How to Build a Community Marketing Strategy For SaaS Businesses
Did you know that 65% of marketers say that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing?
That’s especially true if you’re running a SaaS business, where strong relationships are key to securing long-time customers.
If your existing customers vouch for your SaaS product and customer service, potential customers are far more likely to trust it.
And one of the most effective ways to encourage positive word of mouth for your SaaS company is through community marketing.
In this article, we will talk about how you can create a community marketing strategy that will boost not just customer loyalty, but even brand advocacy too.
So let’s dive right in.
1) Set Your Goals
The first step in any community marketing strategy is to set your goals.
What exactly do you want to accomplish through community marketing? This will serve as your guide for the rest of the process and should be clearly defined from the start.
For example, maybe you want to reach a large group of potential customers. Or maybe you want to increase brand loyalty or promote a new SaaS product launch.
Or perhaps you are aiming for community-led growth with a strong culture of brand advocacy. You want people to recommend your SaaS product to their friends and colleagues.
Your goals will determine the rest of your community strategy, so take some time to think through what you hope to achieve.
2) Identify Your Target Audience
Who do you want to reach with community marketing? Start by identifying the demographic or firmographic attributes of your ideal customer.
You should also consider their interests, values and needs — this will help you create content that resonates with them.
From there, look into where these people hang out online.
Which social media platforms do they use most frequently? What kind of blogs or forums are they active in?
Knowing this information can help you more effectively reach your target audience with community marketing initiatives.
3) Choose Which Type Of Community Marketing You Want To Do
There are three types of community marketing that you can do: organic, sponsored, and brand community. Each of them have their own pros and cons, so you’ll need to decide which one would best serve your goal.
Let’s talk about them one by one.
Organic Community Marketing
When you join an already existing group and start talking to members and building relationships with them, that’s organic community marketing.
The community was built by the members and was created to discuss common interests (which should be related to your SaaS product). Then you join the group and start responding to questions, participating in conversations, and forming connections with the members.
Eventually, you can start introducing your SaaS product to the community.
This is a great option if your main goal is to find new customers.
The advantage of organic community marketing is that you can build relationships with members over time, giving you more credibility and trust.
However, the downside is that you have no control over the community. If anyone in the community posts a critical review of your SaaS product, the best thing you can do is to respond politely and address the situation.
Sponsored Community Marketing
With sponsored community marketing, you create and manage your own community instead of joining an existing one. You can choose what content is posted, who can join the community, and how members interact with each other.
This makes it much easier for you to control the conversation and ensure that your community is a positive experience for both existing and potential customers.
The advantage of this type of community marketing is that you have more control over what’s happening in the online community, giving you more confidence in the success of your strategy.
What’s more, sponsored community marketing can position you as a thought leader in your industry.
On the other hand, it’s a lot of work to create and manage your community. You will also need to invest money in a digital marketing campaign to attract members to your community.
Brand Community Marketing
A brand community is a group of existing customers built to discuss topics related to your SaaS product. It’s a great way to connect with your most loyal customers and get feedback on how you can improve your product.
The advantage of having a brand community is that it gives you access to valuable customer insights. You can use this data to make informed decisions about the direction of your SaaS business.
Plus, building brand loyalty among existing customers is key for a successful community strategy.
However, brand community marketing does require some initial legwork, since you need to find ways to bring customers together in the first place. It also takes time and effort to keep them engaged and active in the community over time.
4) Choose A Platform For Your Community
Once you decide what type of community marketing you want to do, it’s time to choose a platform for your community.
If you’re planning to do an organic community marketing strategy, you will have to find out which platforms your target audience uses. That could be a community website, blog community, social media platform, or any other online community.
For sponsored and brand community marketing, you have more options since you’re the one creating the group. However, you should also know which platforms would be most engaging for your target audience.
There are several options available, each with their own pros and cons:
You can add community features to your website, such as online community forums or support pages. This gives customers a single point of contact for all their community needs.
This would be a great option if you’re already getting a lot of traffic to your website. But if you’re just starting out, this might not be the best option since it requires more work from you to get community members.
Social Media Platforms
Using social media is an easy and cost-effective way to create a community around your SaaS product. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great for sharing content and engaging with customers.
You can even use a Facebook Group or a LinkedIn Group to create some sort of exclusivity for your community.
Online Forum Platforms
Online forum platforms like Reddit and Quora are a great way to create an organic community. These platforms allow community members to ask questions, share experiences, and discuss topics related to your SaaS product.
However, it’s important to be aware of the rules around community participation on these platforms.
Some may have restrictions on self-promotion or require you to have a certain number of participants before allowing you to post content.
Third-Party Community Platforms
Finally, there are third-party community platforms like Discord and Slack that can help you create your own community. These platforms allow you to create a custom community with all the features you need, such as forums, polls, quizzes, and more.
