Your perpetually-connected customers are seeking information from a much broader range of sources than ever before. If you just work with the same traditional influencers you have for years — industry analysts and mainstream media — your message risks getting lost in a sea of noise. Instead, leading marketers are identifying key online influencers for their products and marketing to them specifically. These influencers are highly specific, and are not the same for any two products or solutions, or even two different audiences of a single product.
The value of reaching out to a non-traditional list of influencers was illustrated this week by Microsoft’s marketing campaign for the new Surface Pro.
Mike “Gabe” Krahulik is the author of the long-running Penny Arcade, a popular webcomic about video game culture. He said on Twitter he was “interested in the Surface Pro,” and due to the target audience and popularity of his comic, Microsoft sent him a demo unit. Gabe’s not a technology journalist; he’s not an industry analyst; he’s just someone with a passionate and tech-savvy following — a following which includes perpetually-connected customers who influence technology purchasing.
What happened next? Gabe wrote a full-length, relatively positive, review of the Surface Pro and its applications for media professionals that was not only read by his audience, but became a top link on TechMeme, a tech news aggregator.
Two of the most common questions we receive from marketers are “How do I know if it’s worth having a community?” and “How can I prove to my executives that my community is worth their investment?” To get the initial funding and keep support coming for an owner community — one which you operate and fully brand on your own website — you must be able to clearly measure and communicate the value up to your CMO and CFO. That means capturing the effect it will have on your company’s profitability as a part of your overall marketing investments.
As a part of a new research report I just published today with Shaheen Parks, we built upon Forrester’s Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) methodology to provide you with a reference framework to estimate the ROI of your community.
We suggest that you focus on these three qualitative benefits, which form the core of our framework:
New lead generation: How many new leads or prospects come to your company each year because of your community, multiplied by your average deal size and overall lead close rate.
Increase in lead close or conversion rate: The effect your community has on your overall lead close rate, multiplied by your average deal size.
Deflection of support calls: How many potential support calls get answered by the community, multiplied by your average cost per call.