Well-executed online communities offer a great opportunity to engage with customers throughout their lifecycle – not only after the sale. What does this means for marketers? Higher conversion rates, accelerated sales cycles and increased loyalty.
The content created through your customer community forum helps your customers find answers to their questions and move through each phase of the buyer’s journey faster. The easier it is for them to find a solution to their problem that they can easily adopt for themselves, the more likely you are to win their business.
Being Found the Instant the Need is Identified
According to Forrester Research, 78% of survey respondents indicated they used online communities for researching a problem. Why? Because communities provide real conversations that help guide them through the start of the buyer’s journey.
Think of your top of funnel keywords, before they hit your high value keywords or even brand. Community forums are rich with “how do I?” and “what should I do” questions which capture customer’s issues in their own words.. Think about SEO juice in that fresh, customer-driven content marketing.
Buyers will engage with your community in the earlier stages of the process by searching for answers in your community. Therefore finding positive conversations created by your own customers demonstrating how your product solves your prospect’s problems in their language entrenches your brand as a contender.
Moving the Dial Between Needs Identification and Solutions Assessment
Once your brand has been identified as a candidate solution, prospective customers are more likely to visit your website often to get supplemental information in making a decision. This depends on the quality of the interactions on your community, or if you even have one.
How to Identify When Your Prospects Advance in the Buying Cycle
When customers start trusting your brand, they’ll start asking questions in your community about how to solve their problems. These questions can help inspire and drive your other inbound marketing efforts.
First Time Purchase and Renewal
At the time of purchase, your new customers will use your community to connect with your brand. They’ll take the opportunity to provide feedback and get support when necessary. This is gold for executives in product marketing, customer experience and sales.
Community Forums Are the Fuel to Your Inbound Marketing Efforts
Customer communities enable real time curated content that addresses your customer’s needs at every step of the buying process. When questions are formulated with the same words as other customers, the content helps accelerate trust and rapport because your company “gets them”.
Your prospect will continue to engage with your brand post-discovery to find new and innovative ways to solve their problems. The bonus is that your community offers the solution through the lens of your products and services.
Your new customers, in turn, will continue to create fresh, relevant and meaningful content. This will help your marketing efforts, creating a virtuous cycle of trusted content marketing.
 Align Your B2B Communities with your Customer’s Life Cycle – Forrester Research.