Strong customer relationships are at the cornerstone of any brand’s success. In 2016, one of the fastest and most effective ways to reach customers is through online communities.
As the name suggests, online communities are groups of people who interact with one another and with an organization primarily online. Built upon channels such as blogs, social media, and review pages, they are major driving forces in getting your voice heard by consumers, as well as hearing theirs. Yet, many ecommerce businesses continue to ‘hang their hat’ on a static homepage and a checkout button.
All in all, online communities offer great multi-faceted opportunities to grow your brand and raise your bottom line. Check out the five biggest missed opportunities that come with poor use – or a lack – of an online community.
Missed Opportunity #1: Leveraging Your Brand Image
Customers who identify with your brand’s image are more likely to be loyal shoppers and to vocalize their loyalty online. To enable the growth of a dedicated consumer base, companies first need to demonstrate who they are and what makes them unique.
Frequently sharing content that is in line with your brand’s character and ideals gives consumers a better idea of exactly what your brand represents. Consider sharing images featuring team events, philanthropy work, and office culture.
Missed Opportunity #2: Promoting Conversation
Online communities are great for connecting with the advocates of your brand and for providing a platform for fans to share their thoughts and experiences about your brand.
In fact, customer written content, or “User Generated Content,” has now become one of the greatest influences on perceived brand quality and purchases. This holds especially true for Millennials who “find UGC 35% more helpful, and 50% more trustworthy than other media,” according to a recent Ipsos MediaCT study.
The best UGC campaigns are creative and incorporate elements tying back to brand image and audience interests. Encourage community members to share inspirational videos, photos, or stories!
Missed Opportunity #3: Establishing Yourself As An Industry Expert
Sharing industry news and information across your online community platforms is a great way to showcase your savviness and expertise to customers. It provides space for community members to offer praise, share opinions, and ask questions. This can be internally written content or articles from other trusted sources. Figure out what topics would interest, help, or otherwise engage your community members – and start sharing it!
Missed Opportunity #4: Collecting Valuable Consumer Insights
Online communities can help illuminate what web pages and products are most popular with customers. A good on-site example is monitoring product review pages’ highest-rated items and feedback on size, fit, and quality. Off-site, this could mean keeping track of social media pages’ most frequently liked and shared posts.
Missed Opportunity #5: Improving Your Website’s SEO
On-site community platforms bolster a website’s SEO by offering frequently updated, keyword-rich content. This equates to improved website traffic, SERP rankings, and user experience. A great example of this can be made of on-site blogs, forums, and review pages.
This holds true even when the platform is off-site. Social media pages for example, are excellent tools for driving traffic to key web pages – which is a direct SERP ranking signal. If you get stumped on content ideas, start by researching trending keywords, topics, and queries surrounding your industry.