Design Corner


Community Platforms Bring Better Member Engagement

A t Higher Logic, we’ve always believed that the key to engaging members and constituents is through building a private community that gives an organization both control and room to grow with deeper connections and constantly improving technology. According to Forrester, branded communities will be the next big thing. A recent Forrester survey shows that U.S. online adults who want to stay in touch with organizations are almost three times as likely to visit a site, as they are to engage on social media platforms like Facebook. The dictionary definition of community includes the quality of distinctiveness. A community will not be satisfied with just any experience, but requires a distinctive and original experience that allows everyone to better function, create and innovate. Guiding community members to an experience that offers more than a one-way exchange of information will deliver value far beyond expectations. A primary reason online communities usurp most social media channels is data: an organization owns all of its data and can build better tracking systems through an online community. A strong community platform will offer organizations the right technology for keeping up with its data. We believe in three technological pillars for all communities to ascribe to: automation, mobile and responsive design, and accessibility. Community Automation Since it’s important for any organization to prioritize member loyalty and retention when it comes to community membership systems,

Most should be controlled by some kind of logical workflow, and emails should be dynamically generated. This means that community managers can provide greetings, rewards, compliments, and alerts without labor- intensive actions or 24/7 monitoring of community activity. After all, curating onboard messaging through automation is just as important as creating the material. Mobile-Friendly Community About 60 percent of all online traffic now comes from mobile devices. Nearly 30 percent of U.S. search requests came from mobile devices during the fourth quarter of 2014. Google wants its users to have that seamless online experience in clicking through any mobile link, so it’s made some algorithm changes to improve SEO for websites that are mobile friendly. Make sure that your community platform is fully responsive and mobile friendly. A fully designed website that adapts to virtually any context delivers a compelling user experience, no matter what the product or industry. Regardless of which operating systems members are using to access the organization’s site, your community platform should recognize the device and respond instantly. Here’s what organizations should strive for: Accessibility and Design : Make the organization’s content available to as many users as possible, whether it’s checking all embedded media or providing alternate content for users with visual disabilities. No

many membership departments are shifting to marketing automation, which not only allows them to personalize interactions with members, but also reduces excess effort for onboarding and retention. However, not every organization needs to rush out and integrate a popular marketing automation system to get this done. Online community platforms provide similar capabilities. We believe there is no better system to use than the place where your members are already collaborating, networking, and connecting. Communitymanagers are simplymembership managers who have learned to work smarter versus harder. Using automation technologies often found in both your community platform and your email or AMS provider, it’s possible to provide members with a deeper, more meaningful experience by focusing on specific campaigns and using appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge success. Some platforms include automation rules for community messaging and email schedules, as well as a reply by email functionality that allows members to interact in community discussions directly from their email providers. Onboarding communications should be governed by automation, not by manual labor.

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