In October 2017, you could see a strange sight in Tesla showrooms in the U.K. No, we aren’t talking about the futuristic Tesla Cybertruck with no side mirrors. Somehow, Tesla convinced existing owners to come to showrooms and donate their time to help sell the vehicles.
There were bottlenecks in production, delivery logistics were hampered, and company shares were slipping. But, the brand’s loyal customers rallied around them. When you build a strong community that loves your products, they want to share that feeling with others.
Community building for e-commerce brands
The e-commerce world, especially D2C brands, is perceived to be remarkably inconsistent in the absence of the tactile feel offline shopping provides.
High rates of cart abandonment (69.7%) indicate that this is a pervasive issue across industries. But if you build trust in your products, you can gently guide customers towards making a purchase they’d recommend to their friends and family.
27.3 % of shoppers research products in brand communities before buying, and 84% of shoppers are more likely to trust a referral or recommendation if it comes from someone they know. User-generated content (UGC) in the form of reviews and pictures in virtual public spaces is invaluable to brands; it encourages engagement and provides the motivation the customer needs to purchase. This goes a long way in driving conversions.
Community is an overused word in the retail industry. But brands can’t equate their customer base with a brand community. For it to be a community, brands need to create an engaging, personalized, and collaborative space for organic relationship-building. But how do you do that? What channels do you choose to build your community? What channels offer the best engagement?
Let us explore your options.
Community Building on Social Media vs. Community Building on Mobile App
Social media is the digital and modern equivalent of peddling your wares at the town square; only in modern times has it shaped our lives and influenced our spending habits to an incredible extent.
Currently, more than 3.8 billion social media users spend an average of 2.5 hours on it daily. And more importantly, 54% of social media users leverage it to research and discover products and brands. Looking at these stats, building a brand-focused community on social media is a good idea, but that cannot be the only online community-building effort brands should take because –
1] You don’t control social media:
It’s no secret that building an audience on a channel you don’t own the distribution of is risky. Skyrocketing ad costs and reduced organic engagement on platforms like Instagram remind us daily.
Algorithms decide what content will be served to followers based on how much ad revenue they forecast getting from your brand. If you rely exclusively on 3rd party data, like social media, to connect with your audience, you’ll always be paying to reach them.
2]You don’t own the data generated by your brand’s social media community
A brand community is a great place to learn more about your customer base and gather these insights for product innovation and branding. But suppose you can’t collect, crawl, and analyze this data effectively. In that case, you won’t be able to use any inspiring conversations and interactions from your social media community.
3] You can’t always reach your hardcore fans
Social media channels reach the farthest corners of the world and the internet. You cannot get your super fans effectively or give them preferential access and the social rewards they deserve. Their interaction will drown in the other noise, and you won’t be able to capitalize on their loyalty and love.
With community building in a mobile app, you can organize community members in levels of engagement and reward them. You can make your customers feel valued and appreciated, thus securing their loyalty lifelong. This may include designing special offers, point systems, special access, or showcasing their messages and interactions more prominently in the community.
4] You can’t curate feeds to match your brand personality accurately
You can’t control what your customers associate with your brand and how they choose to represent it. But you can control who says what and who gets to see what on your app.
5] You can’t communicate as effectively as you can with community building in a mobile app
Mobile app push notifications can help you send the right messages to the right people at the right time. Customers who want to be a part of your community are sure to look forward to any communication from you. These customers will love to get notifications from you.
You can keep your community highly engaged and loyal to your brand if your messages are personalized and super targeted (which you can do only with mobile app push notifications, not social media notifications)
Social media notifications are not always turned on, and your message notification can get lost in the barrage of reports these social channels send.
However, despite its limitations on data access and insights to marketers, social media is a formidable communication channel that allows you to stand out from the competition and be more accessible to your target audience.
Community building on your mobile app for your e-commerce brand
When brands empower customers to flourish with the help of fellow community members, they not only generate goodwill but also obtain direct customer insights that can be leveraged as a powerful sales tool. Here’s how you can build a community with a native mobile app for your brand.
- Identify what excites your customers the most about your brand and how you can leverage that to incentivize purchases. Is it early access to new and exclusive products? Is it freebies and discounts? Or is it access to a network of individuals with similar interests?
Once you ensure that you are offering value, you can create an exclusive club that your customers would want to join. Your mobile app can help you with loyalty programs, rewards, and customer communication and act as a high-performing content consumption platform.
- Give customers a reason to engage with each other and your brand different than signup offers. This can be as simple as creating quality, helpful content or a reward system for engagement.
- Make sure your community is easy to access and a safe and friendly space for its members.
- Use push notifications for community building and engagement. Mobile push notifications let you send customized messaging anytime. They allow you to create unique messages for all your customer profiles.
- Identify the main objective of your community-building efforts – gaining customer insight and feedback, expanding your customer base, or creating a niche for your product and measuring customer interaction and general trends. Let data help you make decisions that help you grow your community and brand.
Why will community building on your mobile app help your e-commerce brand?
Your brand community thrives if it helps your customers see long-term value in your brand, even if you do not see immediate returns. Not every brand undertaking should exist within a transaction or be about profit generation. This is how your brand community proves valuable to you –
Community building on your mobile app will cut down acquisition costs
Community members promote the brands they’re a part of to their friends and family for free because they like those particular brands and have a deep affinity for them.
Nearly 80% of satisfied customers recommend a brand to friends and acquaintances. An endorsement from someone your customer trusts is much more valuable than one from influencers you’ve hired.
And, it’s much cheaper, given the fantastic returns – according to a McKinsey study, word-of-mouth marketing generates twice the sales as paid advertising on average and has a 37% higher retention rate.
You’ll get staunch brand advocates.
Whether your customers keep coming back to you and become brand loyalists from all the offers and rewards in your community or because of the allure of being a part of an exclusive group with shared interests, customer loyalty goes a long way.
A telling customer survey conducted by I.T. services and consulting company Accenture suggests that two-thirds of customers will spend more on brands to which they are loyal. Also, consider this – brand loyalty is often driven by emotion, not just by discounts and perks. Customers are willing to spend more on products from their favorite brands.
You’ll build a reliable, well-liked channel of communication
Community building is a win-win for both you and your customers. From a business perspective, a community is a convenient, relatively inexpensive, and quick way of two-sided communication with customers. 72% of retailers collect customer feedback from their communities, and 67% look for new product ideas.
You’ll wow people with your values.
A community forum’s direct line of communication is a fantastic way of conveying what your brand stands for. Shared values not only unite people with each other but also with your brand. 83% of millennials – most likely your biggest audience- want to shop with brands that align with their values.
It’ll make your products more valuable.
Have you heard of the IKEA effect? The more time or effort individuals invest into a product or service, the more they value it. This is called the IKEA Effect. With IKEA’s business model, the consumer invests & effort into assembling the products, which leads to these products being cherished and often overvalued.
Communities and community participation are very similar to this. Suppose your customers are invested in your community. In that case, they value the perks and benefits of being a part of the community and, consequently, the brand and the products the community is based on.
Communities based around brands combine two things that bring joy to many of us – shopping and connecting with other human beings. E-commerce brands should bank on dedicated in-app communities to communicate with the audience, convey their values, attract new customers, build trust, and drive revenue.