When customers feel a particular affinity or emotional connection toward a brand, they develop a strong sense of loyalty. Given the opportunity to interact with each other, as well as the brand itself, these engaged, motivated shoppers can form strong customer communities.
It’s critical not to underestimate the power of an active customer community. Inhabiting both the on and offline space, these passionate collectives can help drive new traffic, educate fellow customers, and resolve product queries. As an added bonus, they also provide a rich source of content to help fuel your marketing and promotional efforts.
How do you build such a community? Here are seven things you’ll want to have to ensure your community’s growth and success.
1. Consistent Brand Voice
Take care to develop a definitive tone of voice and use it across all of your branded properties. It’s essential for a brand to have a recognizable persona for its customers to congregate around. Establishing consistency through voice makes you more identifiable. Your brand voice should reflect how you want consumers to perceive you: are you friendly? Authoritative? Comforting? Consider what your brand voice is not, like condescending and overzealous.
2. Brand Comms
Keep your messaging customer-centric and community-minded. Try to keep communication channels open and encourage engagement and dialogue wherever possible. Leveraging UGC is especially effective when delivering this sort of message, putting your existing customers’ experiences and voices in front of a wider audience.
Swimwear brand Vitamin A, for example, takes advantage of visual-heavy platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. Combined textual and visual communication keeps conversation and engagement flowing around its products. The brand also makes excellent use of UGC through its social feeds and the “Styled By You” section of its website, which collects the best customer imagery and leverages hashtags to collect and curate content. Customers feel recognized, and potential shoppers take notice.
3. IRL Activations
In-person events weren’t possible for many brands during the pandemic, but it’s important not to overlook their effectiveness as society continues to reopen. Bringing people together is powerful; the connections and impressions people make in-person tend to last longer. Remember to keep things balanced — opportunities for your community to engage with your brand and each other should vary between on and offline. Vitamin A is known for its in-person events that reflect its sustainability values, such as beach clean-ups that bring its community together.
4. Digging into Data
Community is such a rich source of data, so be sure to make the most of this golden opportunity. Not only can intelligence gathered from your audience give you a better sense of what your current customers are thinking and feeling, it can also help you build a roadmap toward implementing a better customer experience, more detailed profiles, segmentation, and targeting.
For example, organic pet wellness company Natural Dog asks its customers to rate specific product Okendo Attributes whenever they leave a review. Natural Dog then uses this data to segment its audience and personalize its Klaviyo marketing campaigns based on details like pets’ ages. Customers appreciate receiving less generalized emails, and Natural Dog gleans a deeper understanding of its shoppers.
On a related note, designing your community experiences with the individual in mind helps deliver the kind of community interactions that customers recognize as genuinely tailored to them. Understanding your data is a big part of getting this endeavor right — lean on your CRM to get a clear picture of the way that your customers choose to interact with your brand, and then work on applying these learnings to your segmentation and community offerings.
6. Lead With Values
While brand affinity is a powerful community driver, giving your audience the opportunity to rally behind a common cause is even more compelling — and the rise of cause marketing is a testament to this. Give your customers a reason to come together for the greater good, such as attaching charitable donations to purchases, special shopping events that give to a particular cause, or IRL community events with an altruistic purpose (litter clean-ups, in-store fundraisers, etc).
Mate the Label, a sustainable fashion brand, leads with its values particularly well. The brand creates a sense of togetherness by enabling direct donations on every purchase. Instead of picking one cause to donate to, they allow customers to choose from a range of curated charities and feel personally invested. It also takes a clear stance when it comes to social causes with dedicated landing pages set up to support the Black Lives Matter movement. The brand provides valuable resources for locating Black-owned businesses, connecting customers to a wider range of like-minded brands and signalling its commitment to being an actively anti-racist company.
Finally, don’t forget to harness the power of loyalty. Your customers demonstrate their loyalty when they come together as part of a more connected community. Go out of your way to recognize and reward their brand affinity with an omnichannel loyalty scheme. It’s essential to make your customers feel seen and appreciated in a consistent, interconnected way that unites all of their interactions with your brand, no matter where they occur.
A potential loyalty scheme you can implement is an affiliate program, which indicates the “people power” your brand can rely on. Mate the Label’s affiliate network is a well-targeted demographic that typically responds well to this kind of promotion. By courting a clearly defined customer, it’s obvious that Mate knows exactly who will rally behind its brand.
Ready to Harness The Power of Customer Community?
Cultivating a strong customer community amplifies your brand’s message, values, and positioning, fueling extended reach and brand growth. A thriving customer community will spread your brand’s story. Customers sharing their experiences opens an essential communication channel, giving prospective customers the chance to get advice and answers to product-related questions from their fellow shoppers.
If you keep these seven concepts in mind and follow Vitamin A and Mate the Label’s examples as you build your business’s customer base, you’ll be well on your way toward creating a thriving and supportive community that’s a true asset to your brand.
Author: Lindsay Kolinsky, Partner Marketing Manager, Okendo
Okendo is THE customer review platform for fast-growing Shopify brands and a preferred tech partner of Parkfield Commerce. An Official Google Reviews partner and trusted by 4,000+ high-growth consumer brands such Netflix, SKIMS, and Bite, Okendo has all the tools brands need to capture and showcase high-impact social proof through the online buying journey. Learn more about their unique review capture process, blazing-fast display widgets, and extensive Klaviyo integration at www.okendo.io.