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What your community metrics and analytics are telling you
Feb 9th, 2023

What your community metrics and analytics are telling you

Do you feel comfortable interpreting community data and communicating insights to key stakeholders?

Can you explain why you selected the program’s current KPIs, as well as how those metrics will evolve as the community matures?

Are you satisfied with the amount of time and manual work spent on community analytics?

If any of these questions sparked a twinge of uncertainty or doubt, it’s time to reassess your approach to community analytics and what your metrics really mean to the business at large.

Even businesses that seem to have their community analytics under control may have gaps or deficiencies when it comes to using data to accelerate community growth and company growth. To help you understand the full picture of community analytics and what they mean, this article contains details on:

  • The different types of community metrics and what they measure
  • How company goals influence your community analytics
  • Examples of choosing community KPIs for specific outcomes
  • The vital role of reporting to make community analytics effective

Different metrics tell different stories

First, it’s important to make the distinction between community metrics and community analytics. Metrics are the quantified values—the data points—that your community tech stack collects on an ongoing basis. Analytics, on the other hand, refers to the insights that are extracted from those data points.

With that in mind, it should be noted that not all metrics are created equal because different metrics tell different stories. The overarching narrative of your community program and its success depends on the metrics you choose, how they are woven together, and the actions you take based on the insights they provide.

There are two primary categories of community metrics to consider when looking to measure the effectiveness of a program: community health metrics (aka community growth metrics) and business impact metrics (aka community-led growth metrics).

Community health metrics

Community health metrics provide valuable insight into program activity and growth. Community health metrics can be further broken down by the specific things they tell you about the effectiveness of your strategy, such as membership metrics, engagement metrics, and responsiveness metrics.

Membership metrics tell you if your community is growing and how fast that growth is happening. They also help you better understand who is joining across various channels and the different types of members that make up your community.

Examples of membership metrics include:

  • Total number of community members
  • Month-over-month (or quarter-over-quarter, year-over-year) member growth
  • Breakdown of members by type (e.g., contributors, influencers, champions)

Engagement metrics tell you whether or not your program is keeping members active and involved in the community. Measuring this area is vital, as engagement is a positive sign that members find your community valuable and can be a leading indicator for downstream business metrics such as retention (i.e., a highly engaged member is less likely to leave the community… or abandon your product).

Examples of engagement metrics include:

  • Total volume of community activity (e.g., posts, replies, channel usage)
  • Activity by source (e.g., communication apps, forums, social channels)
  • Trending discussion topics and related member sentiment
  • Percentage of members who are actively engaged in the community

Responsiveness metrics tell you how supported and heard your community members feel. No one wants to wait days to receive an answer to their question—if members feel responsiveness is lacking in a community, they may decide that their time is better spent elsewhere. Responsiveness can also be driven by community members. A key indicator of a healthy community is that members are answering each other’s questions, and this insight can come from responsiveness metrics.

Examples of responsiveness metrics include:

  • Response rate (number of posts with one or more replies)
  • Median response time (can be further broken down by source)
  • Percentage of responses by community members vs. team members

For community leaders focused on seeding or growing a community, these community health metrics can be powerful directional indicators on whether growth is trending up and if you’re maintaining engagement through this growth.

Business impact metrics

Business impact metrics help connect community-building efforts to the outcomes that matter most to company leaders. This can also be thought of as making the connection between community growth and community-led growth. As a reminder:

  • Community growth refers to the strategic efforts a company puts toward building, nurturing, and strengthening a community.
  • Community-led growth is a business strategy in which community growth is designed to drive key business outcomes, such as increasing customer retention or revenue.

Business impact metrics used in a community-led growth strategy fall under a few different categories depending on what they are measuring, such as product-related metrics, marketing- and sales-related metrics, and attribution metrics. These metrics make it possible to prove community ROI, which is why they are often the numbers that executive stakeholders care about the most.

Product-related metrics tell you what kind of impact your community program has had on product adoption and usage. Tracking these metrics is valuable for many types of communities, but they are especially important for communities of product where members seek tips on how to use a company’s solution for maximum value.

