Dornubari Vizor May 3, 2023
Community-Led Growth Simplified – What, Why, How?
Product-led growth, sales-led growth, and community-led growth.
Did the last one catch your attention? That, my friends, is the latest epic frontier of marketing and business growth. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that community-led growth is the future.
Interestingly, the essence of community-led growth has been around for decades, yet it has mostly remained untapped. However, it’s time to take advantage of it for your business.
But, what is community-led growth? Let’s begin with that.
Community-led growth places consumers at its heart.
Definition: It is a go-to-market strategy that harnesses the power of effective online community building for customer acquisition and retention.
It prioritizes connection and interaction with your customers over transactions. A community-led growth strategy is implemented along with a product-led growth and sales-led growth strategy to maximize benefits.
With a community-led growth approach in place, an online community of a business takes center stage rather than being just an add-on marketing element.
Let me put it this way. An online community is a space where the fusion of like-minded people and the fission of opportunities, ideas, support, and solutions happen. That makes it beneficial both for the brand and community members.
But, just having an online community won’t help.
In fact, the beneficial outcomes of a community-led model only come as a result of ongoing community-building activities. That means it takes time. Moreover, this strategy has to be paired with a product-led and sales-led growth strategy for optimal results.
For me, community-led growth is “human-led growth” for marketing. I’ll tell you why.
The community-led growth strategy has cracked the code. It resonates with innate human nature.
Humans seek a sense of belonging, especially through an exclusive identity. We crave genuine connections and affiliations with brands.
Naturally, we tend to seek advice before trying a product for the first time or when troubleshooting. At our core, we desire authentic information, no matter how impressed we may be by flashy marketing.
That’s when we turn to like-minded humans for answers to our questions.
In short, we look for an online community or network of like-minded individuals to gain honest insights about a certain product, brand, or service.
You see. No chatbots, email support, or transactional, salesy-type ads can do it better than a thriving community.
This realization has led startups, creators, and entrepreneurs to create their own online communities and implement this strategy.
This shift in the marketing landscape is both significant and much needed. By focusing on online community growth, you can double down on creating real value.
There’s an evident rise in community-led companies and entrepreneurs. That’s because they have realized how vital it is to apply a community-led strategy. But, why it’s important?
Let me walk you through the reasons why it’s important.
There’s a massive shift taking place in the marketing landscape. People are now getting away from aggressive ads and flashy marketing gimmicks. They are now more attracted to value-based marketing.
People respond better to marketing strategies that correspond to their values and ethics. In fact, Google found out that 88% of consumers prefer brands with values that align with personal values. Not just that, three-quarters of consumers have reported parting ways with brands over a conflict of values.
This is where a community-led approach comes into play. It establishes a real connection between the target audience and the brand.
That way, a brand/business can align well with the values of its customers through direct communication and content marketing.
More than 76% of internet users participate in online communities. That’s two-thirds of the internet’s users. It totally makes sense to opt for a marketing and business growth strategy that is focused on online communities. That allows you to expand your brand’s reach and boost customer acquisition.
Yet another reason why community-led growth is important.
Consumers are now more vocal and informed now. They appreciate brands that are more authentic and accountable. That means having just a good product isn’t enough. You have to offer something beyond the product’s value.
Only an active only community space that gives a safe platform to the consumers is the solution. Now, brands can build on the fact that consumers are more vocal and informed using the community-led growth strategy.
That means by having a solid and authentic connection, brands can turn their vocal consumers into brand advocates. However, it can only happen over time and with sincere community-building efforts. Plus, the product or service has to be of high-quality to complement the community efforts.
There’s more competition than ever, especially with the increase in marketing channels and start-ups. But, how do you stand apart in this competition?
If the competition tries to move you one step away from your target audience, you take 5 steps closer to your target audience. In fact, you can remove this gap. That can only happen with a help of an online community.
You can establish a direct connection with your target audience and community members. That means better feedback and more engagement.
Moreover, online communities with effective community practices can help with customer retention. In fact, 66% of marketing professionals have reported that having an online community positively impacts customer retention.
Let’s start putting together a community-led growth strategy for you.
Below is a 12-step plan for community professionals set according to the 4 stages of community growth.
Before creating an online community, you need to have a clear idea of your target audience and how your community will benefit its members.
It’s a good idea to involve your team members or employees in this process since an online community comprises both brand employees and consumers. Hold meetings and group discussions to gather input from all stakeholders.
To create content for your upcoming community, start by setting up a content calendar. Make sure every content or engagement idea is backed by audience-research insights.
Consider setting up polls, weekly Q&A sessions, product promotions, tutorials, and product news. Reach out to your current customers to get their input through surveys or one-on-one calls. Ask them what kind of content they would like to see in the community or whether they have any ideas.
When planning, jot down the tech or tool requirements you will need. This will help you pick the right platform for your community.
For example, if you plan to host webinars or live Q&A sessions for your community members, you will need a platform that offers a live event feature.
Next, you need a space for hosting your brand community where consumer and brand interactions will occur. This will give you a platform or medium to implement your community-led growth strategy.
Here, you need to be mindful. First, make sure you pick a platform dedicated to communities. Secondly, you need to select a platform that corresponds well to your present and future community needs.
Do not opt for social platforms such as Facebook or any other free platform. Such platforms come with several drawbacks.
