Consumer-facing brands are realizing that having an engaged brand community is a huge loyalty-building initiative—research has found that branded communities not only result in greater reach, but also boost value along the entire customer journey, such as by encouraging conversions and improving existing customer relationships. Social business research and strategy firm Leader Networks and CMX Media, a media hub for the community industry, recently announced the results of a new study, The Keys to Community Readiness and Growth: How Brands Prepare for Online Community, which examines the business drivers and operational best practices responsible for successful branded online communities.
Of the more than 400 marketing and community practitioners who participated in the study two thirds are currently running a branded online community, and one third are considering one but haven’t launched one to date. Study participants came from both B2B and B2C organizations and ranged in size from under 100 to over 50,000 full-time employees.
Overview of key findings:
- Eighty-six percent of survey takers believe that having a branded online community will positively impact core operations, while 85% believe it will improve the customer journey and increase trust.
- Brands launching online communities are increasingly focused on supporting the customer journey. The goal of using community as a cost-reduction mechanism has been replaced by a desire to focus on customer satisfaction, retention and ideas, as well as customer generated content.
- Executive sponsorship and identifying key business drivers are critical factors in launching a successful online community. When launching a branded online community, 56% found it important to determine a business need, 45% relied on executive support, and 39% built a business case.
- Maintaining community engagement and growth is an ongoing challenge for most, yet they are often the leading indicators of success for very successful communities. Lack of internal support and low member engagement are the primary reasons that communities fail long-term.
- The overwhelming majority (92%) of brands that have a community report utilizing at least one dedicated community manager while organizations considering launching an online community often underestimate staffing and technology requirements.
“The age of the responsive organization has arrived,” said Vanessa DiMauro, the study’s lead researcher and CEO of Leader Networks, in a news release. “An organization’s ability to listen, respond and act on insights gathered from the social channel is a powerful competitive differentiator. Successful online communities may very well be the key that unlocks innovation and speed to market.”
“This research showed us that community isn’t just focused on support any more, as it’s increasingly being used to drive innovation, growth and retention for businesses,” added David Spinks, CEO of CMX Media, in the release. “For those considering building a community, it’s clear that in order to be successful they need to put real resources behind it, and have a dedicated team to define and execute on their strategy.”
This study was sponsored by Salesforce, Jive, and Vanilla Forums.
Source: PRWeb; edited by Richard Carufel