partnerup_logo-200x60Editor’s note: This post is sponsored by PartnerUp.

Most companies can see that social media has exploded as popular marketing tools for business. More and more businesses are integrating them into their marketing plans every day. What many of these companies struggle with, however, is measuring the benefits of their social media efforts.

Online communities are the most measurable of social media tools and can help companies calculate in hard dollars their return on investment (ROI). Exact ROI from online communities is different for each company. What you’ll save and what you’ll bring in are dependent on multiple variables, but here are several categories where you could see a measurable result.

  1. Market Research
    Online communities deliver deep, relevant intelligence on its member base, reducing a measurable amount of a company’s market research costs.
  2. Advertising Costs/Revenue
    Communities can be used as a platform for testing ad creative, offers and targeting strategies, saving companies money in media spend. They also allow companies to sell advertising on the community, generating additional revenue.
  3. Customer Revenue
    When you measure the revenue generated on your other products and services for customers within the community against that of customers who are not part of the community, companies find that community-involved customers spend substantially more.
  4. Customer Retention
    When you measure the retention of customers within the community against the retention of customers who are not part of the community, companies find that community-involved customers remain customers longer and feel a sense of attachment and loyalty to the brand.
  5. Brand Awareness
    Companies can measure an increase in brand awareness through their community by calculating CPM and figuring how much that is worth in brand advertising.
  6. Search Engine Optimization/Search Engine Marketing
    Online communities are a great place to house user-generated content, which is favorable for search engine ranking and can save companies a measurable amount of money in free organic search presence.

Companies that are looking at creating their own online community need to remember that online communities can provide a measurable hard-dollar ROI. Within each of these categories exact numbers can be calculated, enabling companies to know exactly what they’re getting for their investment.

PartnerUp is the first and largest online community for small businesses. PartnerUp also provides custom community solutions for medium and large enterprises that offer a measurable ROI.