During the pandemic, we were constantly reminded of how critical human connections and communities are. Due to this, more and more organizations are creating online communities or at least considering creating them.
Marketers have found the growing number of online communities to be disruptive, to say the least. Customer feedback is a crucial factor in shaping a marketing strategy. Now that customers can share their views on multiple channels, it’s more important than ever to be engaged in the conversation.
With the right tools, organizations are able to identify customer preferences, understand their needs, address their inquiries in real-time, and grow through communities.
Brands need online B2B communities to collaborate, learn, and share insight with potential customers. In 2021, people and organizations focussed on recovery, rebalancing, and adapting to the dramatic changes. As organisations seek new ways to connect and collaborate with customers, colleagues, and peers, the importance of online B2B communities is on the rise in 2022.
7 Reasons for the growing importance of online B2B communities
Online B2B communities benefit companies across almost every department from marketing and sales to customer support and success. Here are the top 7 reasons for the growing importance of online B2B communities.
1. Enhanced Customer Experience
As organizations look for ways to enrich their consumer engagement activities with relevant and outstanding consumer experiences, community-led thinking will continue to influence business models in 2022.
Several innovative consumer brands are using a community-led approach to redefine what ‘selling’ to customers means. The Direct to Community Economy Report says corporations are moving away from CSR to one of ‘purpose as strategy’ and recognizing their responsibilities to the communities they serve.
Developing a vibrant community in addition to delivering products and services will unlock a competitive advantage in 2022, offering benefits like:
- Increase the customer lifetime value
- Lower service costs
- Lower acquisition costs and more
In its Community Industry Report 2021, CMX outlines how organizations are placing increasing importance on the community as they recognize the benefits it can provide. According to the report, 86% of professionals feel the community is critical to their mission and 69% believe they will increase their investment in the coming year.
For any organization, building a community can be an excellent strategy. In order to be successful, your community must be designed from the beginning as part of a comprehensive company-wide strategy.
2. Greater Focus on Outstanding Content
Currently, we live in an era of content overload.
Every two years, the size of the internet doubles, resulting in 50-fold growth of data and content. A significant amount of this content is simply not seen. Because of our limited attention spans, we seek out what we’re looking for elsewhere if we don’t find it right away.
It is crucial to provide and facilitate captivating content to grow and maintain a community.
You need to focus on content that truly adds value to your community members if you want to stand out in this saturated space. Create content that relates to your audience and their challenges. Content that is useful and motivating.
Create content that reflects your community’s personality. Tell the community’s story by interviewing outstanding individuals (entrepreneurs, change-makers, staff, donors, faculty…). Make sure critical challenges are addressed and successful milestones are celebrated.
Utilize member-generated content by leveraging communities as content hubs. Find out how you can utilize content generated by members to grow your community. Test different formats of content to see what resonates best with the audience: bite-sized videos, “ask anything” sessions, curated content, long written content, punchy Q&As, etc.
3. Better Collaboration Between Marketing and Community Teams
There may be an end to big ad spending and cold outreach in the near future. It is now the norm for decision-makers to seek honest feedback from peers and to rely on their knowledge. Due to this, marketing teams are now seeking more authentic, connection-based marketing strategies.
People can learn about products and services in communities, which can attract new potential customers and convert prospects into paying customers. By aligning to high-level business goals, communities continue proving their value and gaining organization-wide buy-in. In turn, we will be able to achieve community-wide goals through better collaboration between community and marketing teams.
Content that aligns with marketing’s needs can be found in most communities, from customer stories to lively discussions. Additionally, demonstrating the community on the marketing website adds additional value to products and services by demonstrating their ecosystem.
It is crucial to measure the performance of shared goals and give compelling examples of the impact of the partnership on the rest of the organization as Marketing and Community teams collaborate more closely. In order to communicate the value of the partnership to the rest of the organization, it is essential to measure the performance of shared goals.
4. Community-Led Hybrid Events
Due to the digital shift, in-person events have taken a U-turn, and attendee-driven communities have become the holy grail for brands. Hybrid events will be more common in the future – blending digital and traditional elements. Communities will play an important role in fostering the same sense of connection.
Creating a unified event experience by connecting your on-site and virtual audiences will improve your audience’s satisfaction and retention.
5. Customer Success Through Communities
In the past, brands created online communities to highlight their products and services and promote them through different marketing techniques. The focus is shifting away from marketing and towards customer success as customer preferences and needs change.
Today, brands are promoting self-service in their communities, catering to their customers’ needs, and strategizing to make their communities successful. Online communities can be a useful tool for delivering impeccable customer service.
6. AI-Enabled Communities for Real-Time Assistance
Artificial intelligence is an emerging technology with powerful capabilities. Globally, the market is expected to reach $190.61 billion in 2025.
Conversational AI can be implemented with online communities to provide personalized assistance as customers’ means of interaction evolves and their need for instant answers and support surges. By 2025, it is estimated that 95% of customer interactions will be powered by artificial intelligence. To succeed in 2022, you must bring AI to your community corner.
7. Gamification for Community Engagement
Market size for gamification is predicted to reach $30.7 billion by 2025 at a growth rate of 27.4%. Gamification provides communities with the feeling that their efforts are being recognized. Additionally, this not only encourages member participation but allows community managers to increase engagement and maintain a vibrant community. Therefore, gamification can significantly increase engagement in your online community.
The most important thing a community manager needs is active members. Discover how you can cultivate your relationship with them. You are likely to significantly reduce your marketing expenses and increase your brand’s credibility once you meet your customers’ expectations through your online community.