How to build a successful and thriving community: A guide for SaaS businesses
SaaS stands for ‘software as a service’. In basic terms it effectively allows businesses to access and use relevant software through subscription services.
New software can be installed across all company devices at the click of a button and because they are hosted in a cloud-based format, technical malfunctions can be solved remotely.
The software available to businesses varies greatly but can assist with managing remote teams, personal organisation, or whole business schedule management.
Many businesses are planning to move all or most of their systems to SaaS in the near future.
Unfortunately, due to the growing popularity of SaaS, the market is becoming saturated. Many entrepreneurs are trying their hand at getting involved in this booming market. In fact, it is predicted that SaaS businesses will be worth $397.5 billion by the end of 2022.
Taking the time to build, promote and use a community around your software will set you apart from the competition.
In this article, we will look at how you can create a successful and thriving community to benefit your business.
What does community achieve?
Duolingo, the famous language learning app has a fantastic online community. Users are rewarded for engaging with the platform online. They can share ideas and solutions to obstacles they come across when learning. There are also platforms for clients to give feedback on technical issues and find solutions without contacting the company itself.
One reason it’s so effective is because the company promotes through all their channels with the use of network trunks. Emailing information, sending push notifications on the app, and also showing how involvement in the online community improves success. Also, the PBX phone system in place works and provides the customer with a seamless, smooth experience.
Many SaaS businesses operate solely online and their reputation is based upon how people engage with their social media pages or websites.
Creating and maintaining a thriving community around your brand will help to:
- Increase brand awareness.
- Understand your customers.
- Improve conversions and outcomes.
- Build brand loyalty.
Where to start
There are a few questions to answer before creating an active community that benefits your business:
- What do you want your community to achieve?
- Define who you would like to involve in your community. Exclusive, or open to all?
- How are you going to make customers aware?
- How are you going to maintain and promote your community to ensure it gets used in the long term?
Let’s take a look at each of these in greater depth.
What do you want to achieve?
Setting targets and goals, or even marketing strategies, for how you want your community to benefit your business is vital when it comes to the first steps, especially if you are just starting a business.
Would you like customers to have open conversations about the direction of your business? Would you like them to be able to interact through a forum to solve issues collectively instead of having to contact the head office? On this matter - if you choose to have an open platform for discussion you need to monitor it to make sure that representation is fair and not defamatory.
You know your customers best and you know what they need. The opportunities for customisation in this area are plenty. So consider this aspect carefully and concentrate on fulfilling customer needs to keep them engaged and using your platforms.
Who are you going to involve in your community?
Thriving communities are not always those who involve the most people.
While it can be effective to market your social media and websites to vast quantities of people, exclusivity can go a long way when it comes to brand loyalty.
For your business, it may be more effective to only make paying, dedicated customers aware as it can build a sense of exclusivity and make them feel valued.
As well as this, having access to forums may make it easier for them to find important information. You could include a search function alongside dedicated forums to help long-term customers reach relevant information faster and easier.
How are you going to make your customers aware?
Because of the importance of online communities currently, it can be effective to see it as a new product.
How do you currently market your products? Considering this question and applying your approaches to making customers aware of online communities can help generate traffic and improve customer engagement metrics.
An effective method is sending personal invites to loyal customers or marketing emails that highlight all of the great things that take place in your online community.
Maintenance and promotion
The last thing you want is to go through all of these processes and end up with a website that is initially successful and turns into a disused ghost town with little engagement and no traffic. This benefits nobody.
Viewing your online community as a place for both customers and your business to benefit will help you understand the importance of consistent maintenance as well as keeping customers up-to-date with changes or developments.
Employing specific individuals or teams to help with effective marketing and promotion ensures that there is always new content being uploaded that interests and generates conversation around your brand.
Your content needs to be matched wherever it gets uploaded. Cohesion is key to reducing confusion. You need customers to use your online community to discuss relevant information, not something released months ago.
Furthermore, the internet is a fluid place that develops and changes almost daily. If your website is slow to react or basic functions don’t work then the website is likely to become disused.
If your clients see your online community as a helpful, easy-to-use place that is up-to-date then they will use it. This is exponential and potential clients will see that people enjoy discussion and interaction with one another and will want to get involved.
Having a loyal community for affiliate marketing traffic can do wonders when it comes to SaaS business growth.
Providing clients with a platform to feedback, discuss and promote your brand can improve engagement and convert sales and is what creates a loyal community!
Not only that but having customers who openly discuss ideas and share their issues and successes will help new clients feel welcomed when they join.
If you value your community and show that you are passionate about how you provide for your customers, you will likely achieve well when it comes to building a successful community.
Want to learn more about developing a stand-out community?
Why not check out Propolis, our exclusive community for B2B marketers to share insights, learn from industry leading marketers, and access our best content. Propolis includes eight Hives (groups) to tackle your specific marketing problems through expert advice.