The Internet has given us many genuinely great things, one of them being a more accessible virtual marketplace offering loads of advantages to businesses.
Amongst other things, you can now easily build online communities within this virtual marketplace. And if you sell technology solutions, for example, an online community will be invaluable for your business.
Before we check out what the main benefits of online communities could be for your business, let’s quickly clarify what an online community exactly is.
What is an online community?
An online community is a group of people sharing a common interest who use virtual platforms to communicate and pursue their interest.
The most common platforms businesses utilize to build online communities are forums, instant messaging, email, websites and social platforms.
A forum is arguably your best option when building an online community for your business. By using a forum you can create as many topics as you want, and enable your community to share their thoughts on a variety of relevant subjects in a moderated environment.
Benefit No 1: Increased retention and engagement
As I’m sure you’ll be aware, these days it is actually cheaper to maintain existing customers than to acquire new ones. Therefore, customer retention is one of the most effective ways to grow a business.
And one major benefit of building an online community is that it can significantly increase customer retention and engagement.
If a customer is part of your online community, they’ll want to see responses and follow conversations they’re interested in – and they will keep coming back to your website to stay updated to those conversations. As a result, you’ll have the chance to turn one-time visitors into returning visitors.
In addition, your online community will be continually starting new conversations, sharing their experiences and opinions on relevant topics. This, of course, will help you increase your customer engagement.
Benefit No 2: Building trust
Building an online community is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your customers. Furthermore, a well-run online community will also help you build customer trust.
Be it a technology solution or insurance services, in our ever-connected world, generating high quality content is a must for any business. As such, creating educational content and using it to support your online communities will show your customers that you are an expert in the field, further increasing their trust in your business.
Furthermore, today’s empowered customers increasingly like to know that their concerns and ideas are being heard by the businesses they choose. So, if you listen and react to their ideas, it’s most likely that in return they will become more loyal to your business.
Benefit No 3: Improved customer service
Another major benefit of building an online community is that they will help you improve your customer experience by easing up your customer service lines.
As everyone knows, you have to work hard to provide your customers with exceptional customer experience. And I’m sure that every now and then – especially during peak times – you have a difficult time answering every single question your customers have. Luckily, your online community can provide a resource that will be happy to give valuable answers to simple customer queries.
And let’s also not forget that self-service customer service has been around for a while, and for good reason: customer support lines are often busy and sometimes customers cannot wait hours for a simple but important question. In such situations, an online community is again a great way to help them out with their questions.
If you want to turn your customers into brand loyalists and connect them with a community who can help them with their challenges, then it’s time to think about building an online community. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll show you how to do that step by step, so look out for my next article!