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The Value of Community Websites

According to a survey released by Get Satisfaction, more than 60 percent of companies have deployed a community website that promotes customer participation. Generating conversations with customers outside of traditional websites or brick-and-mortar stores helps companies build stronger customer relationships and maintain awareness of customer needs.

Constant interaction with customers, community members and fans enables companies to efficiently gain insights about products and industry trends. Get Satisfaction also found that 67 percent of companies use their online community to understand how to build a better and more engaging website. Monitoring community members’ conversations and questions helps companies collect ideas to build a website with all of the resources their consumers are seeking.

Here are just a few of the many benefits of creating a community website:

Owned Content and Thought Leadership Opportunities

In addition to collecting information for product launches and industry trends, community websites provide a platform for companies to release targeted content to guide conversations or make announcements about product or campaign launches. A community website is not only a great place for consumers to interact with each other. These websites humanize brands while serving as a resource for their consumers.

Increased Company Transparency

A community website is a convenient and reliable space for customers to generate honest discussions, which can help a company build transparency and credibility. After participating in conversations, reading reviews or collecting tips from community members, new customers begin to form their own opinions while building trust for the brand. This brand loyalty creates opportunities for brands to increase sales and for community members to play an important role in a brand’s marketing efforts. For example, members who share their excitement about the community website with people who share similar interests on social media will draw attention to the community and recruit new members.

Exclusive Offerings Yield Public Interest

Exclusive offerings make community members feel like valued customers, which leads to stronger customer relationships and customer loyalty. Often, once a customer registers to join a community website they will stay and share their experience with friends. This peer to peer dynamic drives the growth that makes a successful community website.

An example of a community website that has successfully cultivated this peer dynamic is the element14 Community. Launched in 2009, this community was the first of its kind to provide a portal for design engineers around the world to collaborate and share concepts. This innovative site offers members exclusive access to webinars, product trials, expert advice and a technical library. Within four years, the element14 Community had more than 200, 000 registered members.

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As community websites like the element14 Community continue to see growth, companies are recognizing the significant role they play in shaping and improving brands. Granting customers the freedom to communicate with a brand through multiple channels provides a full range of services that they can access on their own terms. Consumers cherish the flexibility and availability that these websites provide, making them an imperative asset for companies to thrive in the digital world.