Examples of product-related metrics include:

  • Community-driven product adoption (see Asana’s example)
  • Reach and effectiveness of product education
  • Customer support case deflection

Marketing- and sales-related metrics tell you the effect that community engagement has on your desired marketing and sales outcomes. Ultimately, these teams want to know how community is helping contribute to their pipeline of qualified prospects.

Examples of marketing- and sales-related metrics include:

  • Number of new organizations in the community
  • Fastest-growing organizations within the community
  • Activity of key members (for account-based initiatives)

Attribution metrics tell you how the community is helping drive or influence revenue. End-to-end community attribution is the dream for many community teams, but only 10% of community professionals say they can financially quantify the value of their community (see “The role of reporting in community analytics” below for details about the tooling that makes attribution possible).

Examples of attribution metrics include:

  • Community-attributed revenue, including percentage of revenue from community-engaged organizations
  • Community impact on deal time to close
  • Customer retention of community-engaged organizations

Together, these business impact metrics help your community team effectively prove your value by telling a more detailed story about the relationship between community growth and business growth.

How your company goals influence your metrics and analytics

No matter where your company lies on the community maturity curve, the metrics you choose and criteria for evaluating success should ladder up to the overall goals of the organization.

If a company is just getting started with seeding its community, the high-level business goal may be as simple as gaining awareness of how large the community is and where ideal members like to hang out online. A team trying to activate their community might choose a few simple KPIs to direct their first few months, such as new member growth rate and total volume of messages sent in the community each week.

On the other hand, a company that feels confident in their community health fundamentals might choose to track metrics that are directly tied to the business outcomes that stakeholders care about. Their KPIs might be more advanced, such as event-driven feature adoption, which is a real metric Asana measures to prove that customers who attended community events use more of the tool’s features.

Choosing KPIs for specific outcomes

When selecting your community KPIs, it’s helpful to start with the destination in mind. Here are a few real-life examples of choosing community metrics based on the desired outcomes.

Desired outcome: increased growth, engagement, and efficiency

Moov needed a way to continue scaling their open source community while reducing the amount of time employees spent on manual tasks. In addition to boosting efficiency, their team wanted to focus on growth and engagement KPIs like the total number of members and level of activity within the community.

The Moov community team knew they were experiencing positive growth, but found it difficult to compare and contrast the performance of their various channels such as Slack, GitHub, Twitter, Meetup, and more. They were looking to prove that their community program was successfully maturing from the “seed” phase into the “engage” phase.

Fortunately, Moov found a way to accurately measure their priority KPIs through intelligent community growth, which is the practice of using technology to strategically enhance community growth. The reporting capabilities they unlocked with Common Room allowed their team to seamlessly access a holistic view of community health and growth across all channels.

With a strong analytics strategy in place, Moov was able to measure a 190% increase in YoY community growth as well as an impressive 350% uplift in YoY community activity. Not only that, their team has saved 100+ hours as a result of streamlining their routine tasks with intelligent community growth.

I’m very data-driven, and when it comes to community intelligence and workflows, I’ve never seen anyone do it as comprehensively or as elegantly as Common Room. Nothing else in the market is close.”

– Jared Jones, Head of Ecosystem at Moov

Desired outcome: greater engagement and insight into the community

When Harness was having a hard time understanding if their community team’s work directly benefited both members and the business as a whole, they turned to Common Room to access the breadth of data, level of granularity, and actionable insights needed to measure program impact.

With Common Room, they were able to select and quantify vital health metrics such as membership growth and community responsiveness, as well as business impact metrics such as new organizations and key personas joining the community. Ultimately, the Harness team was able to use intelligent community growth to work toward and measure a 25% improvement in community response rate across 10,000+ organizations identified using the platform’s superior data enrichment.

Common Room has allowed us to better see all the organizations who are in our community. We can show member engagement from larger companies in our core markets—it’s not just hobbyists, the Harness community is a place where enterprises look for support and to assess risk before making a purchase decision.”

