You’ve probably noticed that advertising isn’t quite what it used to be. As it gets increasingly more expensive and ineffective, you need to start building a community of customers who love your products and stay loyal to it. There’s just one problem: unlike impressions, clicks, and submissions, emotions are a lot harder to track. So how do you know that your community building efforts are succeeding?
As it turns out, you can tangibly measure the strength of your brand community! There are a number of metrics that closely tied to building a strong community, and if you can improve these 5 metrics you’re well on your way to creating a world class brand community!
1. Guest checkout rate
This is one of the clearest indicators on whether your community building efforts are working because it tracks how many people are actually joining it. While a high guest checkout rate might indicates that your customers do not see the value in joining your brand, you likely just haven't shown them the value in sharing their information and more fully joining your community yet.
This means that a low guest checkout rate is an excellent sign for your community! By having a higher percentage of member checkouts, you open up the possibility of repeat engagement. High member checkouts mean that customers have created accounts in order to make their future purchase process easier, since their information will be saved. When customers are familiar with your store and checkout process, they feel comfortable coming back again and again. In fact, after 3 purchases more than 50% of customers will come back to make another purchase!
This repeat engagement is essential for fostering lasting customer loyalty that will ultimately lead to more customers discovering, joining, and participating in your brand community.
2. Purchase frequency
Another great way to see if your customers have bought in to the idea of community is by evaluating your purchase frequency.
When you think about purchase frequency, the most important thing to remember is that it’s not the actual purchase frequency but rather the increase in purchase frequency that matters. Since every brand’s products have a significant impact, you shouldn’t get hung up on a specific number. Instead, you should be measuring your purchase frequency regularly to make sure you’re still trending in the right direction.
inkbox is a great example of a brand committed to increasing their purchase frequency. As a semi permanent tattoo brand, it’s important for their business to find ways to keep customers coming back. They’ve managed to do this by focusing on community through rewarding loyal members, sharing customer photos, and creating content for their fans. They were able to see the difference a community made almost immediately. In just one month after introducing rewards their repeat purchase rate went up by 80%, making it clear that their community building efforts were working beautifully.
3. Average order value
Not only will your community members shop with you more often, but they’ll also spend more on average per order. That’s because they’ve developed a real emotional relationship with your brand and choose to stay loyal as a result.
This was echoed in a study done by Bain & Company, which states that the average customer’s fifth purchase with a brand will be 40% larger than their first. When customers believe that you care about them and look out for their best interests, they’ll start to trust you and reciprocate by spending more at your store. When customers are able to see the value your community brings them, they’re more likely to invest in the community with their purchases.
A brand who has experienced this first hand is Mpix. Since starting to invest in their own brand community, they’ve seen an astounding 55% increase in average order value from their community members. By putting their customers first, their community building efforts paid dividends and clearly indicated that their brand community was growing faster and stronger than ever!
4. Customer lifetime value
Customer lifetime value (CLV) is a way of combining purchase frequency and average order value into a “pulse check” of whether your community is healthy. Calculated using your store’s average order value, annual purchase frequency, and average customer lifespan, you can see how much revenue the average customer will give you over their lifetime.
This is huge for understanding how well your community is actually fostering ongoing loyalty. While this is highly dependent on the industry you’re in, most businesses are between 1-3 years as the typical lifetime for a customer shopping with your brand. If your CLV is low, it’s a good indication that your community isn’t engaging enough for customers to stick around.
Don’t get discouraged, though! If you focus on improving your community, that 1-3 years can easily become a much longer timeframe! When customers are bought in to the idea of community, you create switching barriers that make it more difficult for customers to decide to move to a competitor.
You can also inadvertently grow your community organically. Studies have shown that the average customer will have referred 7 new customers after making ten purchases. In this way, fostering longer lifetimes not only improves your customer experience for existing members, but also sets you up for success with every new customer your community acquires.
5. Churn and retention rates
Perhaps the most obvious way to determine if your community building efforts are going well is to look at your churn and retention rates. If customers are churning, that means they aren’t finding enough value in your community to continue being a part of it. This means you need to figure out what customers want from your community and determine how you can deliver that to them.
Often times, the most important part is building an emotional connection with your customer! According to the Harvard Business Review, customers who are fully emotionally connected to a brand are 70% more valuable than those that lack an emotional connection. This means it’s essential for you to create a community, a proven strategy for building emotional connections.
On the other hand, an excellent retention rate is a key indicator that your brand community is thriving. The ways that you’ve set up your community have conveyed value and emotion to your customers, and as a result they’ve decided to continue engaging with your brand. However, a high retention rate isn’t an excuse to get complacent! Keep building on this positive momentum by confirming what’s been working work and what other areas you could still improve in order to properly support and grow your community for years to come.
Making your brand community count
Using each of these 5 metrics, you will be able to get an excellent picture of how well you’re doing at building a strong brand community. Having an engaging community is essential to any business looking to survive in today’s competitive marketplace. By assessing the health of your brand experience with these 5 metrics, you’ll be able to quickly identify and improve every aspect of your community to make sure your customers stay engaged for years to come.