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DTC Marketing Tips: Building a Great Online Community

Why Would a D2C Agency Suggest Building a Brand Community?

The idea of building an internet community around a company might have first gained traction with software and technology developers. Tech companies often establish user communities to provide information and assistance to users and prospects. Company employees might have provided some of this support, but over time, other members started to contribute too. DTC marketing agencies can a learn a thing or two from them.

Perhaps DTC marketing companies took a lesson from successful tech businesses. Today, communities support businesses that range from fashion, health, and beauty to automotive, entertainment, and travel. The communities help brands develop stronger connections, gather feedback, and analyze a goldmine of consumer information.

Where to Start a DTC Brand Community?

The best place to start a community may depend upon customer demographics, the location of competitors’ communities, or business goals. Consider some pros and cons of common options for community building:

Social Media Sites

Social media sites offer an easy solution. Customers probably already use these platforms and nobody needs to install and maintain extra software. Also, a social platform should make it easier to reach out and engage new members. Depending upon the typical customer base, popular suggestions for social networking sites include Facebook, Slack, LinkedIn, and Reddit.

Forums on Business Sites

Installing forum software on a business site should not require a lot of effort or a large investment. Downsides may include needing to keep the forum app updated and secure.

On the other hand, with this approach: 

  • A self-hosted forum allows businesses to maintain a lot more control over the way the community works, how it’s moderated, and who can see specific content.
  • Also, community members will navigate to the business site, so they should remember the domain and the brand.
  • The addition of user-generated content may help improve the website’s SEO and search rankings.
  • Best of all, the community and the company won’t need to compete for attention with social media ads from other businesses.
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Online Community Software Platforms

An experienced DTC marketing agency might say that a community platform could offer a compromise between social sites and self-hosted communities.  For instance:

  • Some of these platforms charge fees. In exchange, the provider should take responsibility for maintenance, upgrades, backups and security.
  • Unlike social networking sites, businesses can choose plans that do not show ads from other organizations. The best community platforms also make social sharing easy for members.
  • Also, these platforms offer lots of user-friendly tools that can help make the group more effective and engaging. Some examples include support for discussions, Q&A pages, and more.

According to blogging consultant Adam Enfroy, the user-generated content in a community can help optimize these platforms for search. That’s not as beneficial as optimizing the business site. Still, both search engines and group members should find navigating to the business site relatively easy.

Some popular examples of these community platforms include Tribe and Mighty Networks.

How to Grow Communities for DTC Marketing

Some communities take off on their own because of the value they provide users. No matter how much value most businesses can offer, they still need to invest some effort to invite group members to join and participate. Customers and prospects need to know the platform exists, where to find it, and most of all, how they might benefit.

As an example, Apple, Google, and plenty of other tech companies grew their group membership by offering a convenient way to obtain first-line support. Company representatives and other users could provide answers and solutions. At first, people might have visited because they needed specific assistance or information. Very often, these members would return to contribute their own feedback and knowledge.

Some suggestions to spread the word about a new business community include:

  • Sending invites after a purchase or delivery
  • Promoting the community on social pages or ads
  • Encouraging membership and participation with discounts or loyalty reward points

It helps to add some engaging content to the community before sending invitations. Some good examples might include FAQ pages, surveys, and posts to answer common questions, share good news about the brand, and solicit feedback.

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Examples of successful D2C marketing groups

A brief look at some successful examples of online brand communities should offer inspiration to help choose platforms, topics, and even specific content for other businesses.

Hims

This health and wellness company sells wellness products and provides a telehealth platform. As part of this initiative, Hims offers free, anonymous support groups that focus on a number of topics that relate to the company’s products and services. Examples of group topics include insomnia, mental health, meditation and mindfulness, and relationships.

Luma & Leaf Clean Skin Crew

Luma & Leaf sells natural skincare products. They chose to host a community for Luma & Leaf as a private group on Facebook. According to the company’s website, they strive to use this group as a safe space for people to connect, express themselves, and find opportunities for kindness.

Ceremonia

Ceremonia focuses on clean hair products with ingredients sourced from Latin America. According to the Ceremonia About Us page, the company invites customers to participate in a community that supports younger generations and promotes collaboration through forums, content projects, and feedback sessions.

Waeve

Waeve offers a variety of attractive, affordable wigs, with a focus upon Black women. They launched the WaeveWorld.com community even before the eCommerce site at Waeve.com. This gave the startup a way to introduce their brand. This community features stories from customers all over the world, quizzes, tips, and most of all, invitations to reach out to the company and subscribe to the newsletter.

Is It Time to Start an Online Brand Community?

Brand communities can enhance brand recognition, establish connections, offer insights, and provide value to customers and prospects. For just a few examples, businesses use groups for everything from providing advice about using a product to soliciting feedback about a new CPG packaging design. With a little effort, a business community can provide excellent returns on a modest investment.

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