Everyone knows the answer to attracting more clients, retaining them and increasing sales – but you’re not using it.
The simple secret to more sales is so basic that you apply it every day in your life, but hardly anyone uses it in business but they could simply by…Focusing on the one bond that keeps both your marriage intact and your customers buying from you.
What am I talking about?
It’s building and maintaining relationships and in the world of digital marketing online communities are one highly effective but mostly neglected tool that can easily make you stand out from your competition.
Here are 5 reasons to build your own.
1. You can replace printed communication. Most associations and industrial B2B organizations used to rely on printed material to communicate to their customers, supporters, distributors and vendors. This could get really expensive. Online communities will allow you to stay connected and communicate non-public information quickly and easily.
2. Easily collect market research information. An online community is a relatively engaged and captive audience. If you’ve been doing paper surveys or other cumbersome ways to collect data – you can simply ask your community questions and they will answer or you can launch online surveys to them via the community.
3. Deliver training and other information. Online communities are ideal spaces for communicating product updates and insider information. You can make training available and not only that, allow the community to help each other.
4. Stand out from the competition. Customers love online communities – it’s an added resources and if you’re part of an organization that still communicates the old fashioned way – an online community offers real competitive advantage.
5. Online communities can be a revenue generator. You can actually create special areas inside of your online community where you can charge a fee to get access to certain kinds of information or training. Another option is to sell advertising. Vendors will jump at the chance to have visibility to your targeted audience.
Which online community sites to consider
Choosing an online site a lot like choosing a house. They all do pretty much the same thing it just depends on which features you prefer and what trade-offs you’re willing to make.
Ning: Ning has been the online community of choice for a very long time. And then in 2010, they started making massive cuts and took features that were free and put them under the paid version. Ning has three paid plans. For just $2.95 per month, you can have a community of 150 people. The next plan level is $24.95 and the highest is $59.95.
Spruz: When Ning changed their revenue model lots of people fled the platform and their destination was Spruz. Spruz touts many of the same features as Ning and then some. What really sets Spruz apart from Ning is the ability to create and host a complete, functional website quickly, easily, and completely free.
Social Go: While the other sites are fairly focused on building your online community, SocialGo is more focused on building your web site and social community. SocialGo seems to be focused on a more cohesive and full experience.
BuddyPress: If you already have a WordPress blog, then you might consider BuddyPress. This is a WordPress plugin that easily integrates inside your existing WordPress web site. This only works with self-hosted WordPress installations and may require some technical tweaking.
How to choose an online community platform
The best thing to do is to make a list of features that you would like or functions you’d like your group to be able to do. Then start comparing platforms against your wants and needs. You can do a test drive with just about any platform out there for free and I would recommend that you do that.
At the end of that process, you’ll be able to make a commitment. An online community platform is a terrific first step in participating in social media without really putting yourself or your community completely out in the public eye.
An online community will increase the engagement of your audience with your organization. So expect to see more loyal customers and more profits as a result.
|About Ivana Taylor
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