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A vertical online community is an environment where customers and their vendors come together to help each other succeed.
Vertical communities reflect meaningful customer segments. The more narrowly defined, the more relevant the content, the more value they provide to all parties.
Communities facilitate interactions that are both synchronous and asynchronous, and also in person.
Successful communities must be based on candor, trust, helpfulness, and discretion.
This presentation outlines community drivers and enablers, the challenges addressed and benefits received by all stakeholders, the dimensions that deliver successful communities (Content, Community, Commerce), development processes, community participants, how to measure success and much more.
The Value of OnlineVertical Communities Helping MeaningfulCustomer Segments Succeed www.customerengagement.com
What is a Vertical Community?• A vertical online community is an environment where customers and their vendors come together to help each other succeed.• Vertical communities reflect meaningful customer segments. The more narrowly defined, the more relevant the content, the more value they provide to all parties.• Communities facilitate interactions that are both synchronous and asynchronous, and also in person.• Successful communities must be based on candor, trust, helpfulness, and discretion. www.customerengagement.com
Community Drivers & Enablers• Technology: – There are more digital “feeds” of information than ever before with more people watching, reading and participating in those feeds – Cross-channel integration of feeds – Explosion of devices enabling 24/7, location agnostic feed access – Cloud computing – Measurement and analysis tools• Culture: – Far greater willingness of participants to engage and share content – Content Creation has become democratized – Age of the Customer: customer empowerment – Socialization of marketing – More unity between IT and marketing www.customerengagement.com
Challenges Addressed• Customer Challenges • Vendor Challenges – Lack of responsiveness from – High cost of support vendor – No brand loyalty – Frustration using purchased – Limited referrals products – Unclear how to be customer- – Long learning curves focused – Use of expensive consultants to – Unclear how to “do” & measure succeed customer engagement – No or little acknowledgement from – Difficult to learn what customers vendor of suggestions, ideas or want/need complaints – Cross-sell and up-sell opportunities – No way to learn purchase criteria not based on knowledge of or best practices from other customers customers – Customers expect to interact with – No community recognition of good vendors online 24x7 ideas/suggestions – Less than satisfactory search results www.customerengagement.com
Benefits of Vertical Communities• Customer Benefits • Vendor Benefits – Responsiveness from vendor – Reduced support cost – Ensure success in use of product(s) – Increased loyalty, support for brand – Build expertise and domain – Makes being customer-focused a knowledge reality – Easier access to broader pool of – Source for innovative product, subject matter experts service and business model ideas – Feedback heard and magnified – A place to float new ideas to with potentially greater impact customers – Learn new approaches from other – Cross-sell and up-sell opportunities customers based on customer knowledge – Recognition – Unity driver for IT and marketing – Analytics – of members, as a reason to build community – Employee community www.customerengagement.com
Dimensions of Vertical Communities• The value of the web lies at the intersection of content, community and commerce. Communities will vary on the Content Community degree to which they emphasize each depending on purpose. – Training & support Commerce – Customer experience – Word-of-Mouth referrals – Purchase decisions and sales www.customerengagement.com
Measuring Success• Community success metrics include: – Revenue tracked back to community members – Referrals by community members to prospective customers – Revenue generated directly or indirectly by ads, sponsorship, membership fees – Reduction in customer support costs – More efficient/faster close rate – Number of visits and members, free and premium – Active participation of community members/engagement – Improved brand reputation – Improved customer satisfaction – Amount of User-Generated Content (UGC) and user comments – Amount of third-party tweeting, posting, links, etc. www.customerengagement.com
Core Processes• There are several processes that must be defined and managed for a vertical community to succeed. www.customerengagement.com
Pathways to Community Engagement Social Vendor Media •Twitter •Facebook •LinkedIn •Blogs •YouTube Vertical •Bookmark sites Community •Virtual Events•Email/newsletters•Twitter Direct Contact•Customer support•Traditional marketing Customers•Events Traditional marketing and social media marketing must be integrated in order to maximize the effectiveness of both. www.customerengagement.com
How to Stimulate Engagement• Develop a deep understanding of the audience through demographics, psychographics, support and education needs, problems and challenges, satisfaction with status quo, and others• Narrow the focus and purpose of the community• Create & maintain relevant content – Content sources include internal, external, user generated (UGC), crowd sourced• Add new content on a regular schedule & promote its availability• Recognize and reward UGC and referrals• Use multiple social media platforms AND traditional marketing to drive traffic to community www.customerengagement.com
Attitudes for Community Success• Host • Participants – Customer centric – Supportive – Open-minded – Candid – Candid – Collegial – Listening – Willing to provide content – Helpful and insight – Staff are empowered to – Take “ownership” of vertical address issues community – Committed to convictions – Willing to recognize contributors – Clearly set customer experience expectations – Shares “ownership” of vertical community www.customerengagement.com
Target Company Attributes• Products / Services • Customer Attributes – Have complex products/services – Want access to expertise 24/7/365 – Offer products/services that can be – New to product/service or upgrading customized – Want insight into performance metrics and – Customization requires users to have value significant knowledge – What is impact of product/service on – Evolutionary: products/services can be co- customers’ culture created in collaboration with customers. – New staff need to get acclimated quickly – Products/services that have commodity or near commodity status but can be used in • Brand innovative ways – Care about customer loyalty, referrals, satisfaction, levels of engagement• Operational – Want a platform to address issues being – Growth in customer base taxing support discussed socially staff and budget – Want a platform to announce new – Want to provide customers with access to initiatives expertise 24/7/365 – Want a platform to gather real-time – Want to augment existing support feedback capabilities without driving substantial – Care about reputation management budget increases – Want regularly, high value contact with customers and prospects www.customerengagement.com
Target Company Commitments• Internal culture • Customer experience – Every action taken tells customers their – Interactions = moments of truth when value customer learns if promises made will – Listen more than talk/push be kept – Embrace customers teaching & helping – Employees are empowered to care for each other customers – Deliver what is promised – Experiences should match the level of – Organization structure driven by what’s importance, value, meaning of the best for customer interaction – Committed to customer centricity • Technology enablement• Internal processes – Driven by internal culture, internal processes and customer experience – Integrate community insights with traditional databases – Integrate into existing marketing, sales & support messaging – Sales, marketing, IT & support participation in development & information sharing www.customerengagement.com
Developing Vertical Communities • Market research and analysis • Define community segments • Identify strategic opportunities Community • Prioritize segment needs Assessment • Define success metrics • Define benefits • Define supporting features Community • Look and feel Design • Define needed content • Determine best technology platform • Build out community platform • Content acquisition and/or creation Community • Identify and incorporate measurement toolsImplementation • Recruit members • Marketing and social media strategy design and implementation • Editorial review • Content acquisition and/or creation • Success measurement and analysis Community • Capture community innovation ideas Management • Retain members • Primary research with members www.customerengagement.com