2020 Customer Awards: AARP - Best-in-Class: Community

2020 Customer Awards: AARP - Best-in-Class: Community

Company: AARP

Company background: AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into 'Real Possibilities' by changing the way America defines aging. With staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and promote the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare security, financial security, and social connection. AARP also advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world's largest-circulation magazine, AARP The Magazine and AARP.

Contact:  Maura White and Sandy Moreland

Title: Director of Audience Marketing, and Manager of Online Community

Related URLs:

Kudos Category: Best-in-Class: Community

1. Describe your community(s) and how you decided to start a community or grow/change it? (user request, Khoros suggestion, internal idea, etc.).

The AARP Online Community first started over 20 years ago on AOL, and then moved over to AARP, adding bulletin boards to extend a voice to our members and foster peer-to-peer engagement. Today, as part of the Digital Marketing Group, the AARP Online Community is focused on connecting people on topics of interest in the moments that matter, providing exclusive access to subject matter experts, recognizing high contributors and providing easy access to useful tips – all to help the audience live a high quality of life as they age.

 2. Tell us about how you made it happen? Did you stage it first? Who got an early look? How did you drive adoption? Did you get executive buy-in? Did you have any key iterations?

The AARP Online Community has centered its strategies on data, available resources, and strong cross-department relationships. Without a large budget, the team has paired with the Caregiving team to beta new features such as the on-page Community engagement widget that can live anywhere on’s website and the Caregiving Tips feature. The ‘Tips’ feature is now being scaled and was recently added to the Health area. Other areas will soon follow. Khoros’ existing code was used and repackaged to deliver the new feature. To launch and build adoption, subject matter experts were brought in to spark content. Marketing support was provided by the sponsoring area, on-page Community promotion, and Digital Marketing Groups’ email newsletters. The Tips features now contribute the highest level of ongoing engagement within the given forums.

AARP Caregiving TipsAARP Caregiving TipsAARP Health TipsAARP Health Tips

The Online Community Expert Series program is another key element of our success. The team works with strategic directors and executives to host special events/discussions on topics aligned with AARP’s theme months, hosted by AARP and industry experts. In 2019, Expert Series events spanned over 225 days and continue at the same rate in 2020. The direct alignment of the topics with enterprise goals helps secure promotional support, and the information gleaned from the users helps inform future direction for the issue area including new subcategories, programs, and UX.  

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Using user input collected from the Caregiving Summer Break Contest hosted by Online Community, analysis and insights about the Caregiving audience was published in a report for use by the issue area and Integrated Marketing teams.

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Looking to establish a peer-to-peer recognition program for high-value contributors, Online Community launched its ACE program, measuring individuals primarily for the number of Kudos received by their audience. The mechanism to promote and recognize the ACEs was again developed using existing Khoros code, tailored for the program. Since January, 40 members have qualified for the ACE program and now sport the ACE badge. In aggregate, these high contributors represent over 30% of the Community’s engagement in the last year. Moving forward, they will serve to help spotlight strategic discussions and programs and help advise AARP on its Online Community program.

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Ongoing sparking of conversations, many tied to editorial publishing schedules, and sponsoring contests is a long-standing tactic, which continues to drive awareness and conversion of registered users, increasing our known audience and the ability to understand user behavior and preferences.

3. What were the results? Tell us how it impacted your customer experience or the outcomes you seek as a business. Please include metrics if possible.

We have seen a positive impact on our customer experience with a June CHI score of 728, well above Khoros’ mark of a healthy Community. Our scores have consistently been over 715 for the last four years.

Customer Satisfaction Score increased +46% YoY to 70 and our Net Promoter Score rose +245% YoY to 32, based on directional data.

Over the past twelve months, the AARP Online Community is averaging 120K Unique Visitors, who have contributed 232K total Engagements