Seven Ways To Build A Customer Community

Build A Customer Community

There is a famous saying in marketing — “People buy from people. Not brands.” Nothing builds brand loyalty quite like a strong sense of community.

Transforming your customer base into a community benefits nearly every department in your company. It gives the marketing team invaluable insight on how to connect with consumers, helps your customer service team learn how to better serve the public, and provides your entire company honest guidance on how to improve your products and services.

Beyond serving your company, building a community serves your customers. When customers feel like interacting with your company is a social experience, this fosters favorable feelings toward your business. It incentives customers to choose your brand among competitors.

Adopt A Customer First Approach

With every decision you make as a company, take your customers’ perspective into consideration first and foremost. A customer-first approach is the foundation of building a customer community and will come into play in almost every other step listed here.

You cannot create a community without excitement about your product or service. The first questions you should ask are, “What is my target customer? What do they want?” A long and thorough market research phase is key to answering those questions.

While this can be a daunting project, it is well worth the payoff.

Some actionable ways to put customers first include:

  • Identify a specific target audience based on age, demographics, lifestyle, and personality traits
  • Create customer personas to inform your messaging across all platforms
  • Offer the best possible customer service
  • Solicit feedback directly from customers by offering incentives for reviews, setting up a survey kiosk on your website, and sending automated emails asking for post-purchase feedback.

Provide An Online Platform

Back when the internet was relatively new, many companies created forums on their website where users could socialize, creating a digital sphere where people could interact with like-minded people.

With the rise of social media, it is not always necessary to provide a social forum on your own website, but many brands are now creating private platforms through outlets like Patreon or creating exclusive Facebook pages for select customers. Some companies even create apps with chat features.

Providing an online social hub makes people feel like they are getting access to something more meaningful than just a product or service and can also help your team glean invaluable information. By observing customer interactions, you can gain feedback in an organic fashion and learn more about your customers’ values, lifestyles, and so on. This allows you to anticipate consumer needs and adjust your product accordingly.

Listen To Your Customers

Customers want to feel like you are part of the conversation. This puts a name to your brand and makes the entire experience of buying from your company feel less anonymous.

Have an active presence on social media. Answer questions, respond to compliments, and handle complaints through outlets like Facebook and Twitter. If you have a community platform, have a representative from your brand be an ever-present force on that platform to address concerns, encourage discussion, and provide information.

Take the example of MM LaFleur. This retail company focused on comfortable clothing for professional women. They sent out an email to customers asking their community how their brand could be most supportive to women during the 2016 election. After reading through the responses, MM LaFleur launched an initiative to support women running for office by giving candidates complementary high-quality clothing. Post-campaign, all clothing was donated to organizations that help disadvantaged.

This yielded significant press attention, gaining MM LaFleur thousands of new customers. It also made existing customers feel like their thoughts, feelings, and values were reflected in the brand’s actions.

Create Compelling Content

It does not matter how high you rank in Google’s search results if your bounce rate is through the roof. If you want people to remember and think highly of your company, you need to create high-quality content that speaks to your target audience’s needs. This is where the customer-first approach truly comes into play. Ask yourself – What kind of content would benefit our audience?

Content should serve to both engage current users and attract new ones.  With any given topic, ask yourself – what’s missing? There is almost always some forgotten niche or an underlooked question you can find through keyword research or simply by browsing relevant topics. Broad topics can often be made just slightly more specific, providing content users crave.

One trick for identifying underlooked topics is looking at Google’s “People Also Ask” featured snippets. If you click the drop down menu, you may notice some snippets do not directly answer the question. If a question has gone unanswered by your competition, see this as your chance to step in and write a more relevant blog post.

Think about the medium as well. Could complicated data be condensed to a shareable infographic? Could a brief video tutorial serve better than a lengthy blog for breaking down a complex topic?

Your audience should feel like they can get all the information they need from your company, and also get that information in the most digestible format possible. By tapping into your audience’s needs, you can foster a sense of appreciation and – ultimately – community amongst your customer base.

