Does your community work effectively?

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Despite the fact that planning and preparation can take months, the real job is just beginning after the launch of the community. In this article, we will analyze the general pattern of user behavior in the online community and specific metrics that need to be tracked in order to be sure that your community brings added value to the business. Firstly, let’s review the internal community UX-flows and analyze the funnel.

 

Funnel of online community

How do community visitors behave? Do they become registered users and active participants and how many of them? What were the obstacles for joining? Without knowing the answers it would be difficult to understand the effectiveness of your community. There is always a risk that something is not working properly and if the problem is not detected in time, it will take a lot of resources to fix it in the future.

Obviously, you need to compare your results with your own. However, there are some benchmarks that may be helpful. To better understand how effective your community is, let's look at a typical user funnel:

The benchmark says that only about 1% of site visitors become registered users, somewhat less than half of those who register to conduct their first action (comment or post) and just over half of them afterward return again. The biggest gap occurs in the next step - only 3.2% of those who returned to the site become engaged users and participate in discussions on a regular basis. The “on a regular basis” on average, means that the user makes 25 posts per month.

 

The transition from average to the engaged user depends on community management and it means that this metric is being constantly improved. All efforts are worth it because the next stage of the user is a “superuser” or brand advocate. About 16% of those who became an engaged user became a superuser in the future. 

 

Superuser (or brand advocate) is a member of your community who acts as a promoter and has a positive impact on the business. Such a person will be among the first to answer questions from newcomers, he will recommend your community to his friends and acquaintances and also talk about it on social networks. To “grow” brand advocates is a very important marketing task.  People do not trust advertisements, they do trust people they know and brand advocates are those who will promote your brand organically. 

The example above is a “benchmark” which you need to compare your metrics with in order to understand how effectively the community is managed. 



Online community metrics 

Now, when we discussed the general community funnel and benchmarks, it’s time to look more closely at more specific metrics. The full list is quite large, however here are some major ones:

New users

· the number of unique website visitors to the number of pages viewed over a period of time

· % new and returning visitors

User activity

· number of registrations

· total number of posts per time frame (day/month)

· the average number of posts per 1 user

· the average number of logins per user per time period

· the average number of badges earned by 1 user

Community Value for Users

· % of users who proceeded to the superusers category

· number of unique messages among community members

· NPS (net promoter score) among registered users

· number of users registered with referral links

· the number of community content reposts in social networks per time frame 

You need to track those metrics on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.  

How to estimate the benefits which the community brings to your business 

The metrics given in a previous chapter are not business goals, they simply reflect how your community functions from the inside (what is also important). To understand if your online community brings value and additional income, you need to monitor some custom KPIs. If previous metrics were related to functioning, this chapter will be devoted to money. Literally. Community effectiveness can be measured in real money which is earned from additional sales or saved resources. Here are some metrics for different types of business tasks. The effect of these metrics can be calculated in money and clearly show the community ROI.

Here are some examples:

· reduced online support calls

· the decrease in user churn

· increased sales through the community

· growth of brand mentions in social networks

· increase employee productivity

· reduction in employee turnover

· decrease advertising costs

· organic website traffic growth

The list above combines KPIs for different businesses, you need to choose only some of those which are most relevant to your niche.  

There is no effect without an analytical approach. To know what to improve you need to know what to track. Each business has a unique metrics’ structure. Standard community management metrics are combined with custom for each company. To achieve a “North Star” you need to track a dozen smaller.

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