Take the Leap into Community

What you can learn from listening to your community to become a better marketer

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20 minutes

Today, marketing success depends on understanding the needs of your customers.

But when you spend too much time capturing unqualified leads, you lose out on valuable opportunities to grow relationships with potential customers.

By building a community program in Orbit, marketers can connect with customers, better understand pain points and grow their products via word of mouth.

And that means happier customers and reduced spend on expensive campaigns.

We'll spend ~20 minutes covering the material.
We'll spend ~20 minutes covering the material, followed by some time for Q&A. If you don't want to attend live — but are interested — register anyway. We'll share the recording after the event.

Hi, everyone. Welcome to the first webinar presentation in our series, Take the Leap Into Community where we'll be talking about the value of Orbit across customer-facing teams so you can harness the power of community in your role. Today, we'll be looking at what you can learn from community to become a better marketer. Before we get started, let's get a few housekeeping items out of the way. We want your feedback. Don't hesitate to comment in the chat section on YouTube, and we'll respond to your question or comment as quickly as we can. First, let me introduce myself. My name is Nick Johnson and I'm the loan product marketing manager here at Orbit. I spent the better part of the past two-and-a half years as a product marketer in many different sized organizations at different points in the product life cycle, so I know a lot of the challenges many of you are facing because I face them as well. It's my goal that you'll walk away from this presentation understanding why community complements marketing and how you can use Orbit and the power of community to achieve your marketing goals. All right, let's get started.

Let's start by looking at the state of marketing today. The global pandemic has accelerated many of the marketing trends we see today and marketers need to do everything we can to meet those needs. According to McKinsey, the global consulting firm, 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. That means if you are selling software users and buyers want to understand the value of what they're buying in a way that's directly tailored to their needs and challenges. For example, if you work in customer success and are looking to buy a CRM, you don't want to know how the CRM can help marketers create a list of other pipeline acceleration campaigns. Instead, you want to understand the history of the relationship between sales and the customer and what they're looking to achieve with the CRM, and if they're making progress toward those goals today. More direct targeted messaging by buyer and user segments can increase conversion rates; however, getting the attention of those user segments is getting more difficult. According to Marketing Week 88% of consumers in the United States have negative or indifferent attitudes toward advertising.

Consumers have been so inundated by advertising that they're willing to pay for premium subscriptions to not see ads or install ad blockers. Now with security features that allow iPhone users to ask apps and not to track them, the effectiveness of advertising is quickly decreasing. It's no wonder that in the world of highly targeted messaging and advertising consumers turn toward people they trust for advice on what to buy. According to Forbes, 93% of consumers trust the opinions of friends and family when purchasing a product. It all goes back to the idea that to be effective at marketing marketers need to focus on how to expand word-of-mouth marketing. We know that's not easy using traditional marketing tools, and that's where community comes in. For those of you that are new to community, let's get a quick crash course. So you might be wondering why community and how we define it. At Orbit, we define community a little bit differently than you may understand it colloquially. Oftentimes, we talk about our community to build a sense of belonging.

While belonging is important to our sense of community, this isn't what we're actually trying to get at here today. We're specifically talking about online communities, and while online communities often mimic in-person communities, they don't necessarily operate the same way. So how do we define this type of community? At Orbit, we define it as a group of people working toward a common goal. The direction or goal is what unites the community and what brings people together. That can be anything from wanting to learn a new language, to learning how to code, become a better soccer player or learning more about a specific product. Generally speaking, there are three types of communities: communities of product, practice, and play. Communities of product are those focused primarily on discussing and learning about a specific product. Communities of practice are comprised of people who want to level up their craft and connect with other practitioners, independent of any tools or platform. Communities of play come together around a specific interest, independent of products, professional development, or tool. Think of your running group or a birthday club.

The majority of communities have elements of each community type sprinkled in, but are mostly comprised of one type. You're here because you think your product can help your community achieve its goals, so we'll only be focusing on product communities from here on out. Communities are often advocated and managed for by community and DevRel teams. They do things like run events and monitor community platforms, so you can think of GitHub, Reddit, LinkedIn, Twitter, Discord to help answer questions and share helpful content and articles. They create events in content that help facilitate the learning of their product, including helping with onboarding, creating demos and sharing product feedback to product managers and engineers. To many marketers, some of these things may sound familiar and you may be asking if community is just a rebranding of marketing, but I can assure you, it is not. In marketing, we use the sales funnel as a tool to represent the buyer's journey from the point of awareness to purchase adoption in upsell. There's just one problem, the sales funnel does not fully represent how customers make buying decisions.