Ask Customers For Feedback

Most business owners understand that direct customer feedback – especially early on – is an important part of product development. What many overlook, however, is that feedback can often foster a strong sense of trust and community.

The most loyal customers feel like they are part of a company and respond well to feeling seen and heard. Even if you are not actively conducting market research, ask for feedback every time you have an interaction with a customer.

Some examples:

  • Send automated emails requested reviews for customers who have made recent purchases
  • Ask that people complete brief surveys after interacting with customer service team
  • Encourage customers to leave online reviews on any platforms you use
  • Have a digital suggestion box on your website where customers can drop in suggestions

Oftentimes, it doesn’t even have to be complicated. Asking for feedback can be as simple as having a company representative pop onto one of your forums or Facebook pages and post a question like “What kind of content would you like us to produce?” and “Is there anything you feel we can do better?”

Provide Personalized Experiences

We have written about personal marketing before, so you can check out a deep dive on the subject here. Personalized marketing has some practical and measurable benefits. Personalized emails often have higher open rates and personalized ads can increase conversions, but there is a benefit to personalization that is less directlymeasurable but equally important – fostering a sense of community.

There are no shortage of options when it comes to smart moves to personalize experiences. One simple trick is to have your web page automatically display a welcome message using a customer’s name once they have created an account. You can also try sending coupons for customers’ birthdays or emailing customers shopping suggestions catered to their tastes.

This makes customers feel like they are part of a community; your company understands them and their specific shopping needs, making them comfortable coming back time and time again.

There are privacy concerns (you can read the aforementioned blog for more details on this) to be aware of with personalization. Avoid using any sensitive information – like sexual orientation, gender identity, or medical history – in personal marketing campaigns. Personalization can always be a bit of a delicate balance, so be conscientious of customer comfort in the process.

Meet In Real Life

This may sound complicated as orchestrating a big conference with speakers can be costly. If you have the resources and the enthusiasm, a major event may be worth looking into, but meeting with customers in real life does not always have to be complex.

Hosting workshops about your product or service in a specific city – especially in bigger areas – usually takes little more planning than booking a space and having a few of your employees volunteer to lead. Happy hours can also be simple to orchestrate as can smaller events like casual meetups. Why not have a potluck in a local park, for example?

With a rise in remote work, many people are craving face-to-face interaction. Providing that for your customers does not have to be complicated and it can foster deeper relationships between everyone involved.

The Bottom Line

Building a customer community provides a better experience across the board and can help your company grow. While it takes a lot of work, it is ultimately worth it as it fosters strong brand loyalty and strengthens your team as a whole.

Conversation Rate

How To Improve Your Conversion Rate With SEO

For years, business owners have struggled with one major question regarding their website:

Should they tailor their site design to satisfy the humans who visit it, or should they tailor it to satisfy the search engines that lead visitors there in the first place?

It’s not an easy choice to make. You need the search engines to love you in order for people to find your site. But you need humans to have an excellent experience on your website if you want those visits to turn into conversions.

Fortunately, there’s no longer much need to choose between SEO (search engine optimization) and CRO ( conversion rate optimization). In fact, the more sophisticated search engines become, the more SEO and CRO go hand-in-hand.

After all, search engines have one objective: to identify the web pages that will be most useful to the human beings searching for them. With advancements in technology, the bots are increasingly sensitive to the nuances of the user experience. They’re no longer just trolling for keywords (though keywords are still important!). Now search engines collect hundreds of clues to determine how informative, intuitive, and engaging your site is.

This means search engine optimization is also a stellar guideline for improving your conversion rate.

If you’re still just keyword-stuffing in an attempt to get more eyeballs, you’re a couple steps behind. The good news is that there are countless moves you can make that will boost your search engine rankings and inspire more conversion rate at the same time.

Here are some game-changers to start with.

Add Video Content

If you’ve been following our blog regularly, you know we love video. It’s such an incredible tool for raising brand awareness, inspiring a more personal brand-customer connection, educating users about your product or service, and ultimately boosting conversion rate.

Another great benefit of video is that search engines love it. They love it because they know people love it. Plus, video increases the duration of visits to your site. Generally speaking, you’re doing fairly well if people spend 30 seconds to 2 minutes on your site. If you can get above 2 minutes, you’re really rocking it, and the search engines notice.

