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Customer communities are hugely beneficial. The community you build around your brand will give customers the financial and experiential incentives to become more involved. This always leads to good things: greater revenue, insightful customer feedback, and excitement around new product releases.
But, before you achieve any of this, you must first convince members to sign up. This blog will explore what customers really want from a community, why they eventually get involved, and how you can create a thriving customer community around your brand.
There are four distinct psychological ways to motivate customers to join a community: social acceptance, ownership, personal connection, and value.
Let’s have a look at each of the four motivators and see how companies have used them to their advantage to create effective customer communities.
Social acceptance pulls on the social validation theory. This theory supposes that customers are motivated to become members because they want to engage in communities and look good in front of their peers.
If joining your community is seen as popular then people will want to get involved to impress or be accepted by their peers. These dynamics are often most visible on social media where people can display their lifestyle and the brands they interact with. Nowadays social media sites like Facebook impact more than 50% of users’ purchase decisions. And social acceptance plays a big part in the way social media sites like Facebook let users to get involved in brand communities.
One of the best ways to take advantage of this motivator is to encourage UGC and build up word-of-mouth around your brand.
People are more likely to join the community you created if they become part of your brand’s decision-making. Ownership will make people feel connected to your brand’s story.
More and more companies have been taking advantage of this motivator. 71% of companies use their community for market research and 66% turn to them for product development. The constant feedback loop helps you to improve your products or service and also makes your community feel ownership over the end product. It’s a win-win.
A personal and emotional connection to your brand is also a great motivator. Joining a community can give members personal meaning in their lives and it may allow them to connect with others around shared obligations to society.
Reaching shoppers at their points of passion is what sparks deeper connections and long-term relationships that retain valuable shoppers for longer. In your community customers should be able to understand your message and connect with other community members.
Value pulls on reciprocation theory and how customers join communities if they receive value from the relationship. Consumers want to feel they’re getting something special in return for their interactions.
When you’re providing value to the customer they will feel more inclined to stick around. This means discounts, free deliveries, and exclusive perks. On a psychological level, value works as a great motivator.
What’s your value proposition? In every exchange you have with a customer community, you need to be offering them a valuable experience. And when you put in the effort to transform Lurkers into Insiders, you’ll receive more brand awareness, more advocacy, practical feedback, and increased trust. These all benefit your bottom line.
Our research has shown that customers want three things from a community: financial perks, experiential perks, and brand alignment. Let’s have a brief look at the kinds of value propositions you should be offering.
Financial perks like free shipping and discounts are always a high priority for customers. If you use them properly they can also be the key to growing your customer community.
Reward customers with points through a loyalty program and drive customer motivation that way.
82% of all community members say access to discounts is a top priority in motivating them to complete more community-based actions. Monetary benefits or savings for registering for your community is a reliable way to regularly engage new customers.
Experiential perks include access to products before others, invites to exclusive events, and access to extra content. These are especially attractive perks for people who are already involved in your brand in some way.
70% of customers are motivated to complete community-based activities if they can access more product knowledge by being a member.
Give them the royal treatment. Use loyalty tiers to give high-value customers more exclusive perks. With tiers, you can make sure you give your most loyal community members extra perks the more they engage. This could include the ability to vote on new products or invites to exclusive events.
Given the transactional world we live in, it was arguably a little surprising to see that customers are looking to get under the skins of the brands they shop with. The opportunity to create emotional connections with brands is a key customer motivation for shoppers to join and undertake community-based actions.
69% of those we spoke to said that being able to communicate directly with the brands they like would make them join its online community.
A community about creating spaces for authentic interactions. Let customers participate in charitable causes through the charities and make sure they are aware of any charitable initiatives you are running.
Customers want three things to be active participators in a community: experiential perks, financial rewards, and brand alignment.
The top engaged community members (Insiders) are members of loyalty programs. In fact, our research showed that 82% of Insiders are members of their preferred brand’s loyalty programs, versus 28% of Drifters.
When you have a loyalty program you will be able to easily give customers the main things they want from a community:
It’s the perfect way to bring all types of customers together in one place to feel more connected to your brand and your brand’s community. But first, to motivate a customer to join your community you need to decide which psychological motivators to use and you need to understand your brand’s value proposition.
Discover more about how customer communities are formed and how you can improve your community, by downloading our Community Matters report.