If you work in the subscription economy, you already know that churn is the single biggest threat to your company’s growth. The cost of customer acquisition has risen by 50% since 2015, while a brand that sees only 2.5% churn will be 50% bigger than one with 5% churn after 5 years. This gives brands a clear financial incentive to make retention as much of a priority as acquisition. Now more than ever, retention is the foundation for growth, meaning brands must place greater emphasis on retaining their existing customers.
One proven method of engaging with customers is building a branded expert community; an owned community that brings together learning, knowledge-sharing and collaboration. This enables brands to connect customers and prospects with their experts and each other, allowing users to benefit from this shared knowledge.
Let’s look more closely at a few of the ways in which expert communities boost retention.
Churn: a company-wide concern
In the past, the task of reducing churn would have fallen upon an organization’s customer support team. In the subscription era, however, customers hold more power than they once did and see more opportunities to churn - as well as more competing brands to choose from over yours. This means that reducing churn must be a focus at all levels of any subscription-based brand, including marketing.
Retention marketing is the practice of marketing to existing customers in order to retain as many as possible and make the most of any opportunities to upsell. With acquisition costs rising, one of the keys to growth is extending CLV. By operating a retention marketing strategy, your organization can continuously bring past and existing customers back into the buying cycle, making each customer worth more as an individual.
The graphic design platform Canva has perfected the art of retention marketing. Canva can be confusing to new users, so the company provides educational resources to users with the aim of resolving issues before these users churn. Much of this content is evergreen, meaning it can be repurposed and reused without the need to consistently produce brand new content. This strategy has the added benefit of making users feel valued and listened to, as the content is written in response to the queries and concerns of the Canva community.
No more lonely customers
We’ve established that marketing can no longer end at the point of sale - but how exactly do you market to people who are already your customers? Surround them with fellow customers, of course - people with positive things to say about your brand, and people who may have similar questions and concerns that need addressing. By preventing customers from becoming isolated, brands can continue marketing to these people in a way that feels organic and makes them feel valued and supported. Offering easy access to expert knowledge and fellow customers with similar desires and pain points makes it easier to keep them engaged in the buying cycle. This has the double impact of reducing churn and extending the value of each individual customer.
Peer reviews hold more power than traditional marketing, with 64% of marketing executives considering word of mouth to be the most powerful tool at their disposal. For contrast, fewer than half of all buyers trust traditional forms of marketing such as newspaper and television adverts. This makes it vital that you give your customers opportunities to share their experiences. By activating a community that connects your customers and prospects, you can put these people together in a space where they are able to assist each other, displaying a human side to your brand and lowering your customer support costs in the process.
Offering meaningful engagement
In order to retain customers, you must offer them features that they cannot get anywhere else. Attracting members with lots of noise and fanfare is easy - but without engaging them in a way that makes you indispensable, those members won’t stick around for long.
You could build (a community) and grow an audience, but are those people actually nurtured? Are they engaging with your resources? That’s another question.
Head of Growth Marketing, Sova Assessment
This makes building a true home for your brand essential, as other third-party platforms make it more difficult to reach and engage your customers. Many brands end their community journey at the stage of running social media accounts, thinking this will suffice if they can attract enough followers. The problem with this is that social media giants willfully limit the engagement of brands that use them. Facebook is notorious for restricting the reach of social media marketing on their platform. With engagement so heavily restricted across these channels, it doesn’t matter if you’ve acquired a large following - many of those people will miss out on the content you’re offering, leading them to feel undervalued as customers and ultimately churn.
Expert communities allow brands to engage customers by offering features that will make them better - both better users of their product and better at what they do. By consolidating everything you have to offer in one place - from expert insights, to educational courses, to peer support from fellow users - you create a hub of knowledge that associates your brand with expertise and reliability in the eyes of your audience.
Leveraging your greatest asset: the customer
All the value that we’ve had in terms of peer to peer networking and sharing and learning, we can do more broadly on the community platform.
Director of Marketing, Sova Assessment
A passionate customer base is the single greatest asset any brand can have. If you’ve already got this, now is the time to leverage it. Use a SaaS expert community to consistently engage customers and retain them for longer, improving growth over the long term.
A community allows your brand to be constantly marketing to its existing customers, engaging them in discussion and demonstrating thought leadership in the form of content and events.
You already have the tools to build a successful community ready and waiting, including the support base of followers and brand advocates to help spread the word. By putting this at the forefront of your marketing strategy, your brand will be able to improve retention - and, as a result, improve growth.