Speaking at Infinitive’s 2016 Digital BrainFest, Bobby Patrick, Chief Marketing Officer for HPE Cloud, stated that marketers need to move away from the idea of pitching products and services to audiences, and instead foster the development of communities around products and services.
This new way of thinking centers on making potential customers participants with your brand, rather than just consumers of branded content. At the end of the day, it’s about driving engagement and building personalized, contextual relationships with your customers.
Why Building Communities Rather Than Audiences Could Increase Customer Engagement
So what’s the real difference between a community and the more traditional idea of an audience? In the Oxford English Dictionary, the word audience is defined as “spectators” who simply “watch” or “listen” to content.
Thus, “audience” is a passive term that lacks interaction or feedback. If the ultimate goal of companies is to have direct relationships with consumers, then marketers need to focus more on the creation of communities around a company’s product or service in their advertising strategies.
Compare that to a community, which by definition promotes a feeling of fellowship with others based on shared values and attitudes or common interest in a marketer’s product or service. Communities are known for sharing among members, having their own jargon and building strong bonds of loyalty.
Developing Customer Communities to Deepen Engagement
Here’s what that means for companies. Loyalty to a product or service is hugely valuable to marketers (obviously). Customer community members can be a source for ideas and insights to improve the product. They can also help to grow the community as well, by serving as product or brand evangelists.
Building and fostering communities in today’s digital world offers tremendous opportunities for marketers. However, finding those individuals that share a community’s interests and goals requires knowing who to target with your content, one of today’s biggest digital marketing ideas .
That customer targeting starts with having and unifying customer data. Once you have the data unified, you can analyze it and, finally, activate it for marketing that effectively engages customers. This is one important way that ‘Data Is the New Currency’ (the theme of 2016’s Digital BrainFest).
To go from targeting customers to building their trust in your company requires that you provide customers with two things:
- A great customer experience (CX)
Ultimately, that’s how to build engaged communities of consumers.
Those are some ideas that Digital BrainFest’s Keynote Speaker Sid Banerjee, Executive Chairman and Co-founder of Clarabridge, touched on during his address. He outlined research that showed how improved customer experiences can lead to significant revenue gains.
In other words, customer experience is not just a “qualitatively interesting idea,” but a way to improve tangible business results.
About the Author: Zack Hester
Zack is a principal with Infinitive’s Business Transformation practice.
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