Community Marketing: The Best 2023 Detailed Guide [+Case Studies]

Every business should use community marketing to retain consumers, secure customer loyalty, and give their buyers a voice. Yes, that’s how much community marketing can do for your brand!

Having an online community can increase brand engagement by 21%! And marketers know this as 85% support the power of community marketing. 

It’s pretty obvious why so many marketing professionals love community marketing and why this marketing approach has customers hooked. Humans want to feel like they belong to something exclusive and true to their values. Developing an online community provides your buyers with that opportunity.

But it’s not just marketers who love community marketing. Business owners also can attest to how vital community marketing is for customer engagement, retention, and lead generation. 66% of businesses say community marketing has increased customer retention. Almost 70% confirm this marketing approach has maximized their lead generation efforts. 

We bet you want to know everything about how community marketing works. And how you can use this marketing strategy to accelerate your sales and growth marketing tactics in 2023.

This detailed guide will show you how to leverage community marketing to build a large network of loyal and engaged customers! Plus, we have several community marketing examples for you to see how businesses have reached success through this growth-driven marketing approach. Ready? Let’s get into it! 

Skip to What You Need

    read more

    What is Community Marketing?

    Community marketing is a non-intrusive form of growth marketing and customer engagement. The objective of community marketing is for businesses to create a hub where their customers can interact with each other. 

    Community marketing works because you can develop unity among your consumers. Your buyers can share positive experiences, questions, and concerns about your brand. Naturally, humans want to feel connected to something, and community marketing makes this possible. 

    Community Marketing Benefits 

    Brands that use community marketing experience various advantages. For starters, their consumers become more involved in their business. And they experience higher retention rates. Community marketing also makes it easier to secure customer loyalty. 

    Let’s explore the main community marketing benefits for your business: 

    1. Give Your Buyers a Voice

    Not all your customers will leave reviews so you can get feedback. Over 80% of customers only leave reviews four times or less within a year. This makes it challenging to adapt your products to what your consumers want. Generating more positive social proof for your business also becomes tricky.

    Fortunately, community marketing provides a solution for you. Your buyers can share their love for your brand and actively participate in how you modify your services/products. 

    Giving your customers a voice through community marketing also makes it much easier to do product research. All the information you need to evolve your products will be conveniently available in one place. 

    2.Increase Customer Retention

    There’s nothing more disappointing than losing customers. While you can’t eliminate this, community marketing will surely increase your retention rates. The more you can support your customers and keep them invested in your brand, the less likely they’ll stop purchasing. 

    But it’s not just that. Give your buyers as many reasons to stay as possible. By connecting them with other consumers who share similar pain points and values, they’ll feel a part of something much bigger. In turn, that unity will help you retain more consumers.

    3.Develops Customer Loyalty

    This complements the point above quite well. Communities of any kind allow people to feel like they belong. This feeling of belonging will tie your buyers to your business. If they walk away from your brand, they’re not just leaving what you offer, but they’re leaving a community of people they feel connected to. 

    Nearly 70% of consumers love participating in online communities because they can interact with people of similar interests. Giving your buyers this opportunity through community marketing makes it easier to turn these consumers into brand advocates because of the emotional connection.

    A simple example of how community marketing builds customer loyalty is Facebook. Think about all the discrepancies and controversies around Facebook, but users across the globe remain loyal to this social platform. The key reason for this is that Facebook creates an environment for groups of like-minded people to interact with each other. 

    4.Offers Humanization to Your Brand

    Interacting with a brand that doesn’t develop and nurture an emotional connection with its buyers is dissatisfying. You’re asking people you’ve never met to spend money on your business. But how can they feel comfortable doing this without an emotional connection and trust?

    Community marketing successfully solves this as directly engaging with your buyers creates more personal relationships with them. Rather than your consumers seeing you as just another money-hungry business without a face, they can feel like they’re interacting with a brand that cares.

    To take this up a notch, share personal moments about your brand with your community. For example, your first anniversary, your first 1000 sales, or reaching goals you’ve set for your business. Doing this shows there are people behind your business who care about customer appreciation and want your buyers to be a part of your brand’s journey. 

    5.Customers Can Support One Another

    Ever tried to troubleshoot an issue using any apps in Google’s suite? Then you’ll know how well the community supports each other. You can post a question, and community members will guide you to a solution. This is among the community marketing benefits that is highly convenient because it takes the pressure off your support team. 

