How to Leverage Customer Communities for Growth

Leveraging Customers for Growth

If there is one thing I see inside and out of a successful website it’s passion in one form or another. Don’t get stuck in semantics, all I’m saying is that good websites form an almost immediate and long lasting emotional connection with visitors.

This connection drives everything from referrals to repeat traffic, and guess what it also drives new ideas. Consumer intelligence is key, but I’m going to take it one step further, leverage consumer passion for the easy win. If there is one thing gathering consumer intelligence has shown me, it’s that passionate connected consumers are active consumers.

You might have heard this argument before, but rarely do you get down to the psychological nuts and bolts of what makes people tick. Have you looked at the woman in the picture yet? Her job is to illicit an emotional response, all processed and computed in your brain within a fraction of a second.

Make Up Your Mind

I couldn’t make my mind up in college on what to major in, I just liked studying too many different kinds of things. One of the areas I loved to focus on was psychology, specifically behavioral and developmental. People are incredibly predictable at scale, you just need a large enough sample size to predict varying responses in a group.

There is a process to the way people think and react to stimulus, and when you’re building websites you need to be leveraging that process for your own means. It might sound devious, but it’s exactly what all the major players are doing, so why are you any different?

You don’t think facebook knows that a “like” becomes a positive reinforcement for good behavior. What could facebook possibly want to reinforce? Oh maybe posting a status update, uploading a picture, or maybe creating a fan page?

Drive Revenue

All these things drive revenue, so it pays them (well) to connect you emotionally to their KPI’s. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that they are leveraging your emotional wants and needs for their own ends. Ouch.

Over and over I come across websites that have great concepts but no passion curve. Where is the emotional connection, where is the hook? There are too many neutral websites out there, don’t throw you’re hat in the ring with every other largely ignored piece of content on the web.

You don’t have to be TMZ, but you should probably be closer to Huffington Post than the national weather service. Learn where people’s emotional hot buttons are, and you will learn how to make money online.

Think Backwards

You have this wonderful idea, but you have to make sense of it all. How are you going to monetize it? What’s your long term plan? Too often we think of websites as a quick and easy way to make money. We look past traditional planning and decide to “wing it” as we go along, figuring that your ideas will come to you with time. The important thing is getting that idea up and running right? Wrong.

Before you build, before you recruit help, you have to have a long term plan. You have a great idea? So does everybody else. Why doesn’t every great idea make it’s creator a millionaire? Well obviously it’s never easy starting an online business, but I happen to believe most people (as I once did), go into online ventures without thinking long term.

Hence the idea of planning backwards from the start. Your end goal is to make money, so why not let that be the driving force behind everything that you do. When I started building websites I would get an idea, work countless hours to build up traffic to a site, then sit and rack my brain as to how I was going to make money off all those visitors. I had arrived at the end goal, but now had become my own worst enemy.

Begin with the End in Mind

Your model has to start with the end goal, what is going to make you the most money. Everything will be driven by that force, and should be centered around it from the start. Your subject, conversion methods, user testing, keywords, articles, site structure, SEO, social media, rich media, and the list goes on.

People create and create and create and then try to figure out the financial gains to be made. Too often you will find that unless you plan to make money from the start, you won’t make much money at all. There’s that old saying I can’t seem to get out of my head, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Well the same can be said of internet marketing and online business development. Plan ahead, think ahead, and you will get ahead.