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We’ve been diving deep into customer communities. Why? Because we want to bust the myth that they’re not worth the time or effort. In actual fact, they can have a 10x ROI and contribute dramatically to your bottom line.
The Community Matters magazine exposes what customers want from an ecommerce community and how to serve their needs. It also includes community-building advice from 10 ecommerce experts.
We also had each of the experts answer audience-submitted questions on a live, Ask Me Anything sessions this month. Watch the recording of the first session below. It features speakers from Octane AI, Okendo, Justuno and Nosto.
Not got time to watch? We’ve summarized all the key points in the rest of the article.
Le Col, a UK cycling apparel brand, has a loyalty program that is engaging and makes you feel like part of an ecommerce community. They have a great partnership with Strava, the exercise app, that uses challenges to help promote engagement. For example, users can receive 15% discounts on the Le Col website by hitting a certain number of cycling miles on the Strava app.
Another good example is Nutpods, the dairy-free creamer seller. They do a fantastic job of responding on social media and using social channels to create hype around their brand. They lure people to their brand by emphasizing that human connection and giving a face to their brand.
It is difficult to pick just one campaign. Instead, try starting a campaign that unifies the different parts of a loyalty program together.
A Lurker is unlikely to convert into an Insider if they are only targeted through a single channel. An email prompt, a discount code, or a chance to earn points might not be enough to persuade a prospective client if they are promoted on their own.
However, when different loyalty elements are paired together, like a discount code and a limited-time exclusive item, the customer has a greater incentive to engage. Try to dovetail your marketing campaigns and your on-site content together to produce a FOMO experience that even the most robust Lurkers can’t resist.
Focus on first-party data collection. You can then use this data to form your subgroups. This kind of data can be reliably collected through quizzes and reviews.
For example, Okendo works with Born Primitive, an athleisure brand, and they’re collecting first-party data around performance. A typical question they could ask might be:
“Are you using the product for CrossFit or yoga or just wearing it day-to-day?”
By asking these kinds of questions they are able to learn about their customers and tailor their offerings. You can use that information to split your list and market to those individual communities to then build them up.
Appeal to their emotions and interests. Look at Patagonia. You can buy similar products elsewhere at a cheaper price. But Patagonia engages on a human level. They send emails every week about the causes they’re supporting and the campaigns they’re running. This motivates an audience to stay loyal because they know that some of their money is going to a worthwhile cause.
If you don’t want to use discounts then you have to provide some intrinsic value. Not everyone may align with causes you champion but it demonstrates value beyond the products you sell.
Sephora is another great example. They give you a present when it’s your birthday or a gift when you hit “Point Milestones”. They rarely offer discounts. Instead, they provide customers with engaging information and content you want to consume.
You could also provide limited edition, exclusive items or early access that you can only get when you’re part of the community. These things don’t cost you anything as a brand and they encourage customers to return.
A quiz is a fun experience for the customer but there is also backend value because you get access to data that allows you to measure engagement. You can send retargeting quizzes to VIP customers or incorporate quizzes in adverts to collect product feedback or ask questions about their experience with the brand.
32% of people are motivated to undertake community-based activities to get early access to products. If you give your community early access to products and quiz them on their experience their feedback will help to inform future products.
On-site pop-ups can play a massive role. Firstly, they help to gather people into an ecommerce community and spread the word on site to your organic traffic. Secondly, they can help turn traffic into community members and build loyalty. Furthermore, if you use personalized messaging you can create an authentic relationship with your user base and make them feel involved.
You can also make more targeted promotions and use UTM’s in email blasts. Get the right messaging and offers in front of a Lurker or Drifter and they can be converted into Insiders.
Track your ecommerce community in a way that suits the product you’re selling. Use your channels – Messenger, SMS and quizzes – to measure engagement.
You can track the answers, add customers to different lists and start segmenting. Then you can determine their engagement and the areas where you can improve your community and motivate the journey from Lurker to Insider.
Create segments such as customer attributes, product attributes or brand advocates in your ESP based on the information you’re receiving in your reviews. Ask yourself: “How many people have left multiple five-star reviews and how can I treat them differently?”
Target the behavior of your community members and remind them about your loyalty program.
There are many kinds of conversions that are valuable. The first step to building a community is not about getting them to make a purchase. People want to be part of something.
The first step is getting people to engage with your content i.e. open emails that aren’t trying to sell them anything. The next step is to get them to sign up for an account or join the club. Once they’ve made their first purchase it gets a lot more exciting because you have a lot more levers to pull. However, as with most things, the first step is definitely the hardest. You can then optimize conversions by tracking and analyzing engagement.
Understand what attracts people to your brand. During the pandemic, Astrid & Miyu have done a great job of building community. They’ve connected with people because of the things they’re passionate about and the way they’ve written about them. Audiences gravitated towards brands that have a clear message.
Reviews open a two-way dialogue with your customer. You’re more likely to form a community bond when you show that you care and want to listen. You can do the same thing with the Q&A widget on the PDP as well. Ensure that you can quickly and effectively answer customer queries. Then you display the answered questions for any future customers who might have the same concerns.
Additionally, collect data points in your reviews and adjust your product or service to please your customer base. With the data you’re collecting, you’re able to personalize campaigns and email marketing so that you’re able to put relevant recommendations in front of your audience base too.
Display ratings, reviews and UGC on your website to show shoppers that you have an engaged community that loves your product. This makes people feel part of something bigger.
One of the first steps is to work the community angle into what you’re already doing, instead of treating it as a separate flow.
Think about the different ways you can use your loyalty program to communicate your brand’s story. And find the common causes between you and your audience. For example, if you have an eco-conscious user base give people points for recycling packaging.
Octane AI recently did an event with three great community driven brands – Tracy Martin, Snow Teeth Whitening and Beard Brand. They all said they began their community journey through engagement. Answering direct messages or replying to comments is more valuable than you might think!
Social media is free. Gymshark and Patagonia don’t have official loyalty programs but they have created an engaging social media presence that has built their community.
You can also display authentic content from your customer base on your website. Offer tiered rewards based on the actions you want your customers to take e.g. 10% off for a text review, 15% off for a text review with a photo etc… Then you can use that UGC to advertise your brand.
Another way to build community on a budget is to make sure your whole team is aligned. It is not just about the marketing department. Tell your customer support team to encourage people to sign up and take action. Similarly, if you have a physical store, make sure the people working there know about your community and can promote it effectively.
It is going to take longer for the “purchase conversion” to happen for a luxury brand. The decision might come down to reviews or the craftsmanship. The higher the value, the longer the consideration process normally takes. Respect those dynamics.
In the interim, think about all the points of value that the customers could be adding for you and that you could be adding for them. Given the nature of the luxury market, you should be aiming to make your customer feel like a VIP.
On the other hand, FMCG often involves cheap or repeat purchase products with many solid alternatives. In this realm, price becomes a defining factor. FMCG is often a distress purchase i.e. you’re hungry or you’ve run out of toilet paper. A loyalty community here may be built through retention and discounting.
This is the prime opportunity to engage people with loyalty messaging and targeted limited-time discounts. A message like: “Your points are about to expire”, is effective because it communicates urgency and tends to push people towards a decision.
It doesn’t have to be all about purchasing. Recognize that the path for the customer might not be direct. There may be a period where customers start to lapse. This is an opportune moment to nurture them, showcase reviews and remind them of the value of your product and brand.
Check out the Community Matters report full of original research exposing what “community” looks like in 2021. Or, if you’re ready to up your community game, book a time to speak to one of our loyalty experts now.