    Your support team will have more time to approach high-level or critical issues, while minor problems your community can solve among each other.  

    While this is an excellent community marketing benefit, you should still make it possible for your customers to contact support. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to get in touch with a business after investing in their product. 

    Summary: Benefits of Community Marketing

    The advantages of community marketing are that your buyers will have a voice and the chance to give your business feedback. You can also increase your customer retention rates through engagement and secure customer loyalty. Plus, community marketing allows you to humanize your brand to create more personal relationships with your buyers and your community will provide support to each other, taking pressure off your support team.

    The 2 Types of Community Marketing

    There are only 2 types of community marketing, and how they work is straightforward. It’s best to understand these types of community marketing to know which approach would work for your business. 

    1.Organic Community Marketing

    Organic community marketing is when your customers naturally develop a community for your brand without your direct involvement. Examples of organic community marketing include fan pages on Instagram. Also, Facebook groups centered around one topic like Netflix Shows or a video game.

    This form of community marketing is ideal because it requires no effort on your side to create, and the community will expand through word of mouth. This isn’t simple to achieve without social proof, and you should already have a loyal customer base. 

    Another aspect to consider for organic communities is that you don’t have much control over what buyers share and post. Consider this factor to avoid misinformation about your brand spreading. 

    2.Sponsored Community Marketing

    Sponsored community marketing is when businesses like yours, invest money into developing and growing a community. Of course, this is more certain than organic community marketing because you have money behind it. However, not all businesses have the capital to invest in community marketing.

    Unlike organic community marketing, sponsored community marketing gives you much more control over your community. This factor is ideal so you can regulate how members interact with each other. 

    To get your money’s worth from sponsored community marketing, don’t expect to invest money and have your community grow on its own. Focus on developing an excellent brand reputation, social proof, and providing a product tailored to your audience. 

    Source: GoDaddy

    “An online community can increase brand engagement by 21%”

    Vanilla Forums

    7 Community Marketing Best Practices

    You can only get community marketing benefits if you do this marketing strategy correctly. These are the top community marketing strategies to start and expand your brand community. 

    1.Practice Customer Appreciation

    If you want to reap community marketing benefits, show your customers appreciation for joining your community. Doing this will show your buyers you care about them and recognize their support. 

    You can show your community appreciation in the following ways:

    • Take note of buyers that participate and interact the most. Make a note of their handles, names, etc. Then, you can give those community members shoutouts or send them freebies. Buyers will love this and have more reason to spread the word about your business. 
    • Greet new community members. When users join your community send them a welcome message and find out how you can ensure they have a great experience. This approach is very hands-on and shows your business notices people joining and progressing your community.
    • Show appreciation to consumers who show appreciation. Regularly monitor your community for hashtags, posts, or shoutouts from users to your brand. Thank these members and show them appreciation. 
    Community marketing_customer appreciation
    Source: info.4imprint.com

    2.Develop Rules and Guidelines

    We all know how rowdy the internet can get, so you need to be clear about what’s allowed and what isn’t for your community. Successful communities can fall apart if members are disrespectful and rude toward one another. You want your community to be a safe space for your buyers to interact and show love for your business, so you need rules to make this possible.

    You can communicate these rules and guidelines in various ways. A few ways to share this information with your community members include:

    • Post the document to your website or FAQ section (if you have one)
    • Share the document with new members when they join your community
    • If it’s not too lengthy, post the rules and guidelines in your community’s description/bio

    Businesses must review their rules and guidelines every so often to ensure they’ve grown with their community. Also, make it easy for members to escalate issues so your team can quickly solve this. 

    3.Be Consistent

    You have to be consistent in what you post to your community and when you engage with the members. It won’t be possible to grow a community if you’re not consistently interacting with your members. For sponsored community marketing, you can’t expect customers to interact if you’re don’t. 

    4.Have Regular Check-ins

    When we say regular check-ins, we don’t mean once or twice a week. No, we mean once a day, at the least. Checking in with your community makes it easier to perform all the other community marketing practices we’re walking you through. 

    Set notification alerts for mentions, comments, or direct messages so you or your team can quickly get on it. Ultimately, it’s up to you to ensure your community is working as it should. 

    5. Listen to Your Followers

    When your followers offer ideas, opinions, and complaints, don’t ignore them. Of course, you won’t be able to action every single request from your followers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t acknowledge what they have to say. 

