Connecting, engaging, and growing your brand community is no easy feat, but we’re here to help. We’ve got a 3-part series detailed with actionable tips and amazing brand examples to help you start building your brand community.
If you missed Part 1 and 2, check them out here:
Today, in Part 3, we’re discussing how to measure community marketing success. We use the CARES model to help brands understand exactly how the community can provide value to the business.
Your community can provide value in one or many ways. But in order to accurately measure the impact your community has on your business, you must start by determining what your organization values.
Once you understand what you’re looking for, follow one or all 5 of the best practices below to track your community health and the business impact of your community-centric campaigns.
Calculate the value of community-generated content
Community-generated content is genuine and purpose-driven content created by the members of your brand community that compels someone to think, feel, act, and share. Passionate community members are compelled to create authentic content around your brand, and repurposing it will allow you to easily scale your content creation efforts and eliminate the need for expensive photoshoots. So, make sure you’re tracking your community-generated content.
Pay attention to:
- # of pieces of content: The more content, the better. Keep track of whether there is an increase or decrease in the number of pieces of content generated by your customers, influencers, employees, and other community members. If you’re engaging your community members successfully, you’ll see a bigger buzz on social, resulting in more community-generated content and social mentions.
- # of content creators: Track the amount of people who are telling stories about your brand and understand who they are. Are they solely your paid brand partners, or is there an influx of other unpaid community members (customers, industry professionals, etc.)?
- Earned media value (EMV): Use this metric to calculate the value of your branded content that is separate from paid media and not from owned media channels. This will assign a monetary value to all the buzz around your brand created by community-generated content.
- Cost savings: Compare how much you’re spending on studio shoots versus how much you’re saving by repurposing content produced by your community. Particularly by leveraging free user-generated content, your brand can reduce content spend exponentially and reap the benefits of their endorsement.
Keep track of community growth
As you continue to engage your community through co-creation, events, and more, your community members will build more loyalty and affinity for your brand. This will typically result in more brand awareness and community growth, as your community members spread advocacy wide and far and convince their friends and family to also join your brand community.
Pay attention to:
- Member sign-ups: Shoppers typically make an account with a brand as they go through their first checkout process, as it is tedious to re-enter their information time and time again. A higher percentage of member sign-ups means that consumers are excited about joining your brand community and plan to engage with your company again.
- Reach: Keep track of the number of people reached by the content that your ambassadors, influencers, and affiliates create. Simply put, the more people post about your products, the more their audience is aware of your brand.
- Follower growth: While this may seem like a surface-level metric, gaining followers on social media is a good indicator that your community is growing. People don’t just follow any brand on social media — they follow those they’re excited to keep up with. They want to know about your product launches, see your content on their feed, and continue engaging with your brand even after purchase.
- Weekly/monthly average users: If your brand is an app or subscription, you can also measure weekly or monthly active users (WAU/MAU). Paying attention to an increase or decrease in these numbers will showcase community growth over time.
Measure customer loyalty
Your most passionate community members will not only shop at your brand, but continuously support your company with repeated purchases. However, measuring a seemingly abstract concept like loyalty isn’t always easy. What are the tangible metrics you should be focusing on?
Pay attention to:
- Churn and retention rates: According to the Harvard Business Review, customers who are fully emotionally connected to a brand are 70% more valuable than those that lack an emotional connection. Customers who feel emotional ties to your brand will continue seeing value in being a part of your community, boosting retention rates. A high retention rate is a key metric to show that your brand community is thriving, while a high churn rate is not.
- Customer checkout rate: This is an important metric not only to measure sales, but also future purchases. Customers who have a positive checkout experience will feel comfortable shopping at your store again. In fact, after 3 purchases more than 50% of customers will come back to make another purchase.
- Purchase frequency: With any customer, pay attention to the increase in purchase frequency, rather than focusing on a specific number of purchases. Measure this regularly to ensure that you’re still trending in the right direction.
Track social media engagement
For generations, people have been telling stories about how their favorite brands have helped them solve a problem or changed their life in a positive way. Today, these passionate brand advocates are creating authentic content around your brand and posting about their brand experience or favorite products on social media.
Pay attention to:
- Engagement: Count the interactions that occur on your social channels, including surface-level metrics such as likes and comments, but also back end analytics like saves, impressions, link clicks, and more. An increase in the number of engagements is typically a good indicator that your community building efforts are working.
- Comment sentiment: You can measure community health through the discussions that take place on platforms like Twitter and Reddit. Take time to analyze what your community members are saying. What is the comment sentiment? Is there frustration or delight with your products? Are your community members interacting with each other, as well as with your brand?
Celebrate your sales
When you focus on leveraging your community to generate content, advocate for your brand, encourage retention, and increase engagement, sales will follow even if that isn’t your main goal. In fact, a study showed that 57% of consumers say they will increase their spending with a brand that they feel connected to, and 76% will buy from that brand over a competitor. That being said, sales is a good measurement of your community health.
Pay attention to:
- Top affiliates: Your biggest brand enthusiasts will most likely bring in the most sales, as they can organically express their love for your brand and encourage more people to join your community. Through unique links and codes, keep track of who your top affiliates are. Then, reward them by building deeper relationships, collaborating in bigger ways, and giving them exclusive benefits.
- Average order value (AOV): As mentioned above, consumers that have developed emotional ties to your brand will not only shop more often with you, but also spend more on average per order. In fact, the average customer’s fifth purchase with a brand will be 40% larger than their first. When customers are able to see the value your community brings them, they’re more likely to invest in the community with their purchases.
Count on your community
Your community has the power to make or break your brand. They’re the people who make repeated purchases, write positive reviews, build a buzz on social media, and spread word-of-mouth advocacy far and wide. Ultimately, they control the narrative around your brand.
So, invest in your community. Measure important metrics around community-generated content, community growth, customer loyalty, social media engagement, and sales to see what’s working. Then, re-invest in the people who make the biggest difference.