The e-commerce industry has experienced a lot of changes in recent years, one of which is that people are more interested in what a brand is about than the products they offer.
Building a strong community in today’s world requires much more than wishful thinking and a few tactics. It requires careful planning and strategising in order to convert your prospects into buyers and customers.
Online communities are a great way to cultivate a loyal customer base and foster relationships with your customers and prospects. But then, communities aren’t just made overnight. You have to put in the work, just like any other aspect of your business. So, how do you get started?
Here are some tips that we’ve gathered to show help you build stronger communities and foster relationships that’ll lead to improved customer retention, and increased sales, while also generating significant clout for your business.
Define Your Target Audience
Before you can start building a community, you need to know who you’re targeting. It all starts with the people that you’re targeting. Who are these people? What are they interested in? What motivates them to buy the products and services they use? What are they passionate about in their countries, homes or communities?
When you determine your ideal customer by creating buyer personas that represent your target audience, you create room for the full potential of your customer engagement efforts to thrive.
Creating buyer personas can help you identify specific characteristics, needs, and pain points.
This will allow you to tailor your messaging and engagement strategies to better resonate with them. When creating a customer persona, consider factors like age, gender, interests, and pain points. Include both geographical and psychographic information to help you make the best decision possible.
Create a Brand Persona
Once you know your target audience, create a brand persona that aligns with their values and interests. One brand that does this excellently is Nike.
They understand that their customers aren’t just interested in buying fitness wear, they’re interested in changing their lives – making them better each day – and they capitalise on that value by using storytelling to connect with their customers.
Nike may have fitness wear on its website, but what it really sells to its customers is a dream, one that isn’t limited to a specific nation, culture or ethnicity. It’s available for all to reach out to and explore.
Your brand persona should be reflected in all of your marketing materials, social media posts, and website content. It should be readily distinguishable and visible to an ordinary person.
Use Social Media to Connect with Your Audience
Social media has grown exponentially to become a powerful tool for e-commerce businesses to connect with their audience. One of the best ways to find your audience and connect with them where they already gather is on social media.
With the power of content, storytelling and analytics, you can grow a new community from zero to thousands of persons who are actively and consistently engaging with your brand.
When deciding what platform to build from, don’t just sign up on all available social media platforms. Figure out which ones your ideal customer is active on. For instance, if you’re targeting Gen Z, you might consider Instagram, Tiktok, & Twitter as a viable options. On the other hand, if you’re interested in interacting with small business owners, you can start from Quora, Reddit, and Twitter.
It doesn’t matter what platform you choose. What matters is how relevant that platform is to your target audience. Choose the platforms where your target audience is most active and engage with them regularly.
Offer Exclusive Promotions to Your Community
Turn your early community members into word-of-mouth marketers by offering exclusive promotions within your online community. When you reward your community members with exclusive promotions, discounts, or early access to new products, you’re communicating how much you value them.
This in turn makes them feel special and can lead to increased sales or leads for your business. It will make them interested and encourage them to continue engaging with your brand.
A pro tip to remember is to offer a variety of promotions that align with your sales funnel conversion strategy. At the top of your funnel, think of promotions that can attract more members to your communities. At the middle of your funnel, consider what lead magnets can be used to get your online community members to take action – buying your product, testing a product, participating in a customer survey. At the bottom of the funnel, think up ways to get your prospects to convert into lifetime customers.
Host Giveaways and Contests
An easy way to create buzz about your new product or increase brand awareness for your business is to host a contest or giveaway. You can do this on your social media channels to create excitement among potential customers and include a lead magnet that directs them to join your online community.
Remember that a giveaway is just about giving out free stuff. Make sure the prizes align with your brand and target audience.
Be sure to spell out the call to action in your marketing materials. Be clear and concise. Be truthful about the benefits that people can expect from joining your community.
Encourage User-Generated Content
One amazing thing about your customers is that they’re already gathered on different platforms, and the chances that they’re willing to post, tweet, or share information about your product are very high.
Encourage your community members to create and share content related to your brand with their own communities. Prospective customers are more likely to believe the review of a friend, sister, or father than a company’s Facebook ad about the same product. Utilize user-generated content from past buyers to attract new customers to your business.
This could be anything from reviews to social media posts featuring your products.
Collaborate with Influencers
Partnering with influencers who have a similar target audience to your brand can help you reach new potential customers and build credibility when you’re building your online communities.
The influencers already have a loyal audience who respect their opinion in one way or the other. By collaborating with an influencer, you can create buzz for your brand, get new members, and increase your sales.
When working with influencers, be sure to hire one that aligns with your brand, values and business goals. For instance, if you’re targeting newborn moms, it makes sense to hire an influencer who’s already popular within that niche instead of hiring an influencer that merely gives out fashion advice to women.
Host Events and Workshops
People like to talk about events, places and things that they participate in. From pop-up shops to international events, a gathering of like-minded usually gets people talking.
Hosting events and workshops, either in-person or online, is a great way to connect with your community members on a deeper level and offer value beyond just your products. Since you’re familiar with their existing pain points, you can create an altruistically-motivated event that showcases your brand positively.
Provide Exceptional Customer Service
Customer loyalty is built on the back of great customer service across all channels. Make sure your customer service is top-notch and responsive to any inquiries or concerns your community members have. This will build trust and loyalty with your audience.
Audit your omnichannel support performance to determine what needs to be improved. Talk to your customers, they’ll let you know what makes them happy and what keeps them frustrated. To streamline the process, use chatbots or human agents to redefine your brand and grow your customer satisfaction score.
Leverage User Data
Whether you have an audience of 10 or 1000 people in your community, you should use the data you collect on your community members to create personalized experiences and targeted marketing campaigns.
User data can do a lot of good for your business including helping you to make better decisions about your products, business processes, marketing strategies and customer service.
Foster a Sense of Belonging
Lastly, make your community members feel like they belong to something really special, by creating a sense of exclusivity and camaraderie within the community. Interact with members, share useful information, ask questions, get to know what’s important to them and make them feel the values that your community truly represents.
Building a community around your e-commerce business takes time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it. By following these tips, you can create a loyal customer base and foster positive relationships with your audience that will benefit your business in the long run.