I recommend opting for a community-focused platform such as GroupApp. It is specially designed for hosting online communities.
GroupApp provides all the tools and features necessary to run a successful community. Additionally, you can implement your marketing strategies using GroupApp.
GroupApp offers you:
Plus, it has a plan for every budget. Create your free GroupApp account now.
To manage and moderate your community effectively, you’ll need a dedicated team of community leaders. At this stage, it’s important to assign roles and appoint a community manager as the head. You can either hire a new resource or select someone from your existing team. For each community team member, define clear roles and job descriptions.
You may need a dedicated person for tasks such as customer support, online event management, content creation, moderation, and tech support. Additionally, it’s crucial to appoint a credible team member with expertise in data collection and management.
At this stage, you need to set clear community goals in two aspects.
The nature of your community goals will depend on your niche, as well as whether your community is driven by a product or a practice.
To establish goals for your community members, consider creating a user persona for your ideal community member or customer. Then, identify the gaps your online community intends to fill.
Finally, draft community guidelines that will be shared with both your community team and members.
It’s time to welcome your customers to your online community. At this stage, you will introduce your community to your current and potential customers. You can send emails and advertise on social media.
I recommend introducing your online community to your current customer base first, and then to potential customers publicly.
If you are using a robust platform such as GroupApp, you will have the option to create professional invite pages.
You can create an invite link and circulate it through email and community guidelines. Don’t forget to create a welcome post for your members.
Formally begin your community operations according to the content plan set in the first stage.
At this stage, your present customers will be gradually joining your online community. Warm them up with welcome comments and messages. Make them feel at home. Remember, it’s all about fostering a sense of belonging.
Start implementing your strategic content plan. Make sure your content communicates your brand values and spreads brand awareness. Don’t forget to build engagement. That’s what keeps a community alive.
Lastly, communicate with your members how the platform works and what are the community guidelines are. It’s recommended to share a platform tutorial.
GroupApp offers an easily accessible content library and channels to organize community content. You can also set different access levels for your community members.
Your young community allows you to experiment. It acts like a focus group. Look at how your content is performing. Identify the loopholes and look for things that can be improved. After that, update your content strategy accordingly.
In addition, observe the responses of your members. Reach out to them if you think they are facing any issues navigating the community.
Lastly, look for the most active members at this stage. Such members can potentially become your brand advocates as your community grows.
Now, it’s time to grow.
Start inviting more members to your community. You will get to see how your community performs with a large number of members. This will help you test how your updated content and engagement strategies perform.
However, it is important to set a limit on how many community members you can manage at this stage. This will make sure your community functions smoothly as it grows.
As you onboard new members, make sure they are aware of community guidelines, how they can participate, and what’s the purpose of the community. Additionally, let them know how they can access community resources.
Lastly, as new members join, ask them about their motivations to join the community and what their expectations are.
Active communities thrive! That’s why you need to build community engagement that helps foster relationships.
In this regard, your community team needs to be proactive in igniting engagement. You can start discussions, ask questions, and encourage your members to share their experiences.
Along with that, make sure you respond to their responses. That will communicate that your members are heard. You can designate team members to join at different times to build engagement.
I recommend arranging some incentives for your most engaging and responsive members. You can award such members with discounts and gifts.
Look for the ones who always comment or react to your posts. Especially, look for the ones who respond to the questions of the customers/community members.
These are the members that will champion your brand and help you build a self-sustaining and supportive community. Ultimately, a feedback loop will be formed that fuels brand success.
As I mentioned earlier, appoint a dedicated team member for data collection and gathering feedback. After all, this is a prime reason for you to tap into community-led growth.
Keep a keen eye on member comments and gain feedback from them. Closely monitor customer experiences. Understand their pain points, queries, and concerns.
Also, encourage your members to share feedback regularly. For example, you can start a chain of day-to-day updates and feedback posts about how a product works. Once again, reward the members who take the lead.
Finally, create a database for the feedback with categorized data. This will become a vital resource for future product improvements and innovation.
This is where you will determine whether your goals are coming to fruition.
At this stage, community builders can see how their community-led growth strategy has had an impact on their product and business growth.
For this, you need to identify key metrics. You can set up key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure community-led success.
Here are some KPIs:
However, you need to identify success metrics for your own community. You need to figure out what matters to you. Plus, measure community-led success at regular intervals to closely monitor the progress and overall performance.
To measure community-led success, benefit from your platform’s built-in analytics. Again, this varies depending on your choice of the platform.
From here on out, it’s onward and upward!
At this stage, you have a fully-functional and engaged community. But it’s not time to slow down; you don’t want a stagnant community, but a vibrant one. It’s time to scale up and expand your community’s reach.
Think big and explore possibilities. Create more value for your customers by improving your products according to feedback from community members.
Search for new relationships within your niche and establish partnerships with industry leaders. Invite them as guests for your community’s live sessions and webinars, allowing your members to interact and network with these experts.
This approach will not only create opportunities for your community members, but also expand your brand’s reach. You can also leverage influencer marketing. A better idea is to partner with your highly-engaged community members. Empower them and help them become advocates for your brand.
Just remember, whatever you do must foster authenticity.
That was community-led growth simplified for you! We talked about all the important aspects of this go-to-market strategy. When used with a sales-led and a product-led growth strategy, it helps your brand go a long way.