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Boost customer loyalty and retention with online brand communities

by Khoros staff | Apr 04, 2018

For most brands, it feels natural to invest a majority of their marketing efforts into acquiring new customers. After all, new customers equals more business, right? Perhaps, but that’s only one slice of the pie.

According to Econsultancy/Responsys, only 16% of companies reported being more focused on keeping existing customers as opposed to getting new ones.

This strategy, however, has a blind spot. The fact is that retaining existing customers helps you reduce costs and realize faster ROI. Check out these stats:

  • Acquiring a new customer is 6-7 times more costly than keeping an existing one, reports Bain & Company.
  • According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%; whereas the probability of selling to a new customer is 5-20%.
  • In some industries, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profit by more than 25%.

So how do you intensify your focus on building loyal customer relationships? Start by placing your website at the center of your digital strategy.

One of the strongest ways to improve customer satisfaction and retention is to build and nurture an online customer community. By transforming your website into a social destination where you host the conversation, you’ll reap the rewards of deeper relationships, resulting in increased sales, reduction in customer service costs, and accelerated innovation.

Ready to shift your focus to retention with a customer community?

How online communities bolster trust, loyalty, and retention

While there are many benefits to building and maintaining an online brand community, nurturing existing customers is among its best. Here are a couple of ways that thriving brand communities keep customers coming back.

By empowering customers to share ideas and connect

A successful online community fosters an environment where customers have a voice, with words they choose themselves rather than for them. This user-generated content gives customers ownership of your product, and a reason to invest in the solutions you provide and the community you're growing. When brands showcase “superusers” who are more involved than other online community members, they’re also elevating and nurturing brand advocates who are more likely to stay loyal for the long run.

A strong online community is a venue for brand enthusiasts to connect with each other, as well as a place for product experts to engage in discussions that are useful not only to them but to the rest of your users. This gives customers direct access to seasoned experts that they can learn from and engage with.

By making solutions easy to find, rather than burying them

How a brand resolves a customer issue can make or break the longevity of that relationship.

Have you ever contacted a brand regarding an issue you’re having, only to be sent to another person who then sends you to a vague Q&A page that doesn’t actually answer your question? In an ideal world, the customer support representative would be able to either a) provide the answer to your question the first time you ask or b) send you a resource that thoroughly answers your question. Unfortunately, this so often is not the case — and it (rightfully) leaves a bad taste in the customer’s mouth.

With online brand communities, however, brands can publish content regarding a particular issue, which users can then engage with by adding comments. Or maybe a user publishes their own solution to an issue; after all, a community is more than just another support channel. This content is significantly more valuable than vague Q&A pages because it’s written by people who interact with your product, intended for other people who use your product. You can also track which topics get the most engagement — which you couldn’t do on a static Q&A page — to tailor content to what users really want, rather than what you think they want. This helps them find the right solutions to their issues, and it also helps you cut down on support volume for your contact center.

By putting the right content exactly where customers are looking for it, you can reduce customer effort and increase the likelihood that they will stick with you.

By creating a platform that’s truly for the user, without the endgame of selling data

There are key differences between general online platforms (e.g. Facebook, Reddit, or Wikipedia) and a brand community. Communities are specific, brand-sponsored platforms that combine the personal connection of social networks with the knowledge sharing of sites like Quora. This offers users a single place to enjoy the digital experiences of connecting and learning, but one that does not sell their data.

Rather than selling data to the highest bidder, online brand communities instead use that data to improve products, services, and user experience alike. For brands that are transparent about this, community members can move forward knowing that this platform is truly for them.

Attract and retain customers with an online community unique to your brand

When determining how to create and grow an online community, it’s important that you know what to look for: a platform you can customize for the unique needs of your brand and your customers. If you’re interested in building a community but aren’t quite sure where to begin, schedule a demo with our team to learn more about how your brand can leverage an online community platform, plus tactics for using it to drive customer loyalty and longevity.

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