The success of branded online communities for improving customer loyalty and satisfaction is well known, but the attention is often directed at the flashy, big name B2C communities, while their B2B counterparts are often over-looked.
Here’s the thing though, customer advocacy and word of mouth while powerful in a B2C situation, can be downright crucial in B2B transactions where proven case studies and strong references are pivotal in winning new clients.
That’s enough with the marketing buzz words, let’s talk about the bottom line.
If we boil it right down there are two main ways to increase your profits; grow your sales or decrease your costs. An online community can help you do both.
Here are five ways a B2B community can increase your profits:
1. Upsell or cross-sell by building awareness of other products
A community allows members to discover new products and solutions, providing the perfect upsell environment. This can happen organically via member to member conversations or it could be seeded by a community manager or moderator offering an upsell as a solution to a problem.
Considering the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20%, community members can be a very valuable source of revenue. (Source: Marketing Metrics).
Not to mention, having members sharing their tried-and-tested experiences with your product really is the most convincing sell there is.
2. Help customers get more value from your product & reduce churn
The cost of acquiring a new customer can be five to eight times more than retaining current customers, so customer satisfaction should be just as, if not more important than acquisition.
Community platform provider Lithium uses their online customer community to encourage education and information sharing. They even have a board dedicated strategy and best practice, because they know if a client’s community is a success their customer retention will be better.
3. Improve your SEO so prospects can find you
Online communities are an SEO goldmine. In a healthy community members are constantly adding new content and pages, and incidentally creating misspelled and long tail keywords. Community sites commonly have a low bounce rate and a high time spent on site.
Type ‘what is good about salesforce’ into Google and the first organic link will be the Salesforce community.
4. Reduce the cost of post sales service
Resourcing after sales support can be expensive but it’s critical if you want to meet your customer’s expectations and continue to provide the same level of service you did pre-sales.
An online community is an effective way to provide client support while also educating and empowering customers. MYOB does exactly that with their customer support community.
MYOB users can search for answers or submit a question for an MYOB expert or fellow community member to answer. With thousands of questions already answered, the community is the ultimate customer resource.
5. Allows your customers to be your Research & Development team
A community of people frequently using your product or service can and will help you improve your offering if you give them the opportunity.
Autodesk does this with their Autodesk Labs community which allows members to test and provide feedback on new concepts.
Building trust and connection with your customers should be at the heart of your online community. If you can master this, not only will you have built a community with measurable ROI in at least one of the five areas above, you’ll also increase customer loyalty and advocacy.
This post originally appeared on Green Hat
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