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Defining an ROI-positive customer community (with examples)

In the past, many have been quick to dismiss community as a vanity metric or an idea too vague to pin down. But we discovered there is so much more to a customer community. 

A customer community is a subsection of loyal customers who, on your balance sheet, are valuable, because they interact with your brand, and with each other. 

Customer communities deliver a positive ROI because they offer a strong value exchange. Companies like Glamnetic, Astrid & Miyu, and Sephora are examples of brands that have created thriving ROI-positive customer communities by forging authentic connections with customers. 

In this post, we take a look at the ecommerce communities doing it right and show how you can realize the benefits of customer community engagement too. 

What is a customer community?

Customer communities have power. They are an untapped revenue stream and a unifying force that makes sure all your marketing activities add up to something longer-term and more meaningful. A customer community supports your brand beyond purchases by spreading the word, posting UGC on social media, and giving honest, insightful feedback. 

On average, brands with communities see a +1,352% return on their investment (ROI) after just two years. This increases as communities age. After 10 years, brands can see as much as a +10,000% ROI.

The value exchange involved in a customer community can drive your brand’s success. If you can deliver monetary benefits, emotional connections, and experiential perks, customers will want to get involved in your community. 

A customer community should be a space for people to connect. 48% of the people we surveyed said they’d join a brand community if they could have conversations with customers who are like-minded. And as community bonds grow stronger you will begin to reap the benefits. 

71% of companies use their community for market research and 66% turn to them for product development. A thriving customer community enables you to receive more diverse and insightful feedback that will help you to improve your products and further understand your customer base. 

All of this can drive a positive ROI and enable you to be creative with your marketing strategies and loyalty initiatives. 

Three ecommerce communities doing it right

Now you know what a customer community is, it’s time to look at some of the best. All the best customer communities are created around something that is unique to that brand. They also evolve out of an authentic desire to know more about your customers and improve their experience. 

Glamnetic 💋

The magnetic eyelash brand, Glamnetic created a successful online customer community called the “Glam Fam”. Their most loyal customers congregate in the Glam Fam and create buzz around the brand online.  

In a Q&A session conducted with Glamnetic’s Social Media Marketing Coordinator Tiffany La, she said that a customer community is important because “we look to our online Facebook community – the Glam Fam – to learn how we can improve our products and to create new ones they want to see. Members of the Glam Fam engage the most with our new product releases and help with our company-wide success – all because of their constant feedback and suggestions”. 

This valuable feedback loop has helped Glamnetic’s product direction and has limited their need to spend excessive amounts on market research. They have been able to derive honest and insightful feedback by creating the Glam Fam – a judgment-free space for engaged and vocal customers. 

They post in the Glam Fam Facebook group between five and six times a week. These posts range from directly asking their customer community for product feedback, to fun weekly makeup challenges or product tips and tricks. One of the key lessons to learn from Glamnetic is that authenticity works. If your brand is able to connect with customers you’ll be able to receive valuable feedback. Watch the full interview with Glamnetic below

Astrid & Miyu 💎

The jewelry brand Astrid & Miyu has a whole online hub dedicated to its customer community. This hub provides a lot of great self-care content to their customers that emphasize positivity. Their community hub has three sections: “Styling”, “A&M Insider”, and “Responsibility”. Each section offers customers something different and appeals to various kinds of community members. 

Their styling content including sections like “Six Ways to Wear Chunky Chains” and a Jewellery Gift Guide are more revenue-driven. The main aim is to provide helpful advice and inspiration for their customers on how to stack and style their pieces.

Whereas, the brand-related content in the community hub is there to showcase their values as a company. Here they demonstrate charity work and other initiatives. They also display content focussed on business, such as how they are female-founded and how they are helping other people succeed in business. 

Astrid & Miyu’s ROI-positive customer community is a great example of the potential of customer communities. They champion causes they believe in and provide opportunities for their community to stand alongside them and contribute. And they also use their community to boost interest in their products. Astrid & Miyu show that a customer community doesn’t have to be limited. Watch the full interview with Astrid & Miyu below.

Sephora 👑

Sephora is a cosmetic retail company that took community engagement to the next level. Sephora’s Beauty Insider Community (BIC) is a thriving hub that incentivizes engagement. In Sephora’s customer community beauty experts and newbies alike ask questions and chat directly to brands and their founders – including the founder of Nars, François Nars. 

As of 2021, their community has over 4.9 million members. They are keenly aware of their customer’s needs and wants and have cultivated a community that has become a must-visit for those curious about cosmetics. The community is a beauty-obsessed social platform that gives back to Sephora by building brand awareness, encouraging further interest in cosmetics, and kick-starting conversations. 

Beyond cultivating a customer community, Sephora builds customer loyalty by giving members added value beyond discounts. The brand uses its loyalty program to build emotional connections by giving them “trial-sized” products and one-of-a-kind experiences.

How can you realize the benefits of customer community engagement?

So now you have seen how it all works. What should you do next to realize the benefits of engagement? 

Let’s start with loyalty. You can use LoyaltyLion’s platform to your advantage by designing a loyalty program that makes the most of your customer community and keeps it contributing to a positive ROI. 

If, like Astrid & Miyu, Glamnetic and Sephora, you want community to be at the heart of your retention strategy then incorporate a loyalty program that rewards your most loyal members and encourages Drifters to get more involved. 

The best brand communities often come about because a company, like Sephora, has paid attention to what their customers want and gone above and beyond to deliver it. This investment at the beginning of the process has then paid dividends later on when Supporters and Insiders organically spread the word, provide great feedback and bring in new customers. 

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.

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