A major component of building a successful brand and thriving SaaS business is going to be your online community. With goals of customer retention, repeat purchases, upselling opportunities, brand advocates, and people you can easily collect data and research from, it makes sense for SaaS companies to want to build an online community of their very own.
But how? There are probably more than a million online communities out there. Everyone wants to start a Facebook group today and use it to sell their wares and quit their 9-5, so how could you possibly build something that is somehow different and spectacular?
Many experts, SaaS related or not, all come back to one core component. The essence of your community isn’t about who runs it, or what product or services you’re trying to sell in the background. What really makes an online community special is its energy. It’s the tone, the chemistry, and how your community makes people feel. There’s nothing tangible about this, and the main goal should be to make your online community feel like an offline one.
Whether you want to treat it like friends grabbing coffee or colleagues enjoying lunch, you’ve got to remove the sensation of that online barrier. You’ve got to give people what they need to truly build relationships with one another, and get past the hurdle of feeling like internet strangers.
Real communities are about helping each other and sharing common interests, and online ones need to be treated the exact same way.
Here are some tips to help you set the foundation to start building a solid online community around your SaaS business:
Make sure you’ve clearly defined and outlined who your ideal customer is.
From a sales and marketing perspective, you should already know exactly who your ideal customer is. You want these exact same people in your online community. You want a group of people who are into the same things, share the same values, and support your brand. Actively market your online community to your ideal customers, and you will have a solid foundation of people to start with.
Define your vision for this community, and create a plan or roadmap to get there.
A community created for the sake of having one isn’t going to deliver the miraculous results you’re hoping for, so you need to get clear on what you want to get out of this. Decide what the purpose of the group is, and create a plan to get there.
If you want people to get to know each other in a real way, you’ve got to run the show.
You’ve got to provide new members and existing members alike with continuous opportunities to share their stories, get to know one another, and simply be real. For example, instead of asking new members about their business, ask them deeper, more personal questions like, “what is something you wish you could do every day?” or “if you could be the best at something, what would it be?”.
Engagement is absolutely essential amongst your members, so it’s up to you to make that authentic communication and relationship-building happen. Get clear on who you want in your group, and what value you want your members to get from being active participants. Don’t create one to make more sales - it just doesn’t work that way. Create a community to provide value and bring people together, and the sales will come authentically.