How to Tell If Your Customer Community is Driving Revenue

by Eloqua on August 10, 2012 in Marketing Measurement

As the manager of Eloqua’s online community, Topliners, I’m constantly looking for ways to measure what’s working and what’s not. Are we seeing steady growth? Are users engaged?

There are multiple ways to slice the performance of an online community. (Chris Dowsett’s recent post on calculating engagement ratios was particularly helpful in my arsenal.) I supply these kinds of stats on a weekly and monthly basis.

But in the end, it all comes down to revenue. Specifically, is your community enabling customers to succeed, leading them to remain a loyal customer to your business. For us, this comes down to renewal rates.

Does our community help our customers find success and want to renew their contract with us year after year? For us, that’s the ultimate measure of whether the community is working or needs mending. So I look at it quarterly.

There are a couple of ways to gather and report this metric. For me, I use the Jive Cloud Connector in the Eloqua AppCloud. It feeds activity into our marketing database and I’m able to selectively choose which pieces of that information I want to pass into our Salesforce.com CRM system.

It’s been as simple as passing through someone’s Topliners community username into their contact record in Salesforce.com. Armed with that and some cool workflow rules with the CRM system, I’m able to quickly report on how community activity relates to renewal rates. Bottom line: If you’re a part of our active and supportive community, you’re much more likely to continue as a customer.

If you don’t have the super cool integrated setup I do, there’s a more manual way to get the data. Start by pulling a list from your CRM system with all contact email addresses and cross-referencing it with a list of the registered users in your community. You should be able to look at renewal data from your accounting team and see the difference in renewal rates for customers who are on the community versus who are not. Your goal is to make sure that every one of your customer accounts has at least one user on your community.

For the accounts that do not have a user, build a strategy for targeting two or three people at those accounts through email, messages from the support team, phone calls from account managers, etc. Build email templates for everyone to use to help spread the word about what’s great about your community. For example, link to one or two great discussions, another couple helpful documents, and if possible, include a testimonial from a happy user. Each quarter, re-measure and check your renewal rates again.  Through targeted messaging and nurturing my goal is to be able to grab just a bit of the renewal causation credit going forward. I look forward to being able to share my results here, as well as at JiveWorld this fall.

How do you measure the success of your online community?

Want to know more about online community management? Download our free Grande Guide to Community Management.

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