– Marie Antons, Technical Community Manager at Harness

Desired outcome: positively influence revenue and company growth

With a mature community program several years in the making, Asana wanted to demonstrate that community truly drives business impact. Their team was intentional about this long-term goal from day one: When first putting together the community strategy, their community leader met with key stakeholders across the company to discover what they wanted to get out of the program.

From those discussions, the community team was able to identify shared goals and objectives to prioritize. These included both community health metrics, such as the growth rate for their advocacy program (Asana ambassadors), and business impact metrics, such as product usage driven by community events.

Having aligned expectations across the organization and selected related KPIs, the Asana team needed a way to reliably measure the end-to-end impact of the community. They decided that Common Room was the best fit for their needs, as the platform allows them to combine community and revenue data to track advanced KPIs such as ambassador impact on user engagement and community-attributed revenue. These metrics help the team showcase community’s influence on other revenue-driving teams, such as sales and customer success.

“Common Room empowers us to take action in a very direct way that clearly ladders up to the success of our business and, most importantly, the success of Asana’s customers.”

– Joshua Zerkel, Head of Global Engagement Marketing at Asana

The role of reporting in community analytics

In addition to selecting and measuring the right KPIs, it’s important to use community analytics to report on the progress of your community program to stakeholders in a way that is clear, consistent, and unambiguous. While it is possible to manually track, analyze, and extract insights from community data, this can quickly become burdensome as your community and the volume of associated data grows.

For example, when Temporal experimented with using Notion to measure community engagement, they realized that tying community data to organizations and strategic account-based initiatives was extremely difficult.

An intelligent community growth platform, on the other hand, provides an incredibly effective way to zero-in on valuable data points and communicate key insights to various stakeholders. When Temporal replaced their manual workflows with Common Room’s AI and ML-powered community growth platform, they unlocked the ability to automatically merge user profiles across various channels and tie them to the companies those members work for.

A holistic view of members has allowed the team to deliver more value to each person in their community, including identifying when an organization could benefit from Temporal’s managed services offering.

“Common Room is the command center for the Temporal community. We love being able to get an overview of user activity at an individual and an organizational level. We’re very excited about the ability to use fine-grained segments to better understand and keep up with our users.”

– Shawn Wang, Former Head of Developer Experience at Temporal

Evaluating community growth platforms for stronger analytics and metrics

When evaluating s potential community growth platform for your needs, make sure you select a tool that is capable of analyzing data and transforming it into metrics that are useful and accessible for everyone.

The ideal community growth platform should be able to:

  • Support both aggregate and granular reporting types (e.g., community membership, engagement, and growth across all channels as well as a breakdown per channel)
  • Offer out-of-the-box community report templates for common use cases
  • Allow users to download and share reports with key stakeholders
  • Automatically identify and filter out internal employee activities to ensure data validity
  • Present an “at a glance” summary of crucial community metrics and trends

Without these features, reporting may be less accurate and more time consuming, leading to uninformed decision-making and inadequate resource allocation. It will also hinder the community team’s ability to guide the program from one maturity stage to the next, making it very difficult to achieve community-led growth and prove the impact of community on the business.

How Common Room can help

Common Room helps you use analytics effectively to find the community metrics that matter most. As the leading intelligent community growth platform, Common Room integrates community engagement, product usage, and customer data into a single view of the members, organizations, and activity in your community. With the use of AI and ML, Common Room’s advanced analytics provide valuable insights to help teams prioritize their efforts, build stronger relationships with members, collaborate more efficiently, and accurately assess their results.

Common Room makes it easier than ever to take control of your community analytics, understand what the data is telling you, and refine your strategy based on those insights. There’s a reason why companies like Temporal call Common Room the “command center” for their community.

To learn more about community measurement, attribution, and reporting, check out this content collection on proving the ROI of your community. To chat analytics and metrics with 1500+ community and DevRel professionals, join us in the Uncommon community on Slack.

If you’re interested in how Common Room can uplevel your community analytics game, try the platform for free or request a demo.