It turns out buying journeys are anything but linear. For example, a customer might sign up for a free product, skip the onboarding process and then ditch the product completely for a competitor only to discover the competitor can't accomplish what they want to achieve, and then come back to your product after trying everything else and then upgrading to a paid tier. Community is intended to solve for this non-linear buying pattern by focusing on the problem the member is trying to solve. It's the community team's job to guide them on this journey, and they may not have all the answers, but they'll work together to achieve the community's goal all while using the product and helping develop your product over time. There's a level of trust that's required for communities to do their job right. Community teams are not trying to sell and will often shy away from anything they deem as marketing or salesy. They are focused on creating value for their community while sales and marketing is focused on capturing that value.

So long story short, don't expect a community manager to gate their events to help you generate leads, but you can capture value your community team creates, here's how: I think it's important to frame the community and marketing dynamic discussion in terms of value creation and then value capture. Value creation is a gift first mentality that focuses on connecting, educating, equipping, and inspiring the audience. Value capture is essential to the success of the business. It looks like sales, customer success, lead generation and traditional marketing, but that should be viewed as a second order impact of an effective value creation machine. So first ask yourself what value can you create for your members? Is it education, connection to other members, elevation in the community and a platform for their message, a sense of belonging? Then you can start to map that to value capture. Here's what I mean. Every company has a go-to-market team and their efforts are usually described as a funnel. The funnel is great for optimizing these kinds of linear value capture processes.

Community, on the other hand, isn't about pushing people toward a binary endpoint, it's about creating an environment so compelling that it naturally attracts people towards it center. We're all familiar with the sales and marketing funnel as a metaphor and measurement device, and it's been around for forever. The classic metaphor of the funnel has defined most go-to-market strategies since 1898. It's focused on optimizing every step of the process from awareness and discovery to evaluation, engagement, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy, pushing leads through linearly, extracting value at each stage. It's great for measuring value captured. Community, on the other hand, isn't about pushing people toward a binary endpoint, but about creating an environment so compelling that it naturally attracts people towards its center. In other words, healthy, active communities have gravity. A high-gravity community is one that excels at attracting and retaining community members. Gravity is built in a community through value creation. Instead of the funnel communities should use something like the Orbit model, which was created from the ground up to understand and measure community.

I think every company should have a go-to-community strategy that compliments their go-to-market strategy, and it's really important that these motions are aligned. Just like an ice cream cone when you pile on scoops of ice cream, more will drip into the cone. As you create more value in your community, the business is sure to capture more value overall. Similarly, as you get better at attracting and retaining community members, it's more likely that the next appropriate experience for them will be to engage in the sales process. The go-to-community strategy is what helps build and maintain this gravity while connecting the benefits to company objectives. Now that we've established how community teams differ from marketing and how they capture leads, let's dive into how we can structure community teams to achieve common objective goals. Community teams can be thought of as any customer-facing team like sales, customer success, product management and marketing. Community sits at the center and overlaps with some of the things that customer-facing teams do.

To work best with the community team, it's important that you outline the goals each team wants to achieve and see where your goals overlap to find areas of cooperation. For example, community teams will be great resources for marketers when it comes to identifying customer stories, providing speakers at big product events, helping with product onboarding and content creation. Like with all customer-facing cross-functional roles, communication and assigning ownership for specific tasks is the key to success. So now you know how community and marketing overlap and differentiate, there are many ways that a community team can support your marketing efforts. I've drawn up some challenges that I faced as a marketer to show you how community can support each challenge. One of the biggest challenges I face is generating product awareness among my target buyers. Getting awareness for your product and brand is notoriously hard to measure because it's nearly impossible to measure the impact of a brand campaign on a buying decision; however, community teams are inadvertently supporting this effort without your awareness, by helping members solve their toughest challenges.

Once your community team helps elevate a community member's ideas or solve a challenge using your product, members spread awareness for your product organically through social media and word-of-mouth, helping do the slow, hard work of building brand reputation. You can see how this work is done in Orbit via social media mentions in your organization and member profiles. Another common challenge marketers face is showing the ROI of marketing activities. The Orbit model offers a way of measuring the impact of member activities in your community, including attending events, downloading content, and participating in community channels. The Orbit model measures a member's love, which includes the frequency, recency, and weight of each member activity. You can also view comments on the platforms your community gathers to get qualitative feedback about the value your members are getting from your product. In addition to the quantitative impact of your marketing content and events.Marketers by definition are always trying to capture value by pushing leads through the pipeline to purchase. Oftentimes, marketers try to capture leads without knowing if they're targeting the right buyer.

A lead is just viewed as a lead, but any seasoned marketer knows that not all leads are created equal. Community teams can help qualify leads for you by engaging with members through community activities. When creating a campaign, you can use what we call community qualified leads to target your campaigns. Members already know about your product and are participating in community events so they will be aware of your product, how it works, and may even already be users of the product themselves. Lastly, for product-led teams, onboarding and product retention efforts are a huge cross-functional challenge that stakeholders from across marketing, sales and customer success hold a stake in. Community teams play a particularly valuable role by providing high touch experiences when new users have questions or feedback that increases product retention over time. So how can Orbit help marketers? Well, you can think of Orbit as a CRM for a community with a few distinct differences. CRMs are optimized around the sales funnel, pushing customers through from awareness to purchase and upsell.

