Question:

How can you identify your most engaged customers, put them right at the heart of what you do, and reap robust, measurable business returns?

Answer:

You take their brand experience to a whole other level. You build them their own, exclusive, and totally immersive community app.

Why a community app?

With a community app, you give your followers the chance to interact – both with your brand and with each other. You give them a safe and private place to share what they love (and what they hate), to ask questions, to get answers, to get exclusive content, offers and opportunities. To have a role, an influence, a say in their favourite brand’s direction. To have fun, get angry, get creative, get involved.

Give me some examples.

OK, to illustrate, here are two brands at the front of the community app curve right now. Fascinating insights into what can be achieved when you give your most dedicated fans the opportunity, the motivation, and the tools they need to participate in your brand experience.

Adidas

The Adidas Tango app targets the keenest footballers amongst the Adidas audience. Playing to their natural competitiveness, sense of fun and desire for recognition, this community app runs competitions to find the fans who are most skilled at the likes of crossbar challenges, bicycle kicks and many other tricks. Users upload videos of their performance, with the chance to progress to higher levels within the app, earn digital trophies, receive exclusive offers, take part in live challenge events or even earn a place on the Tango Squad FC.

This naturally addictive activity has the power to cultivate incredibly strong digital relationships and turn fans and followers into formidable brand ambassadors. According to Capgemini customer loyalty research, customers who are strongly engaged with their favourite brands will spend up to twice as much. More to the point, they say a dedicated community app could help brands increase annual revenues by 5%.

Screenshot of the Adidas Tango community app

* This is a screenshot taken from the Adidas Tango download page.

Target

The fashion brand’s community app, Studio Connect, takes a different, yet equally effective approach. By adding the irresistible element of exclusivity, brand engagement becomes deep brand intimacy.

It works like this. Based on their brand interaction history, each community member is carefully selected and personally invited to join an elite group of Target’s best customers.

Membership is strictly limited to around 600 participants – the most highly engaged 0.002% of Target’s customer base of 30 million shoppers, who they reward for their participation with points towards discounts and gift cards.

But the really clever part is that fans get to preview, try and give feedback on new clothing lines before they are launched. And the interactivity is astonishing. Every Target designer has a community app account so that they can post their designs and questions for the audience – and within 24 hours, they typically receive 40-50 member responses. One day to conduct, collate and analyse what, with traditional market research methods, would take weeks. And members love that they are effectively co-creators, with real influence in the decisions over which designs are eventually launched.

Win-win. Target receives hugely valuable insights into what Target customers really want, and participants feel valued and listened to, creating a virtuous circle of customer satisfaction and loyalty. And when you consider that as much as 80% of your business already comes from just 20% of your customer base, it’s well worth cranking up the engagement levels.

But why a community app over other community platforms?

There are many, many reasons why community apps are more effective than other platforms brands often use for community building. Perhaps you already have an active Facebook group where followers can see and react to your brand’s posts and content. Perhaps you’re even happy with it.

But have you stopped recently to consider how much you really get back from social media? How much flexibility does it give you? How much control do you have over the environment? Can group members easily post? Can you easily weed out the self-promoters and the blatant advertisers? Can you influence the advertising that appears around your posts? Will your posts even be seen in your followers’ newsfeeds? Can you interrogate, slice and interpret the group activity data?

Perhaps you’ve got wise to all of these restrictions of so-called social media and you’ve built, or are thinking of building your own alternative. Good. Great thinking. You’ll have your own place where you can gather all your different digital audiences into one single, owned, interactive platform.

And you may be thinking that a website can do all of this. With the plethora of site building services out there, creating your own website has never been easier. Within a short time, you can have your own website with some customisations and some pretty good analytics and user data.

But wait. Let’s drill down some more… How are you going to turn your website into an interactive, social destination for your community? How effectively can you grow and engage a customer community on your new site? Can people interact with it beyond commenting on a blog, clicking a share icon, or maybe taking part in a poll?

Can they talk to each other? Share experiences? Feel like they and their opinions count?

When is a community not a community?

User-friendly and beautiful as they are, these owned communities aren’t really communities at all. Despite all our knowledge about the online experiences people want, websites are still pretty much broadcast media where followers might engage once but have no real reason to return.

The truth is that, in terms of the control you have, the experience it delivers and the returns you can expect, the community app is unbeatable. In the mobile age of always-on connectivity, it can drive supremely high levels of emotional engagement, loyalty and increased spend.

Illustration of a community

The community app: no.1 for engagement, control and ROI

When you don’t want to get lost in social newsfeeds. When you want to reach 100% of your audience with all of your content, and store information in one easy-to-access, centralised, mobile space. When you want genuine interaction from and between audience members, any time and anywhere. When you want never before seen levels of engagement, control and returns from your marketing, then come and talk community apps with us.

Learn how a residential community in southern Spain gets 4 x more engagement than in their social spaces. See how a celebrity chef uncovered lucrative new revenue streams with her Disciple community app. Discover how a country music star mobilised his fan community… and don’t even get us started on why the Rolling Stones love their superfan app

What’s really important is that you don’t have to be a huge or famous brand to reap the rewards. Your community app can be anything you want it to be. Call it a club, a space, a forum, a hangout… whatever works for you and your community.

It amounts to the same thing – a safe place where fans, followers or customers can come together for a common reason, with huge benefits on all sides. Get in touch and let’s explore what it can do for you.