Author: Michael Brenner / Source: Marketing Insider Group The genius of branded communities – when done well – is that they create a part
The genius of branded communities – when done well – is that they create a participatory experience for the customer. Instead of projecting need for your product/service and value-driven content onto the customer and perpetuating the ‘us-them’ relationship, you’re dissolving boundaries and forming a ‘we’ experience – a community. You’re opening the door, welcoming them in for coffee, inviting feedback and providing a space for interacting with like-minded individuals.
With unfiltered customer insight for your market research purposes and iron-clad customer loyalty, online branded communities have a lot of potential benefits:
- Reduced customer support costs – 49% of businesses with online communities report cost savings of 10% to 25% annually.
- Boosted brand exposure and credibility, making it easier to sell without selling.
- 67% of businesses use their communities for insights on new products or services and features.
- Heightened engagement and better customer retention.
- A channel through which to present products and services before the official launch.
With interactive communities, brands have the opportunity to truly listen to the customer. They can use what they learn to help develop the next focused marketing strategy, or even the next product. In an age where marketing is becoming increasingly customer-centric, online communities are merely the evolution of the standard online business website, with blog content, landing pages, and ecommerce.
Here are inspiring examples of online brand communities that have become thriving interactive environments in the digital world.
Sephora Beauty Talk and Beauty Board
Sephora does an amazing job of helping customers feel connected with their online community, Beauty Talk – a massive, well-organized forum where users can ask questions, share ideas, and have their beauty quagmires solved by other enthusiasts. Their Beauty Board offers another way to engage with the products and the community. Users upload pictures of themselves wearing Sephora products. The photos then link to the product page of all the items used.
Talk about selling without selling! The customers become instant brand ambassadors, inspiring others to use the products. Meanwhile, Sephora never had to lift a finger, all they did was create the platform for customers to share. And, the brand’s marketing team can use the forum to find out which products customers are interested in and what their pain points are. They also can respond to customer service issues, putting a lot of their customer relations work into one channel.
What could be more enticing to…