If you run an online community, good for you, you're probably already doing a good job of staying in close touch with your customers! We have one here at VerticalResponse, it's called the VR Marketing Lounge, a Cool Spot for Hot Marketing. We use our online community so that we can interact with our customers and have other customers network with each other. They will jump at the chance to chime in on everything from email marketing to how to market their businesses better.
So you have built a community to your customers engaged with you, and now you want them actively participating in conversations, right? If you don't market it, your online community won't grow quickly. Here are a few things to do to get it going.
1. Collect email addresses for your online community and make it a separate list from your customer list. With most providers you have to be a member of the community to contribute so you can access that list to email. With some you can include a newsletter opt-in form as well.
2. Include the last 3-4 online community posts in your weekly or monthly newsletter to your customers. In the same email ask them to join the online community and participate with other customers.
3. Send an email to the community list about what's happening on the site every few weeks. Include your "Top Posts" based on replies or comments. WebProWorld does a fantastic job at this. It gets people back into the community, and keeps them actively participating.
4. Send an email to the community if there is a really hot topic going on that you think others will be able to answer. You might even name it "Hot Topic: Whatever The Topic Is".
This is just another example of how email marketing and social media go hand in hand. Check out more ideas on our blog!