Measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) of community marketing is an important step in developing the business case for investing in building a community. As B2B marketers we manage a slew of communities – or at least you should – including key account boards; product feedback groups; prospect insight groups to name a few. But measuring the ROI of communities per se is a bit more complicated. But here are three measures I use to understand the ROI of Community.

Measure #1: Community Engagement

While developing the B2B Buzz, I did a slew of research around understanding community engagement metrics. The method we employ is Orbit’s Love Model (see below). It centers around tracking three metrics:

Love – A measure of a member’s level of engagement
Reach – A measure of a member’s sphere of influence
Gravity – The attractive force of a community. 

Then using these 3 metrics to understand the dynamics of movement inside your community by segmenting the community into layers of engagement. We modified Orbit’s 4 layer approach into 3 layers Observers, Contributors and Advocates. We call them Top Bar, Warre, and Langstroth which are types of beehives in keeping with the B2B Buzz’s Bee analogy. Then we score users against the 3 engagement metrics above and understand their importance to the community. This analysis creates an engagement score that we can use to correlate to business outcomes (e.g., move faster to / through the pipeline, have larger ACV). Again tying the tactical measure of Engagement to a revenue related metric to articulate business value.

Measure #2: Community NPS by Engagement Layer

The second way to understand the ROI of community is analyzing the comparative between your community members NPS vs non-community members. This is an especially powerful tool for product / user groups. And as we know NPS correlates to better renewal, elasticity of cross-sell and higher ACV. 

So in the community context, we can use community members’ NPS to understand the business contributions of community management. The delta of NPS for community vs. non-members is “math” we use to look at NPS through that lens. Tactically, this means your CRM or Customer Service Stack needs to have identifiers (in real time) of those that are in your community. Secondly it also means your NPS questionnaire must be consistent across all your insight tools. Thus you now have a second measure to understand the ROI of a community.

Measure #3: Community Revenue

Similarly to what we do with NPS, we need to do a parallel revenue analysis. Answering questions like what is the ACV (average contract value) of deals from community members vs. non-members. What is the cross-sell rate? And so on.

The real ROI is can we identify the contribution your community members have directly or indirectly your brand’s revenue. The incremental revenue lift (in theory) of non-members vs members should deliver an ample ROI to invest in your b2b community.

But buyer beware building communities is a challenging endeavor. AND is different for each industry / sector. Hopefully these three measures can help you determine if building one for your organization will provide the return on the investment.