Today, everyone wants to feel connected. In a time of virtual meetings, digital conversations, and an increasingly isolated reality, consumers are hungry for a sense of belonging.
Creating a community around your brand is a modern, customer-focused marketing approach that allows like-minded consumers to feel connected to your business while fostering two-way communication with your company. It's all about breaking down those consumer-brand boundaries and making your customers feel a part of your brand.
Consumers no longer just want to be customers. They want to feel like they are creating the brand with you as a constituent. Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that are not focused on the consumer. Simply put, building an online community builds human connections and makes your brand feel more real and adaptable.
How can you build your own brand community?
There are already people out there who love your brand. You just need to connect with them. Here's how we did that:
For more than a decade, Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA) has bridged the gap between manufacturers and consumers by giving businesses direct access to their target customers. With our top-rated Seal of Approval awards program, we certify innovative products by uniting brands with North America's largest parenting testing community of close to 200,000 consumers: PTPA's own brand community.
Products are sent out to our parent volunteers to evaluate in their homes to ensure their performance in a real-life environment. Winners of the seal are chosen based on merit and consumer experience—not on commercial considerations. If the product is reviewed positively, it is awarded a Seal of Approval recognized across all of North America.
Consumers looking for high-quality products and services can rest assured when they see our Seal of Approval on product packaging and websites. It is evidence of a product's excellence from having been objectively tested and approved through a strong brand community they can trust. That type of resource for families is priceless.
What is a brand community: A group of consumers who come together under your brand's banner because of a shared interest or because of what your brand stands for. They're a group united in your brand beyond what you can offer them and support it at all costs.
A brand community can become the backbone of your business, providing solutions, strong customer retention, and ensuring consumers remain engaged with your brand. People in your community show brand loyalty at its best.
But a brand community doesn't necessarily mean they are "fans" of your brand. In many cases, your brand's supporters may be more interested in the community's benefits rather than the company itself. Members of your community have an emotional connection to your brand but may not be actively engaging with your brand and participating in your brand initiatives.
Why is a brand community important?
Today's consumers are savvy and have become almost immune to advertising and market messaging. With multiple options available to them, there's an immense need for brand trust. Building a brand community can bring your most loyal consumers together, which is a massive win for any successful brand. Here's why:
It increases your brand awareness
A brand community provides consumers with a sense of personal association and spreads the word about your business. Long gone are the days where companies could spend money on advertising, expert testimonials or research to back up their claims. Now, a brand community must be made, fostered, and cared for.
Here's the catch: your brand community already exists on social media. It's your job to find and connect with them. Imagine being able to regularly reach out to a group of people who use your product or service. With this group, you can reward them for their investment by building a stronger brand community that provides instant customer service, helps your brand make customer-driven decisions, and increases credibility. If they are spreading the word and enticing other customers to join, more advocates will share the love of your brand.
It establishes trust
Building confidence with your consumers is critical to your long-term success. Customers have become more diligent about doing their own product research, seeking out reviews or being influenced by word-of-mouth before purchasing a product.
A brand community can help develop trust because the validation comes from real consumers—not from the brand. According to research by Nielsen, four-fifths of people trusted a referral or recommendation more if it came from a person they know, meaning the importance of community is at an all-time high.
It improves your customer experience
Customer experience is a customer's overall sentiment of every interaction they have with your company. And those experiences play out in spending habits: A bad experience can lead customers to decrease or cut off spending with a company while a positive one leaves them more likely to make additional purchases.
With the help of a brand community, your business can develop a deeper customer relationship and a sense of camaraderie that goes beyond pushing sales. Developing this strategic source of community can promote an authentic connection, which in turn can facilitate conversation, growth, advice, and valuable discussion that members can apply to their own lives outside of your brand that can lead to repeat business.
It fosters customer loyalty
Structuring an impactful brand community to keep your consumers engaged is just as important, if not more, than gaining first-time buyers. It can cost much more to find a new customer than retain a current one. By investing time and effort in creating a brand community, consumers will feel connected to your company and use their voice to advocate for you within their networks. After all, customers care more about relationships and connections than transactions.
How PTPA built its brand community
By understanding the value that a brand community has, PTPA went on to use Zapier and its integrations to create a process to grow a community.
Zapier is a powerful online automation tool that connects a wide range of applications, such as Gmail and MailChimp, to simplify repetitive tasks without the complication of having to hire a software developer or learning HTML code yourself. With Zapier you can create a customized integration connecting two or more apps together without investing your time or budget.
You'll need a Zapier account to use the workflows in this piece. If you don't have an account yet, it's free to get started.
PTPA connected Mailchimp and SurveyMonkey to easily follow up with our survey respondents by adding them to an email list on Mailchimp. Manually entering tens of thousands of email addresses to cultivate our brand community would have been an impossible task, resulting in missed or forgotten members and creating an unauthentic community. And relying on something like a manual export and import of data would have left people waiting too long to hear from us and led to us missing out on the benefits of immediate follow-up.
Using Zapier, PTPA continues to strengthen our relationship with our brand community without any ongoing work by our team. Zapier instantly adds new contacts from surveys who have opted into communication to Mailchimp lists that execute automatic digital marketing emails, so we always stay connected. By pushing these lists to Mailchimp through Zapier, PTPA has improved its internal processing of large amounts of data and seen the growth of:
Evergreen relationships with consumers
A consistent rhythm of always hearing from us
Authenticity and connection that resonates with our brand community
Differentiation from our competitors
Here are some ways to get started:
If you work with tools not included in this article, don't worry! Zapier works with thousands of apps. Head to our App Directory and search for the one you use, or browse to find the right solution for your needs.
This was a guest post from Sharon Vinderine, founder of Parent Tested Parent Approved. Sharon is an in-demand parenting, gift guide, and household product expert and has been featured on top-rated programs across North America, including Breakfast Television, The Rachael Ray Show, The Steve Harvey Show, Extra! and HLN. As a former hi-tech entrepreneur, she is incredibly passionate about internet safety and keeping families secure from online predators and provides commentary on family cybersecurity, best apps for families and screen time management. Want to see your work on the Zapier blog? Check out our guidelines and get in touch.