Crafting a marketing strategy that is both flexible enough to allow for agile shifts within the organization, while retaining rigidity that the whole team can align with isn’t an easy task. Rather than setting forth archaic tenets to build your marketing strategy, a new school of thought is both popular and successful for brands: craft your marketing strategy from community-driven marketing.
Whether they’re called followers, nanoinfluencers, or simply vocal customers, a company’s top customers have always been crucial to expanding brand awareness and driving sales. But brands often overlook the vast marketing potential of these organic communities and miss out on key audience insights and opportunities to boost revenue in the process.
Your community should be the core focus of your marketing strategy in the year ahead. This strategy permeates every aspect of a brand, but for marketing, here are the specific areas a community-first mentality impacts the most.
When brands involve communities in an authentic and transparent way, they can boost company loyalty on the whole.
Beauty brands such as Madison Reed highlight customer testimonials and selfies on their websites to give potential customers informed and unbiased opinions on their products. The brand also leverages its community to provide self-care ideas, beauty tips, and tutorials. In this way, the website becomes not just a place to browse products, but a one-stop-shop for all things beauty. Now the company is looking to go full circle by expanding its retail footprint where it can provide in-person help to customers. Because shoppers are used to getting honest reviews on Madison Reed’s website, they expect similarly quality feedback in the store locations.
The beauty brand Glossier has put social media and customer engagement at the center of its brand strategy. Before launching new products, the company asks for customer feedback on colors, price points, fragrances, and more. This constant interaction and trust-building have helped the brand grow 600% annually since it launched in 2014. The brand also makes sure its customers have seamless access to its products by incorporating shoppable galleries on social media that are frequently updated to reflect customer preferences.
By putting their communities at the forefront of their marketing efforts and marketing strategy, these brands are garnering the trust and return visitorship necessary to stand out.
Ride the Wave of Emerging Trends
By listening to the most highly engaged customers, brands can anticipate emerging trends before they become mainstream. For example, the fashion brand Levis responded to the growing environmental sustainability movement by investing in ways to reuse plastic waste in jean designs and Guess Jeans adopted a jean recycling program before it became an industry standard. Before social justice became a common corporate value, Stuart Weitzman listened to its customers and reinvented the high heel to be more comfortable.
Making community marketing a central part of your overall marketing strategy will have a significant return on investment. Here are some steps your brand can take to organically build community.
Maximize User-Generated Content
The most highly engaged customers can often be found by scanning social media for user-generated content. Brands can then leverage this UGC in marketing campaigns, product galleries, and throughout social media.
Research has shown that 64% of customers look for peer reviews before making a purchase, and there’s no better peer review than organic UGC. Effective community marketing managers should find ways to maximize UGC by encouraging hashtag use, creating contests, and then using this content in larger marketing efforts.
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants gave their followers an opportunity to celebrate their pets through its Pet Photo contest. Breckenridge Resort Chamber showcased the wanderlust of its guests through a hashtag campaign called #BreckBecause. Under Armour, meanwhile, created a UGC campaign that went beyond gender stereotypes to empower female customers.
These efforts boost community engagement but also work to collect content for your brand, which you can reuse for other marketing and content initiatives.
Influencers extend a brand’s reach, tap into highly engaged audiences, and provide organic opportunities to hear customer feedback. The most effective influencers also drive sales.
Brands that give their influencers more room to be creative often see a higher return on investment. When an influencer posts a message that’s heavily edited by a brand, it can come off as inauthentic. On the other hand, when influencers develop an authentic relationship with a brand and are allowed to convey a brand message in their own voice, the message has a better chance of resonating with potential customers.
As time goes on, brands can monitor influencer interactions, draw insights, and better inform their overall marketing strategy.
In the past, community-driven marketing involved less-than-ideal focus groups, over-the-phone interviews, or in-store questionnaires that often yielded poor results. Today, marketing teams have a range of tools at their disposal to both nurture brand communities, measure return on investment, and adapt in real-time to customer feedback. In 2019, brands that put community first will stay a step ahead of their competitors.