The primary goal of any commercial business is to be profitable and drive sales. However, in the increasingly more competitive IT industry, companies often struggle to stand out and attract customers. One of the remedies for this is community marketing, a strategy that encourages audiences to be more active in their interactions with the brand.
According to the CMX’s 2021 Community Industry Report, businesses state that half of their community members are clients. These numbers prove how community marketing can affect the acquisition and retention of the client base and consequently drive revenue.
But what goes into creating and fostering a following surrounding your brand? In this article, we will investigate the ways of building a strong community, the benefits it can bring you, and how to drive sales within your IT community.
A tight-knit IT community can benefit developers, users, and the business itself in different ways. Facilitating long-term relationships by fostering trust and loyalty is key to any company’s successful journey.
Developers can also take advantage of the networking capabilities that a community offers. These relationships can significantly help coders to boost their careers, learn more about the industry, and even make real friendships.
Customers’ benefits of joining a tech community revolve around gaining a more curated experience, early access, additional perks, and discounts. Users will also have faster access to technical support, partake in decision-making, and help improve the product. For example, they can vote for or against a new feature, inform the team about bugs and errors, as well as be a part of beta testing.
When employees and customers are happy, the business will also greatly benefit. Tech communities can help you enhance customer experience and drive sales. The increased brand awareness is also an immense sales booster as it opens your product to new audiences. Community marketing will also give you access to a larger pool of talent, where you can easily find programmers with certain expertise.
Creating an IT community is not an easy task but will definitely pay off in the future. Having a group of devoted contributors and followers who offer continuous feedback will help you improve your services. Users can also participate in testing and spark up conversations, which is a great way to drive sales and boost user experience.
First and foremost, you need to get together with your stakeholders to allocate the funds that you can invest into building and growing an IT community. Some platforms for communication, file sharing, and coding have paid memberships. Take these costs into account when budgeting. Another expense is hiring moderators and content creators to upload news and posts and engage with the community. For example, you are trying to attract new members by running a marketing campaign, such as writing a white paper, offering a discount, or releasing a new feature. These activities will require some funding which you should figure out before building a community.
After allocating money for the future IT community, browse through the popular platforms to set up the process. If you would like to build your platform for community management, hire MEAN stack developers and start the process. Keep in mind that building custom software may be more expensive but will pay off in the long term.
Besides the platform, consider promoting your brand and the community on popular social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Use these websites to post news about the product and collect valuable user feedback. Finally, tools like Discord and Slack can help you host community activities, exchange information with the audience, and learn your audience’s wants and needs.
How to build a tech community from scratch? Your first helper is social media, as it will give you access to a vast pool of potential members. Make sure you post regularly and engage actively in discussions with the audience. Once you have gathered a few loyal members, you can incentivize them to refer their friends and colleagues. In return, they can receive some perks such as early access to your new features.
Another way of finding new followers is by collaborating with existing communities. Identify the product that complements your services without competing with them and explore the company’s community. They might be interested in cross-promotion or some other form of collaboration that will open their product to new audiences. At the same time, you will take advantage of their community base. For instance, if your product is a marketing and sales suite, you could collaborate with a company that makes communication tools.
Finally, you can always leverage advertisements to promote your brand across the masses. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook offer target ads that allow you to choose a specific demographic. Google Ads can also be helpful in your growth, but be mindful of the spending to avoid unnecessary expenses.
Why is community engagement important? Not only does it nurture customer relationships, but it also helps the members feel heard and seen. Oftentimes, as a customer, you feel powerless over the decisions about your favorite product or service. But if the company creates two-way communication between users and the brand, customers are more likely to stay loyal, even if something goes wrong. You can achieve this by answering their inquiries, offering polls to identify user needs, and collecting feedback about new features.
There are a plethora of ways of engaging with the audience, especially in the online space:
Eventually, your community members will become so invested they will promote it by themselves. Having a self-sufficient community that truly cares about the product will help you drive business growth.
Now, you have accumulated a decent following, but what do you do with it? How do you drive sales from a community? In this part, we will examine the best practices that will help you turn community members into buyers and drive revenue.
