The Rise of Community Websites – Should You be Starting One?
The shape and features of commercial websites change all the time. The way we use the Internet to find and access information and to buy online is changing. As such, your website needs to respond to not only the latest design trends, but how and what your customers and fan base want to access. And this is why it may be worth considering a ‘community website’. But what is it and what are the benefits for your business?
What Is a Community Website?
Forums, QAs, gaming networks, message boards, review sites and blogs are all example of online communities.Take a look at some of the most successful websites in the US or UK and you will see a highly engaged online community. Mumsnet is one example, as well as Reddit or medium to name a few. These are all businesses that have benefitted enormously from creating an online forum in which their customers and fans can talk to them, and to one another.
There are many benefits:
1- Get To Know Your Customers Better
Information about your customers, their likes and dislikes and how they change over time, is like the quest for the Holy Grail – just when you think you have a break through, the goal posts shift. But, with a community website that promotes people sharing with you and other customers, you gain a valuable insight into customer behaviour that no marketing research ever could.
2- Product And Brand Development
As well as being a fantastic opportunity to connect with your customers, a community website is also a means of testing new products and developments with your brand.
From checking out responses to new packaging and colour schemes, to customer input on how to improve your products or services is valuable insight into customer opinions.
3- Selling Without The Sales Patter
In the very early days of website development, the reason for any business to have a website was clear – to sell more products to more people. The subtlety and sophistication behind your business website will have changed in recent times and with a community website, it will change again. People like to feel connected to a business and a brand. This means sharing information, asking for information back, letting customers share ideas with one another and so on.
All this positivity swirling around you and your brand is selling you product, but without the heavy sales patter.
4- Content, Content, Content
Content is king, is an often-used phrase and with good reason – a website fantastic, relevant, informative and well-written content will get more visitors and recognition online than one that doesn’t. Figures suggest that a website with a vibrant community feel to it, with blogs and infographics etc. will have five more times traffic that one without.
Can you afford not to have more traffic to your website?
5- Customer Loyalty
The online world is fast-paced and this is great in many ways but it also led to many online businesses starting and failing in rapid succession. In many ways, the consumer found it hard to trust online companies unless they were well-known brands. However, times are changing and with a vibrant online community, you will win over more customers but – and this is the important bit – keep hold of customer loyalty.
Should You Harness The Power Of a Community Website
Customer loyalty, content, raising brand awareness and so on means getting it right when it comes to community website.
It means using the right tools, responding well and having the right design and the right hosting or vps hosting.