If you know me professionally, you may have an idea of my background. I’ve spent a decade in Growth and Marketing in Web2 tech, primarily on the performance marketing. Performance marketing is otherwise known as growth marketing, user acquisition, direct response marketing, etc.
Performance marketing is the side of marketing that is primarily focused on dollars in and dollars out. Terms like ROAS (return on ad spend), CAC (cost per acquired customer), LTV (lifetime value) are commonplace while Analytics, Data Science, and Creative are a performance marketer’s best friend.
We tend to hang out on the analytical side of things, and have a healthy skepticism of efforts that don’t involve measurement or proper testing infrastructure.
As I gained more experience and self-awareness in performance marketing, I realized that I came from a school of thought steeped in measuring everything and performance-first.
Performance marketing has come a long way the past decade or so, and the practice has provided more insight into what works and what doesn’t in marketing. It’s pushed marketing as a whole to be more thoughtful about measurement, attribution (where a user comes from), and automation.
However, as I gained experience, I also gained a hubris around performance marketing being better than everything else. I created blinders towards other marketing disciplines. It took me a couple more jobs to zoom out to understand how all these disciplines complemented each other.
I’d like to think this wasn’t completely my fault though. Performance marketing rose in prominence with the proliferation of social media and advertising platforms, which provided tools, targeting capabilities, and scale that didn’t exist before.
As I’ve spent (a lot) more time in the world of Web3, I believe that:
Performance Marketing will transition to a supporting role vs. a leading role from the past decade
New marketing organizational structures will emerge that will complement the paradigm shift that Web3 presents
A new archetype of Performance Marketer will rise with robust skillsets around community management and experiential marketing
Community is everything
I’m going to focus on the last point because…that’s the focus on this piece. I’ll get the other 3 points another day, remind me please 😉
For all my performance marketing friends, please don’t crucify me. I believe it is one of the best foundational marketing skills to learn (the other is SEO, which I wish I learned), and I’m grateful for being comfortable with numbers, especially as a non-technical professional.
Let’s be real. The heyday of running hundreds of FB Ad Campaigns to acquire new customers and running around testing the next ad platform or channel are not only getting more expensive…but also sorta boring. Why not focus on building real connections with your user base and build longer lasting strategies?
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, who knows.
Enough with the backstory. Let’s build the case for why Community is everything.
Before I make the case for Community being ‘everything’, I want to point out a few caveats:
Community doesn’t replace, but enhances many business functions
I believe the tactics I introduce below are interesting, but should not be employed by everyone nor all at once.
Though most of my examples will be from Discord, they apply to all communities regardless of where they are housed.
Community as Customer Service
As a Marketer, CS holds a special place in my heart. If I am doing a good job, that means more users and customers would reach out with questions, complaints, and bugs to the CS. This is a good problem to have, but having the sympathy and understanding of how success in one facet of the business can lead to strain in another is important.
A robust community becomes a form of customer service
Earlier this morning RTFKT announced details of its partnership with Rimowa
Naturally with any announcement, there were a lot of questions. It’s overwhelming no matter how prepared a team is. Until the community comes in to help.
These people answering questions are not RTFKT team members. They’re active Clone holders hanging out in the chat and happen to be more knowledgeable about the RTFKT x Rimowa collab.
What are they doing?
Addressing questions from the community that otherwise would have been directed to the RTFKT team
If you work in CS, you know that average response times matter. These response times are literally in the same minute. It doesn’t get better than that.
It creates a self-reinforcing loop that strengthens the community. Ideally, the helpful community members receive recognition from the community for their help, which encourages them to keep answering questions.
The last screenshot I took is particularly notable (and funny).
Why? All the best practices for customer service are thrown out the window. This user is asking the one of the most basic questions, and the answer to the question was clearly stated in the announcement on Twitter and on the website.
This type of question is the bane of any CS team’s existence. However, when this type of question is handed over to the community, they not only answer the question but also add a dash of attitude.
“Hi There, thanks for reaching out. The price of a RTFKT x Rimowa suitcase is 2.3 ETH. Please refer to our website at https://rimowa.rtfkt.com/. Thank you and have a great day.”
That’s what every CS person wishes they could respond with but can’t.
How are other communities building upon the concept of ‘Community as Customer Service’?
Rewarding good behavior
If community members are going above and beyond adding value to the community, reward and encourage that!
Metaverse HQ (a prominent alpha group that I’m a part of) holds a monthly MVP program through a community vote. MVP perks include an ETH reward, lifetime access to MVHQ, and being featured on the cover of the MVHQ magazine.
Ensuring the team is all trained up on customer service
Throughout my career, I’ve been at companies that aspired to have other teams experience a ‘day in the life’ of the CS teams to build a stronger understanding of the customer. In theory, this was a great idea but rarely executed.
With community platforms like Discord that allow for easy async conversation, there’s no good excuse for team members to avoid CS. Whether you’re the CEO or on Day 2 of your new job, CS should be a requirement, not an elective.
Create opportunities for the community to reach out with tactical questions in voice channels. Whether it’s in more closed environment like Discord, or out in the open on Twitter Spaces, this is an analog to traditional customer hotlines.
An example of this would be if a ticket could be responded in 3 minutes on voice instead of 3 hours typing back and forth, you could transition the question from text to voice seamlessly.
This tactic can produce outsized results if approached thoughtfully.
Community as User Research
I’ve written about how Web3 capabilities can enhance user research in the past, and still believe that there is much to be explored on this front.
Understanding community preferences
Simple surveys and polls for the community to measure sentiment and help make non-critical product decisions
Identifying specific user cohorts for research
When combined with different native or 3rd party analytics tools, the team can identify cohorts of users they want to learn more about.
Community as Product
By involving the community, you’re empowering the community to identify bugs and speeding up feedback loops, especially for the gaming vertical.
Chainmonsters, a MMORPG built on the Flow blockchain, has a channel dedicated to bugs.
It wouldn’t make sense for a community to determine the roadmap for a company, but community involvement in small doses can be beneficial.
Chugs, a milk carton character in the Cool Cats ecosystem came from a live drawing session from the founding artist, Clon. The character was received with so much excitement that the character became real.
Chugs has become so popular that it has become an actual plushie.
Creating a product ecosystem
This is common with protocols where product ecosystems have been built off of.
I’ve written about Farcaster’s ecosystem of apps, which shows the power of open source. Lens and Unlock are taking similar approaches with their protocols as well.
Community as Marketing
Last but not least, Marketing! IMO is the most obvious. A strong community makes marketing efforts more effective, efficient, and exciting (yay for alliteration!).
I’ve provided numerous examples of marketing activations in partnership with community in previous pieces, so here’s a list if you want to dig further:
Web2 Brands Partnering with Web3 Communities
Azuki’s Proof of Skate Activation - The auction for 8 gold-plated skateboards resulted in ~$2.5 million in sales this past weekend.
‘Community’ has become a buzzword these days, but I believe few brands have truly unlocked the potential what community can do. Though most of my examples are B2C, B2B can and should employ many of the examples I’ve listed above.
Take a closer look at what your community can do for you. It’s not just a thing. It’s everything.
Take it from me, I’m a converted performance marketer 😂
See you tomorrow folks.
Well written post!