What is Community Marketing and Why it Matters to SaaS Startups
According to a report by Salesforce, 84% of customers say that “being treated like a person, not a number” is important if you want to acquire them as paying customers.
As a business, though, it’s only natural to have the tendency to focus more on numbers than on individuals.
Yes, genuine concern for your customers and being able to create a product that improves their lives is a great mindset for business owners. But you also need to be mindful of your bottom line.
But what if you didn’t have to choose between the two? What if there was a way to create both strong customer relationships and great business results?
This is what community marketing can do for SaaS businesses.
In this article, we will have a quick overview of what community marketing is, its benefits and challenges, and how to measure its performance.
What Is Community Marketing?
Community marketing is an approach in which you use communities to reach your target market, build relationships with them, and eventually sell your product to them.
Instead of relying on traditional physical or digital marketing channels, you leverage the power of the community — both online and offline — to build relationships with your target customers.
2 Types Of Community Marketing
There are two main types of community marketing: organic and sponsored.
Let’s talk about them one by one.
1. Organic Community Marketing
An organic community is a group that was started by the members themselves.
They may have started their own message board or created a Facebook group that revolves around one or more of their common interests.
Organic communities are often a great place to start with community marketing.
You can simply join in the conversation, answer questions, and generally just build relationships with potential customers.
Organic communities are great because you don’t have to invest a lot in them. After all, they already exist. All you need to do is find them and jump in on the conversations.
2. Sponsored Community Marketing
On the other hand, a sponsored community is more of a brand community that was started by your company. This type of community usually requires at least some resources to promote and maintain.
This type of brand community marketing has its own sets of benefits and drawbacks.
On the one hand, it can be a great way to build relationships with potential customers and create an online hub for them to get access to resources. This will lead to better customer loyalty and advocacy.
On the other hand, it requires more resources than organic communities.
You, or at least a few of your team members, need to be actively involved in managing the community. This involves creating content for it, responding to questions, and facilitating conversations among your members.
Benefits Of Community Marketing For SaaS Businesses
There are a lot of benefits of community marketing for SaaS businesses:
People Have A Natural Need To Belong To A Community
Community marketing capitalizes on human beings’ innate need to belong to a group or a community. We are social creatures and we tend to crave connection with other people.
When you create an online community for customers, it allows them to feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves.
This can be a powerful motivator for purchasing your product and staying loyal to your brand.
It Humanizes Your Brand
One great way to make your customers feel like you’re treating them as humans is to make them feel that they’re talking to a human, not a machine.
When you create a brand community, it allows your customers to interact with each other and with your team in real-time.
This creates an authentic feeling of connection that your usual marketing strategy doesn’t usually offer.
It Strengthens Your Relationships With Customers
When you create an online community that revolves around your product or service, it enables you to build deeper relationships with your existing customers.
You can use the platform as an opportunity to showcase what sets your business apart from the competition and show how much you care about their needs.
You can also get feedback on what they want to see in future versions of your product. This shows that you value their ideas and care about their needs.
It Builds Thought Leadership
Being prominent in your online community also allows you to demonstrate your expertise in the industry and to position yourself as an authority figure.
You can use it as a platform to share valuable content, such as tips and tricks, best practices, and industry news.
This will help build trust with your customers and show that you are knowledgeable about what you’re selling.
And if you become known as a thought leader or authority figure in your industry, potential customers will be more confident about buying your SaaS product.
It Leverages Word-Of-Mouth Marketing
One of the benefits of community marketing that can really fuel your growth is its power to leverage a word-of-mouth marketing strategy. This can be very effective in bringing in more potential customers for your SaaS business.
This benefit is especially useful if you are implementing a community-led growth strategy for your SaaS company.
You see, when your customers have an enjoyable experience with your product and services, they will be more likely to spread the word about it, even without you prompting them to do it.
They can share their experiences in your community and recommend it to their friends and family. This will help you get more exposure for your business without having to spend extra money on advertising.
So, not only does community marketing help you retain your existing customers. It also makes your existing customers help you acquire new ones.
How cool is that?
Potential Challenges In Community Marketing
As powerful as it is, community marketing isn’t perfect either. It does have some potential drawbacks and challenges that you should be aware of.
It Can Require A Lot Of Resources
Managing a community can be very time-consuming and resource-intensive.
You need to dedicate staff resources to actively manage the community, respond to customer inquiries, create content for it, and stay up-to-date with what’s happening in the industry.
If you don’t have enough resources or manpower to manage it successfully, it can lead to dissatisfaction among your community members and even damage your company’s reputation.
It Can Take Time To Build
Creating an online community from scratch isn’t something that will happen overnight. It takes time and effort to build trust, nurture relationships, and get people to engage with your content.
You’ll also need to think about what kind of content you want to create and how often you should post it in order for it to be successful.
That’s why one strategy for community building is to synergize it with your content marketing campaign.
As you generate more valuable content, you can distribute it in your online community. The content piece, in turn, can start conversations and engagement among your community members.
It Needs A Specific Set Of Skills
Managing a community also requires a specific set of skills. You need to have the right combination of technical know-how, social media experience, and customer support capabilities in order to make it work.
