Where Does Community Management Fit Into The Buying Cycle?
Buying Cycle Basics
Before we look at ways you can support customers through community management, let’s quickly review the five stages of the buying cycle:
- Awareness of Needs – This is where the consumers determine that they need a particular product or service.
- Assess Offerings and Alternatives – The consumer begin to research a variety of options that fit their needs.
- Intent/Preferences for Purchase – After much research, the consumer use both logic and emotion to determine which provider to pick.
- Purchase – They’ve decided to make a purchase either in store or through your website.
- Repurchase and Referral – Satisfied consumer will share their experiences with others and make repeat purchases based on their previous experience with your company.
Now that we’ve got the foundation set, let’s analyze the role of community managers. Consumers who are part of your online community are obviously familiar with your brand, but do they know about all your offerings? Maybe you just launched a new service or are introducing a new product to your line-up. In either case, your online community is the perfect place to build hype.
Plug Your Products
Late last month Calloway Golf put a call-out for community forum members to try out their new clubs. The offer promotes the new product while also establishing a deeper connection between company and community. The post was viewed more than 20,000 times and was used to acutely impact users in the early stages of the buying cycle. This “Community Exclusive” product test was also a strategic way to drive community sign-ups. Well played, Calloway!
Build Engagement to Drive Preferences
Nurtured leads typically produce a 45% higher ROI than marketing departments that did not utilize a lead nurturing track. By forging a true connection, you can increase the likelihood that consumers will choose your company once they’ve made the decision to purchase.
Virtual reality company, Oculus, has effortlessly built engagement by developing a “Poster of the Week Reward Program.” Users who engage with the brand through their community get rewarded for their participation on the forum. They can win cool swag like t-shirts and stickers by simply communicating with other users on the platform. This drives brand loyalty and solidifies the user’s “Preferences for Purchase.”
Creating Lifelong Customers
The repurchase and referral stage of the buying cycle is critical yet often overlooked. It is five to six times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer .
Providing immediate assistance and feedback in the late stages of the buying cycle is necessary to customer satisfaction. Whether customers are in the “Purchase” or “Repurchase and Referral” phase, if they have a question, they want it answered immediately.
Vivino, a mobile wine app and community, does an excellent job at engaging with new customers through their social community. In the Questions and Feedback section, a new customer, David, requested information regarding the delivery of his recent order. After a detailed reply from the community manager, David posted “Great response time and I should have the wine by Friday. Thanks for your help!” This small yet important interaction turned David from concerned customer to brand evangelist.
By seeking micro-moments with your customers, you can positively shape your brand image in the eyes of consumers.