In a blog post this week, Marketo advocated building and maintaining a customer community program as a piece of your Marketing Bucket List to help you accomplish your high level marketing goals once and for all. The rational is that even if you’re getting people to buy you’re product, if you haven’t figured out a successful way to get them to advocate for it (and for you), you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
They’re right! By designating people, technology, and resources for building and maintaining a customer community, you’re showing your customers that you prioritize them and encouraging them to return the favor. So, you might be wondering, how can I actually use a customer community to get closer with my customers (and get them talking about it)?
Here are my 3 favorite ways we use community to do just that:
1. Run a contest.
Last year we asked our customers to tell us how they engage their customers by posting a video in our community. People had great responses, and it was a fun way to hear from our customers (and gather great content). We flew the contest winners, Gerry and Luca of Applegate, out to San Francisco for our Customer Success Summit, where Gerry spoke on a panel about driving value from social support. We got to know our customers on a personal level, and they gained exposure while providing valuable knowledge to the audience at our conference. Everyone won.
2. Leverage Champions.
Launching a customer community gives your most active brand advocates (we call these Champions) a place to shine. Examine the analytics in your community to ID these rock star members, then reach out to them to give them more opportunities to participate. We noticed the great advice and helpful attitude of Blackbaud’s community manager, Kristen Gastaldo, in our community, so we reached out to her. Now she guest posts regularly on our blog. It’s great content that our audience loves, and it helps her grow the visibility of their community.
3. Use it Internally to Serve Customers Better
Yes, of course we have an external customer community. But we also have a private one we use internally, called The Satisfactory. This really allows us to collaborate across departments and provide customers with the best of our internal expertise. In any given day, Support is in the Satisfactory asking when a feature will be ready for a customer; Marketing posts to ask about the most common support issues as inspiration for blog posts; Product posts updates about their latest release, and Sales uses it to let the rest of us know when they close deals.
The Satisfactory connects all of us, allowing us to act as a more collaborative unit and pool our collective knowledge to best serve our customers. And because we’re able to provide them with such good information quickly, they’re that much more likely to return the favor by giving us business and social media love.
These are just my personal 3 favorite ways we use our community to better serve our customers. How are you using yours to do the same thing (or, hey, something completely different!)? Let us know in the comments section!
PS Don’t have a community yet, but interested in learning more? We have tons of resources to help guide your education and decision making processes. Check it out!