Why are online communities a great investment and a guaranteed ROI?

Online communities are the new thing out there and you might be wondering if it could be a good investment for your company. Well, online communities are a great investment for all companies from startup phase to market leader, for public, private or in the non-for-profit sector.
Online communities are not a strategy, nor a business plan, but rather a machine, continuously in-synch with your business, constantly measuring your company’s vitals.
Here are the 5 reasons why online communities are a great investment and a guaranteed ROI.
1. Free information about your consumers
Online communities provide your marketing and sales team with free and constant inflow of market data on your consumers. Through private online communities, you can see who your customers are, understand their behaviors and attitudes better than ever, conduct unobtrusive and free research among them, and obtain valuable data that all of your teams will be able to benefit from. Online communities measure the pulse of your customers.
2. Raise valuable awareness about your product
Through online communities, you make your clients and your partners experts on your product and thus your strongest advocates. No one can be your strongest marketer like the well-informed client. Online communities will not only educate your consumers on your product and brand, it will also create a constant buzz around them. As long as you feed your online community, your advocates will continue to talk more and louder about your brand.
3. Easy and free inbound marketing 
Online communities are an amazing platform for your marketers to reach your target market. Every marketing campaign shared on your online community is 100% perfectly targeting your consumers. It is an amazing PR tool that helps you build strong relationships with your customers and enables you to clearly convey your mission, position statement and convince consumers of your value proposition. Moreover, it is that much easier to communicate, in any situation, with engaged customers with whom you have developed a relationship, even in crisis management.
4. Improve brand equity
Brands are created by consumers, and there is no better way to help shape their opinion of your brand but by communicating with them and letting them express their views. In a successful and active online community, you can help increase your brand loyalty, Net Promoter Score (NPS), recall, and retention. You can help form and improve your brand image and perceived quality. Partners invited to join can also be strong advocates for your business within your community and can help add credibility and perceived market strength to your brand.
5. High ROI
After the initial setup cost, having an online community is a relatively inexpensive tool. Especially if you compare it to the wealth of information, tangible data, and opportunities it provides your business with. As long as you nourish your online community, it is in part crowd-sourced and your community will feed itself and make noise on its own. Online communities will not just increase sales, but will also improve your upsells and renewal rates. If you take it a step further and open your community to leads and potential clients, you can significantly increase adoption and sales, and drastically reduce the time spent by consumers in the sales cycle or funnel. Overall, online communities will not just give you a high return on investment, it will create brand ambassadors.