Community KPI’s that matter

Measuring the effectiveness of a community is not an easy task. I’ve talked about ROI (Return on Investment), but want to talk about KPI’s.

The difference between the two is:

KPI’s tell you how you’re tracking,
ROI tells you what happened at the “end”.

E.g. I can see my community is tracking in a healthy manner via KPI’s (or if not, then what I need to adjust it).

ROI is telling me how the community has added value to the business at that specific time.

KPI’s are important to keep you on track!

And it’s not as simple as looking at the backend analytics for the community platform and using those as your KPI’s.

I thought it would be useful to show many of the different community KPI’s available and then cherry-pick the right ones for YOUR community.

A lot of the KPI’s below are ones I have learnt from other community managers over the years.

It’s great to learn from your peers (and I find the community industry to be incredibly supportive).
I have credited those who have shown me their wisdom below.

You should also note this is not an exhaustive list, and there are always new KPI’s being created as the community industry evolves.

Measure community “stickiness”

  • DAU/MAU (Daily Active Users/ Monthly Active Users)

Thanks to Sarah Hawk (VP Community, Discourse) for this one.

The DAU/MAU measures the stickiness of your community. It was made popular thanks to Facebook using it as part of their metrics.
Why is stickiness important?
Well if members keep coming back to your community, it means you’re doing something right.

30% monthly active users are daily active users is extremely sticky: 30 people logged in today, 100 people over a month.
20% is an extremely engaged community.
8-10% is more expected.

Measure community “impact”

  • Referral traffic stats
  • External community activity (hashtags)
  • Leads generated (and quality of the leads, via conversion rates)
  • Number of customer support tickets (that aren’t being answered by the community)

Thanks to Vanilla forums for some of these above impact KPI’s that I have incorporated in my communities in the past.

Some of the following KPI’s below are thanks to Carrie Melissa Jones (founder of Gather Community Consulting).
You can read her full article here.

Community KPIs for Innovation

  • Number of ideas submitted
  • Number of ideas accepted
  • Rating of ideation sessions
  • Number of members interviewed by the research team

My notes on the above KPI’s:

I have actually built and managed innovation communities in the past.
From my experience I would add:

  • The number of pilots launched
  • Number of learnings from unsuccessful and successful pilots
  • Revenue generated from successful pilots (longer-term KPI)

Although the number of pilots launched sounds similar to the number of ideas accepted, not all ideas make it to launch.

I would definitely be synching up with sales/products teams to confirm future revenue generated. It helps to justify innovation budgets and their reason for existence.

I also pitched that one of my KPI’s to senior management should be “the number of impressive stories to tell the CEO from community efforts” – this worked really well.

Community KPIs for Support 

  • CES (Customer Effort Score, here’s a handy resource to help you understand this and how to calculate it)
  • Time to the first answer
  • Time to resolution (best answer)
  • Ticket deflection

My notes on the above KPI’s:

The above may feel difficult for you to measure depending on the platform you use.
For example, I’ve managed communities on Facebook groups as that was where the “audience” was.
It was an easy win to encourage engagement.
The downside was the lack of relevant analytics to sync up with KPI’s such as the above.

My recommendation: take the most popular posts, or several posts per month, and track that to get started.
It’s better than not tracking anything at all and can provide you with some great case studies to take back to management on why your community is important.

Don’t get discouraged, just try to track something and you’ll learn on the go.

Community KPIs for Marketing

  • New names added to a customer database
  • Number of links shared online
  • Number of leads to download content
  • Increase in SEO traffic, by Pageviews

My notes on the above KPI’s:

The way I approach this is by creating a community CRM and syncing this with customer data.

COMMUNITY DATA <—–> CUSTOMER DATA

This isn’t easy because the community platform may not provide you with great community data and you may have to do a lot of manual lifting yourself.

I’d also add to the above list of KPI’s for marketing:

  • Popular content insights (what resonates with the community, what doesn’t)
  • Content generated by the community that can be converted into marketing materials

There are some platforms that do this better than others, I’ll write another post about this in the future…

Community KPIs for Sales

  • Time to sale for community members versus non-community members
  • Conversion rate from membership to sales conversation
  • Satisfaction with sales interactions
  • Repurchase intent

My notes on the above KPI’s:

It’s tough to sync up data from your community with sales data (especially if your community platform does not do this for you).
I usually work on using email addresses as the common field, although this is obviously not a bulletproof solution.

It works well if you start off with that, and then have your community managers and sales teams take a look at the data to add any missed names.

Community KPIs for Advocacy

  • NPS (Net Promoter Score, here’s a handy resource to help you calculate this)
  • Referrals
  • Brand sentiment

My notes on the above KPI’s:

Here’s an example of how I’ve seen other community managers measure the above particularly around sentiment:

  • Positive # engagements
  • Neutral: # engagements
  • Negative: # engagements

    Positive engagements include congratulations, kudos, positive use of the product, general love and hugs from community members
    Neutral engagements include “help required” and other technical support, general commentary with no sentiment attached
    Negative engagements include criticism, frustrations shared, bad product/customer service reviews.

SENTIMENT FLIPS:
Sentiment flips are engagements that started either neutral or negative and finished off positive due to management by internal teams (and even better, other members!).

  • # Neutral → Positive
  • # Negative → Neutral 
  • # Negative → Positive

X% of sentiment positive before engagement
X% of sentiment positive after engagement

Community KPIs for Product

  • Usage
  • Adoption 
  • Feedback 

My notes on the above KPI’s:

This one I refer back to:

COMMUNITY DATA <—–> CUSTOMER DATA

Try to sync up as much product data (that hopefully is saved in the customer data) with your community.

Writing this I’ve realised I need to add a whole new blog post drilling down on what community data I usually measure to help me understand how I’m tracking with the above KPI’s (another future post!).

For me to write about in future

  • The best community management platforms that provide quality metrics (or allow you to customize metrics behind the scenes)
  • Community data: what exactly you need to gather
  • Anything else?

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