Living Stone blog 3

 

 

All Posts

The importance of community building in B2B: Part 1

Do you provide your customers with a way to interact with each other and find helpful insights? Whether you offer an “official” branded community, or your customers are actively seeking information on your company and products via forums like reddit or Quora, your customers know that often the best source of information is another user. When it comes to complex technology solutions, nothing compares to peer-to-peer insights and perspectives.

Your customers want to maximize the value of the technology or software that they’ve purchased from you, and they expect their suppliers and partners to take a very active role in helping them succeed. A community – one that includes your own branded knowledge base, plus peer-to-peer insights and the chance to ask questions of a wide community of experts – is by far the most powerful and effective way to help your customers succeed with your solutions.

So from your customers’ point of view, the benefits of interacting with other users, and being part of an online community, are clear. But what’s the ROI for tech companies when it comes to developing, launching and managing an online community? Is it worth the time and resources to take the lead role, and “own” your customer community?  

 

Beyond helping your customers to succeed, there are lots of other business reasons to develop a community:

  • Offer a competitive differentiator.
    An active community is a strong selling point. It shows that your users are enthusiastic and engaged, and it showcases your commitment to your customers and thought leadership. Your prospects want to know how your organization will help them to succeed, and a strong, active community is proof that your company has the ability and commitment to do so.
  • Streamline your support services.
    A community makes it easier for your users to find information, and get fast answers to questions. A self-service support model that allows users to quickly find the information they need (either in your knowledge base or by asking other users), can save time and costs. Users don’t always want to make a call, or send an email to get help. They want a quick and easy way to access the knowledge they need. (And it can save your company money – some organizations have used their communities to reduce support costs by as much as 40%.)
  • Find influencers and brand ambassadors.
    You’ll find your most enthusiastic customers easily in your community, and you’ll see what they’re most passionate about. The next step is to invite them to participate in your referral marketing programs. (You’ll also be able to easily find – and respond to – your most vocal detractors.)   
  • Strengthen customer engagement and retention.
    In B2B, identifying with a “tribe” is often tied to a specific solution, meaning that once a contract is signed, you don’t have to compete for tribe members. But you do have to strengthen tribe engagement. You can build engagement by encouraging participation in an active online community, which helps customers maximize their investment in your solution. In turn, a strong community makes your offering more valuable – it’s a loop that keeps on expanding in value, both for your users and your company.
  • Refine products, and find new product ideas.
    Your community can serve as your very own focus group. You can float a brand-new product idea, or simply monitor the conversation to see what product attributes need tweaking. Your community is your window into the pain points, ambitions and motivations of your users. 

 

Getting started

Before you decide to introduce a community, do some research to see how your users have been managing without you. Is there a community that already exists? I.e. is there a LinkedIn group, a Facebook group, or an in-person user group, that covers a lot of what your online community would do? If something has been set up already, figure out how you will integrate your community with the existing version. And find out what sort of communities your competitors are offering. Are you already losing customers because your competitors can offer a strong community as a competitive advantage? 

Lastly, consider whether you are truly in a position to commit to developing a community. It’s a long-term project that will require resources and active management long into the future. The worst thing you can do is to launch a community and then abandon it. There is nothing worse than a forum or website where the posts are all several years old, and that has clearly been forgotten by the owner. If you’re not sure that you can commit to developing a community, then consider sponsoring a third-party forum or group.

 

In our next blog post, we explore the specifics of managing a community, including some of the different platforms and approaches that you can use. If you’d like to learn more about how a community can help you support your customers, and strengthen your customer engagement, contact info@livingstone.eu

Bart Verduyn
Bart Verduyn
Managing Partner

Related Posts

Meet MUM: Google’s new game-changing algorithm

Some updates to Google’s algorithm have a bigger impact than others. With the rollout of BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) in 2019, Google’s algorithms went from simply understanding words to being able to understand the context that the words were in. For example, think about how the meaning of the word “bank” differs in these sentences: I am going to the bank. / I am standing on the bank of the river. Thanks to the BERT algorithm, Google recognizes these nuances, and is able to provide search results that more closely align with the subject being searched for, providing the searcher with information that is more relevant.

Customer lifetime value emerges as top KPI

According to the experts at Marketo, marketers can expect to see a significant shift in marketing priorities over the next couple of years. The marketing automation company surveyed over 700 marketing execs and CEOs for their views on how marketing KPIs, required skillsets and technology tools will change by the year 2025. The surveyed marketers ranked customer retention, lead generation and customer lifetime value as their top three KPIs today (in that order). By 2025, they forecast that the order will switch, with customer lifetime value taking the lead at spot number one, followed by customer retention at number two (and lead generation will drop down to spot number six.)

Commercializing a new medical device? 3 critical success factors to consider

Launching a new medical device is a complicated process. First, of course, you have to come up with a concept. What do you want your technology to do, and how will it do it? There’s that initial period of blue-sky thinking and prototype development, where you refine your technology and determine whether it’s viable. Then, once you decide to move ahead with commercialization, and you’ve achieved your safety and efficacy goals, the pace picks up, and suddenly you’re on a fast track to your launch target date.