So if you don’t have the right people on your team, it can be difficult to manage and maintain an effective online presence for your business.
You Have Limited Control Over The Community
When you create a community, you won’t have total control over what is posted, especially if you’re only participating in an organic community that you didn’t create.
There could be people who post negative comments or bad-mouth your product and services. And this can make it difficult for you to maintain a positive brand image and protect your reputation online.
So it’s important to monitor what’s being said about your business in order to address any issues as quickly and as politely as possible.
It Can Be Hard To Measure Success
It’s usually difficult to determine what kind of return-on-investment (ROI) you’re getting from community marketing and what metrics are most important for measuring success.
It can be hard to track what kind of direct impact your community is having on sales, revenue, and customer retention.
And without proper metrics in place, it can be difficult to determine what strategies are working and what should be changed or improved.
Speaking of using the suitable metrics for community marketing, let’s move on to our next point of conversation.
Community Marketing Metrics
As we mentioned above, it can be hard to find metrics that measure the direct impact of your community marketing campaign to your bottom line.
But there are some that you can track in order to get an idea of what’s working and what needs improvement.
Here are some of the most important community marketing metrics:
Number Of Visitors & Members
This is a great way to measure the growth of your community. It helps you track how many people are engaging with your content and participating in discussions.
Member Growth Rate
This metric measures the rate at which your community is growing over time.
It helps you track how well you’re doing with social media outreach, content marketing, and other tactics to bring more people into the group.
You need to track both short-term and long-term community member growth rate. For the short term, you can monitor month-on-month community growth. For the long term, on the other hand, you may want to monitor your community growth over six months or a year.
Number Of Community-Generated Content
This metric measures how often people are creating content in your community, either by responding to a post or creating their own.
It helps you track what kind of engagement opportunities you’re providing and what type of content resonates with your audience.
It can also help you determine what types of content generate the most interest within the community so that you can focus on those topics more in the future.
This metric measures how actively your community members are engaging with you or each other’s posts.
Depending on which community platform you’re using, you can track likes, comments, or shares to get an idea of how engaged your audience is with the content you’re creating.
It can also give you a good idea of what kind of content resonates most with your target audience and what needs improvement.
Like the membership growth rate, you may also track how often your community members engage with posts month-on-month or over a longer period of time.
This metric measures the number of daily active users (DAU) versus the total monthly active users (MAU). It is also sometimes called “stickiness”, because it measures how often users are returning to your community.
If the DAU/MAU ratio is high, it means that people are coming back to your community frequently and engaging with content regularly.
A low DAU/MAU ratio, on the other hand, indicates that people may not be as engaged or interested in what you’re posting.
How Effective is Community Marketing?
So is community marketing effective?
The answer is yes. Community marketing is effective simply because it is a great way of connecting with an audience without being too direct. It is effective because 76% of all internet users participate in some form of community. That means your audience can be reached by community marketing.
Facebook is another fertile ground for community marketing. It’s the most popular social media platform with 2.9 billion active monthly users. Around 1.8 billion of those users engage in online communities monthly. They engage in the over 10 million Facebook groups in existence.
Facebook Group is just one of the platforms that you can use for community marketing. Just imagine building a community with 10,000 members, or 100,000. The marketing potential there is enormous.
Community marketing is effective because people like to belong to groups and communities. In fact, that desire for connection is more of a need. That need may not be as clear as the need for the necessities of life, but it is there. It is what drives people to create clubs and organizations. According to research, the brain is wired so that people feel good when they connect with other people.
It’s also worth noting that the brain physically deteriorates when people are forced to go on isolation for long periods. There is evidence that the part of the brain responsible for learning shrinks because of chaotic isolation. This is very significant for marketers since it shows that building communities has real benefits.
Why Is Community Important in Marketing?
Communities are useful to marketers because they are made up of like-minded individuals. Let’s say you have created a SaaS tool that can do bookkeeping and inventory management for small businesses. Your potential customers are owners of small businesses.
Now, imagine if you can market to a community of small business owners. That means your marketing can be more focused. You can go straight to the advantages of using your SaaS instead of explaining the basics of inventory management.
If you were the one who created that community, then you have control over the ads and marketing materials that they can see. Of course, the problem is that building a community is not an easy task and cannot be rushed. It takes time to grow a community organically.
What Does a Community Marketer Do?
So, now are you intrigued by what a community marketer does? Here is a very general breakdown of the tasks of a community marketer.
The community marketer will determine the target audience for the marketing campaign. Ideally, this should be in-depth planning that would determine the actual audience and entice them to join the community.
The next step is to start building the actual community. This means the marketer must identify the right platforms where the target audience can be found. If it was determined that the target audience is made up of business owners and managers, then LinkedIn is the best platform.
It takes a while to build your community, but the marketing can start once there are enough members. Community marketing is different from other forms of marketing because it is less direct and takes on more of a subtle approach.
The marketer must engage with the community members and see to it that there are regular posts that keep them interested in the group. Members should also be encouraged to interact with each other.
What Are the Major Components of Community Marketing?
