Would you bet that your motivation for building online communities can increase?
If you knew that you effort will pay off 100% in the future, you will probably roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Alas, we, humans have fickle nature and too often we want to see results first and then start doing our part of the work. Unfortunately, only after investing our time and resources we will see results.
Still, there are things you can do to overcome this emotional roller coaster, pick up your motivation and get down to work. You should learn the secrets of success from exceptional businesses. You should see how other enterprises managed not only to build, but also to monetize their communities.
Here are top ten ways to make money out of your communities. Here are also jaw-dropping and eye-opening statistics to skyrocket you for success in the world of online communities:
- Share expertise and build trust in online learning environment.
- Charge membership and exclusive access.
- Provide community building consulting.
- Create branded products together with members.
- Help members connect and do business together.
- Use e-commerce.
- Create profit-sharing opportunities .
- Organize competitions
- Negotiate loyalty program (special offers and discounts) for your members.
- Organize events for your industry as the authority
Derek Sivers was right when he said, “The single most important thing is to make people happy. If you are making people happy, as a side effect, they will be happy to open up their wallets and pay you.”
One of the ways to make people happy is to solve their problems, be attentive and provide trustworthy information. After all, Forrester identified that out of all self-service channels, customers use most frequently knowledge bases.
According to CMX 2016 Research: 85 % of marketers and community builders believe that having a branded online community would improve the customer journey and increase trust.
It should be a serious priority for companies to be resourceful for clients. Harvard Business Review encourages us to do so because it is from 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one.
Not to mention that US companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to poor customer service. If the company increases customer experience slightly, it may generate a revenue increase of $ 823 million over three years on average out of its $1 billion in annual revenues.
When you set out on a mission to differentiate with quality and speed, you will be able to reap the rewards for magnificent results eventually.
Another way to monetize your community is to provide premium content for your users that you will charge.
Of course, you need to provide consistent value before you charge the customers since they were perceive you as the authority and top choice for them. You are a problem-solver and encouragement for their burning issues that they cannot find easily elsewhere.
When you show up consistently and exceed the expectations of your community, they will start to consider this premium content as a great deal.
They will see this membership program and exclusive areas as something extra that is tailor-made for their needs and they will be glad to subscribe and work with you.
As a community builder, you will see eventually that your effort is worthwhile. Just bear in mind that online communities market will reach $1.2 billion worldwide by 2019, according to advisory firm IDC.
Another way to help your clients succeed with community building is to provide consulting for them online or in person.
What would it mean for your clients and partners to have a blue print and know what they should do in their teams to make thriving communities? How much faster and more satisfied they would be because they have clarity in their business? All because they partnered with you and you shared with them what works.
Your consulting is not the checklist of more tasks they should perform along with thousands of other priorities in order to get foggy results. Your consulting is the actionable tool that enables your clients to get measurable results and they should perform it despite other thousand calls to action that ask for their attention.
80% of marketers indicated that building brand communities has increased their traffic.
Likewise, after establishing its FANography insight community, sports broadcasting leader ESPN brought market research in-house and saved approximately $650,000 in one year.
If you can achieve measurable results like these for your clients, they cannot wait to keep building online communities and get consulting from you.
Raise your hands if at some point your consumers helped you build better products.
Apparently many companies use this strategy that makes their lives easier: 66% of companies stated they turn to brand communities for product development.
You exit the vicious circle of inefficient product development and racking your head against the wall as you ask your members to design their own products.
You ask them to participate, to give their feedback for things you are building or to engage in co-creation while you set only brief guidelines.
After all, Forrester Research found that 60 percent of businesses own a branded online community, with an additional 15 percent planning to open one in the next 12 months.
Your community is as strong as the success of your members. And your members are more likely to succeed if you create the environment where they can connect with other professionals in their niche.
Choose the most appropriate value proposition for your clients. Maybe you want to turn your community into a marketplace for recruitment and best practices. Or you want to encourage B2B collaboration and networking that many trade shows and conferences wished they had.
Be the problem solver in the shape of a vibrant and useful marketplace because statistics is not on the side of the mediocre player.
After one negative experience 51% of customers will never do business with that company again. Also, customers expect faster responses via chat in comparison to the email: they wait on average 45 seconds on the chat.
All these moments of value, connection and quality that you provided to your members become your success stories. Then out of these success metrics you can build different monetization streams and keep capitalizing on the momentum.
When you integrate e-commerce features into your online community software you are bringing together the community expertise and buying experience. You merge the wisdom of the crowds and the actual tool for your members to make a purchase.
Do your business a favor and make e-commerce tool with so much care as if you would use it. Then you would look at your brand from a consumer’s perspective.
Another reason why you need e-commerce integrated with your online community is because for 90% of the people positive online reviews influence their purchasing decisions.
Likewise, University of Michigan study identified that customers spend 19 percent more money after joining a company’s online community.
We have to tell you the uncomfortable truth.
Feeling unappreciated is the #1 reason customers switch away from products and services.
And there is of course a positive note to making your customers happy: 77% of customers would recommend the product or service to a friend after having a positive experience with a company.
You see how much it matters to make your customers happy. Another way to turn members of your community into raving fans is to create profit-sharing opportunities.
If members on your platform started making money on a repeat thanks to you, define the mechanisms for sharing profits on a repeat. When you set the game as win-win, the determined players want to participate.
Gamification increases engagement of your community members and as a result you may monetize the platform eventually.
Different kinds of competitions will stimulate users’ interest in the products or services which you advertise on the community channels.
The good news is that consumers notice that companies care about them when this affection is tangible. For instance, 81% of Americans feel that businesses are meeting or exceeding their expectations for service, compared to 67% in 2014.
Loyalty program is an excellent way to ensure long-term customer satisfaction. It incentivizes members to keep doing the same things they did earlier: to keep buying the products, to continue promoting the brand in their community, and to use the product in a variety of occasions.
Also, loyalty programs benefit companies and their online communities. Just think about it: typically, Americans tell nine people about good experiences. If the experience is bad, one person will share their misfortune with 16 people.
When you deliver results to those who are determined to get amazing service, it pays off multiple times for your business and online community.
Although your business is making momentum in the online sphere with communities of practice it will be useful to organize industry events for your niche every once in a while.
Face-to-face gatherings that involve networking, business meetings and learning during workshops or talks boost your authority and bring your target group closer.
Depending on outcomes you want to achieve with your events you can also think of different monetization models.
Statistics that may inspire you to stay on the right track is: 53% of Americans who are part of a social brand community are more loyal to the brand.
For 23% of internet users technology enables them to spend more time with their groups. Thanks to specialized events these get-togethers may also happen in person.
Hope this checklist was useful to you and that now you are ready to move mountains in your community building. For all questions and accessing our knowledge base, feel free to contact us.
Written by: Milena Milićević