How to Keep Customers Coming Back: Lessons in Community Building

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Build community around your brand to transform single-purchase customers into loyal, returning ones.

Good businesses make sales, but great businesses figure out how to keep customers coming back.

Since the pandemic started, many businesses have needed to adapt to the digital “new normal,” including new competitors, smaller staff, reduced hours, evolving consumer needs and expectations, and new financial restraints on both businesses and consumers.

Pir Fahad Momin is a digital marketing expert at an advertising agency who also runs an online bakery as a side job. When COVID-19 hit, he noticed sales dropping, especially after he stopped offering discounts.

“The only people I saw were still placing orders were the ones that had been my customers in the past,” Momin said.

As a result, he started investing more in his existing customers so they would keep coming back, and Momin isn’t the only business owner who has been prioritizing customer retention.

According to a recent survey, 46% of small-business owners consider customer retention one of their top short-term goals, and 39% consider it one of their top long-term goals, too.

Maybe you also have customer retention and loyalty on the brain.

Retaining customers usually boils down to not only offering great products and services but also offering an unmatched customer experience. To do this, shift away from selling to helping and put a greater emphasis on customer success (full research available to Gartner clients).

3 ways businesses are building community through their content strategy

One way businesses do this is through content marketing. By offering their customers useful content, they provide value and establish brand trust (full research available to Gartner clients). Content, however, may not be enough as some businesses turn to community building as an extension of their content strategy.

“People come for content but stay for community,” said Hannah Reynolds from Flipped Lifestyle.

Here’s what other businesses did to offer valuable content to their customers, build brand trust, and create a community around their brand, paired with advice to help you do the same.

1. Tailor your content to the here and now

Valuable content is relatable; people want to read content that addresses their current challenges. When the pandemic hit, disrupting businesses across industries and our daily lives, content strategies had to shift, too.

Home Grounds is a blog written by baristas and an online community for coffee lovers. Since the pandemic, it has changed its content to reflect the realities readers are facing: More people are at home having to brew their own cups of joe.

Founder and CEO Alex Azoury decided to shift the blog’s content strategy to address the evolving needs of his readers and focus on building a community around its newsletter which now has 30,000 subscribers.

Azoury says they have been careful to use an optimistic tone around staying at home and “enjoying the ritual of making coffee.” Their newsletters include information on how to make espresso without an espresso machine, new takes on coffee trends, and how to pick and roast coffee beans.

“It seems light, maybe even unimportant, but I think that the grounding ritual of preparing a cup of coffee for yourself and others is an act of care and kindness, which we all need right now,” Azoury said.

Like Home Grounds, you can shift your content to address your customers’ immediate needs. One way to watch your tone and how your customers are receiving your content? Social listening.

How software can help: Social media monitoring software can help with social listening strategies, monitoring the internet for trending challenges and topics that could inform your next piece of content.

Social listening dashboard on Sprout Social

Social listening dashboard on Sprout Social (Source)

2. Create a hub of content that’s easy to access

You can make customers feel valued by offering them content that is easy to access.

Learn from Anabolic Aliens, a startup that creates home workout videos and has a workout generator app, Exerprise. Director of content Michael Kenler said they saw a spike in competitors in the home workout market at the beginning of the pandemic.

They needed to stand out, so they created a blog on their website that acts as a resource hub for existing customers and attracts new customers with free content.

“By posting weekly content, we have been able to engage with our consumers like never before,” Kenler said. “Free content that truly adds value to the customer has helped to create a thriving online community of consumers who enjoy our products and services.”

Every community needs a foundation and a homebase—what better place than your own website? If you haven’t blogged or posted content on your site before, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. There’s software out there that can help you get started.

How software can help: Website optimization software can help you get the most mileage out of your website by ensuring your content is visible to readers and optimized for the best possible user experience.

Hotjar’s click heat map can show you what aspects of your content get the most attention

Hotjar’s click heat map can show you what aspects of your content get the most attention (Source)

3. Show your customers you care with exclusive content

Exclusive content can strengthen the community between your brand and your existing customers, while appealing to the curiosity of potential customers.

Matthew Dailly, managing director at Tiger Financial, said they recently hosted a free online seminar for existing clients only. This seminar was designed to help people better understand aspects of the financial industry such as the stock market, interest rates, and how the pandemic might impact the economy.

“It was a great turnout, and we were able to secure some extended contract talks with some of our customers, which just shows that sometimes, all you need is to get in touch with the people that help you keep the business running and see what else there is that you can help them with,” Dailly said.

By offering an exclusive seminar, Tiger Financial was able to connect with its existing customers, identify new challenges, and build off the services they were already providing.

Customers want to feel like they matter to your business, not only as customers but as individuals. An easy way to strengthen customer relationships is by offering exclusive content to your brand’s community.

How software can help: If you want to offer your customers an exclusive online seminar, webinar software can help you make it happen.

GoToWebinar lets webinar facilitators see how many people register and attend webinars

GoToWebinar lets webinar facilitators see how many people register and attend webinars (Source)

Provide an unmatched customer experience to keep them coming back

Building community through your content strategy is one way to offer customers a quality experience that will keep them coming back.

Make sure your content is relevant, easy to access, and once in a while, made only for a select few. This shows that you not only care about your customers’ success, but that you want to be part of the team that helps get them there.

Want more pointers on prioritizing customer retention in your digital strategy?

Looking for Customer Relationship Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Relationship Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Toby Cox

Toby Cox

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Toby Cox is a senior content writer for Capterra covering the accounting and business intelligence markets and contributing to the marketing and small-business trends markets. A journalist by trade, Toby enjoys the art of digging through the noise to find compelling narratives that provide clarity to her audience. She holds a B.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. When she's not typing away at her computer, you can catch her on the mats with her boxing gloves or tending to her beehives.

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