You may already know the term ‘product-led growth’ (PLG). It’s a strategy that uses the product as the main driver in acquiring and retaining customers. If your product is successful, it can pretty much market itself.

In recent years, another strategy that complements PLG has gained popularity. In fact, this strategy can be so powerful that it becomes central to development. Say hello to community-led growth (CLG). 👋

Every brand has a community, but it’s only recently that brands have realized the marketing power a strong community can hold. If you build a successful community of passionate customers, it adds value to the product experience. Nowadays, there are endless opportunities to connect with like-minded people online. So, of course, businesses are starting to take action.

Think about it. When you connect with others who share your interests and understand your values, doesn’t it feel great? Now, imagine you’re super excited by a new product or service and you want to talk about it. With CLG, you can connect with people who feel the same way.

In this article we’ll discuss:

Let’s get started.

What is an online community?

Put simply, it’s a group of people with a shared interest who communicate over the internet. They can connect through discussion forums, websites, email, and more, to chat about the interests that unite them.

These communities are everywhere online. You’re probably a part of several communities without yet even realizing it! Take Twitter for example. If you’re on Twitter, following like-minded people and interacting with their content - that’s right, you're part of an online community. The same applies to any social networking platform.

When it comes to CLG, it’s all about the branded online community. This differs from social networking communities in that there are more guidelines and requirements for joining. It’s professional, as opposed to social.

A branded online community centers around - you guessed it - a brand or an organization. Through their shared purpose within this, they can help each other, and the organization, to grow. Building a branded online community means the customer isn’t left with just one avenue for information, i.e. via your website, but they can connect with other customers, members, employees, and collaborators.

What is community-led growth?

Community-led growth is a strategy that uses an engaged, supportive community to acquire and retain customers, while also expanding the reach of a business. It provides a platform beyond the product or service, and as a result, deepens consumer and brand interactions.

Nowadays, with so much choice available for products and services, it can be hard to know where to go and what to choose. Many people find themselves searching online forums or asking people they trust for recommendations. If there’s already a successful community that supports the kind of product that they’re in need of, they’re likely to be drawn to it. When a new customer buys into a product, this correlates with the growth of the business, and it’s all thanks to the support and advocacy of a successful community.

Placing community at the heart of your business and fostering its growth can leave you with an online community that grows organically. With careful consideration, a good strategy, and dedication, it can increase your business’ reach for you.

Essentially, if you’ve got customers who are invested in what you’re doing, why not harness their enthusiasm and loyalty to build your business?

5 reasons why you need community-led growth

So, we know community-led growth takes advantage of an engaged community where consumers can chat, offer support, and access information or advice. But, let’s break down what they’re doing for you and each other.

Here are five reasons why you need to invest in community-led growth.

You’ll have access to instant feedback on your services or products

If you need something tested or a question answered, your customers will provide an answer. They’ll also let you know when something’s not working right.

Facilitating a conversation that allows for members to interact with each other, as well as the business, creates a place for customers to own their community. It’s a place to match their needs so, of course, if there’s a problem that doesn’t meet those needs, they’re going to say something.

With a strategy led by your customer base, you can:

  • Watch in real-time as people ask each other ‘Hey, is anyone else struggling with access to XYZ?’.
  • Post a poll, and discover what people want to see in a service update.
  • Announce new features and see in real-time how your target audience reacts to the updates.

Plus, you’ll have been watching the community interact, so you should know if those new features are what they’ve been looking for, already!

You’ll gain access to 24/7 support

Customer service bots are old news. A community offers a space, not only for customers to help each other out but, for customers to speak to employees who know the product inside out.

We previously mentioned how feedback will be available instantly, and how an active community facilitates member-to-member interactions. However, it can help reduce the need for customer service on your end too. Your community can solve issues together, before ever seeking out a figure in your business. Members will likely stumble onto the same issues as each other, so they’ll be able to offer advice on what they did to solve the problem. So, that’s one less snag for you to worry about.

If that doesn’t work, they’ll still have access to you, but they’ll likely have discovered more about the issue itself which puts you in a better position to solve their problem.

Network! Network! Network!

Everyone who’s a part of the community is united by a shared interest. It’s a place to meet like-minded people, form friendships, professional relationships, and learn from industry experts.

With online professional spaces such as LinkedIn, there are so many people to connect with but, sometimes, it can feel like you’ll never find the right network. Having a specific online community provides another avenue for networking and creating meaningful connections with people who are interested in the same things as you.

A loyal community is the best place to sell

These customers are a sure thing. They’ve already invested in your product at least once, so they’ll definitely be interested in what else you have to offer. Time to upsell.

Realistically, if you’re talking to a stranger who has never heard of your product before, you’ll need to do a lot more work to persuade them it's something they need. In contrast, if you’re speaking with a customer who has already bought into your product or service, and appreciates the value of what you created, they likely won’t need too much convincing that an add-on or a new product is going to be worth their while.

Imagine how thankful your sales team will be, with a community of repeat customers ready to boost their sales figures. It definitely won’t hurt.

Customers are the best brand advocates

Your community can serve as part of your marketing team too. They’re more likely to shout you out to their peers. Plus, if a customer loves your product, they’re often loyal and likely not chasing the competition.

Peer recommendation is necessary for marketing success. Time and time again, people’s reasoning for buying a product comes down to someone they trust recommending it. So, if people are seeing the added value you’ve provided through establishing a community that offers all of the above features, they’ll want to recommend it and, as a result, market your product on your behalf.

In addition to this, you’ve created a place they’ll hopefully want to remain a part of. They’re loyal and getting so much more from you than just a product with a well-built community. This is what will keep them coming back and sticking around. The best brand advocate is someone who not only shouts about what you’ve created but really believes in it too. Community-led growth gives you access to them.

To wrap up

A community can do so much for a business when it’s given the right support and energy. It makes sense that community-led growth is the go-to-market strategy that many businesses are starting to invest in.

Want to learn more about community-led growth? Professionals from across the globe are sharing ideas, insights, and resources right now.

Join our Slack community.