They're intended to collect information on customer titles, what role they play in the customer organization and touch points with sales so there's a seamless sales experience; however, CRMs are highly transactional and not optimized to nurture meaningful relationships between customers and your organization. They're focused on value capture, not value creation. If CRMs are built around the sales funnel, the community growth platforms like Orbit are built around the Orbit model. They're used to understand how members contribute to your community through their presence on community platforms and commitment to the community over time. Orbit shows how people interact with your network to bring in like-minded users by sharing or promoting content that adds value to the community as they work to achieve their common goal. There are, of course, many similarities to CRMs, but for one community growth platforms are the source of truth for information about relationships with community members who are already, or could become customers and prospects. They also create and receive value from integrations with other tools by ingesting comments and activities across the platforms your members interact with and help you report on changes and key segments of customers.

As you can see community teams play an integral part of your marketing efforts. Your community teams are already using Orbit to keep track of their community. So how can Orbit support your marketing activities? First, member profiles in Orbit can help you build in-depth user personas that help you better understand what challenges your customers are facing and how to position your product as the solution. For example, you can identify the typical titles of people in your product community, and what size companies they come from. Check member activities, to see what conversations they're engaging in and questions they may have. Second, Orbit can help you build high revenue campaigns with community qualified leads. A community qualified lead will have participated in your product community and connected with your community team. Your community team will have notified the sales and marketing team that the community member is ready to proceed with the buying process. CQLs, as we call them, are more likely to engage with your campaign and be warmer to sales once they engage. Orbit makes it easy to create a list of highly-qualified members to target your campaigns to.

A good rule of thumb is to always run your campaign list by your community team. They'll be able to tell you if certain members are not ready to go through your campaign so you can prevent upsetting or turning away a future customer. Third, Orbit makes it easy to keep track of the member journey. Tags can help you see what events members attended, if they have a general positive or negative sentiment of your community, or if they're already being targeted in another campaign. Lastly, you can use the reporting feature to segment and show the measurable impact of community on your campaigns over time. For example, you can measure campaign success by understanding the conversion rate of those who have engaged with your community versus those who have not, or those who are in your inner Orbit levels, so levels one and two, versus those in your outer Orbit levels, levels three and four. This will help you refine your campaigns over time to ensure you're targeting the right people with the right messages. So now you know what you can do in Orbit, let's see what this looks like. In reality,

Let's start with a couple assumptions. In this case, let's say I sell a cloud native enterprise data warehouse. I'm devising a campaign around a Forester Total Economic Impact study that I commission to showcase the return on investment customers are experiencing with our data warehouse compared to their previous on-prem warehousing solutions. I want this study to influence chief information officers to choose our cloud data warehouse. So I built a webinar to showcase results, but I need a list of contacts to invite to this webinar. I'm betting on the total economic impact report to be a pipeline acceleration tool. So they should already be aware of my data warehouse and participate in our community as a part of learning about data warehousing, ELT best practices, and more. So the first thing I do is go to Orbit and filter by roles that have the title of data, and I select all of the roles because data analysts, scientists, and engineers can influence the decision of executives when selecting a data warehouse.

I'll click into a profile to see the types of activities they've done in my community. I see they looked at case studies and joined some community events. As you can see, member profiles have a lot of rich detail including the accounts they use to engage in our community, email addresses and more. Users in the growth in premium tiers have automatic profile enrichment, which uses Clearbit to search the internet for associated accounts, so you don't have to pull them together one-by-one. I go back to the members tab and select the filters. Because my territory specifically covers North America, I'm going to filter down to members within North America. I also want people who are already engaged in the community, so I'll target users in Orbit levels one through three, and not include those in the fourth Orbit who have been inactive and are unlikely to attend.

Now I have my list. I'll download it as a CSV and craft an invitation to send to the target audience. I'll then tag the accounts with TEI webinar invite so I can cross reference with our CRM to see how much revenue this campaign and my community influenced. Thank you for listening to this webinar. I hope you learn more about how community and marketing can compliment each other and drive value. To get started with Orbit, create a free account at Orbit.love and join your community or DevRel team's workspace. To learn more about community and the Orbit model, check us out at Orbitmodel.com and on GitHub. Lastly, feel free to join one of our community events to learn more about Orbit and how community can help drive product growth. Thank you, and I'll see you next time.

Key takeaways

  • Capture more qualified leads
  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Retain existing customers
  • Better understand customer needs