How to activate users with awesome emails
Too many community managers fail to grasp the reasons that users initially join branded customer communities. Believe it or not, your average Joe is not registering out of a burning desire to give back to other people or volunteer their precious free time answering ‘noob’ product questions. They’re signing up because they have a need of their own.
One of the ways community managers can go about activating such users and transforming them into active, engaged community members is via a strategic notification email strategy.
Traditionally, the default text of community notification emails tends to be rather formal. In the interest of engagement (and keeping things light!) think about what tone of voice you’d like your community to have (whilst complying with any brand guidelines, of course) and adjust your notification emails accordingly.
Here’s a great example from the Mint mobile community which showcases how you can stamp your own brand personality onto your notification emails to really skyrocket engagement:
You can see that adding an informal, funny line has the ability to create a much more personal touch. Users will remember this and feel more welcome and inclined to become active themselves. The activation email is a key moment in the journey of your users through the activation funnel. They clearly want to participate, but they’re still at the very beginning, and this is where a good notification email can really make a difference:
- Give your users a warm welcome by choosing an informal tone of voice
- Advertise the benefits of engaging in your community (e.g. "learn more about your product")
- Link to the "How to use the community" section
- Provide links to different categories, and maybe even directly to the 'create a topic' page
- Some communities even have a dedicated "getting started" topic and that's a great addition to your activation email, too!
Gamification: Influence member behavior and achieve business goals
Gamification is a vital element of strong and dynamic customer communities. In order to create and maintain a thriving space, community managers must find ways to incite user engagement. Gamification triggers this engagement by creating moments of user gratification which hook community members to keep coming back for more. As a community manager you’re no stranger to gamification. But are you using all the tools your community platform offers you in order to create a super engaged user base and loyal members? Community managers need to make the most of any features they can that play on their users’ love for rewards, status and ranking, and social validation.
Quick refresh: What is gamification?
Gamification in a business context refers to the implementation of game mechanics in non-game activities. Not to be confused with actual games, gamification uses the existing infrastructure of a website and adds the engaging functions of games. In communities, gamification is used to motivate and engage the members by creating playful experiences. The motivation for community members can be divided into two main categories; intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is driven by an interest or enjoyment in a task itself, without any external pressure or desire for reward. For example, a member that comes to the community for intrinsic motivations comes because he enjoys participating in a discussion about specific topics.
In contrast, extrinsic motivations are triggered by external factors, such as a prize or recognition from others. Community experiences trigger intrinsic motivations, which are then followed by extrinsic motivations, resulting in an increase in engagement from community members, as well as influencing their customer behaviors.
When people are participating in a community for both extrinsic and intrinsic reasons, they are much more likely to display high levels of engagement and participation.
Competitions, prizes and gamification systems are a great way to engage members that do not participate, based solely on intrinsic motivations. In other words, gamification enables members to participate not only because the task they are doing is interesting and fun, but also because they are rewarded for it and achieve a certain social status. In turn, it increases the member satisfaction of the community, and increases the likelihood of continued use and contribution.
For more ideas about how YOU can use gamification to create your own flourishing online branded community, get your free copy of The Ultimate Guide to Community Management.
Tips and tricks for re-targeting inactive users
As we can see from the stats in the activation funnel, we lose a serious amount of members who were once active, but for some reason, fell off the radar. The majority of the time, this is because a user joins a community with a specific question in mind (remember that functional motivation), and once they have their answer or advice, they say adieu and leave the community for good.
What can we do to entice these one-time members back for another try? Let’s take a look at retargeting inactive users. You can choose to identify and then target specific groups of your user base and hit them up with new, interesting content. Some community managers choose to check on the activity of their very active members as well, to ensure that they keep coming back to the community. Well, they do say that prevention is better than cure …
Your step-by-step guide to reactivating community members:
- Extract user data and identify the dates and times of last activity
- Filter the list to see who has not been active in the past month (or select a time range you're interested in)
- Import into your email platform
- Send your reactivation campaign email(s)
For a full guide with recommendations on what to share to reactivate your lapsed users, download The Ultimate Guide to Community Management.
Introduce a super user initiative: step-by-step guide
The strongest communities have a secret ingredient: their super users. Superusers are a great source of value for your community. They are quick to respond to questions, great advocates for your brand and they keep your community going. If you haven’t already implemented a superuser initiative within your brand community, now’s the time to act!
Here are our pro tips for spotting, recognizing, engaging and retaining the very best super users within your community
What makes a potential superuser? Here’s what to look for:
- Members who contribute regular, impactful activity to the community (look at the statistics for likes and answers—check your analytics)
- Members who offer constructive criticism (it’s OK to disagree if there’s an alternative solution presented)
Once you have spotted a potential superuser, acknowledge them:
- Pick a specific post, and start your praise from there
- Make them feel important—appreciate their knowledge (@mentions are great for this)
- Ask for their advice—manage expectations
Having a super user program provides a number of benefits for the rest of your community member base. If it’s a formal, openly communicated program, it gives engaged users something to aspire towards—acting as a strong incentive for them to up their activity and step from one activation funnel level to the next. Your super user program also benefits those new and less active members. They’ll benefit from ‘guaranteed’ assistance outside of your company’s regular office hours—often 24/7 when you have a globally distributed member base. This of course contributes to a higher satisfaction level with the community in general and increases the likelihood of new members moving through the activation funnel to become active and engaged users.
Suggested super user program activities
- Celebrate each super user’s milestones e.g. 1000 posts, 100 likes, 100 answers).
- Celebrate calendar occasions, like birthdays or community membership anniversaries.
- Schedule regular video chats, with or without an agenda, to strengthen the relationship and gain valuable feedback and insights on your community.
- Schedule occasional on-site or face-to-face meetings to help super users feel part of a time and more connected with your brand.
Get even more pro tips on spotting, engaging and creating long-lasting relationships with community super users in The Ultimate Guide to Community Management.