It’s no secret that we’re big believers in community-led growth (CLG) here at the Community-Led Alliance. It’s an exciting, people and value-first strategy to convert customers who already love the service into your best brand advocates, driving customer acquisition, retention, and engagement - it’s hard not to be a fan of that!

We know, though, that it’s still a fairly new concept to a lot of people. And, encouraging people to believe in it can be a tricky task.

In this article, we’ll give you a business case for CLG and provide you with the means to convince your stakeholders.

Let’s dive in. ⬇️

Customer acquisition and retention

It’s a given that any successful business will have customers engaging with their product or service. A key part of this is increasing the acquisition of new customers, and then retaining them. You’d be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn’t have this at the top of its priority list.

Creating a community is a shrewd way to add extra value to the brilliant service you’re already providing. It’s a place for customers to come together to discuss what they love about what you offer, connect with others who feel the same way, and get advice that can help them get the most out of your service.

As a result, your business will stand out against your competitors and will highlight that there’s so much more than just the product/service for customers to benefit from. This added value will keep your customers stimulated and radically reduce their chances of looking for that extra value elsewhere.

On top of that, when people are looking into what you offer and find that your service is enriched with all the perks that a community can provide, their chances of buying in are automatically increased. Who doesn’t want more bang for their buck?

Customer insight

In order to create a brilliant product or service, or to keep improving existing ones, you’ve got to have a comprehensive understanding of what the market is looking for. Not just for now, but to judge what they’ll want in the future, too.

Picture this: what if you had direct access to what your customers are saying about your product, business, and service? What if you could pull this intel straight from honest conversations they’re having with each other? Plot twist: that’s what a community can do!

Providing your customers with a designated space to discuss their needs, wants, and queries around your product or service will give you an abundance of actionable information on how well you’re doing right now, what to improve on and what to do next.

Not only will it save you money on external research, but it will provide ROI as you’ll be able to market better and develop more products to meet the needs of your customers.

Put simply? More insights = more business.

Customer support

So we’ve established how useful this goldmine of customer insights will be to you, but it doesn’t stop there. The community members themselves will have access to these too, and that online community space will become their go-to spot for advice.

When you have a group of people united by a shared interest (community), those shared interests will generate shared experiences. When one person has an issue and raises it with the community, it’ll be super easy for them to connect with someone who has already dealt with the same issue.

This is exciting for a number of reasons: not only does it get people engaging with each other, but as a self-governed network of insights and resources, its very nature reduces the need for company intervention with customer support.

If customers can log into the community, search up a key-phrase pertaining to their issue, and find the answers from conversations that have already happened, they won’t need to submit a support request because it’s already sorted.

Alternatively, another community member could spot their query, advise them on how they’ve handled it and solve the problem before anyone’s had to submit a request to your customer services or support team.

If this doesn’t work, they’ll still have access to you. But, having each other to talk to first means the need for direct business support will be massively reduced.

Connection over transaction

When we think about the psychological reasons for people wanting to be in a community, it comes down to needing human connection; a feeling of being seen and understood.

But when it comes to online marketing and business interactions, generating a genuine feeling of inclusivity is harder to come by. Being online nowadays means being ambushed by ads and sales pitches pretty much wherever you go. These days everything is overly commercial and buyers are much savvier when it comes to deciphering what is a blanket sales push, and what is sincerely right for them.

Community-led growth strategy tackles this issue really well.

Online communities create a space for real conversations and authentic connections. It’s not about constantly selling, but rather about adding value for the customer in exchange for their dedication to your business.

By showing your customers that they are valued, providing a space for them to be heard and understood, and uniting them through a shared interest in what your business offers, they’ll be reluctant to let go of that in favor of another business that only interacts with them to gain something.

In fact, fostering those authentic connections before worrying about transactions means they’ll see more value in giving back when you do need their help.

Word-of-mouth marketing power

As most marketers know, the most effective marketing method is word-of-mouth recommendations. What this means is that you’re more likely to listen to a trusted friend who recommends a product, rather than a paid ad that comes up on your phone.

A strong, active community is a place for people to rely on each other for advice, information, and - of course - recommendations. This means you can get your customers interacting and sharing ways to make the most of your service with each other - but if you’re doing it well, they’ll eventually start to take those recommendations outside of the community, and bring new people in.

Essentially, by creating an online community, you’re building an army of brilliant brand advocates who will be going out and spreading the word about how great your service is. That’s all before you’ve even had to think about a paid ad.

To sum up

When it comes to mastering a community-led growth strategy, it’s all about putting the people first. Showing your customers that they are valued and heard is the key to success. It shows that you care about more than just selling and truly want to provide customers with that added value so that their experience can be enriched to the fullest extent.

Investing in your customers this way leads to ROI because they’ll become more dedicated to your business and the community interest. Beyond that, happy customers will spread the word which means more customers will start coming your way over time, through their interactions.

Eager to learn more about the value of community? Or just want to have your say? Head to the Community-Led Alliance slack community to join in the conversation with community leaders all over the world.

We can't wait to see you there.