Build Customer Engagement
Building successful customer engagement in a community is easier than you imagine. Communities administrators usually have a big customer email database, and are ready to start building their communities, but oftentimes they have a big question mark cloud hovering over their heads. The most common troubling questions are: “Great! But once I set it up, what do I do?”, or “How do I get my customers to connect and build customer engagement?”, another common question is “How do I get more members to join my community?”.
It just requires a little thought and creativity. Below I will show you 5 simple, and effective, tips on how to build customer engagement and make the process seamless and organic within your community.
1. Make your online community accessible and easy to register.
One thing I try to remind our customers whenever I have a chance is that the last thing you need is to hide your community from your customers. By keeping your community searchable, by creating a unique URL, and by having it accessible on your website, your are optimizing it and make it easier for members, and non-members, to find and join it.
Once they find it, then you should make the registration an easy and quick process for your members. We all have time restrictions nowadays, and this is not different for your community members. My advice is to have no more than 5 registration questions and keep the full registration process under 2 minutes. By making these two little adjustments you will end up with a higher rate of registrants.
2. Create a positive and authentic environment for your community members.
Encourage your members to have positive conversations with you, and between themselves.
By stimulating a fun and positive environment, you motivate your members to have authentic conversations as well as provide a surrounding in which they feel less concerned about judgment and more comfortable to genuinely express their needs, feelings and expectations for your brand, products, or services. That’s how you build customer engagement. Another positive aspect of such practices is that when you do so, you build trust with your members, allowing for you to increase your customer loyalty.
3. Get Involved in the Community. Be accessible, involved, and engaging.
Build customer engagement by asking questions. Answer the questions posted by your community members. Join their conversations. Connect and motivate them to join each other’s posts. Interact with your members at every opportunity. Be approachable and positive in your responses, and don’t be afraid of asking questions that go beyond the basic surveys questions. Pay attention to their answers, show interest in the conversation, and the topics being explored. By doing so, you show how you genuinely care about their thoughts.
Whenever possible, share your opinions as well. People crave mutual interactions, and a true community is built on the premise of sharing something in common, in this case, your brand. Take advantage of this and talk positively about your brand and products, but show your true opinions. By doing so with your community members, you are developing a meaningful relationship and creating this cycle with mutual interaction and engagement.
4. Invite more members to join and give them a warm reception.
Recruiting new members to join your community and increasing your membership sounds like a basic practice, right?! It actually is, but not always. Some community managers/ moderators can get stuck at this step, not knowing how to invite more people to join their community. First you can Convert Your Customer List into an Insights Community.
Then sending out invitation emails is a great way to get more people to join your group. Keep the content of your invitation email engaging, fun, creative, and informative. And remember that the look and feel of the invitation email will be crucial in influencing people to join your community as well. So thinking it through and creating engaging content will certainly help you drive more registrants. And do the same for ‘Reminders’ emails to the members that have not joined yet.
Another good practice is to welcome the members with ‘open arms’ and introductions to the rest of the group. Sounds cliche, but everyone appreciates a warm reception. Wouldn’t you rather be welcomed at a friend’s house with a warm smile and introductions? Well, same here. Treat your online community as you would with your own community of close friends, and welcome your members to the group with the same enthusiasm you would welcome your friends for a Wine and Cheese evening.
5. Let your community members know how much you appreciate them.
Letting your community members know how much you appreciate their time and inputs is a highly valuable practice to you, and to your community members. And this can be initiated with a simple “Thank You!” email, letter, or even call.
There are many other ways you can show your appreciation, and build customer engagement, such as offering rewards through in-store credit, gift cards, charity donations. However, my advice is that you take a step further and be creative with your offerings. For example, you can create a monthly engagement reward campaign to your top 5 active community members (depending on the size of your community). Each quarter you create a different reward to the elected group: in one quarter you could give them a tour of your office/ manufacturer and give them the opportunity to speak to your team; on the next, you could send them 1 lb of their favorite coffee (that they mentioned in an earlier post); the next you could send a significant donation to the charity of their choices. You could even keep the rewards a surprise, as a way to keep them engaged with the anticipation of it as well.
The point is for you to remember that your community members joined your community, not because of the rewards you offer, but because they like your brand, products or services offered.