    For example, if a member suggests you should change your product but you know it’s not possible right now, thank them for the suggestion. Mention that you’ll consider this for future product developments or why it wouldn’t work. 

    Your members will notice how hands-on you are, further engaging them in your business. Remember, these people use your product, so what they have to say matters. 

    6.Hold Competitions and Events

    If you know anything about hosting a social media contest, you’ll know how well they engage users. We can say the same for events. This practice will solidify the relationships between members of your community as they’re all participating in something fun together. 

    But you can’t just throw a few things together and call it a competition or event. Start by understanding what will interest your audience. To get this information, ask them! Then you can directly find out what your audience will enjoy doing, and you’ll be getting them excited for something too. 

    community marketing_social contests
    Source: outgrow.co

    7.Participate in The Community

    A strategic way to go about community marketing is to pretend you’re also a community member. You can get a community marketing manager to participate on behalf of your business. Or you can do it yourself. Either way, share your opinions, thoughts, ideas, and experiences to become involved in your community.

    This practice allows you to show a personal side of your business and gives your community a human-like feel. 

    Summary: Community Marketing Best Practices

    To be successful at community marketing you need to practice customer appreciation, create rules and guidelines for your community and consistently interact with your members. It’s also vital to check in often, respond to your followers, participate in the community as if you’re a member, and host competitions and events for engagement.

    5 Community Marketing Case Studies

    To help you get your online community started, we’ve reviewed and chosen the top 5 community marketing examples. You can follow the lead of just one community marketing case study from the list below or combine the takeaways of many.

    1.Starbucks

    community marketing_starbucks
    Source: www.starbucks.co.id

    Starbucks didn’t just stop at being a globally-beloved coffee shop, they took the next step and developed an online community. One small action Starbucks took that made a huge impact on their brand and their online community is referring to their employees as “partners”. 

    By doing this, Starbucks baristas were naturally motivated to share their Starbucks experience through the Instagram community, getting more users interested in this brand. Starbucks also holds social media competitions regularly and has been started many social initiatives programs like volunteer matching services.

    How this initiative works is simple – Starbucks matches their partners with members of their community to help anybody in need. This boosted the credibility and popularity of Starbucks. And it also strengthened their community as all members are moving toward the same goal. 

    Starbucks also has a rewards program that community members adore. Members earn stars for certain actions, like making a purchase, attending Starbucks events, and playing mini-games. This rewards program is available on mobile, allowing members to access it and participate anywhere. 

    Results: Through their online community, Starbucks has generated over 150,000 ideas and has implemented hundreds of them. These ideas are from consumers themselves which have greatly helped Starbucks become a billion-dollar franchise. 

    Key Takeaway: Don’t solely focus on making your consumers feel a part of your company, but do the same for your employees. The more motivated your employees are, the easier it will be for them to engage in and promote your community. Social initiatives are also vital to bind a community together. 

    2.Lego Ideas

    Lego Lego Ideas
    Source: ideas.lego.com

    Lego Ideas is an online community by Lego that gets its fans involved in how they design their products. Any Lego-lover from age 5 to 95 can submit an idea for a product design, and should Lego develop it. They’ll get a percentage of the sales! Does it get any better than this?

    You can find this online community through Lego’s website. This company also holds contests to entice their fans, gather feedback and solidify their customer’s loyalty. Community members can post to the website too, and interact with one another to share ideas, their Lego projects, and just about anything to do with this brand.

    Members can also find activities. These are projects other members have worked on and shared with the community. Another essential aspect of how Lego has expanded its community is that it had community members vote for the winner of contests and competitions. 

    Results: By developing and growing their online community, Lego saw a significant increase in profit. Customer sales increased by 22% over one year. Lego’s overall revenue grew by 27%.

    Key Takeaway: It’s an excellent idea to get your community involved in your product design and development. And giving them an incentive for the designs you use is also a strategic move to get them invested in your business. 

    3.Adidas Creator’s Club

    Adidas creators club
    Source: www.adidas.com

    Similar to the rewards marketing approach Starbucks used, Adidas grew its online community with a rewards program at the center. Interested consumers can join this community through their website and earn points for playing mini-games, attending events, participating in workouts, and uploading content.

