The digital shopping experience has transformed how we engage with brands and make decisions. However, our natural instinct to turn to others for recommendations still prevails. Consumers might ask friends or family, but increasingly they check out online communities and review sites to get the lowdown on what’s hot and what’s not.
According to Rob Howard, vice-president: social communities at Verint company Telligent, there’s a reason why sites like Which? and Amazon get so many visitors. They offer consumer driven and respected independent reviews, recommendations and star ratings.
With social media and online shopping part of our everyday lives, retailers and manufacturers like Bang & Olufsen and Sony have created online forums and communities for consumers to research and gather information to support purchasing decisions.
Create a customer community
“A community is the place where customer service reps, existing customers and prospects can talk about certain products and services informally and share knowledge. It’s also an area for customers to provide feedback on products and services, as well as write reviews. This means community managers have sight of the customer journey and can gather insights on what they are looking for and tailor services accordingly,” says Howard.
For example, the Team Titleist community provides golf enthusiasts with direct access to product experts, including fellow golfers and Titleist employees. As well as sharing information on events, tips and product knowledge, consumers also use the community to research products by asking for peer and expert opinion before purchasing. Providing this environment for customers and prospects has helped the company significantly boost sales.
Howard says another large US electronics manufacturer previously used community for product support. Until they discovered that buyers were also using the community to make buying decisions. A little more research uncovered that buyers active in the community spent about 25% more than buyers who did not use the community and nearly R528-million of revenue was attributed to the community.
Next, identify what potential buyers need
Howard says it would be great if every member in a community bought something, but this doesn’t always happen. There will always be browsers that are less willing to part with their cash. So, how do community managers spot the buyers? Assessing each member on the below criteria is a good place to start.
Those that score highly will be more likely to spend:
* How often are they visiting the community?
* What questions are they asking?
* What content are they reviewing?
* How often do they visit the community?
“To answer these questions requires some effort, but it is no different than managing any other digital campaign,” says Howard. “And, while this will help to identify the most active members, there are ways to increase these numbers further such as tying the community more directly with other campaigns across your website and social media channels.”