The value in building an in-app community for your brand
Your brand may have a mobile app, but without a thriving digital community, you aren’t making the most of it. Here’s what you can gain from an app community.
It’s human nature for people to find ways to engage with others who share the same interests. Suppose there is a group of people interested in what you have to offer and searching for other like-minded individuals. In that case, you have the perfect opportunity to bring them together with a community app.
Your mobile app won’t cut it anymore
Communication is a two-way street, and consumers are increasingly looking to brands that don’t only talk at them but to them. Suppose you have yet to integrate community features into your app. In that case, it’s probably primarily a source of information—a way to supply your target audience with details about products and promotions.
But what are you getting back?
Add value with an online app community
Without community apps, brands miss out on a tremendous opportunity to engage with their leads and add value in tangible and intangible ways. It’s easy to write off the advantages by assuming it takes too much time and money to build and maintain apps for communities centered around a brand.
But have you considered the opportunity cost?
Investing in an online community pays off 5 times its value. Building a thriving digital community benefits more than just your customers—it also creates value for you.
Community apps offer tangible value propositions in several ways, ranging from social dollars to monetization opportunities. They deliver financial value relatively quickly and are easier to measure because they influence sales.
When people are interested enough in a product to seek others who share the same enthusiasm, they begin to build more social ties, which, in turn, influences their buying behavior. This economic benefit you stand to gain is referred to as social dollars.
A 2012 study revealed that customers spend 19% more money with a company after joining its brand community. The fascinating part? Companies have more to gain when they build their own app community rather than using a third-party social platform like Facebook, Twitter, or Discord.
Social media platforms like Instagram are often the hubs of user-generated content. However, when it comes to interests that only a select few share, brand communities see more engagement.
Young brands often make the mistake of making their products and services the center of the user experience. Unfortunately, this makes for a one-dimensional brand and an audience who struggles to understand what problem you’re trying to solve.
Make space for others to tell their own stories and allow them to integrate your brand as much or as little as they see fit. Elevating social sharing within your community makes it seem more desirable and motivates others to contribute.
An in-app social feed is a perfect ground to share user stories with your brand, products, and services. You can even incentivize social sharing, whether in the form of images, text, videos, or audio clips.
The content generated acts as social proof and creates an emotional bond with your users, making them even more eager to support and promote your brand.
Customer data ownership
Data plays a crucial role in business growth and revenue generation, making customer data ownership one of the most significant advantages a community-building app can have. For every user who signs up to become a community member, you receive first-party data that gives you insights that you can apply to practically any company area.
The data you can collect with your community app includes engagement rates, page views, number and time of visits, course of activities, behavior, and location, among others. From them, you can derive reasons for visits to a specific part of your app, issues related to the customer experience, buying decision outcomes, and more.
Decision-makers can use these insights to create better acquisition strategies, optimize paid ads, and enhance engagement.
Member acquisition & retention
When people are enthusiastic about your community app, they bring in others to become a part of it, lowering member acquisition costs while enhancing retention. Since people are making connections and offering support in the community, they are less likely to leave. Subsequently, you enjoy high gross margins and a lower cost of service.
There are many ways to monetize an app with a thriving user base, and ads are just the beginning! Aside from selling your primary products and services, you can make money off of community apps by:
- Running in-app ads: Banner, notification, and overlay ads are just a few of the ads you can integrate to bring more revenue in.
- Creating exclusive communities: Once you’ve established to your audience that you provide something of value, they may be willing to pay to be a part of the community you create. Whether subscription-, or purchase-, or invite-based, paid communities can be fantastic for sharing special content and exclusive opportunities that limited users may not be able to take advantage of.
- Seeking partnerships: Partnerships are an excellent way to add value to apps for communities while making money. They are mutually beneficial, primarily when used to create an integrated experience such as with exclusive groups, specially branded content, and brand partner live streams. Every partnership is different, so it’s important to discuss options with partnering brands early on and consider what will provide the most value to your audience.
Releasing content via platforms such as Facebook and Instagram may be convenient. Still, it also means your audience is constantly bombarded with “noise” from other brands trying just as hard to catch their eye. Controlled content is the way to go when you want your audience’s attention to be solely on you.
With a community mobile app, you control the content you generate and can use it to reach 100% of your audience. When your audience browses your app, users can easily find what they’re looking for without disruption from other brands vying for their attention.
Another exceptional advantage of controlled content is that unlike with traditional social media, you can moderate posts, comments, and messages users publish to your platform. Community managers and moderators have access to tools that give them control over user permissions, ensuring your application is a safe place for all. Being able to flag, mute, ban, report, and otherwise manage those who are not compliant with the rules of your platform ensures that it remains high-quality and able to continue meeting your community’s needs.
Return on investment (ROI)
We can’t deny that custom mobile applications require a considerable capital outlay and lots of time. However, if you’re hesitating to integrate social features because of the price, it may be worth considering what you’re giving up. Social dollars, user-generated content, and monetization opportunities are only a few of the many financial advantages you stand to gain from a community platform.