    What’s unique and quite impressive about the Adidas Creator’s Club is that this company doesn’t tailor its rewards around the feedback of its customers. Instead, Adidas has established such an intricate and well-rounded understanding of their buyers, they’ve set up all the rewards and activities from their knowledge. 

    Of course, this strategy isn’t ideal for small businesses. But considering how long Adidas has been in the game, it’s no surprise they know what their consumers want. 

    Results: Unfortunately, Adidas hasn’t published any information on the results of their online community. 

    Key Takeaway: Minimizing their marketing work, Adidas incentivizes their consumers for creating user-generated content. They also use gamification to engage customers and encourage them to spend more time racking up points. 

    4.Charlie Hustle

    community marketing_Charlie Hustle
    Source: charliehustle.com

    Charlie Hustle brings people together with two popular elements – sports and your hometown. The products they sell are sports T-shirts with Kansas City branding. This is one way to group sports fans from the same city. Think about it, supporting the same team and coming from the same place will certainly connect people.

    The apparel Charlie Hustle sells also achieves the approach of a community feel as consumers can proudly wear their vintage, Kansas T-shirts. Doing this makes members feel a part of something bigger and gives them a “uniform”. 

    Like Starbucks, Charlie Hustle also has a social initiative. The money they generate from sales they invest into various social projects in Kansas City, such as educational programs. 

    Results: There is no accurate information for Charlie Hustle’s results from their online community 

    Key Takeaway: Charlie Hustle didn’t develop an online community as an extension of their business. Instead, their business is an entire community on its own. They also chose to build a community from what was already an existing community – people from the same city. 

    5.Beauty Insider Community – Sephora

    Sephora
    Source: sephora.com/community

    Grouping all makeup fans and skincare lovers, Sephora created this online community accessible through their website. This community allows people interested in beauty to share tips, tricks, experiences and speak about their favorite Sephora products. 

    Members don’t have to be expert beauticians with years of experience, this community bands together beauty fanatics of all backgrounds. 

    There are five main elements of this online community. The first is the homepage, where members can have general discussions. Then you get groups that allow community members to conversate on specific topics. There is also a section for ratings and reviews, so Sephora can gain user-generated content, and lastly, an FAQ section.

    Community members can also join events, and Sephora offers a rewards program too. To gain points, members must leave reviews, upload content, and make purchases. 

    Results: Sephora currently has over 5 million community members, with 80% of them being responsible for this beauty brand’s sales. And Sephora increased its brand engagement by 22%. 

    Key Takeaway: Promoting user-generated content isn’t the only aspect you should take from this case study. But also notice the idea of creating groups within your community. If your community is as diverse as Sephora’s developing smaller groups makes sense to allow people with similar interests to discuss specific topics. 

    Conclusion

    Many community marketing benefits prove how effective building an online community is. Just from the community marketing examples alone, it’s clear that consumers want to feel they like belong and are a part of something. Although developing and growing a community takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work, once the ball is rolling, your members will do most of the work.

    Use the community marketing examples we reviewed and determine how you can use this for our community. Don’t forget to stay consistent, show appreciation to your customers, use the advice from your followers, and do as much as you can to keep your community engaged. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How does community marketing work?

    Community marketing is a form of growth marketing and brand engagement strategies. The purpose of this is to create an online community of consumers and potential buyers. Within this community, members can interact with each other and discuss everything to do with your brand. These communities become a platform to connect people who are interested in your product and turn them into brand advocates. Read this article to find out more about community marketing, top community marketing benefits and community marketing examples.

    What is community marketing?

    Community marketing is a marketing approach centered around developing and growing an online community for your brand. These communities connect people who are interested in your offerings and allow you to create unity between your customers. To find out more about the benefits of community marketing, the types of community marketing and community marketing case studies, read this full article.

    Why is community marketing important?

    Community marketing is important as it allows your buyers to feel connected to one another and a apart of something bigger. Using community marketing gives you opportunity to make your brand a lifestyle for your consumers. This article has everything you need to know about community marketing, including it's benefits, the types of community marketing and brands that use this marketing technique.

    References

    Convince & Convert: 9 Surprising Statistics You Didn’t Know About Business and Community

    PeerBoard: 105 Online Community Statistics To Know: The Complete List (2022)

    Podium: 2021 State of Reviews

    Vanilla Forums: Vanilla Online Communities: The Benefits and Impacts on Organizations 2019