Though the purpose of an online community will differ from company to company, all businesses want to generate results from their community engagement efforts. Once the goals of the community (i.e. customer retention, increased revenue, lower support costs) are clearly defined, it's critical that companies have a strategy to track their progress. By tying customer performance to business-level goals, companies can increase executive buy-in and prove a more impressive return on investment. Companies can do this by tracking the following three metrics:
Metric #1: Audience
Behind every community member is an actual person, and engagement comes only if companies understand their audience. Take the time to get learn the personas that make up your community and address their needs accordingly. This'll help you create engagement that's not only beneficial to your audience, but which also keeps them coming back.
Break down your metrics to include:
- Where is the community member in the sales cycle (prospect or customer)?
- What industries is my community attracting?
- What position does the community member have within their company?
- Do I have content to meet the needs of each persona?
Metric #2: Growth
Are your efforts to engage your audience working? Community managers need to track the number of new members and develop their understanding of why that number is growing or declining. Knowing this will help companies measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts and engagement strategies.
Metrics to monitor include:
- How many new members join the community each week? Each month?
- How many members leave?
- Are new members actively participating?
- What types of members are leaving (i.e., did they participate in the community)?
As a best practice, it's important to regularly assess the health of your community. If membership declines, be proactive. Send an email campaign to previous members requesting feedback. Poll users on a regular basis to identify where improvements can be made.
Metric #3: Activity
Once companies understand site traffic, they can begin analyzing community member actions. Community managers can more effectively engage users if they understand member interest and tendencies. With relevant content and discussion topics, communities can provide consistent value for the audience that keeps them coming back for more:
- What content has the most engagement (i.e. likes, up votes or comments)?
- What content has the lowest engagement?
- What content topic is the most popular?
- What content topic is the least popular?
- What content is lacking on the site that members are requesting?
- What content type is the most popular (i.e. video, Q&A, etc.)?
Every online community is unique and will have a different process for measuring results. To measure the success of your community, it's important to identify your metrics of importance, and to consistently track the relevant data. Key metrics will not only provide the insight necessary to build stronger engagement, but they'll also influence community management decisions and enable your audience to play a role in achieving business-level goals.
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