Retain the Members You Have
Let's talk more about retention. Because in a paid community, and this absolutely affects free communities as well, retention does, but I'm gonna talk more on the paid side of things right now because retention is really important to cash flow. In a paid community you have to sell members every billing cycle. Doesn't mean your sending out sales emails, really what it means is in every email you send, every post that gets posted, every piece of content, every event you have is a pitch for sticking around. Because every time that credit card gets charged people remember you. And either they're gonna remember you fondly and remember all the connections and answers that your community has helped them with or they're gonna remember you in a feeling of guilt, like oh, I'm spending money on this every month and I'm not using it. It doesn't matter how good it is, it doesn't matter how cool it seems, I'm not there. Or they're gonna remember how frustrated they are by how overwhelming your commu...
nity was to them. And they're gonna quit. And so really there's two out of those three scenarios in which they quit. That's how hard retention is (laughs). But retention also doesn't have to be hard. There's a lot that you can do every single day to boost retention. But first let's talk about some of the reasons people leave. I talked about two of them. One, it's overwhelming. Two, I'm not there and I feel guilty for not being there. What are some other reasons people leave communities, yes?
Can't figure out how to navigate or plug in, connect?
Yeah, can't figure how to navigate it, how to connect with people.
It's not delivering what I expected.
Yeah, it's just not what I expected.
Or what I'm looking for.
Yeah, or what I'm looking for, absolutely. And that may be your fault or it may not be, yeah?
Maybe this was already said in some way but I don't belong, it's not me.
I don't belong, yup, exactly, exactly. Anybody else why people leave communities? Those are all really good, really valid reasons that people leave. And we need to be thinking about all of them. And some of them we actually want to encourage. If you don't belong we want you to cancel. And at the same time if you do belong we want to help you understand that you belong, we want to help you feel that sense of belonging. So it might be helpful to kind of make a list. What are all the reasons people leave my community? And get as specific as you can and create a communication strategy, create a contribution plan that helps you overcome those reasons people leave. Here's what Shannon said about retention. Shannon is our community advocate at CoCommercial. She says every conversation or interaction with a member is an opportunity to build a lifetime relationship in the community. There are no comments, no posts, that should go unanswered in one way or another. There are no interactions that are not extremely valuable opportunities to build those lifetime relationships. And the harder you work to build those lifetime relationships the harder people will work for you to help other people have those lifetime relationships, too. So that's part of the network affect that Gina was talking about, too, is that you can start by building lifetime relationships with a very small group of people and those people will work on behalf of the network, work on behalf of the community, to create the next set of lifetime relationships and the next set and the next set and the next set. That's awesome. Talk about reducing your work load as a community manager. So remember your goal is to build those kinds of lifetime relationships. Now another thing to consider is that the reason people stay is often different from the reason that they join. And so when you're thinking about retention you don't want to only be thinking about the reasons people join. So yes, at CoCommerical we create this context around coming to us whenever you run in to a snag in your plans. But there's lots of other reasons people stay. People stay because of the networking possibilities. They stay because they form a little mastermind group that they stick in with CoCommercial. They stay for the events, they stay for the opportunity to be an expert, a leader, in the community, to be seen. So be thinking about the reasons people stay, too, and create opportunities to reinforce those as well as the reasons people join. Is that a lot to think about? Yes, but it's worth it because this product, this offer, this base that you're creating is gonna deliver immense results to you. And then we can take it a little step further, too, because another one of the reasons people stay that is not the reason that they joined is because they have a sense of human connection, real connection with other people. And how do you do that? Well Kristen talked about this really, really well. She said, always make an effort to connect with members on an emotional level, really get to know them. At CoCommercial we not only learn about members' businesses but we learn about their family life, passion projects and personal goals. People join to work on their business but they stay for the connections they make. Right, and so the more you can get to know someone as a whole person not just as a parent, not just as a creative, not just as a business owner, but really as a whole person, the deeper those connections will be, the sense of investment and commitment will be deeper and the longer people will stay. Questions about retention? Yes?
I don't know if this fits now or later but how do you handle people who, like, comment, I mean I guess you handle it with the annual model, who come in, who leave, who maybe want to come back, maybe leave again, come back, that kind of thing?
From my perspective there's not a lot to handle. From a financial perspective you wanna make sure that the platform that you use, one, is gonna make that easy for people, frankly, and two, that they're gonna have your back in terms of a free trial. So if you are offering a 10 day free trial or a 30 day free trial that when they come back they don't get that trial again. Mighty Networks makes that really easy. There's a lot of things that will make that easy for you but yeah, from my perspective the free trial happens once. Are there ways around that, you can use a different email address, sure. If someone's gonna work that hard I'm not gonna get between them and working that hard for something like that, seriously. But yes we also get around that with the annual plan because we're interested in creating those long term members and we recognize that it generally takes longer than 30 days to really have that sense of connection and make it a habit for them. And so we've asked them to commit for longer. We want them to have a great experience right off the bat, we want them to see the value in it right off the bat, but we also recognize that the habit of it takes a little bit longer and so we're asking them to commit for 12 months now.
