In this competitive ecommerce landscape, it has become crucial for DTC brands to maintain meaningful connections with the individuals who matter most to their business via Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and other platforms.
Building an engaged community goes beyond transactional relationships to form an emotional connection with the brand and its loyal customers. There are various advantages to building an active and engaged community for your brand, including the development of trust, authenticity, and loyalty. They do a fantastic job of raising customer awareness of the brand and motivating them to spread the word about it.
DTC brands must find a means to get to know their customers better in the digital era, wherein shoppers are recognized only by their user ID, phone number, or email address.
Trying to figure out why they buy from you is a challenge for brands. Do they have a preference for a certain style? What does the general public think of your brand's image, and what do they find objectionable? To answer these questions you need to constantly engage with your community.
Content is still the king
Most DTC firms invest heavily in creating original content, including videos to share with their communities. To create content that resonates with your audience, it is important to identify the goals, needs, and pain points of your community members. Make time for meaningful conversations with customers and focus on listening to what they have to say.
Online community experts recommend that you include your audience in the content creation process. Interviewing individuals of the community and sharing their stories is something one should do more often. Not only is this a great way to get the community members involved, but it's also a great way to uncover and encourage member interactions in general.
Here’s an example of a successful DTC brand Rothy's that involves its audience in the content creation process:
Content types that drive community engagement
In addition, DTC brands should try and experiment with a variety of content types in order to keep their current communities involved. Let’s look at some of the ways that you can achieve that:
1. Roll out Contests
- Think of a challenge, for instance, to come up with a creative use for your items.
- If your ecommerce company is holding a sale, you may ask your members to help spread the word by posting a special deal. People who successfully finish a task should be rewarded for their hard work.
- A "caption this" contest can be a good idea to get your members to remark on the images and GIFs you post.
- You can even run a campaign to encourage customers to share their product customizations on social media.
- The Dollar Shave Club, for example, asked their fans what their balls meant to them and offered a $25,000 grand prize to the two people with the greatest responses.
2. Conduct Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions
- AMAs are a must-have in any engagement strategy. Members can ask questions to an expert and learn how other professionals or industry leaders tackle difficulties by participating in a Q&A session hosted by a community member.
- Find out what tags and search phrases people use in your community and see if you can use them to identify potential discussion topics.
- To make these sessions more impactful, always notify community members at least two or three weeks in advance so they can ask any questions they may have.
3. Use feedback surveys
- A basic one-question survey is a favorite among community members.
- Customers can use these to provide their thoughts on how you can improve your product for them.
- Such short surveys also improve your zero-party data, which can be further used to hyper-personalize your communication with your customers.
4. Implement gamification
- Gamification is yet another proven method for boosting customer retention and satisfaction. Gamification tools, such as badges, reputation scores, and leaderboards, are excellent ways to encourage high-quality contributions from the community at large.
- In its description, the Nike+ Run Club app claims to be the “perfect running partner.” It provides athletes with access to an online community as well as the ability to track their progress, collect trophies and badges, and share their victories with other athletes.
5. Convert support tickets into Q&A
- Is there a particular subject about which the customer care team frequently receives inquiries? It's fine to bring up such topics in your brand community. Because if a small number of customers are asking questions, there is a significant chance that many more are experiencing the same issues.
- You're allowing people to debate a hot topic by converting these tickets into community posts.
Importance of reviews and giveaways
Maintaining a thriving online community relies heavily on rewarding its members. For example, you may promote members who are taking full advantage of your product, winning a challenge you conducted (or even just participating in it), recommending new members, or having the highest participation rate.
People in your community should be honored based on what makes them feel special and appreciated. It may be a blog article thanking them for being a member of your community, a case study, a free month's supply of products, a t-shirt, or even a feature in a case study.
Here’s an example of how Dollar Shave Club does this flawlessly:
Remember that if you want to build a loyal and engaged DTC brand community, you can't just connect with customers whenever you feel like it.
According to research, customers prefer companies that respond to their social media inquiries within the first hour. Be quick and consistent in your response times, and this will help build confidence with customers.
Examples of a few DTC brands that are doing it right!
Direct-to-consumer brands can gain a lot from building a strong and active community, but it takes time and effort to do so. To inspire you, let's look at some of the most engaging DTC brand communities out there:
- Everything that makes a great brand community can be found in Sephora's Beauty Insider Community. Members of the Beauty Insiders club provide photos, reviews, and recommendations for products and trends they like.
- Other Beauty Insiders may also be consulted when they are looking for inspiration for their next look, product, or tip. As a bonus, it's completely free, which keeps Sephora's brand community engaged.
- With Beauty Insider status, you'll be able to shop for discounted products and attend special beauty guru events.
- When it comes to empowering guys, Hims has established an outstanding network that focuses on "empathy first" to break down the stigma around men's health.
- Health care stigmas, such as those linked with erectile dysfunction and hair loss, can make it tough to have difficult conversations. That is why Hims uses real people to promote awareness and encourage a more open dialogue around men's health and wellness.
- Hims’ blog, Instagram, and other online platforms educate customers about men's health and promote Hims as a tele-health industry leader.
- Blume is creating a safe environment for young women to study, grow, and become the best versions of themselves.
- Their efforts are helping to build a community that embraces the onset of puberty. As well as, all of the associated feelings, many of which persist into adulthood.
- The brand showcases real-life stories from a variety of women who are suffering with similar issues. They are converting uncomfortable moments into exciting chances for growth by directly connecting with its customers.
- Diggs sells a variety of high-quality pet supplies, including kennels and training equipment.
- It's because they want to keep their community members engaged. They applied for a GIPHY brand channel to develop GIFs for people to use in social media or in everyday conversations.
- Instead of creating sponsored GIFs, they began incorporating their customers' pets into GIFs. This helped them in increasing brand awareness and engagement.
- Peloton sells stationary bicycles and treadmills with a large touchscreen that is placed in front of the machine. Peloton, which combines fitness, socialization, and instructors is building a community that encourages healthy competition and keeps people motivated.
- The rider may pick from a variety of sessions where they will be guided by an instructor in increasing their speed, resistance, and arm workouts with the accompanying weights. These lessons are streamed live to the rider's screen.
You may use these ideas and examples to come up with your own unique strategies. You'll have a considerably higher chance of success if you keep an open mind regarding the members' expectations and try out different ways to connect with them.