“You can’t fake a community of passionate brand advocates. We have an army of people that are willing to stand by our brand. Our customers tell us that they stay with Optimizely because they have a community and total support.” - Amanda Swan, Community Manager at Optimizely
As the #1 mobile and website optimization platform in the world, Optimizely has a slew of customers that depend on them every day to power the best digital experiences. So it’s no surprise that Optimizely customers expect the company to respond to questions, provide feature updates, give feedback and point them in the right direction – all in real-time.
Does that sound like an immense endeavor? Well, Optimizely delivers via the company’s Optiverse online community. With Optiverse, the company meets- and exceeds - customers’ expectations by scaling customer care and by truly putting customers first.
Q: Please start by telling us about your role at Optimizely, your daily challenges, and what inspires you.
A: I started on the support team and my role quickly evolved into Optimizely’s Community Manager. I’m now more focused on our digital/web strategy from a product point-of-view, which includes the community. My inspiration is enabling our customers to learn from each other. By creating a community where our customers can interact and inspire one another, we have been able to achieve this.
Q: What is the main goal of Optiverse?
A: Our main goal is day-to-day engagement and helping our Customer Success organization scale. Plus, it gives our customers a platform to help one another. The community is also a learning/education hub, which in turn increases product adoption and helps us retain customers.
Q: Why did you select Lithium to power your community?
A: Customer experience is most important to us – obviously. So we needed a vendor that was flexible on design and functionality. Lithium was just that, as well as passionate to partner with us on an out-of-the-box community.
Q: How do you promote your community and fuel engagement?
A: We have a customer onboarding email campaign that we execute on, and we promote that the Optiverse is a place to get help and connect with peers. We also work closely with our Customer Success team to promote the community. In addition, we execute several content campaigns and contests as well as a monthly newsletter to keep engagement high.
Q: How has your community helped address your pain points and business challenges?
A: It’s definitely allowed our support team to scale and direct customers to a central place where they can learn more about our products. The community helps make our products stickier. In fact, 80% of our top 10 ideas were turned into product ideas. The community is also a “stepping stone” in our engagement model with customers and part of our engagement ladder. It is ultimately helping to get our customers more and more engaged, which helps us determine who our advocates are. We can then leverage those efforts in our sales cycle for: reference calls, third-party spokespeople and sales collateral.
Q: Congrats on the redesign of your community. Tell us about the redesign process, objectives, and results so far.
A: It was a four-month labor of love and data! We did tons of user testing and monitored user data to get insights on what our members were clicking on and what they wanted to see on our community. We had big ambitions because we also wanted to layer in gamification and badging functionalities. At the initial stage, we put ourselves in our customers’ shoes and asked: what is the user flow? Who is our audience? And what’s the sentiment? We did this initial data pull in order to build a strategic brief that powered our execution. The brief was critical because it was our source of the truth. It helped anchor us in our ultimate goal. Throughout the redesign we continuously checked back in with customers to gauge feedback and to get more data. We had this consistent cycle: apply design, get feedback and implement feedback. It was a lengthy process, but once the design came to life, it was a great feeling.
Q: We know you just launched, but any interesting metrics to share?
A: We officially launched the new design on January 18, 2016 so our metrics compare launch week with the previous week. Since launch, we’ve seen:
We’re really excited about the results so far and look forward to collecting more data.
Q: What would you say are your top 3 tips for managing a successful community?
A: The first is definitely to be empathetic. Don’t stop talking to your customers and figuring out what their challenges are. This will keep you grounded. The second is to hone your communication skills. Always have your internal “community pitch” ready and be able to communicate the community vision far and wide. Lastly, show your passion. Your passion will be transparent to your members and they will notice if you’re not passionate. Ultimately, continue to be your internal and external cheerleader.
Q: Finally, what advice would you give to a new community manager?
A: Well, talking to a ton of people is key. Find out everyone’s day-to-day priorities and how the community can play a role in that. It’s so easy to get into the weeds, but in the back of your head, you should always think of ways to scale.
Francisca Fanucchi leads content and customer marketing for Lithium Technologies. She’s held previous roles with Skype, Pandora internet radio and Weber Shandwick. Follow her @Mrs_Fanucchi.
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