Some of these platforms have features that could serve certain goals for your community marketing campaign.
For example, the ability to create multiple conversation channels within a single community will be particularly helpful for large groups with different purposes.
You could assign one channel for peer-to-peer support. Then another for community-building activities. Then another for new members who have questions about your product.
No matter what community platform you choose, the goal is to make sure that your community has enough support and resources so they can stay engaged.
5) Map Out Your Community Growth Stages
For any community you build, one of your goals should be to grow it. However, community growth requires a well thought-out plan.
Your community will go through different stages of growth, and each stage has its own challenges. So it’s important to map out how you want it to grow in order to maximize community engagement and ensure that members are getting the support they need.
The community growth stages typically include launch, initial growth, relationship formation, and maturity.
This is the phase where you first introduce your community to potential members. During this stage, it’s important to create content and promote your community through different channels.
In other words, do everything you can to make people aware of your community.
The goal here is to make your group as attractive as it can be.
You might also want to think of a way to recognize the first members of your community. This can be as simple as giving them a special badge, access to exclusive content, or a temporary free access to your SaaS product.
This stage is when your community starts picking up momentum and more people start joining. This is the time to share A LOT of content in your group and facilitate conversations.
Be sure to nurture your community members’ relationships and make sure that everyone is on the same page
At this stage, you may want to have a team member moderating the group or even hire a dedicated community manager.
They will be in charge of welcoming each new community member and making sure everyone’s voice is heard. Even better, you can also have them find active members and ask them to contribute content or lead community activities.
As your community grows, it’s important to foster relationships between community members. That will be the main reason why they would stay in the group.
Things like shared experiences, common interests, or similar goals can all help strengthen community bonds
You can also encourage community members to become mentors for others and even create a “mentor program” within the community.
This will give community members an opportunity to connect with each other on a deeper level and make them more likely stay engaged in the long-term.
The final stage is when your community becomes strong and well established.
At this stage, the healthy thing to do for any community is to segment it into different subgroups. This will give community members the opportunity to connect with one another in more specific ways and it helps keep conversations relevant for each group.
This is where a community platform that can host different conversation channels would come in handy.
You can provide targeted content to each community subgroup and invite members to participate in different activities tailored for their interests.
6) Prepare A Content Calendar
You may have noticed in the previous steps that the word “content” pops out every now and then.
Content is key when it comes to attracting potential customers and building relationships with them.
That’s why content marketing and community marketing should work hand-in-hand for you to build with your community members. The content that you post on the group will be their main way of staying engaged with the group.
That’s why you need to have an organized content calendar that outlines what kind of content you’ll be sharing in your online community and when:
Your content calendar should have the following:
- Specific topics
- Content types (e.g. articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc.)
- Date and time of publication and distribution
- Who’s responsible for creating or curating the content?
- Planned community activities or events
By having a well thought out content calendar, it will make community management much easier and more organized in the long run. It will also help you ensure that your community members are always getting fresh and relevant content.
Planning your content in advance will also help you prepare ideas for discussion regarding these content pieces. This will be a great opportunity to get community members talking and engaged with one another.
By providing these types of community engagement opportunities, it will make your members feel more valued and connected to one another.
7) Build Your Community Marketing Team
To have a successful community marketing campaign, it’s important to have a team of people who can help manage and build a strong community.
A typical community marketing team has the following roles:
- Community managers or moderators: They will be responsible for moderating conversations, answering questions from members, welcoming new users into the community and facilitating activities within the group.
- Content creators or curators: They will be in charge of creating content and community activities.
- Analytics experts: They should be able to monitor community analytics and make sure the community is growing in the right direction.
- Social media specialists: They should be familiar with different social media platforms and know the best way to promote your community on these channels.
These roles are important because they will help ensure that community members stay engaged and find value in the group. Of course, one team member can take multiple roles if they have the skills and bandwidth to do so.
Having a community marketing team will help you make sure that community management is done efficiently and effectively, which in turn helps the community grow and be successful.
8) Measure Your Performance
Finally, community marketing is not complete without measuring its performance.
It’s important to track the progress of your community and understand what’s working and what’s not. This will help you make decisions on how to improve community management in the future
Some metrics that you can track for community performance include:
- Number of community members
- Membership growth
- Levels of engagement (e.g. number of conversations, posts, comments)
- Brand mentions or shares by community members
- Member retention rate
- User satisfaction scores
- Qualitative feedback from community members
Final Thoughts About Your Community Marketing Strategy
Community marketing can be a powerful tool for businesses to reach potential customers and build relationships with them.
By setting up an organized community marketing strategy, you will make sure that your community is well managed and ultimately successful.
By following these steps, you’ll have the basics of community management covered and be ready to launch a thriving community in no time.
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