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Measuring the Impact of Community-led Initiatives

“I interviewed 25 senior-level community builders last year, and almost all of them (96%) reported the number one struggle they faced: Not getting buy-in from leadership”, said April MacLean, Founder of Wondry - an agency dedicated to launch and scale of impactful communities.

One of those community builders she interviewed added, "Everyone wants community, but in the end, they don't want to invest in it."

This is where collaboration between marketing leaders and their community leaders is critical. With proper measures, investment in communities is easier.  And communities that fail to drive business outcomes will face much higher scrutiny when reviewing investment priorities.

When initiating community-led marketing initiatives, community leaders can’t set fluffy or hollow expectations for the outcomes they aim to achieve for the business.  At the same time, marketing leaders must establish with the community leader what success will look like, how it will be measured, and over what period.

This alignment is necessary for community efforts inside a business to succeed.

Keeping score improves the score

“Keeping score improves the score” is something one of my business professors in college loved to remind us of. In community-led marketing, keeping score is critical to support continued investment in the effort for any marketing executive.

Community-led activity can be measured in several different ways. Community impacts brand awareness and grows brand affinity. It accelerates sales, creates obstacles for competitors, and improves customer loyalty. 

Early in your community-led journey, measurement is hard. Communities don’t form overnight, and normal weekly, monthly, or quarterly metrics used by product-led demand teams might not be directly transferable to the community-led realm. But make no mistake, if you want to invest in community-led marketing initiatives year after year, you will need to keep score. 

In cases where community leaders have less experience with marketing metrics that matter, you might need to help them create the proper dashboards. In other cases, community-led marketers responsible for creating content need more direct access to the demand generation reporting tools that track their impact on the sales pipeline. Marketing and community leaders will benefit from fostering the right culture of information transparency between teams. 

For example, make sure that your demand generation teams promoting the community content don’t take all of the credit for the pipeline generated simply because they manage the tools and reporting platforms. As discussed previously, demand generation is a combination of high-quality fuel and powerful engines that must be reported holistically.

Tangible business outcomes from community-led initiatives

“Measuring the value of something inherently relational is almost impossible,” said April MacLean. In my conversation with her, she did not have the perfect answer for measuring the value of community-led efforts. Still, she offered two pieces of advice to marketing leaders responsible for community-led efforts:

Measure stickiness, not engagement.  Engagement is a bad goal because it only measures how many people showed up once. The more important measure is how often they return to the community. She suggests a common community measure like Daily Active Users (DAU) divided by Monthly Active Users (MAU) with the following benchmarks:


  • DAU/MAU = 10 - 20% (good)
  • DAU/MAU = 20-25% (strong)
  • DAU/MAU = 26%+ (outstanding)


Drive business outcomes. Outcomes should fall into one of four categories: acquisition, retention, support/success, and user-generated content.

April suggests picking one primary goal for the community and measuring against it.  She also advises marketing leaders to give community-led efforts sufficient runway - especially when you are starting off.  April notes, “If a community is new, it will take 6 - 12 months to get any meaningful data.”

It’s critical to your annual budgeting and planning process to connect community participation to tangible business outcomes. While not every element of participation will be measurable, plenty are. Marketing executives must work closely with their community leadership and demand-gen teams to identify them. 

According to the 2022 State of Community Management report, the most reported business outcomes driven by community efforts were: increased customer loyalty/retention (68% reported the benefit), improved awareness & branding (60%), and improved product usage (45%). The report also noted that revenue growth and profitability weren’t prevalent enough to crack the top three outcomes, but their year-over-year jumps were noticeable. 





Survey participants recognized improvements in revenue growth from the community jumped from 29% to 40% between 2021 and 2022. Those measuring improvements in profitability jumped from 8% to 19% during the same period.





This blog is an excerpt from Derek Weeks' upcoming book: Unfair Mindshare, a CMO's guide to community-led marketing in a product-led world. If you are looking for more insight into managing community-led initiatives, stay tuned to our regular updates on this blog through our Twitter and LinkedIn updates.