Why Online Communities Are The Key To Ecommerce Success

Why Online Communities Are The Key To Ecommerce Success
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In this guest post, Reddit’s global head of marketing sciences, Jack Koch (main photo) discusses how online communities have become an integral part of eCommerce

Online communities like those found on Reddit have long been on the rise, but the past 18 months, in particular, have accelerated their growth.

There relevance not only as a source of comfort, connection, and belonging in a time of unprecedented disconnection – but as a very real component in the consumer path to purchase.

According to Australia Post’s Inside Australian Online Shopping report released in June this year, Australia saw 47.5 per cent year-on-year growth for online shopping in May 2021 when compared with May 2019, with 32 per cent more households shopping online over the same period.

This is not particularly surprising — the pandemic has ushered new spending patterns and behaviours and this is a trend we’re seeing around the world. What is perhaps more surprising, is the way that online communities have emerged as an integral part of the eCommerce mix. 

But before we look into how this is, let’s take a step back and look at why?

Online communities are unique online spaces. They connect people around shared passions and interests in a way that doesn’t rely on demographics as other social platforms do.

People come to online communities to be informed, entertained, and educated around the topics that matter most to them, and because on Reddit we believe privacy is a right and don’t require personal information from our users, these spaces are home to the most real and honest conversations on the internet. 

When I’m engaging in online communities, who I am is irrelevant, but what I’m interested in is everything. Need inspiration for yet another lockdown dinner? Advice on which vacuum cleaner to buy?

Tips on converting your second bedroom into a home office and home gym? There’s a community for that, with real experiences and recommendations from real people.

No matter the subject, online communities bring together people from all around the world to connect on the things they care about.

This creates an immense opportunity for brands seeking to engage with audiences when they’re already leaned in and actively talking about or seeking out a particular topic. And, without the freedom to touch, taste and try products over these past 18 months, online communities have begun to fill a void for in-real-life shopping experiences.

As a result, we’re seeing more people turn to these spaces to research, discover and seek recommendations around what to buy — and more brands position themselves within these conversations, with great success. 

To prove this out, Reddit recently partnered with Verto Analytics to analyze the purchase journeys of 1500 online users for actively-researched products such as computers, mobile phones, streaming and smart device game systems and more.

Verto found that compared to other social platforms, purchase journeys that include Reddit lead to a more informed, confident consumer that makes a faster, higher-value purchase decision, and becomes a stronger advocate for the brand. Specifically, Reddit users are:

  • More informed consumers: Reddit users spend 4x more of their purchase journey actively researching, evaluating 2x the number of brands during these discovery sessions.
  • In contrast, Reddit users spend 32 per cent of their decision process in the consideration stage, compared to just 20 per cent on other social platforms.
  • More valuable buyers: Informed and confident in their decision, Reddit users make purchase decisions 9x faster and spend 15 per cent more.
  • Stronger brand advocates: Reddit users have a 12 per cent higher post-purchase Net Promoter Score (NPS), and are 13 per cent more likely to speak positively about brands online and offline after they’ve made their purchase.

 With the world slowly starting to open back up, what is clear is that many pandemic behaviours are here to stay.

While eCommerce has been steadily growing for some time, its meteoric rise over the past 18 months as it relates to availability, accessibility, and convenience is a trend that is not slowing down.

Understanding the steps consumers take from thinking about a purchase to finalising their transaction is key to being part of their consideration process.

Reddit’s online communities offer a path into this process and provide unmatched opportunities for brands to gain exposure to passionate consumers and influence the journey when it’s happening. 

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