Your community is part of your brand. It should look like it. Many marketing organizations make the mistake of leaving the setup and experience of the community to another part of the organization, such as support.
This approach results in a broken and siloed experience wherein all of a company’s primary properties differ in look and feel from the community. That broken experience has an impact on both prospects and customers. Prospects may see the community as an “afterthought” regardless of the value of the community content.
The baseline target should be clean alignment on colors, fonts, and branding. Hitachi Data Systems does an effective job of meeting this standard.
Hitachi marketing site:
Hitachi community site:
The ideal state is to align not only the branding elements described above, but also the navigational structure between the properties. While the items and destinations may differ between the marketing site and the community, there should be consistent structure for global items, consistent language for products and offerings, and common iconography to highlight user actions.
Informatica is another example of a company that has done an effective job in aligning their community and their marketing experiences. The have aligned navigation elements and product structure between the two sites, while utilizing a differentiated logo to highlight the difference in properties to the user.
Informatica community site:
Single Sign On (SSO) is a necessity to simplify access and enable seamless user tracking across your digital properties. While community platforms will provide a default user registration and login capability, it is important for organizations to invest the extra setup time to support SSO via a standard mechanism such as SAML or oAuth.
Community Content should be included in an organization’s global site search. A federated search capability allows users to discovery both the community and its most valuable content as they research products and services.
It takes a bit of extra time and planning to align marketing and community sites, but the return is meaningful and nearly immediate.
This is part two of a series on Community Experience as a key aspect of Customer Experience. Read part one here, and look for part three next week.