A University of Michigan study found that customers spend 19 percent more after joining a company’s online community. That seemed pretty impressive to me, so I reached out to Joanna Novelo, founder of Experience and Magic to ask her how she’s built her online community and how you can build yours.
1. Unite over a common purpose
Your community exists because you are all there to solve a problem as a collective, and those members chose you to lead the way with your knowledge and expertise. These members are craving a space where they can be around others who understand the journey they’re on. Once you unite everyone in this common purpose, conversation and engagement will flow with ease.
2. Plan the journey and make it fun
Your community members can be at various stages of the customer lifecycle. Map out that lifecycle, then ask yourself how you can make each step of that journey fun. Remember that industries or topics are only boring if you say they are. Help your members to navigate through fear, doubt, and uncertainty by mirroring the opposite emotions back. If they are scared of losing something, acknowledge it, then show them the excitement of what they are gaining.
3. Increase sales by approaching your product/service from different angles
Community is a powerful tool because you get the luxury of holding a longer conversation about your product or service. Let’s take clothespins as an example. A commercial can show you a 30-second video of how someone uses clothespins to hang up clothes, and why you should choose them over their competitors. But what happens if you build a community around clothespins? The members can share other ways to use it such as making magnets, keeping snacks fresh, or even getting to the end of the toothpaste tube. After someone sees all the cute, fun, and smart ways they can use clothespins, all of a sudden they need more!
4. Create a loyal base by fostering connections
Connections inside your community will create roots and boost retention. Let members connect with you, and encourage them to connect with each other. Ask them light questions that are unrelated to the common purpose, such as how they like to take their coffee or what books they are currently reading. Members will find out that not only are they connected over this common purpose, but they also have other things in common as well. This will spark lifelong friendships and connections, and your business will be at the center of all of them.
5. Tailor your content to your community
The great thing about a community is that they will tell you what they want. You don’t need to sit at your laptop and try to come up with creative, innovative strategies to figure it out. Simply ask your audience how you can be of service, and listen. Asking one really good question can spark a conversation that can last for days, and will be a treasure trove of valuable customer research that can be used for content creation and product development.
6. Gain momentum and don’t let it go
How many times have you seen someone launch their product or service to their community and then disappear until the next launch? Be smart with your marketing dollars. You worked hard to acquire these members through content creation, speaking events, etc. Every time you abandon your community, you have to spend money to capture their attention again. Always have a plan in place for your community. As your journey evolves, your community will continue to travel with you.
Remember that they bought into you and your business, not your product or service (because you likely weren’t the only option on the market). Your community is there for the long term, even if you pivot in life and business.