So there's no real disadvantage to you then, right? I'm only asking because I've seen some communities that I definitely didn't want to join because they were like, look, you join this once and if you quit you're out for good kind of thing.
Oh, that kind of thing.
But, I mean, it didn't appeal to me but I'm just wondering like, so is there any disadvantage of people, like, just coming and going as they feel like they need it? Like, I don't need it right now, I'm gonna quit for two months. Oh, I need it again, I'm back in. There's no disadvantage, right?
I don't think, I mean, obviously people who are there and consistent are gonna get a greater value and they are going to be more valuable members of your community because of that consistency as well. But I'm not a huge fan of strong arming people with policies like that. And I think that communities that are built on strong armed policies like that tend to be more about, tend to be more about, like, false accountability. Like, who was I talking about accountability with the other day? People say they want accountability but Brian Moran talks about in The 12 Week Year how accountability is not something that can be imposed on you, it is something, it is ownership. Like you have to own the thing, you have to be responsible for the thing in order to be accountable for it. And so what I see in a policy like that is someone trying to impose accountability on someone else who doesn't actually want it. But they think they should want it and that's why that kind of policy appeals to them. It's not for me, yeah. Any other questions about retention?
Well actually this is, well, maybe it's related to retention, one of the things that jumped out at me that you said that you have with CoCommercial is about the invitation from a member. So that seems that that would be a strong retention piece right there. Do you do that through an affiliation, affiliate program that the member gets a cut, you know, a commission or something, or is it just because, you know, you love us you'll invite people?
It's because you love us, you'll invite people. Because the network gets more useful as more people join and as the right people join, I'm going to invite people to that network. I want you to be here to make this network stronger. I want the benefit of you being here, that's why people join. Money Networks actually has, and there's other research that's been done on this as well but there's great amounts of data on how financially incentivizing referrals like that actually deincentivizes referrals. You will get fewer and lower quality referrals when you financially incentivize people. That's not to say that affiliate marketing doesn't work and that there's not a place for it. I'm all about affiliate marketing, I'm actually gonna talk about that a little bit later and some of the ways that we're planning on making use or do make use of affiliate marketing as a company with our community. So there is a place for it, I'm not saying don't do it but I think when it comes to building community the case for affiliate marketing is pretty small. I think there's probably ways that it can be done, there are things that we have considered in the past in terms of affiliate marketing but our ambassador program, our member invitation program is not incentivized in any way. We tried incentivizing with gifts for a while, that did not work. We have had no, we've gotten rid of our gifts for ambassadors and we've had no drop off in the number of people referred. People don't care. I mean, like we talked here, people like getting the gifts in the mail but they're not referring people to get the gifts, that was a silly thing that we thought. (laughing)
I was hoping for that mug.
Oh yes, well, I shouldn't brought some, I'm sorry, I didn't bring any, another time. When we go on tour I will be bringing the mugs everywhere I go (laughing).
When you have a small business, you’re always on the lookout for your next customer. They might pop up at a networking event, they could subscribe to your email list, they might fill out the contact form on your website.
Too often, knowing where your next customer is going to come from seems unpredictable at best and, at worst, like a huge gamble.
Luckily, there’s a way to ensure you always know where your next customer is coming from—and that your existing customers purchase from you more often—and that’s by building a community.
All sorts of businesses can benefit from making community-building part of their growth strategy and many can benefit from making it part of their business model, too. Whether it’s an informal community (like an email list or Instagram hashtag), a brand-driven community (like a free Facebook group that brings together people in love with the same brand and values), or a dedicated community (like a local group, interest-based social network, or a support group, your business can cultivate deeper connections with existing and potential customers.
Of course, an engaged community doesn’t just happen. If you want to reap the benefits of community-building for your business, you need a plan.
In Build a Community & Grow Your Standout Business, Tara Gentile, the founder of the small business support & social network CoCommercial, will share the must-dos, nice-to-haves, and compelling extras you need to make the most of the community you build around your business. By the end of this class, you’ll have a plan for making community-building an integral part of your marketing strategy—and always knowing where your next customer will come from.
Tara will cover:
- Simple ways to generate community without a group or forum
- Why and how to level up into a dedicated space for your business’s community
- How to create a clear reason Why for joining or participating in your community
- The systems and procedures you’ll need to manage the workload
- How to avoid community management burnout
- How to plan to earn more through your community—whether that’s through charging for membership, selling add-on offers, or generating more word of mouth marketing
Stop waiting for your next customer to come to you and start building a community that brings new business your way every day.