A rising trend in many online business strategies is the launch of online, membership-based communities. These communities are formed by a company creating a private online space and requiring membership sign-up. In return, those registered members gain access to exclusive information, targeted support, and the addition of an entire like-minded community right there with them.
There are many ways to launch these online communities including:
– Membership based websites
– Private groups on social media platforms
– Online directories
– Or a combination of any/all of the above
When it comes to offering your audience exclusive access via an online membership, it’s important to remember that this is just a part of your branding and marketing strategy. Memberships can be great to supplement your current products and services, allowing you to serve more people in one cozy space. But that’s not all! Here are the other benefits that many brands are finding when launching exclusive online communities:
- Customers feel closer to your brand and are thus far more likely to recommend your company’s products or services to friends and family.
- Because there’s an entire community, the members will support each other, which creates massive added value…and takes some pressure off your team for doing all of the supporting.
- It’s an excellent opportunity to cross promote and market additional opportunities for members to engage with you further, or purchase other products and services.
- It allows you to establish your expertise as a leader of the industry.
Let’s not forget that with any ongoing service, there is going to be a certain level of upkeep to keep members excited and engaged. Before launching your online membership-based community, here are some considerations:
Make sure your community is fulfilling a current need or desire from customers. While it might sound fun to start something like this, you’ll want to be sure that your audience is going to bite at the opportunity. Market and customer research will go a long way before launching a membership community!
Find the best platform for your business. For some, it makes the most sense to build a membership website where content, training, support, etc. are offered – but for others, the entire community could take place on a social media platform like Facebook. It really depends on who the members are and what their preference would likely be.
Consistency is going to be key, more than ever before. This is not like your social media posting schedule, you’ll actually have paying customers which means that information must be delivered on time. You’ll want to have a team in place to be sure all content, videos, and other deliverables stay on schedule.
Your team will need to be available for support. Depending on what platform you host your community on (a website, social media group, or otherwise), support is going to set your community apart from others. After all, it’s often this exclusive access to you and your team that members are most excited about.
As the community grows and evolves, you will need to find innovative ways to keep people engaged and sticking around. After a while, you’ll want to introduce added value, different offerings, or bring in guest experts to keep members excited.
Keep a close eye on analytics and feedback. As your community grows, you’ll want to understand how members are interacting, what they’re most enjoying and even what elements don’t seem to work. This will ensure that you are always changing the community for the better and continually moving it in a positive direction, keeping life-long members and customers by providing the best value possible and still meeting members where they’re at. Just don’t forget to make the feedback process enjoyable to your valued members.
Are you ready to build and brand an online community for your company? Be sure to contact our expert branding and website design team. Strategic Thinking. Creative Everything.