Four ROI myths on community marketing that need busting
Online communities are set to be the greatest marketing trend of the decade - yet many people are still unsure of the ROI. Here are the four greatest myths surrounding the ROI of community marketing, debunked.
Originally published as part of the Community Marketing report by Zapnito and B2B Marketing. Download the full report here.
1. It’s too difficult to monetize
One of the biggest ROI challenges facing community- based marketing is striking the balance between creating a burgeoning, value-add community, while also pulling in the revenue to keep it going. Sway too far towards the former, and you’ll ultimately run out of funds to maintain it, while focusing too much on the latter will compromise the authenticity of your community and its offering.
“If your community can demonstrate values around authority, honesty and transparency, then you’re presenting yourself as a solid and worthwhile investment choice,” says Lisa. This means setting clear objectives and KPIs from the outset, so you can measure performance and align to business goals.
If your community can demonstrate values around authority, honesty and transparency, then you’re presenting yourself as a solid and worthwhile investment choice.
For Lisa, the community represents the heartbeat that keeps all other of the areas running, and it would be short-sighted to jeopardise this by being too forceful with monetisation. “All of our content within the community is very practical, very supportive, but we don’t do the sales pitch,” she says. “It’s about making yourself an indispensable resource, so when your members need help, they know exactly where you are.”
2. There’s no point if it doesn’t provide immediate value
In community marketing, proving ROI isn’t as simple as tracing a link to source or tracking the click of an ad. That’s not to say ROI can’t be proved though, but B2B marketers must accept that evidence of success won’t appear suddenly from day one. “Building a strong B2B community is not something you can achieve overnight,” says Lisa. “You can’t expect to start raking in making money from the very beginning because, by the very nature of a community, it takes time to build and to nurture.”
Once that community has been built and nurtured though, the benefits are not only clear, but long-lasting and varied. Shane explains: “Investment
in community marketing programmes are for the long-term, but can have a dramatically positive effect on not only reducing acquisition costs through influencers in the community helping onboard new prospects, but also in terms of increased lifetime value from increased engagement and consumption of products.”
3. It won’t benefit other parts of the business
It’s not only marketers who benefit from a strong community. Salespeople can also use the community to establish and build stronger relationships with customers, or use it to ‘super-serve’ key accounts. “Communities help salespeople to rapidly identify a customer need, and build a business case for your product or services within key target accounts,” explains Zoe. “It also provides a rich depth of insight to help your sales team identify cross and upsell opportunities to pursue.”
Marketing isn’t all about winning new business – it’s also about retaining the business you already have.
Savvy marketers also use the community to trial new products and services, collecting feedback on UX and CX. In fact, as B2B Marketing’s 2021 Trend Tracker demonstrates, both customer success and customer experience ranked in the top five trends that marketers are focusing on in 2021. Marketers are placing increasing focus on the customer’s wants and needs, and what better way to understand these than by giving them a say in a community platform?
The importance of customer success and experience cannot be underplayed. Marketing isn’t all about winning new business – it’s also about retaining the business you already have. In this respect, community platforms are not just great for the customer, but they’re great for revenue, too.
4. It’s too expensive to set up
A few years ago, it may well have taken significant funds and resources to even set up a community (particularly online), but technology has evolved to such a point that it’s become a relatively inexpensive process to quickly and easily establish the foundations for a new community.
Of course, the amount of value you derive from a community directly relates to the amount of effort to dedicate to its upkeep. “Maintaining a community is high effort in terms of time and resource,” warns Zoe. “A dedicated community manager is important – so start small and build, testing along the way to improve engagement.”