Online communities are often thought of as a vitamin versus an aspirin. It’s nice to have one, but sometimes it’s hard to show how online communities actually solve pain points and contribute to the bottom line of the business. The struggle is real (I know first hand) which is why I’m sharing how we use our community analytics to drive authentic engagement, acquire new members, and increase growth.
Why do community analytics matter?
If you follow our blog, you’ll notice that we kinda love data. Why? Online community is the most powerful way to collect unique data. Members not only have conversations and make connections, but they share intentions, goals, and needs because it serves their interests. In exchange, they get access to exclusive learning, and they acquire connections and opportunities through the community. This is NOT about tracking breadcrumbs, but rather using unique, targeted information to better serve and grow your community.
With that, here are a few growth hacks we use with our very own online community:
Community Growth Hack 1: Get that data out
When building growth strategies around community data, you need to be able to easily push/pull data from your community platform to a BI tool or a data feed.
For example, we send member data from our online community, Mobilizers, to Hubspot using the Mobilize Data Feed. From there we can create different lists based on certain data points. For all you marketers on the other side of the screen, this should excite you. (: More on what you can do with the data feed later.
To really understand the data from your community, visualizing it is a must. We use Mobilize Data Studio, our community analytics tool, to visualize our data. Having access to this data in a BI tool allows our team to drill down on specific metrics and plan around them. It’s also up-to-date data so we never have to stare at the screen with a blank face wondering if it’s accurate. Using a BI tool is the best way to determine the health of your community.
If you don’t have access to a BI tool or Data Feed, you could pull a CSV report and upload it to Google Data Studio. Bottom line is, you MUST be able to get the data out.
Community Growth Hack 2 : FOMO, we all get it
FOMO rings true for just about everyone. You know that feeling when all your friends are headed out for the night and you’re bogged down trying to grow your online community? Well, those days are over. Here’s the fix:
Share small snippets of unique content from your community across your social channels.
Here’s an example of a LinkedIn post with content from Mobilizers. I like to use posts like this to drive disengaged members back into the community. If your goal is to acquire new members, turn it into an ad! However, don’t forget the golden rule of ALL communication:
Always give value for free.
Community Growth Hack 3 : Feed the funnel
Earlier I mentioned how we use the Mobilize Data Feed to send data from Mobilzers to other tools in our marketing tech stack. As illustrated below, the data feed captures information from your Mobilize community and feeds it to other tools. Here are a few ways we use it:
Measure member impact on sales – We capture membership status to keep an eye on which customers or prospects are members of our community. Once captured in Hubspot for marketing, it’s passed to our CRM, Salesforce. From there we can run reports to see what kind of impact the community has on our sales cycle. Showing the impact community has on other areas of the business is what turns community managers into contributors, giving them their rightful seat at the table.
Integrate and Grow – As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, it’s important to have access to your data in order to show the true impact of your community. By integrating your community with other digital properties you can provide more visibility to help make smarter decisions. Take community out of the picture or leave it in a silo and you have a blind spot.
Having easy access to your data allows you to run fun growth experiments through other channels. Here are two of my favorite workflows:
- Build a list of the most valuable members in a CRM or marketing tool, send that list to a social channel, build a look-a-like audience, run a TOFU ad. It’s as simple as that! Campaigns like this tend to perform well when targeting the right audience with the right content at the right time.
- Identify members that have not been active in a set amount of time, send that list to LinkedIn, then run LinkedIn conversation ads to drive people back in.
Community Growth Hack 4 : Use insights to drive your content strategy
Have you found that some content gets considerably more engagement than others? Have you been able to identify what topics work and which don’t? My guess is yes, but only if you have open access to your community data. And not just a built-in dashboard, but a way to feed it to other systems in real-time.
Through the Mobilize Data Studio word cloud, we’ve been able to identify which topics and words are most searched in the community. Armed with that information we then build our content strategy around what our members actually want.
Take it a step further by bringing other sources of data into your BI tool or Data Studio and you’ll have an even bigger picture about what type of content moves the needle.
Community Growth Hack 5 : Always provide visibility + automate
As a marketer or a community manager, you have the tough task of selling community internally. The first step in turning community into an aspirin is providing visibility to internal stakeholders. Here are a few workflows we use to manage our community and share insights:
New Members – Welcome new members! A personalized welcome DM is like receiving a thank you letter in the mail! It doesn’t happen as often as it should. Using our distributed leadership strategy we assign one week per month to each person on our team. They send a personalized greeting and offer something of value because ya know, the golden rule. You can see some of the welcome templates we use in this blog.
Workflow – New Member joins Mobilizers > Enrich using Clearbit > Send to Hubspot > Find in Salesforce > Send notification in Slack to notify team > High five!
Distributed Leadership – Community managers have a lot to manage and staying organized and holding others to their due dates is key. (: Our team creates tasks in Asana to keep track of all scheduled content and due dates. Using the Asana/Slack integration we send notifications when the item is due. If you don’t use a project management board, check out our top picks.
Workflow – Task/date created in Asana > Notify and tag Mobilizer in Slack > High five again
The proof is in the pudding – Using Mobilize Data Studio we create weekly reports to share with the rest of the company. Notice I said the company… Community should be a company-wide initiative! Providing weekly reports company-wide keeps everyone in the know and shows the true impact the community has on the overall business.
Workflow – Schedule reports to send out via email or other integration from Mobilize Data Studio
Data is the key to community-led growth
With community-led growth trending across almost all industries, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate what your community platform can actually do for you. Does it allow open access to the most valuable data you might ever receive, or does it hold that data hostage?
If you remember anything from this article, I hope it’s this: Community has the power to collect unprecedented data about your users (goals, intent, connections, experience, and more). This unique data can drive smarter downstream transactions (e.g. digital experiences, conversions, sales, renewals, and customer satisfaction). Not only do all of these things benefit the member experience, but they also open the door for community-led growth.