It costs businesses far more to attract a new customer than it does to retain a current one. Of course, this makes perfect sense – once you have a customer, you simply need to keep them happy and meet their needs in order to retain them. Without a customer, you have no sales and have to spend money to attract them.
The same concept applies for online communities – it is important for you to keep your existing members; they are your foundation. Without your existing members, your community cannot hope to develop and flourish.
Always ensure you keep your members happy
Your main priority when developing an online community is to keep your members happy. Nothing else is of higher importance. Remember that a community without people is not a community – if you are attracting members but they are not contributing, you will get nowhere.
Happy community members will contribute. If there is a lack of activity in your forum, then something is wrong. Happy members will be your forum’s best promotional tool – sure, you can pay for advertising campaigns and establish link exchanges, but if a visitor arrives at your site to see a dead community, they will not register. Similarly, if they find a community full of complaints and negativity they are unlikely to stick around.
Happy members will recommend your site to their friends. A recommendation from a friend is the most effective referral there is – after all, we trust our friends, right? Once you have happy members, you will have a happy community which will succeed if you continue to invest the necessary effort.
Fight to keep your members
There will be times that you may well have to fight to keep your members. Squabbles between members do occur from time to time, and people will complain every now and again. In this case, it is imperative that you intervene and try to solve the problem.
Bad blood between users can drive other members away. It may take a lot of your time to mediate between arguing parties, but if you can smooth out the issues and keep hold of all the members involved, it will be worth every second.
If a member complains, acknowledge their complaint, and investigate it. When you have finished investigating, get back to them with a full response. Anything less, and that member will think you do not value their presence in your community and may very well leave.
Every member you lose damages your community – you need to keep your members, and you can only do this by fighting to keep them.
Fight to attract new members
Whilst existing members are the foundation of your community, it is important to attract new users to keep your community fresh, dynamic and interesting. Once again, you need to don your (metaphorical!) boxing gloves – draw up a game plan, figure out how you are going to promote your site and attract new members, then execute that plan.
Make your site welcoming to new members, and ensure it is easy for them to register and get involved. Once they join, get yourself ready for ‘Round Two’ and keep on fighting to keep them at your site!
What methods do you employ to ensure members stick around at your website? Share your ideas, experiences and thoughts by leaving a comment below.