This guest blog is written by Charles Thiede, CEO & Co-Founder of Zapnito, a partner in the Silverchair Universe program.

Communities are in the spotlight at many organizations thanks to the growing recognition among business leaders of the need to engage more deeply with customers. So there’s now a laser focus on communities with 88 percent of executives feeling positive about their brand communities. Yet, that piles on the expectations. To meet these, community managers need to consistently show positive results on business performance. That’s where Community-Led Growth comes in.

Community-Led Growth

We’re used to product-led strategies, growth marketing strategies, sales-led growth strategies, and more. Community-Led Growth might be a tactic you’re unfamiliar with, but it’s gaining a lot of traction and you’ll be hearing about it more and more. Especially in sectors that are heavily reliant on customer retention as a way to drive growth such as SaaS and publishing.

In short, Community-Led Growth, is a model that puts community at the centre of business growth. A new way to connect with customers that grabs attention and makes a lasting impression.

Why does this matter?

We have a glut of content and advertising vying for our attention. Every minute of the day almost half a million Tweets are sent, Instagram users post 46,740 photos, and 156 million emails are sent. Why are businesses wasting their time trying to cut through this noise with yet another social media post or email?

It’s better to capture an engaged audience in a single place — your community — and to deliver relevant and valuable content to them from your brand, their peers, and industry experts. Hence the Community-Led approach.

The flywheel for growth

In other articles on the Zapnito community, you’ll see me and other leaders speak about the Community Growth flywheel. It describes the different stages of Community-Led Growth that your strategy targets, and highlights how eventually, you’ll have a virtuous circle that continuously delivers business growth.

flywheel image

B2B Marketing’s community, Propolis, is a great example of the impact that Community-Led Growth can have. Recognising that traditional advertising and events weren’t growing the business as quickly as B2B Marketing needed, it launched an online community for B2B marketers. It provides real-time expertise, collective intelligence and peer-to-peer benchmarking. It uses the community to create value and trust, which in turn spurs growth. Propolis is now at the centre of B2B Marketing’s growth and feeds into its events, content, courses and more.

Proven business results

Early adopters of Community-Led Growth have already reported astonishing results.

  • Acquisition | 420% Community membership growth in 5 months | SEND Network
  • Adoption | 40% Increase in engagement with product education content | Sova
  • Retention | 90% Community influenced customer retention | Data Leaders
  • Advocacy | +21 Community influenced NPS score | B2B Marketing
Expect more communities to evolve to target each of these pathways because they are a proven way to drive tangible business results.

It’s worth calling out two areas that’ll really impact SaaS companies in particular. Adoption and churn.

Boosting product adoption

Selling a product is half the battle, the other half is getting active users. The more users who adopt your product and all of its features, the better the returns for their organisation. That makes renewals and upsells more likely. Improving your product adoption rate relies on:

  • A good first impression (effective onboarding)
  • Practical and interactive examples of how to use your product features.
  • Self-service support to drive users to reach activation points and troubleshoot.
  • Listening to customer feedback to improve your product.
Your community impacts all four. The community can act as a hub for customer success and existing customers to onboard new customers, share successes and ‘how-tos’, and deliver self-service support. Plus, you can use it as a channel for gathering feedback and analysing community data for product insights.

Reducing churn

Communities create a trusted space where customers can meet their peers, talk to internal experts, and gain knowledge they cannot get anywhere else. As it becomes essential to a customer’s life, it makes it harder for them to leave. That translates to a real revenue boost. Just a 5 percent increase in retention can increase company revenue by 25-95 percent.

Building the pathways to Community-Led Growth

Evidently, online communities aren’t just having their time in the limelight — they’re shining a light on the top and bottom lines that business leaders simply cannot ignore anymore. Harnessing your community for business growth this year will take your organisation to new heights.

Everything you need to know about Community-Led Growth, from pathway templates to an exclusive course, can be found on the Zapnito Community-Led Growth course.

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