Vanilla Staff

10 Ways Having A Customer Forum Is Different From Having A Facebook or Twitter Page

We recently completed the following report: “10 Ways Having A Customer Forum Is Different From Having A Facebook or Twitter Page“.  You can download the full report here.  We are not suggesting that you don’t have a Facebook or Twitter page, you should, but this report shows how important it is to create a central hub to pull together your external community ecosystem and take advantage of features and benefits that only a forum can provide.

In it we cover what kind of customer and member information you have access to through a forum that you don’t get with Facebook or Twitter.  We discuss the things you control and own with a forum vs a third-party site.  For example, with your own forum you own the data, have complete control of the visual design, and can decide what, if any, advertising appears on the forum (e.g. calls to action for your products).  We also discuss specialized customer experience and support features such as product Single-Sign-On and e-mail integration that you don’t get with sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.  And we discuss both the SEO implications for public sites and the ability to manage different levels of access and member types for both public and private forums.

Enjoy the report!

Introducing Vanilla Enterprise Community Analytics

Recently Vanilla Forums released an updated version of the Community Analytics available with our Enterprise package.  The goal was to provide insight on the overall community health trends in your customer community.  The Enterprise Analytics suite tracks four main areas: Traffic, Users/Community, Content, and Q&A.

Traffic

Within traffic, the following statistics are tracked: Page Views, Visits, Visits per User, and Time On Site.  Page Views are broken down by Guests, Users, and Searches.  Visits, Visits per User and Time On Site are all broken down by Guests, Members and Moderators.  Traffic is in general a metric of the level of awareness or reach of the community. Time On Site you can also regard as an engagement metric.

Users / Community

Within the users / community section we track activity by: New Users, Active Users (Unique Visits), and Contributing Users.  The users / community is segmented by Guests, Members and Moderators and is generally an active membership metric.

Content

The content section of the analytics package tracks Discussions, Comments, and Users Per Discussion (Thread). Since content can only be posted by either members or moderators, this section is segmented between those two only.  Content is considered an engagement metric.

Q&A

The Q&A section applies to those customer communities that want to track the # of times customers ask questions, how many answers there are, how many accepted answers there are, and the average time it takes a question to be answered.  This is great for measuring the level of responsiveness to questions in the forum, both from internal staff and from the general community.  Q&A is considered a specialized support or responsiveness metric.

You can also relate the Q&A as a financial metric.  For instance, if you know that a direct phone or e-mail support request costs you on average x (let’s say $50) and that a re-usable community support answer costs you on average y (let’s say $5), then you can calculate the financial return (ROI) of your total community support answers for the month (z) as: ROI = z*(x-y).  So if you had 350 community answers in a month, your ROI for the month would be 350*(50-5) = $15,750.00.

Sign-up now for a 30-day trial of Vanilla Forums Enterprise with Community Analytics

Vanilla Forums Featured In IT World Canada

There’s a great article today about Vanilla’s Customer Forums products and strategy in IT World Canada.  The author JD Speedy has done a great job of zeroing in on the unique value that Vanilla offers.  Special thanks to Rick Burnes from Hubspot for doing an absolutely amazing  job of communicating the value of Vanilla.  If you are a customer of Vanilla and would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to comment on that article, we’d love to see it.  Link to your forum while you are at it.

You can view the article here: http://www.itworldcanada.com/news/canadian-software-company-improves-on-the-internet-forum/144307

Vanilla Forums Named To CIX Top 20 Innovative Companies for 2011

We are pleased and honoured to announce that Vanilla Forums has been named as one of the Top 20 Innovative Companies in Canada by the Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX).  The announcement was made this morning at the opening bell of the Toronto Stock Exchange.  You can get more info on the CIX Top 20 here, you can see the Vanilla Forums CIX info page here, and a list of the Top 20 here.

Attendees of the CIX will be trading virtual shares in the Top 20 companies as part of the lead-up to the actual event.  If you would like to take part as an attendee of the CIX event (taking place at the Mars Discovery District on December 1, 2011), you can sign-up here.