Solving the 'engagement to value' problem


(Richard Millington) #1

Hey everyone,

So since we published the Online Community ROI guide I’ve had my eye on developing some sort of tool or resource which would enable community professionals to better calculate the ROI of their community.

The data to do this already exists, it just tends to be stored in two different places.

  1. The community platform (this holds the engagement-level data).
  2. The customer database (this holds the sales/purchases data).

If you can find a way to track behavior from one to another, or easily match up the records from the two, you can run some great analyses to fundamentally prove the value of a community, whatever that value means to you.

It is possible today, but it’s a lot of hard work.

Since tech development isn’t our speciality, I’m keen to get the community’s opinions and ideas. At the moment it feels like this requires something similar to Google Analytics which you install on both the website and the community platform and can track both. But i’m very open to get ideas and opinions about how this might work.

(Duncan Field) #2

Hi Richard,

This is a great question. It’s soemthing that’s on our mind as well. There are lots of lo-tech ways to do this, that aren’t as elegant as a connected system:

  • “Funneling” (I hate that word) users into the store/paid ecosystem via the community platform, and tracking the store traffic that is coming from that domain/link. This might not allow you to attribute specific sales to the community, but you can track increases in traffic, and hopefully increases in sales, and develop a strong correlation.

  • Providing discount codes to community members and tracking those in the store. Companies do this all the time with things like podcast advertisements, and it’s an easy way to go from the sales pitch “Our podcast has 10 000 listeners, don’t you want to reach them?” to the data “300 people used the code to purchase a product”.

  • I wonder if you could establish some sort of SSO system going from the community to the store, using emails (if your community requires them) as the universal ID. Alternatively, if you simply require emails on both the community and store sides, you can run some reports to see what percentage of sales come from users of the community, or what percentage of users go on to purchase something. I imagine with some work you could get fancy and track sales by activity level or something. I wonder how hard it would be to develop a dashboard that tracks these elements