Community building has multiple benefits to your business. You can connect with customers, receive powerful feedback, and provide technical or administrative support for your audience. An often overlooked benefit of your community is the ability to data mine your members.
Data mining is the process of taking raw data from your community and turning it into useful information. Your community’s activity on your site can yield important information that, as a business, may be beneficial to you.
This article from Mashable provides a great primer on data mining your social media followers and what you can learn. Likes, shares, impressions, and other engagements can reveal information about your customer’s behavior. Using this information, you can gain better insight into the potential buying habits of your community.
Future of Online Community Management
Vast amounts of data are out there, waiting to be collected. For the next generation of online communities, managers will wisely make use of this available information. Data and analysis may be used for:
- Content Enrichment
- Market Segmentation
- Competitor Analysis
- Product and Service Development
Through analyzing your community’s activity, you can measure the engagement of posts, discussions, and other materials. This can help guide your content strategy as you determine what your community engages with best.
Perhaps the best source for data is the information you collect from customers at sign-up. Armed with this information, you can segment the market and group your customers by factors such as:
- And more
This information helps you understand your customers better and allows you to specifically target your audience in further marketing and promotional efforts rather than utilizing a broad range approach.
Revealing who your customer is also allows you to find out more information about your competition. Say you discover your customer is typically a male, aged 25-40, who makes $50,000 a year. Not only do you have specific information about who you should be targeting with your own marketing, you’ve gained insight into who your competitor is (or should be) targeting as well.
Product and Service Development
Data mining your community reveals their pain points. Remember, good businesses aren’t just producing a product or providing a service, they solve a problem. Analysis of your community reveals your customer’s frustrations and desires and lets you know what they want.
For example, if your company produces a handheld music device, your customers may want headphones that go with it. If they want headphones that go with it, they will talk about wanting them. Mining this information reveals what the customer wants you to provide for them and gives you something to work with as you develop new accessories or updated versions.
Part of the future of effective data mining is through single-sign on. Single sign-on refers to the practice of a user signing in to one service and being granted access to other applications. Perhaps the most prevalent example of the use of single sign on is Google.
When you sign into Google you are granted access to a variety of applications. Signing into your Gmail account, for example, logs you into the Google platform. That same login is used for your Google Drive and YouTube profile, so you are never asked for login credentials again.
The benefit of single-sign on is that if you have multiple services available to your customers, you are able to track their behaviors across these services, even if they brand onto another platform. Overall this yields a lot of useful information about your customers for you to utilize.
Through analyzing your community, you will gain insight into their habits such as what content they are engaging with the most. Armed with this information you can alter your content strategy and create more targeted materials that your audience has a greater likelihood of engaging with.
Bounce rate is a measurement of the percentage of visitors who clicked off of your website from the same page they landed. While there are other factors to consider, a high bounce rate would indicate that something about that page is not resonating with visitors and needs to be addressed.
When applied to a community setting such as a forum, Google Analytics can provide insight into the activities of your community including:
- New discussion comments
- New users
- Number of discussions
- Engagements in a discussion or forum post.
- Identify Key Persons of Influence (KPI’s)
This information can help make the decision of what isn’t working as much as what is. Google Analytics is, at its core, a data mining tool that reveals information about your community and their habits so that you may then formulate an action plan armed with data.
The Importance of Continued Analysis
Your online community is in a constant state of change. New users arrive, old users go, and the dynamic of the population is always in flux. Likewise, current event and trends may also drive interests and engagement or cause it to languish.
Because of this, the need for continued analysis should be obvious. Conditions change, and while the community’s core values and beliefs may remain the same, outside factors can have an impact that may require action.
Data mining is one of the most useful tools in the pursuit of understanding and even predicting customer behavior. The data is there to be had, you need only to pay attention and act.