Does your brand have an online community? Of course it does — whether you recognize it or not. Your customers are talking about you on social networks, review sites and online forums. Let’s take a look at how you can take ownership of those online communities, and increase engagement with Operations Experience.
How an online community can support your brand
Online communities add a human element to your marketing through recommendations, reviews and word of mouth. That makes them extremely valuable to health and beauty retailers… at minimum cost.
And the proof is in the sales figures. Digital-first companies which engage with their customers online are growing four times faster than legacy brands. Now that customers search, shop, and share feedback online, you can’t afford to get left behind.
In the next section, we’ll discuss how to engage and grow an online community so that it delivers for your brand.
3 ways to grow a community with operations excellence
In a 2020 analysis of brand communities, Tim Peckover concluded that there are three things which make an online community work; a reason to join, engage and share.
If you want to build up the online community around your brand, you have to offer those three things to consumers. But that doesn’t mean reinventing Facebook!
Instead, you can motivate people to join, engage and share by providing a world-class Operations Experience. When people actually enjoy the online shopping and delivery experience, that’s all the incentive they need.
#1 Create a fully branded experience
Let’s start with a reason to join. Why should customers seek you out on your website or on social media?
The first step is to let people know that your online community exists. Create a fully branded experience, from checkout to delivery to returns, which tells customers that there’s something here worth joining.
Research by parcelLab has found that only 12% of health and beauty retailers use branded tracking pages for e-commerce deliveries. A bare 20% share sustainability information on their packaging — even though we know this is a key consideration for shoppers — and only 36% offer any kind of loyalty program.
In other words, most brands are missing out on branding their Operations Experience. If you hand customers over to mail carriers and generic packaging as soon as they pass the checkout, you’re not offering them a reason to join your community.
#2 Solve common pain points
Next step: giving customers a reason to engage.
First of all, you can engage customers by solving common pain points for online deliveries. Things like:
- Offering a choice of delivery options.
- Providing a choice of return options.
- Staying in touch with customers during the delivery and returns process.
Again, our research shows that many health and beauty retailers are missing out. Only 39% keep their customers informed about returns, even though customers tell us that a good returns experience is key to their brand loyalty. And a whopping 96% of brands don’t send any personalized communications at all during shipping. They don’t give customers any reason to engage.
It’s not hard to improve the Operations Experience here. A straightforward automated email flow with personalized elements will go a long way towards making customers feel seen, supported and engaged.
#3 Contact people at the right moment
Finally, you need to give people a reason to share. They might have already joined your online community and engaged with content from you or other customers. Now you want them to share their own user-generated content — whether that’s reviews, product photos or unboxing videos.
So what’s the best way to get people to share? Ask.
According to our research, only 40% of health and beauty retailers ever ask for a review. That’s a huge missed opportunity.
If you already have a system for encouraging reviews, you can supercharge it by picking the right psychological moment to ask customers. In this case study, a parcelLab partner received 356% more reviews by analysing their deliveries and finding the optimal moment to send review requests.
Once again, the secret to building an online community was improving Operations Experience. When you stay in touch with customers and focus on a seamless service, the online engagement will follow.
Read the full report
Find even more ways to engage your online community. Read our research into Operations Experience in the Health and Beauty industry.