In 2018 I had the opportunity to join one of the leading brands in the personalized subscription service space. While they are easily distinguishable by their brand partnerships, celebrity affiliations and their ability to target you with an ad…literally anywhere…an inside view paints a picture of a brand whose unique experience is centralized by their devoted online community.
As a member, your “personalized experience” was driven and influenced by the brands’ desire to build a long-lasting connection through delivering products, content and services to subscribers across every medium.
If you’re a marketer and have not considered the value of brand community in your marketing plan, here are just some of the benefits of a good community strategy.
If your community is engaged, the forum can act as a soundboard for what your brand is doing right or wrong. This also gives you an opportunity to collect first hand feedback on customer sentiment. Using this information can identify frustration, enhance messaging and offer solutions. Solutions can be in the form of product innovation, experience optimization or simply giving a guest a faster solution to common problems.
What are people looking for when they choose a moisturizer? How are guest shopping for makeup brands, is it company value? Ingredients? Price? A community forum is a great way to discover customer intent in a more psychological way than behavioral data can provide. We received lots of storylines for actions we were observing in purchasing habits. The community also proved to be a great source of guidance for shaping the path to purchase around the noise found on our channels.
Brand Loyalty and Advocacy
Many members sought advice on how to resolve issues, which products to select and even on occasions solicited support on technical issues. By including brand buyers, merchandisers and partner brand representatives to engage with guests, the forum became a staple of the services provided by the subscription. The brand provided a controlled environment where the community truly leaned on each other and supported engagement with various aspects of the brands experience. This lead to guests feeling more fulfilled by their subscription.
Your community gives you the chance to build a stronger relationship with your subscribers. By placing the community at the center of your brand engagement and their experience you build loyal fans who advocate for the brand and make loyal fans out of other subscribers.
Add Brand Value
With a community of over 1 million members, the community was gated to paid subscribers and added another value proposition to the subscription service. Real relationships were built on this site providing members with peer recommendations, personal support and quality discussions with members on similar issues they may be trying to resolve through product purchases. When surveyed, guests identified the community as one of the top reasons for continuing their subscription even when product assortment wasn’t exactly what they wanted.
By inviting guests to engage and actively participate in the exchange before and beyond a purchase, you co-create additional brand value, foster loyalty and support brand advocacy. A community can also provide you with customer insights useful in providing support, reducing call volume and providing insights with product innovation.