Community-Led Growth: A New Approach to Growth Marketing

Gain a better understanding and build bridges towards a more inclusive and valuable strategy prioritizing active communities.

Community-led growth: into the future

The concepts of online community spaces and digital customer success are taking over as the ultimate growth engine. Safe to say, connection is at the center and engagement is everything. 

It’s time to step into the future of community-led growth and ride the wave of positive industry trends. 

As groups of people seek connection and constant product updates based on their views, more brands are turning to a community-led growth strategy investing in hosting branded recurring events

And the approach pays offs! Studies have shown that it promotes customer loyalty, reduces costs, and improves ROIs. 

Let’s dive and explore the building blocks to leverage this growing demand and how you can implement this model.

What is community-led growth? 

Community-led growth operates in different areas of an organization to increase brand awareness and optimize lead generation or grow sales. 

The strategy creates personalized groups in digital spaces where people feel happy and safe to participate in. Taking this direction today can dramatically impact what companies will look like in the near future.

“Community-led to me translates immediately to 'people-led'. To be Community-Led is to understand that your community voice comes first in everything. From the space, type of content, design of the community, product, and marketing — everything that you do is based on their feedback and engagement." 

- Shana Sumers 

Senior Manager, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Communities HubSpot

There are many types of online communities. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on growth communities.

Types of online communities

  • Growth communities 
  • Support communities
  • Fan communities
  • Business communities
  • Product (user) communities
Online communities

A growth community is a source for lead generation and customer acquisition using social networks as the main communication tool.

The community is a group of people gathering throughout the year on social media platforms such as Slack or Facebook. They also come together in online events, webinars, and live shows during fixed periods. 

And since a thriving community is a company’s biggest asset, why not leverage the success of one-time events by turning them into recurring sessions that can drive even higher engagement and growth. 

Unbranded communities vs. branded communities 

It’s relevant to recognize the difference between unbranded and branded communities within a marketing perspective. 

Unbranded communities are hosted on third party platforms that are easy to use and often free, like Zoom or Facebook.

Branded communities provide a seamless brand experience with a supported team, and allow full access to data and tech stack integrations. 

Users can identify the brand because everything from on-screen visuals to email confirmations aligns with a specific image and company.

This type of community leaves a memorable impression and provides data-driven value for community managers. 

Branded in-person and virtual communities


Why is community-led growth strategy gaining traction?

Community-led growth is not just a buzzword. 88% of community professionals believe that community is critical to the company’s mission. 

And, 49% of businesses with online communities report annual cost savings of 10% to 25%. 

With strong virtual communities, the benefits go beyond cost savings. 58% of marketers concluded that virtual events produced the best results for their content marketing in the last 12 months. 

Keep reading to see how other companies are leveraging this marketing strategy and how you can do the same.

How are companies responding to the growing demand for virtual communities?

Companies are seeking ways to demonstrate authenticity by tapping into more personalized forms of communication and engagement. 

Adobe shifted their largest Summit from in-person to a video-based experience inviting a wider audience to participate. While Sephora’s Beauty Insider Community offers a dedicated online space for makeup enthusiasts to interact. 

Online communities give brands real-time feedback with live interactivity, and aid sales efforts using relevant data insights.

How to include community-building into your business strategy

The beauty of communities is that they are a symbiotic relationship. The community receives value from the company, and the company in turn receives value from the community and its members.

Brands and consumers work together to ensure better products and services based on feedback and collaboration. With this knowledge, community should become a main part of the company’s strategy.

A smart way to build community is through recurring virtual events. Virtual events can provide a better, more connected experience and ultimately impact an organization’s ROI. Here’s why.

Virtual events:

  • Foster connection and improve customer loyalty
  • Serve as added value
  • Help save on venue costs
  • Explore specialized topics and engage underserved groups
  • Generate leads
  • Optimize data analysis, allowing for quicker content adaptation
  • Allow members to express their views
  • Help your business stay top of mind 

People attend a virtual event usually because they want to learn, be inspired, hear from specific speakers, or meet fellow professionals.

But, whatever reason brought them there in the first place, it is often not the same reason people return. Attendees return for relationships, belonging, and trust — which calls for more than a one-time gathering. 

Turning annual flagship events into multiple recurring sessions allows brands to foster greater connectivity among their community and drive ongoing engagement. 

After all, exchanging ideas is more comfortable in a familiar environment.

How to establish a growth community

Don’t have a community yet? Start by following these steps:

Growth Community Starter Guide

  1. Define a purpose (a problem the community solves)
  2. Set the rules and codes of conduct
  3. Clearly define the target audience (who is welcome)
  4. Pick a community platform
  5. Publish a content calendar (evergreen and live content)
  6. Introduce the community to the world!

How to foster engagement in a virtual community 

Forming a community is half the battle. Over half of community building professionals consider consistent community engagement their biggest challenge. In fact, only 7% actively engage in polls or via chat (The Community Roundtable, 2021). 

The only way to grow your community is through an active and consistent engagement strategy over time. 

Building a highly engaged community requires providing a welcoming space, a key to scaling and maintaining a sense of personalization.

Community members want to feel that they belong and that their opinions are valued, and this is a long-term strategy. That’s why ongoing branded communities are so relevant in today’s market. 

Communities are reshaping our approach to digital marketing and paving the way for intentional digital strategies that nurture meaningful connections. 

With an engaged community, you can easily measure impact and rely on members to lead conversations or initiatives without direct involvement. 

This strategy also complements a marketer's job by creating content that speaks to the ideal customer while fostering loyalty.

This is not a one-size fits all approach. What works in one community may not be as effective in another. Use these tips as a guide for testing and iterating what works best for your community.

Community Engagement Tips

  • Get to know your community and their needs.
  • Host small-group discussions to provide space for people to share and be heard
  • Dive deeper into specialized topics
  • Repurpose the content for other communication channels
  • Engage your audience by using live chats and forums
  • Invite subject matter experts as guest speakers
  • Ask questions and constantly adapt your content.

The great thing about virtual events is that they are scalable. As your business needs change and your community grows, so can your virtual events. 

Ready to take the next step?

Community scales your business and presence in ways that traditional marketing can't. When done right, recurring virtual events enable and improve customer acquisition, bolsters retention, and provides crucial insights for sales teams. 

We are here to help you maximize your virtual event strategy. Connect with us to book a demo today!

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