And what’s one reliable way to get visitors to stick around that long? Providing something that will keep them engaged so they don’t go anywhere. It could be a longer video that’s deeply compelling, or it could be multiple short videos on the same page. It could even be a combination of video, infographics, and really killer content.

So video engages your visitors and gives you more credibility with search engines. But what about conversion rate? Well, here’s a fun fact:

77% of buyers say they’ve decided to purchase a product or service after watching an explainer video.

Video is an essential part of the strategy. And don’t feel intimidated if you’ve never tried video before. There are now tons of beginner-friendly video content tools like Animoto and Biteable to get you started.

Create Content with Real Value

On that note, it helps to make sure all your content has value to a human audience. Use a combination of written content, images, infographics, and video. Provide information that’s useful or ideas that are entertaining. Not only does this help increase your average duration of visits, but it’s also important to write for humans because the search engines scan for things like relevance and readability. Search engines love blog posts that are around 1,000 words or more. They prefer short, simple, easy to read sentences.

Frequent paragraph breaks are great, too.

Another idea worth considering is whether there is a way to create dynamic content for your website. Dynamic content is content that adapts depending on the locations, needs, and behaviors of the individual visitor. An example of dynamic content would be an ecommerce store featuring a banner advertising free shipping to the visitor’s specific state. Dynamic content also includes purchase suggestions we see so often on sites like Amazon.

Dynamic content is AI at its best. It helps search engines connect your site with people looking for the very specific goods and services you provide. And once those people find you thanks to stellar search engine rankings, they’ll see the specific answer to their specific pain point laid out in black and white. Boom. Conversion.

Focus on Long-Tail Keywords

While we’re on the topic of providing very specific solutions, let’s dig into long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are those specific phrases Internet users search for. Rarely does a human being type “used cars” into the search box. They’re much more likely to search for “used cars in San Jose,” “pre-owned BMW in San Jose,” “how do you know you’re getting a good deal on a used car” . . . you get the idea.

People search for specific solutions, not a general theme. Which means the more you can tailor your content and keyword strategies to resolve a specific search request, the better your chances at getting on the first page of the search results. And, in turn, the likelier you are to get visitors who are actually looking for the very services you provide.

There are many keyword tools that can help you figure out what your prospective customers are looking for and which words they’re using to search. We recommend Google Keyword Planner and KW Finder.

Increase Site Speed

Nobody likes a draggy site. Human beings don’t have patience for it, and neither do the bots.

Optimizing your loading time is one of the simplest things you can do to boost your SEO and your CRO in one step. It’s one thing business owners all-too-frequently underestimate. But we’re willing to bet you’ve abandoned a website before because you just weren’t willing to wait for a sluggish page to load. You can assume your target audience would do the same.

If you’re not sure how well your site performs, speed-wise, run it through Google PageSpeed Insights. This should give you some idea of whether it’s time to look into kicking your speed up a notch.

Optimize for Mobile

How does your website perform on mobile devices? If it looks sloppy or is confusing to navigate, you’re losing yet another opportunity to tell the search engines your site has value.

You’re also losing customers. A lot of them. In fact, nearly 40% of all online purchases made during the 2018 holiday season were made on a mobile device.

If you’re not sure if your page is mobile friendly, run it through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. When you run this test, you get one of three results. Your site may deemed mobile friendly, end of story. You may learn that it’s mobile friendly, but there are some issues with loading a specific page or two. Or you’ll learn that you have some major issues to address. Fortunately, Google tells you exactly what they are so you can resolve them without too much guesswork.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Modern search engines look at literally hundreds of details when weighing the value of your website. But the bottom line is that SEO is absolutely essential for your business . . . not just because it helps buyers find you, but because it shows you how to give buyers the best experience possible.

You should care what the search engines want, because the search engines want what humans want.

That said, we know improving your website’s SEO can be a sizeable and confusing undertaking. If there’s anything we can do to help, we’re always here and happy to talk to you. Drop us a line.

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