The Metrics System: Making The Strongest Case For Community

By perksconsulting |

If you’ve been following our previous installments in this series, you’ve learned about the power and potential of community. Now it’s time to put those learnings into practice.

First, you must make a plan. If you’re going to submit a solid case for building out a community for your brand, you need to know what success looks like, how to quantify it, and how to demonstrate it to stakeholders. Strap on your thinking caps, folks. We’re about to get analytical.

STEP 1: Meet Your Metric Match

Socrates said, “Know thyself.” Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” We say, “To thine own business goals must your metrics be true.” Or, in the parlance of our times: Identify the most relevant metrics for your business goals and objectives.

Let’s start with business goals. Go ahead and make a list of yours. It might look like this:

-Generate revenue

-Raise brand awareness

-Rouse customer loyalty

-Maximize customer support efficiency

-Lead in innovation

Now it’s time to identify your KPIs, or key performance indicators. These are all-important business metrics that serve as benchmarks for success. For customer support, one KPI may be “Cost per help ticket = $X” For revenue, another might be “number of ads served = over X.”

Now we can figure out a community analog to that KPI. For the above examples, your community action metrics might be “number of support page views” or “time spent on site,” respectively. Keep in mind, there are two types of metrics: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data can be measured numerically, like the previous examples. Qualitative data can only be observed—think “member feedback” or “crowd sourcing ideas.”

The metrics for your business may differ vastly from these, but the process is the same; identify goals, determine your KPIs, and link them to relevant community-based metrics. Remember: That link is arguably the most important part. It’s always satisfying when your links get a lot of likes, or your post goes viral, but if that success can’t be tied back to a business goal, it’s not going to help you make your case for community. That’s why, as we’ll see in this next step, you must recognize the RIGHT kind of success.

Step 2: Define Success (Carefully)

Now that you’ve pinpointed your all-star metrics, you may feel the instinct to jump right into using them for testing. Hold your horses, because there’s one thing you must do first: establish benchmarks.

To come up with realistic benchmarks, research the context of your goals thoroughly and dig up as much industry data as you can. Your benchmarks will be the gauge by which you will determine success or failure in a given test. Meet or surpass your benchmark, and you can claim VICTORY and move onto the next experiment. Fall below your benchmark, and it’s back to the drawing board.

Step 3: Track, Measure, Rinse, Repeat

Remember when we strapped on our thinking caps? Now we’re going to equip our scientist helmets and safety goggles too—because you can’t put your metrics to work without measurements, experiments, and our dear old friend The Scientific Method.

Whether you’re A/B testing or poring over analytics, you must form a hypothesis before running experiments. Your hypothesis should be an expected outcome, based on the research you conducted in Step 2.

Once you’ve tested, collect your results and compare them to your hypothesis. If they’re not aligned—sorry—it’s time to adjust your variables and try again. If they are aligned—congrats—it’s also time to try again. And again. And again.

Why repeat an experiment that’s already led to a positive outcome? Because an environment of continuous testing means you will always be learning, honing community actions, and aligning them with business goals. ABI: Always Be Iterating.

Step 4: Report or Abort

When it’s all said and done, your hard work means nothing if you can’t organize your findings into a digestible format and communicate them to leadership. If executed correctly, this final phase can have a huge impact on the adoption of any proposed community building initiatives. Your business’s stakeholders will understand the ROI that brand community can bring, and it will be time to assemble your team.

We’ll discuss that process—and bring this series in for a landing—in our Part 4 finale. Until next time!

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