In a world where everyone’s talking about the benefits of digital marketing, it can be easy to forget the pitfalls. Although digital marketing is an essential tool for modern businesses to forge personal connections with customers in the way they expect and deserve, it does have its limitations.
In fact, these limitations are the reason overreliance on digital marketing can cause blind spots. And one of the most common blind spots is community management efforts.
It's easy to underestimate the negative impact that neglecting community management can have on a business. Although digital marketing may lead to personal relationships between a business and its customers, at the end of the day, it’s still fundamentally a marketing tool.
In contrast, community management is purely about interacting with the consumer in a way that focuses less on selling and more on providing the help they need.
Butthe most unfortunate part of watching businesses over-rely on digital marketing – to the exclusion of community management – is that it doesn't need to be that way. There are a number of easy-to-implement ways that allow them to complement each other perfectly.
The Limits of Digital Marketing
First, let's look at some of the limits of digital marketing, then we’ll move on to how community management efforts can fill in the gaps they create.
Digital Marketing Is Not Omnipresent
Given the reality of the internet, it's very easy for businesses to fall into the trap of thinking that their digital marketing efforts are reaching their target audience.
This simply isn't the case. It's precisely because the internet is such a vast place that it's difficult for a business to reach everyone interested in its brand or product.
Digital Marketing Does Not Service Active Customers Well
A customer who purchases something from a business is infinitely more valuable than a potential customer. Therefore, maintaining an enduring relationship with customers is of pivotal importance for any business looking to boost its ROI.
That said, the techniques that digital marketing uses to stay connected with customers (such as newsletters) come off as a tired sales tactic.
Digital Marketing Can Be Invasive
Regardless in which stage of the funnel a lead or a customer may be, digital marketing requires a business to seek out that customer’s attention. No matter how politely or gently this process is done, it remains fundamentally an invasive act — and nobody really likes it when a business is invasive.
How Community Management Efforts Fill in the Gaps
Proper community management fills in the gaps of digital marketing techniques in a number of important ways.
Community Management Is There for Any Customer Looking for Help
Unlike digital marketing which relies on seeking out customers, community management is an active resource that customers use whenever they need help. This is true along all stages of the pipeline.
For example, top and mid-funnel leads come to community forums and educate themselves about the problems your product or service can solve. A leader who is at the bottom of the funnel can come to the forums and look for customer testimonials or ask specific questions that might dissipate any final hesitations they may have before buying in.
Community Management as a Home for Leads & Customers
Digital marketing is always broadcasting out to consumers. In contrast, community management is a place where leads and customers alike come in with questions. Today's community management software ensures that businesses keep an effective and helpful dialogue going with anyone that comes to the forums requesting help or information.
Community Management Is Only There When Needed
When properly undertaken using modern software, community management never feels like a sales pitch. Even if the customer has already made a purchase, they can always come to the forums and re-engage with the business on their own terms. In this way, they feel like they're active in the community and that the business cares – but never feel like the business is trying to sell them something.
Share Data to Get the Whole Picture
As a final note, it's worth mentioning that because digital marketing and community management efforts are two sides of the same coin, they also collectively provide an excellent picture of how a business interacts with its customers.
Just like advanced digital marketing software can track how customers interact with the sales pipeline at every stage of the journey, today's community management software provides the same type of intensive, data-driven analysis for community forums.
In other words, the best way to combine your digital marketing and community management efforts is to make sure you have the proper tools working to allow you to leverage them fully. Together, they give you an empirical look at how well your business is helping its customers without being too intrusive.