, read marketing emails, but then delete them quickly, try adding product incentives and discounts that are linked to your subscription model within your emails.

Insiders may already be subscribed to your subscription products. But keeping customers at this level engaged can be a challenge. But adding VIP perks alongside your subscriptions (like adding a gift or adding credit) will encourage them to stay subscribed for longer.

✈️ Shipping and fulfillment 

A winning fulfillment strategy plays a huge role in creating an engaged brand community. You can optimize your fulfillment strategy in a number of ways. 

Firstly, you can invest in custom branded packaging. 40% of online shoppers would share an image of their purchase on social media if it came in branded packaging. Investing in custom branded packaging allows you to maintain brand recognition throughout the entire customer journey.

Secondly, you can use shipping incentives as a marketing tool. Promoting fast and affordable two-day shipping or other incentives, like free shipping, are great ways to build buzz around your brand. 

Thirdly, try building trust by meeting customer expectations. Build trust by giving customers fast and affordable shipping and living up to what you promise. You must also make sure your returns process and policy are as convenient and consumer-friendly as possible. 

Your Martech stack and your online community: the perfect partnership

All of these tools have the potential to boost your online community. To maximize your potential, try to connect all your marketing tools together to create a buzzing community of Insiders that are emotionally connected to your brand. 

Check out our Community Matters report to read how ecommerce experts recommend you should be using each of your marketing tools to engage your community.

Community Matters

About the author

Mollie Woolnough-Rai

Mollie is a Senior Content Marketing Executive at LoyaltyLion, a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform for fast-growth ecommerce merchants. LoyaltyLion helps thousands of retailers worldwide to build fully customized loyalty programs, proven to increase customer engagement, retention and spend. After graduating from UCL, she has worked both in-house and at marketing agencies providing expertise in content strategy and copywriting. At LoyaltyLion, Mollie manages our content, making sure our readers get the best quality resources.

Subscribe to our newsletter

By signing up, you agree to our terms and conditions.

Connect with a Loyalty Analyst

Speak to a member of the team to find out how LoyaltyLion can help you drive customer loyalty and engagement.

Talk to us