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[Community] The 411 on Using Community KPIs for the First Time

Posted by Krista Gray on Jul 28, 2016 10:00:58 AM

3 minute read

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Community work is all about relationships, and the degree to which a community manager is able to deepen and strengthen them to generate ROI can be tricky (though definitely not impossible) to measure. Depending on the community’s stage and your specific goals, KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, can help you track core community metrics and share your success.

While KPIs are never perfect, using them to track progress is also valuable for understanding what’s not working -- and what you can do to fix it. Since community generates business growth by reducing churn through good user and customer experiences, a solid community KPI will be centered on metrics of your choosing that accomplish three key things:

  • Are closely tied to your daily effort and goals
    Consider consistency, team goals and the company’s North Star
  • Speak to the value of relationships
    You might consider metrics that showcase the company’s relationship with the customer or user and/or their relationships to each other
  • Can be tracked and measured
    Measurement must be accurate over time for reliable reporting, so choose your method and frequency and stick to them.

If you’re using community KPIs for the first time, know that while community functions range from social media or support-side efforts to work with product and marketing, beginning with engagement or retention based metrics is a sound place to start. Engagement-based metrics can help a community manager understand how often a customer or user is actively drawn to the company’s product or service while retention-focused metrics are key for understanding how long customers or users stay connected to the product or service.

That said, no community jobs are ever exactly alike in terms of industry, members or goals, but the following metrics are some you can consider incorporating into your own work immediately:

1. Response Rate: Work on the support or social media side of community or happiness? Tracking response time (over time) is a great place to measure your day to day efforts. Measure the number of incoming requests from community members with your average response time and use the data when you evaluate customer or user happiness. You’re likely to see happiness increase with response rate improvements, which will speak directly to your work.

2. Satisfaction: Measuring satisfaction is a good way to get a pulse check on your community and the experience that members have while engaging with your company. Many companies use surveys like the NPS, or Net Promoter Score, to understand the percentages of customers and users who are satisfied, dissatisfied or neutral about their product or service. Though you may think about focusing on the unhappy people (detractors) first, the percentage of people who fall in the middle is actually where you might be able to make the biggest leaps and strides. Work hard to understand what about your company, product, service or brand experience can take a customer or user from “it’s okay” to “I can’t live without it.” Measure the change month over month and you’ll have solid progress to show.

3. Return Rate: Knowing how often your community members engage with your product or service is an essential part of a community manager’s work. Whether you’re community forum logins, site visits from social media efforts, app usage or sales, pick a metric that you can always rely on to clearly communicate the frequency in which your customers or users come back for more. Understand what number speaks to optimum loyalty, what inspires community members to reach that point and work hard to elevate other members to the same state.

4. Churn: Watching a community grow is one of the single best feelings a community manager can have -- but the growth is only worth celebrating if you’re retaining old members too. Pay close attention to what the numbers really mean on a regular basis. Are you running an off-brand promotion that garners many new members but losing long-term customers or users in the process? Do more seasoned members feel neglected? This can be especially tricky in social media based community roles with heavy pressure to acquire followers. Avoid vanity metrics and strike a balance for healthy community growth.

Remember that while KPIs and the metrics you choose for each provide a strong baseline for measuring and showcasing awesome community success, there are lots of factors outside of your control that can affect your work. Things like bugs, technical difficulties, site outages, marketing campaigns, product and price changes can all play a major role in how relationships grow and generate ROI for the company. In these instances, the best thing you can do is make a note as to what happened during any given day or week and include the information in your reporting. That way, when you present your progress using your KPIs, you’ll be able to tell the whole story.

What metrics do you track and evaluate in your community role? Tell us more about what you do and how you measure your success in the comments.

Topics: Community, Marketing

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