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Managing successful online communities

Matt
 

What lessons can you learn from a discount fashion retailer?

Two headlines caught my eye today as they appeared side by side in my newsfeed.

On first glance, they seemed contradictory.

The first was that the UK lost nearly 2,500 shops and stores last year and the second is that discount fashion retailer Primark has just invested £70m in a new store in Birmingham.

This new store covers 161,000 sq ft over five floors and features a Disney-themed cafe, a beauty studio, a gents hairdresser and a Harry Potter themed section.

If the UK is closing thousands of stores, and a recent department store has just fallen into administration why would a brand invest £70m in a new store?

The answer is that they are not building a store, they are building an experience.

It's clearly not enough to just stack products and open the doors anymore. You have to offer more to entice people in through the doors.

This is why Toys R Us failed in the end. I maintain that if they had reduced shelf space and installed soft play, cafes and product demonstration areas, they would have had a chance at turning around their failing business.

Primark has learned from other's mistakes. With themed "shops in shops" and child-friendly cafes, they are offering more than discount clothes.

It is exactly the same as your community. Offering a space to facilitate conversation is often not enough unless you dominate your niche.

Are you known for well thought out reviews? Perhaps you write valuable articles that get people to your site.

Or you might be focusing on building an audience with a photo competition as Helen from The Dogly Mail has.

What are you doing to encourage more people through your doors?

Edited by Matt


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One: I like how your blogs are straight to the point!!! +100 on that

Yes you are right about Toys R Us, they never listened to what was being said, and never invested in what could help them overcome their failings.

WoW, what a investment! I see where they are going to succeed and will follow the news to see where they go.

Thanks for this info

 

your question is a good one: 

"What are you doing to encourage more people through your doors?"

Community owners will really sit back and think on this, as we are right now!!!

This also applies to our Merch store we have, as we could ask this about how to get customers to our online store and "Buy"

Edited by Mr. Fierce God
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3 minutes ago, Mr. Fierce God said:

One: I like how your blogs are straight to the point!!! +100 on that

Yes you are right about Toys R Us, they never listened to what was being said, and never invested in what could help them overcome their failings.

WoW, what a investment! I see where they are going to succeed and will follow the news to see where they go.

Thanks for this info

 

your question is a good one: 

"What are you doing to encourage more people through your doors?"

Community owners will really sit back and think on this, as we are right now!!!

This also applies to our Merch store we have, as we could ask this about how to get customers to our online store and "Buy"

I'm glad it got you thinking. If you have a built in store, then you could consider creating a sales page in Pages, that links to the product in Commerce and go into more detail on it, and use that Pages page to market it externally.

 

I just had a quick look at your site too, I really like it. Featuring members of the month well, nice articles featured on the front page and using Our Picks to showcase your best content.

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I think in 3-5 years, there will be less successful forums on the Web. It's just not enough these days.

Quote

building an experience

That's the key right there!

We can't continue doing the same thing. We NEED to change. We NEED to make the whole "community experience" better.

We need to...

Focus on members. Focus on your diamonds ... build them up.

Focus on Community Management.

Focus on other content types (instead of sending them away why not point internally to your content) eg. videos, whitepapers, etc

Focus on directories and landing pages (Pages). If you find that your members are constantly directing readers to XYZ site then why not create a directory out of it? For example, if your target are students you can have a Scholarship Directory or a School Directory. Heck, I can go on... how about a Videos Directory (of all the Youtube videos you are working on 😜), Articles, etc

Focus on User Experience. Make sure there is nothing that turns people off. Test. Test. Test.

Focus on Speed.

Focus on ALL devices.

Focus on quality content.

 

Any other ideas?

 

 

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Well, we could write a book on it, but generally.

Your community > The Web
Make it searchable by allowing guest read access in most areas
Produce high quality articles / reviews / content that people want to consume and share
Consider Facebook/Google ads to drive traffic to a specific landing page (not the community index)

The web > Your community
Make visitors feel welcome, make it easy for them to add content (post before registering), make it easy for them to return (enable email notifications), make it easy to read more content (use blocks to encourage content discovery)

Your community > increase engagement
Reward members with gamification, take the time to talk to members, get to know them, make the interface as simple to use as possible, make sure key areas work well on mobile phones, etc.

Do those things are you're in the 10% of people that will succeed.

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1 hour ago, Matt said:

Well, we could write a book on it

#summergoal2019

On a serious note, I've always felt like "experiences" were the way to go with an online community.  You want visitors to see, feel, touch, and think in a whole new digital world that only you can deliver.  

I changed my language strings to literally use words like explore, discover, start an adventure.  Before the post before register, Invision Community had the streamlined sign-in and I changed the wording to "begin your adventure" for new registration and "restart your adventure" for login.  I literally couched my terms in a sense of new discover and wonder, which fits with my sites theme.  

Perhaps the next step is a digital renovation like a department store to create new and exciting spaces.  

It's all about crafting a unique online experience that they can't get anywhere else.  

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