When it comes to marketing your SaaS company, there's a lot of noise out there. You're competing with hundreds of other companies trying to get the same customers as you, and it can be tough to stand out from the crowd. If you're not sure how to break through to your audience and give them an experience that will keep them coming back for more, let us introduce you to the power of community building.
Building a community isn't something that will give you immediate results—but if you start now, you'll reap the benefits later on. Here's what we mean: when you create a safe place for people who are interested in your product or service to interact with each other, they'll have somewhere they can go when they need help solving problems related to your industry. As a result, they'll feel more connected to your brand and each other, which means they'll be less likely to abandon ship when another SaaS company tries to tempt them away.
So how do you build community? Great question! In this post, we'll tell you about some of our favorite tips for creating an environment where people want to stick around.
The importance of community building
A community is a group of people who are social and connected online but who also share common interests, values, goals, or dreams.
Building communities isn't just building them with blogs or social media. It's more like creating an environment where people want to interact with each other. To make this kind of atmosphere where people can hear your message and engage with you, there are several steps you can take.
- Step 1: Become a member of the community that has members that you want to reach out to for your product or service (you can start by becoming part of the Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups).
- Step 2: Use these groups as feedback channels for your product so that you can get feedback from the community about what they think about it. You will get an idea about what improvements should be made before launching something new. This should also help weed out any bugs that could mess up the launch.
- Step 3: Manage all communication in those communities in one place - this way, everyone knows what’s going on and how they can engage with your business.
- Step 4: Post regular updates on those communities - make sure you post content regularly to keep the community engaged and offer ways to help them.
How to get buy-in from your company
Once you've identified the best community building strategy for your company, explain that strategy to the rest of your team. Why is it a good fit? How will your marketing goals be affected? You may need to share examples from other companies that have successfully used community building as a marketing tool. Concrete examples are your best bet here. Once you've shown how other companies have used community building to achieve their goals, draw a line between their efforts and yours. How will this help you achieve your own business goals?
Data and research are very helpful in this step! If you're trying to increase brand awareness, show data that shows communities can make great brand ambassadors. If you want more people using your product, show data that proves customers are more likely to use products they feel a connection with—and that's something communities can provide!
Tactics for building a SaaS startup community
Building a thriving community is not as simple as "sprinkle community over your SaaS and watch the profits roll in." Any community builder worth their salt will tell you that building a community for your SaaS startup is hard work.
As with any marketing strategy, it's imperative to have a goal and process in place before you start building. Whether it's to amass brand ambassadors, engage with beta users, or create a feedback loop for product development, make sure you know the end goal before starting.
Choosing the right channels and having the proper resources are also integral to your success. Don't expect to build an engaged following on every channel—you need to choose where your audience resides and have appropriate resources dedicated to managing each one. For instance, if there is no one monitoring your Slack channel, don't expect that people will stick around very long (or at all). Also make sure that you're engaging with people as much as they're engaging with you. If this seems too daunting a task, consider hiring someone whose sole job focus is on community building—it may be worth it in the long run.
When done well, communities can be used not just for marketing but also for product development feedback loops—that's why they're so important!
Create a dedicated forum for customer interaction
Many marketers, including us, have found that the best way to build and maintain a community is by using a dedicated forum tool such as Discourse or Vanilla Forums. This approach is more suitable if you want your community members to be able to interact directly with each other without having to go through your team.
If you want more personal interaction with your customers and are willing to invest more time in building and growing your community, consider using a customer management platform like Circle. In addition to helping you keep track of everything from support tickets and bug reports to feature requests and overall customer engagement, Circle also allows you to create an online forum where your members can pose questions about these various topics. To get started on Circle, simply enter your company's name on the company setup page and start adding new members from there. (The free plan allows for up to 5 members.)
Use online tools.
For those with a more introverted personality (like myself), community building does not come naturally to you. One thing I’ve learned about myself in the past year, however, is that it’s important to be confident enough in your product and message to step out of your comfort zone just a bit. Getting creative with community building can help you do this.
As an example, one of the best ways to build an online community is through online tools! Well, duh! You might think of this as obvious but remember: when it comes to community building, we are looking for ways to reach people effectively and efficiently. Two key features make these tools effective: access and convenience.
The use of online tools allows for access on multiple levels – easy access for all participants and high-level accessibility between organizers/participants/subject matter experts. In addition, using these tools allows for convenient participation from anywhere and at any time.
Create interactive support networks on social media
A community can be one of the best resources for getting honest feedback and troubleshooting issues with your product. A good way to facilitate this is by creating interactive support networks on social media.
Social networks are a great place to talk directly with your target audience and get valuable feedback on how they’re using your product and their ideas for how it could be improved. It’s essential to not just listen to their pain points but also how they’ve seen success using your product. By establishing a presence on social media and learning how your customers use your software, you can shape future features to ensure customer satisfaction.
A unique benefit of being active on social media is that it allows you or others in the organization to share exciting customer success stories in one central location. Even better, if these testimonials are accompanied by images or videos of users interacting with each other through the platform, you can potentially attract people looking for similar software solutions!
Just be careful about trolls—a strong community might attract those looking to stir up trouble, so make sure there are effective guidelines and policies for discouraging this kind of behavior before it even starts so that no one feels threatened or excluded.
Host live events and webinars for creating customer engagement
Events are an excellent opportunity to meet your customers and build relationships with them in person. Hosting live events gives you a chance to listen to customer feedback, identify customer needs and introduce new products and services.
There's no one-size-fits-all event strategy. Each company is unique, with its own business goals, customer demographics, and marketing resources. If a company hosts an event that just doesn't make sense for their audience or business goals, they risk wasting time and money that could be invested elsewhere. Companies can host many events—from live conferences to webinars to roundtables—and it’s difficult for companies to know which type is right for their product or service.
For example, if you're selling baby clothes online you might consider offering a webinar on the best ways to keep baby clothes clean. Parents have specific questions about your product that are not easily answered by reading an article online or watching a video tutorial. On the other hand, if your SaaS startup sells data analytics software, hosting an in-person conference where your customers can learn how easy it is for them to use data analytics software will be beneficial because it provides these professionals with much-needed networking opportunities after work hours.
Community building is about creating shared experiences and helping people build connections with each other.
Community building is about creating shared experiences and helping people build connections with each other. It provides value to customers by offering them a place where they can feel heard and interact with people who have similar interests.
If you're thinking of community building as a marketing tactic, it's helpful to take a step back and think about how your company's product can bring people together. Can it? Does it? Why might people want to use your tool as part of an experience they share with other users? How do these shared experiences help your customers connect in a meaningful way? What makes these connections meaningful?
These are the questions you'll want to keep in mind as you move forward with your community-building efforts. Ultimately, every aspect of your strategy should relate to helping your audience build relationships.