From the playgrounds to neighborhoods to workplaces, everyone wants to feel like they are part of a community. Those who do feel part of something are typically more satisfied with their environments.
The same can be said for customers. According to the book, Creating Customer Evangelists by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, creating communities of users is one of the key ways to increase customer evangelism.
In fact, a McKinsey-Jupiter Media Metrix study showed that users of Web communities generated two-thirds of sales despite accounting for only one-third of a site’s visitors. In fact, those active online purchased twice as often.
Here are some tips from Creating Customer Evangelists for increasing loyalty, evangelism and ultimately sales by incorporating user communities into your marketing efforts:
- Create user groups – By sharing ideas and best practices with each other, customers use solutions more effectively, increasing their satisfaction. At the same time, they get to know other users socially, resulting in a positive emotional connection with the group and your product.
- Establish online bulletin boards – Both Dell and Microsoft have online bulletin boards—overseen by staffers—where customers can exchange ideas and tips. Again, this helps customers connect with other customers, and use your solutions more effectively—while also reducing service and support costs.
- Host user conferences – Like a pep rally, user conferences bring together individuals that all have your solution in common to learn about new offerings, better their understanding, celebrate and meet others.
- Treat your best customers like royalty – Establish a subset of “power users” within your larger customer community. Treat your best customers like royalty, with recognition and rewards, and you’ll be rewarded with even more loyalty.
By creating such communities, whether in person or online, you help customers bond with each other and your solutions/company, which helps grow the base of loyal customers willing to talk about your solutions informally or in formal success story/reference programs.