Even better is the fact that opting for a social solution with a per-monthly active user pricing model like Amity means only paying for the value you’re getting. At a rate of $0.14 per monthly active user for the Max plan — the complete social suite that includes Chat, Social, Video, and Bots modules — apps with user bases of all sizes can remain agile and enjoy cost-effective scalability.
Business founders and decision-makers often see financial rewards as better business value, but you can’t discount the power of non-financial value. A community engagement app adds intangible value in positive word-of-mouth, increased trust, clearer market segmentation, and more. These values may be difficult to measure and predict, but they also contribute to financial returns over time.
Online brand advocacy
One person can have an incredible amount of sway with their peers, especially regarding purchasing decisions. That’s why you can’t discount the value you stand to gain when using an online community to earn brand advocates.
Your loyal users are people willing to tell their networks about you. With their help, you’ll be able to see your app community grow and encourage each other to engage with your platforms online.
The best part about brand advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing is that it occurs without you having to influence action actively. While it is difficult to quantify, this form of promotion can be incredibly lucrative.
Each time you release a new product or service, real-time feedback is constructive for promptly making any needed adjustments. Gauging customer response is a standard part of product release. Still, when communication is made easy with the help of a community-building app, marketing and product teams can gather feedback even more quickly and concisely.
Whether gathering feedback means including a rating at the point of sale or opening up a discussion forum, customers will find your attention positive and indicate you care about your community’s experience with your brand.
Better customer support
With 89% of consumers reporting that a positive customer service experience would encourage them to make another purchase, it’s clear that support isn’t an area of the company you can skimp on.
Social features like chatbots help you serve customers via your community app in real-time while eliminating operational waste.
Customer support agents can remain on standby and provide a human touch as needed. However, chatbots can answer common queries and produce qualified leads while still offering a personalized brand experience.
As community managers train the chatbot, it will improve in its ability to serve your customers and offer the best support possible—all while keeping operational costs low.
Trust & brand loyalty
Brand loyalty can be challenging to measure, but it’s one of the most significant advantages a company can have over its competitors. Every relationship needs work, and that includes that between a company and its customer.
App communities allow enterprises to build and maintain strong bonds with their community members. Over time, trust grows, and continual engagement paves the way for loyalty. These intangible advantages boost sales and help you earn advocates excited to spread the word.
Clear market segmentation
In-app communities are hosts to a wealth of information that you can leverage for marketing purposes. Observing your community members’ contributions and better understanding what they’re looking for can help you segment your audience more effectively.
Most brands already consider demographic and behavioral information when segmenting, but do you factor in common pain points? When you know what problem a segment of your audience is trying to solve, it’s easier to create a targeted persona that presents your product as a solution.
Successful execution means not only is your brand making the most of its marketing dollars, but it’s also better equipped to build loyalty and drive sales.
Avenue for information exchange
Before the internet, customers and brands had to communicate face-to-face and via traditional means, which meant opportunities for information exchange were far and few between.
Today, there are a myriad of ways to offer information to your audience and receive information in return—without even having to leave the comfort of your home!
Mobile apps are an additional avenue for information exchange, working in tandem with your brand’s website, social media pages, and any other presences it may have. It is—to put it simply—a more convenient way to reach your audience without the disruption of other brands’ noise.
Community apps with social features such as feeds and in-app chat give audiences another way to trade information with community managers and fellow users. Consumer expectations are ever-rising, and app developers can integrate social feature SDKs and prepare to launch in a matter of weeks.
By intermingling your marketing expertise with the power of AI, you can make it easy for customers to find the information they’re seeking via in-app chat support, forums, and a variety of other means.
Over time, the data gathered and messages exchanged via community applications can build better, more customized messages that increase user retention by up to 25% in 4 weeks. As the data shows, it’s a messaging avenue you can’t forego!
Transform the community app experience with Amity
Behind every successful brand is a strong, engaged community that has played a crucial role in its growth. If you have yet to do so, it’s time to give the community around your brand an easier way to connect.
Amity Social Cloud and its social features can help you build an in-app community more efficiently than ever before.
Complete suite - Social, Chat, Video, and Bots
Communities engage in more than one way. Our comprehensive suite of social feature Software Development Kits (SDKs) ensures that your brand gets the entire experience.
Building social features from the ground up is both time- and cost-intensive, and you may still have a half-baked solution. Integrating fully decked out social feature SDKs you can incorporate easily allows you to launch a community app quickly and with minimal development efforts.
Each Amity module comes ready for use and only requires integration and frontend. The UI kit makes customization and UI upgrades easy, allowing your social features to blend in seamlessly with the rest of your app.
There is a certain power built when people come together, and it’s up to you to leverage that energy and use it to build a community centered around your brand. Rather than default to a Facebook group or a Discord community, though, consider integrating social features into your mobile application. There is so much to gain from an in-app community in both the short- and long-term—and with Amity’s social SDKs, you don’t even have to build the features from scratch.
Regardless of the industry that you’re in, app social features will play an integral role in creating a community that takes your brand to the next level.