Remember that community marketing is a niche marketing strategy. What does that mean? In the past, marketers preferred their marketing to be as broad and general as possible. The wider the audience, the better the marketing campaign.
That’s no longer true. Marketers today recognize that it is better to be more specific regarding targeting. This is why so many marketers favor community marketing. How one does community marketing can vary, but these are the basic components of every strategy:
Picking the niche. You need to identify the niche that works best for your brand or product. In the example used before, it might not be enough for you to market to a community of business owners. You also need to pick what type of business.
Research. This goes without saying, but some people tend to forget the importance of proper research. For example, you need to research more about the community you target and what can interest them.
Connect with influencers. Most if not all communities have influencers within them. These influencers are the recognized authority within the communities and the niche. Getting their approval and recommendation can do wonders for your brand.
Customize. You may have several communities that you can market to. While you can use the same strategy and approach for all your communities, make sure that you customize for the needs of each.
These are the core components of community marketing. Now, it is time to look at how you can create a community marketing strategy.
Creating a Community Marketing Strategy
It’s time for you to start creating your community marketing strategy for your SaaS.
Before creating a strategy, you need to understand a few basic things about communities. Every community has three key components, and those are:
- A group of people.
- The people making up the group care about each other.
- They have a sense of belonging.
That third component is the most important one of all. The group members should have a strong sense of belonging to something.
Start and Join the Conversation
When you have started your community, you need to keep it interesting and alive. People join communities because they want conversations about the niche it is in. Remember, no one is joining a community because they want to hear about your latest deals.
Start conversations and get to know the people in your community. Don’t just look at them as numbers on your screen.
Remember that you are the one that built the community, whether that’s a Facebook group or a community on LinkedIn. That means you are projecting yourself as the expert on the subject. You are the one who can give recommendations.
When you post something in your community or reply to a post, make sure that you are offering something to the members to show your authority and know what you’re talking about. You should also publish articles and provide how-tos to the community itself. Those articles must be useful to the community as a whole. They should learn something from it.
Make Yourself Accessible
When the community perceives you as an authority in the niche you have chosen, some of them might reach out to you.
Some might ask questions. Others will just want to add you to their network. Whatever reason they have for reaching out to you, make sure you are available and that you respond.
The quality of your response will also matter, aside from your availability. Make it a point that each response you give out is useful to the community.
This is not an easy task. The fact that you have a SaaS product makes it doubly hard to make people excited about what you are offering. You can’t really create rabid fans of software for inventory. What you can build is a community of loyal users of your software who will be willing to tell other people about it.
About 74% of millennials and Gen Z do not want to see ads on social media feeds. That means directly placing ads on your community can negatively impact you, and you have to advertise in a subtle and non-obtrusive way.
You can answer questions and post without asking people to use your software without being too direct.
Community marketing does not deliver quick results. It takes time to build up a community, but you will see the results if you are consistent with your efforts. Just keep on posting and publishing content in your community, and the members will notice it.
While your main goal in building that community is to offer lifetime deals SaaS, you can’t be too direct about it.
Community Marketing Tools
Part of your strategy is to pick the right tools to use for your marketing. Here are some of the marketing tools that you can use in your community:
Some people hate polls or surveys, but people willingly take part when the topic involves something that they are interested in. You can use polls to get the feel of the community about your lifetime deals SaaS offers.
Push notifications are small pop-up messages that can be clicked and redirect users to a specific page to take a certain action. It’s a great way to drive the behavior of the users on your site and encourage them to sign up for a lifetime subscription. You can use these notifications to ask users to leave comments on your site and other actions.
Make sure that you enable commenting on the posts in your community. People love to comment on the internet and when the topic is about something they are knowledgeable or passionate about. You can also use the comments as a mine for ideas about a SaaS lifetime deal that you can use for your marketing.
Livestreams have become more normalized today because of the pandemic and the ease of doing it. You can conduct live streaming with the users of your software and do a demo. You can also answer questions from your viewers.
One of the advantages of online marketing over the traditional forms of marketing is that you can measure the performance of your efforts with accuracy. You can see clearly what SaaS marketing efforts work and which ones should be abandoned.
Offering Your Lifetime Deals SaaS to Your Community
Your main aim in community marketing is to get people to subscribe to your lifetime deals SaaS or any other offer you have.
As mentioned earlier, community marketing does not involve directly telling people to buy your product or subscribe for lifetime access. It’s more of a subtle and indirect method of asking people to trust you. For that to happen, you need to make members of the community trust you and see you as an authority. Once they see you like that, recommending your SaaS solution and the offer you have will seem natural and not out of place.
In other words, community marketing is all about building trust and giving people useful and actionable information. That takes a lot of work, but an engaged community’s benefits can be huge.
What Is Community Marketing: Final Thoughts
Community marketing is an effective way to build relationships with your customers, drive sales, and increase brand loyalty.
But it’s important to understand its different types and potential drawbacks before diving in.
You should also know the right metrics to measure success with and track what’s working and what needs improvement.
This will help you get the most out of your community marketing campaign and ensure that it is an effective tool for driving sales and customer retention.
Looking for more guides to help you grow your SaaS business? Check out our ultimate guide to SaaS community marketing or visit our blog here.