Now, how does an IT community translate to an increase in sales? Let’s investigate the ultimate ways of moving the community followers down the sales pipeline.
First of all, the community needs to create value for its members. Host podcasts and webinars, make video content for YouTube and TikTok, and create informative articles to help potential customers learn more about the product. You can even go beyond just the product and create valuable content pertaining to industry and community trends. The value delivered could be diverse, including informative, interesting, funny, witty, quirky, etc.
Another vital cornerstone of a flourishing community is its members. How to build relationships within the community? As discussed in the previous section, engagement is a focal point of a thriving community. Grow and support these connections on forums, platforms, and social media to help people feel heard. You can also launch special offers for your members, including exclusive discounts, partnerships, and brand deals. The unique connection people have with the brand will deter them from abandoning the product after a potential mistake.
A prominent example of community success is Monday.com, a task management platform. The company has accumulated a considerable following of devoted members who eagerly participate in discussions and even connect in real life. On March 9th of this year, they organized a meetup in London for their dedicated community members. The company shared news about the latest tools in the suite and formed deeper relationships with the audience. Monday.com also hosts webinars where they showcase their product’s features to new potential buyers, answer their questions, address their frustrations, and provide tips and tricks.
The best way to monitor the membership base is through their behavior. Pay closer attention to those who regularly attend your events, create content on your platform, and comment on your social media accounts. In addition, identify people who are more interested in the product application and use, ask specific questions pertaining to the features, and participate in discussions.
Additionally, you can do your own investigation. Prepare and send out surveys and questionnaires to find out more about your IT community members. This method can help you learn about their needs, why they are interested in your product, and what would incentivize them to purchase it.
As we mentioned above, Monday.com is an excellent role model when it comes to IT community building. Being a terrific inspiration, they have their own community platform and a dedicated Facebook page. On these sites, followers of Monday.com can exchange ideas, vent their frustrations, and seek advice. Moreover, the company hosts in-person events to make the community stronger and tighter.
Veeva Systems is another wonderful example of skillful community fostering, both on its site and social media. They go even further by creating sub-communities for specific demographics to make their marginalized user base feel more included. For example, they host meetups for the Veeva Systems Women’s Community.
BerlinTechs is a Slack IT community that unites tech workers residing in Berlin so that they can meet, share ideas, and collaborate.
Startupers can benefit from Pioneer, a community that encourages its members to share their progress, receive feedback and help each other learn from their mistakes.
How can you measure the success of your marketing campaigns? How do you make sure your efforts drive sales? Look at the numbers and learn what they represent! Metrics are by far the best way to assess how successful your marketing efforts have been. Explore the most vital key performance indicators:
Conversion rate: divide the number of conversions by the number of interactions during the same period. Example: 50 conversions from 1,000 interactions means that your conversion rate is 5%. A good number is between 2% and 5%.
CAC and LTV: CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) is calculated by dividing the cost of sales and marketing by the number of acquired customers in the same period. LTV (Lifetime Value) is determined by dividing the average revenue per customer by the churn rate. A healthy value can be found through the ratio: LTV/CAC should be 3:1 or 3:0.
Average deal size: divide the total revenue in a period by the number of closed opportunities. Example: company closed 20 deals, 10 of which were $1,000 each, and the other 10 were $500 each. ($10,000 + $5,000)/20 = $750.
ROI: (Return on Investment) is calculated by dividing the net income by the investment costs and multiplying by 100. Example: you invested $180 and the net income in the same period was $200, then your ROI is 111% which means you made an 11% profit.
Sales cycle length: the number of days between the first interaction with the potential customer and the time of the deal’s closing divided by the total number of deals.
The question of how to increase sales in business is always on your mind, especially if you work in the IT industry. A fast-paced field, the tech industry is a highly competitive space that requires a tremendous amount of marketing to attract customers. That’s one of the reasons why more and more companies decide to create communities and establish this special bond with their customers. If you want to drive sales and boost brand awareness, here is a sign for you to build a community of devoted people.