Building an Online Community - (Last) Part 5

Hello! This is the last part in "Building an Online Community" series. Building an online community is not about doing the work once and then watching the community grow automatically. Majority of the work happens after the launch. You have to continuously monitor it's key metrics and refine your approach and methods to improve them.

An important question to answer at this stage is what defines your community's success? Is it number of unique visitors per month? Number of repeated visitors? Number of people signing up? Sales volume?

A few metrics that I believe most communities need to consider while measuring their growth are:
  • Number of visits / visitors / unique visitors
  • Bounce rate
  • Time on site
  • Current SEO rankings for important keywords
  • Domain authority
  • Number of new leads / form submissions
  • Total amount of sales generated

By the way, Google Analytics is a wonderful tool to use to measure these metrics. And so is HubSpot's Inbound Marketing System.

Number of visits / visitors / unique visitors

A growing community ensures that the number of visits to your blog or website are increasing on a regular basis. You might find that certain posts or certain sections are getting more visits than others. Find out why that is happenning and try to duplicate the results.

Bounce Rate

What is Bounce Rate? It is the percentage of people who come to your website, stay on the single page without browsing any other page and leave the site. They come and leave. They bounce back to somewhere else.

A high bounce rate is not good. It means people are not interested in exploring your community. Your goal should be keep this bounce rate as low as possible. In most cases, improving the content of the site will do the trick. In some cases, better navigation will help. It is also important to note that all links on your website are working. If the links are broken, the bounce rate can be very high.

Time on Site

If you operate a community like Facebook, it's important that people spend more time on your site. Higher the time people spend on your site, higher fees you can charge your advertisers. Increasing this metric will often times decrease your Bounce rate autmatically (unless your pages are really really long and visitors spend a lot of time on a single page).

Current SEO rankings for important keywords

Google has a keyword tool that will assist you with this metric. This tool will help you find out how hot a certain keyword is. For example, if your site is focused on "green tea" and it's health benefits, type in "green tea" or "health benefits of green tea" into the keyword tool and it will tell you how many people searched for those words in the last month.

If you are drafting a blog post, this is an important tool to use. Identify what keywords identify your post. Do a search in the keyword tool to check it's popularity. Then insert the most popular words in your blogpost a few times. Chances of your blogpost appearing in the search results for those particular keywords will be much higher.

Domain Authority

This is one of the factors search engines use to determine search results. When a user types in a search term in Google search engine, Google wants to provide him/her with the best search results and thus will display pages from authority websites first and non-authority websites later. In other words, Google checks the strength of your website and another website and then displays the results of stronger authority website first.

There are certain factors that affect the domain authority. Some are:
  • How long has your URL been registered? Longer the better.
  • How often is the content on your site updated?
  • How relevant is your content to your users?
  • How many pages does your site contain?
  • How many visitors do you get on a regular basis?
Getting some of the other metrics right can automatically increase your domain authority number.

Number of new leads / form submissions

If your goal is to have visitors ask for more information, sign-up a newsletter, get a RFP, fill out a contest form, etc. then you should be focusing on this metric. Find out what percentage of people visit your site AND fill out the form? Do you have a target number in mind? Are you meeting the target? If not, you have work to do. Find out its cause and then work to meet your goals.

Total amount of sales generated

This again is similar to number of new leads / form submissions. If you are selling products or services and intend to sell certain value of products/services per month, then check your sales figure. Are they meeting your goals? How can you increase the numbers?

A good strategy to building a community is "Fire, Aim, Adjust" approach. Launch the community. Set goals. Adjust your methods and approaches to meet those goals continually. The longer you wait to launch a perfect community, the higher the chances of your community not being launched, EVER.

Lastly, understand that building a large community is often a trial and error process. Lots of experimentation, time and patience are required to build a successful community. Hope this series helped you in your quest of building an online community.

Thank you for reading!

Like they say in Hawaiian,

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