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Community Growth Tactics: Marketing, Partnerships and Incentives


Thriving communities require constant nurturing. Targeted marketing, strategic partnerships, and compelling incentives help continually attract and engage new members over time.

This guide explores tactics to fuel community growth by expanding reach and participation. We will cover:

  • The value of consistent community growth efforts
  • Crafting a marketing strategy to attract ideal members
  • Partnership opportunities to expose communities to new audiences
  • Smart incentive design to motivate engagement
  • Optimizing conversion funnels to onboard new members
  • Analyzing data to inform growth initiatives
  • Managing communities at higher volumes and diversity
  • Real-world examples of community growth strategies

By the end, you will have techniques to continually grow exciting, vibrant communities aligned to their purpose. Let’s dive in!

Why Consistently Grow Communities?

Some key reasons to continually fuel community expansion:

Sustain Momentum

Ongoing growth counters plateaus and keeps energy fresh.

Diversify Perspectives

New members prevent echo chambers and stagnation.

Increase Potential for Collaboration

The more potential connections, the more opportunities arise.

Improve Member Experience

Higher participation improves chances of meaningful interactions.

Drive Revenue

Larger communities unlock new monetization models.

Boost Influence

Expanded reach increases potential impact.

Uncover New Needs

Different members reveal overlooked opportunities.

Improve Resource Contributions

More members provide more support, content and insights.

Consistent growth compels communities to stay vibrant and responsive.

Crafting a Marketing Strategy to Attract Ideal Members

Key elements of an effective community marketing plan include:

Identify Target Member Profiles

Detail member archetypes and segments your community aims to attract.

Map Their Needs and Motivations

Understand reasons target members would find value in your community.

Determine Where to Reach Them

Identify platforms and channels your personas frequent.

Craft Resonant Messaging

Shape messaging and positioning appealing specifically to archetypes.

Develop Tailored Content

Create content addressing member needs and interests.

Leverage Influencers

Recruit influencers matching target demographics to spread awareness.

Test Promotional Offers

Offer time-limited perks like free access, early pricing, or exclusive content.

A strategic, targeted plan converts prospects into engaged members.

Partnership Opportunities to Expose New Audiences

Some potential partnership ideas to expand reach include:

Relevant Media and Publishers

Partner on giveaways, sponsored content, or ads to share your community.

Complementary Communities

Band together on joint events, cross-promos, newsletters swaps.

Sponsor Relevant Events

Get exposure and recruiting opportunities at targeted conferences, meetups.

University Student Groups

Offer discounts or tailored programming to expand student members.

Relevant Membership Orgs

Partner on co-hosted events or community spotlights.

Thought Leaders and Celebrities

Recruit as advisors, contributors or advocates to lend credibility.

Nonprofits and Causes

Support their community with resources, donations or volunteering.

Local Businesses

Team up to offer members exclusive local deals and discounts.

Partnerships unlock new channels, reputational endorsements, and creative campaigns that drive awareness.

Smart Incentive Design to Motivate Engagement

Some best practices for community incentives:

Match Incentives to Behaviors

Offer rewards for specific activities like contributions, reviews, referrals.

Structure Tiers and Milestones

Increase status, rewards and exclusivity for more active members over time.

Personalize and Segment Offers

Tailor incentives to known member needs and interests.

Limit Time Availability

Scarcity prompts faster action than open-ended offers.

Spotlight Unique Perks

Showcase differentiating member-only benefits over generic discounts.

Make Status Visual

Display member tiers, points and achievements prominently on profiles.

Automate Fulfillment

Reduce friction redeeming offers through seamless digital delivery.

Rotate Fresh Incentives

Continually test new perks to maintain excitement.

Thoughtful incentives spark community behaviors that fuel growth and engagement.

Optimizing Conversion Funnels to Onboard New Members

Some ways to reduce member signup friction:

Simplify Registration Forms

Only collect essential info upfront. Progressively profile later.

Offer Easy Social Login

Reduce fields by allowing signup via existing social media profiles.

preset Registration Welcome

Send an immediate automated welcome communication to confirm signup.

Showcase Member Activity

Display recent conversations and contributions on sign up views to indicate vibrancy.

Offer Free Trial Access

Provide limited but compelling initial access without commitment to experience benefits.

Highlight Easy Quick Wins

Show prompts guiding new members to simple activating behaviors like introducing themselves.

Assign Onboarding Buddies

Match new members to helpers who personally guide them getting started.

Gamify Onboarding

Make learning the ropes fun through points, achievements and rewards.

The easier and more rewarding the initial experience, the greater new member retention.

Analyzing Data to Inform Growth Initiatives

Key metrics to assess:

  • New member volume and velocity trends
  • Conversion rates across signup funnel from exposure to registration
  • Channel and campaign contributions to member acquisitions
  • Member demographics and attributes to detect gaps from targets
  • Churn and dropout rates by duration and behaviors
  • Engagement levels across member segments
  • Most popular incentives and benefits adopted
  • Referral rates and social sharing activity
  • Partnerships delivering highest member gains
  • Behaviors, activities, and usage patterns across member lifecycle stages

Data illuminates what is working, opportunities, and optimization areas.

Managing Larger, More Diverse Communities

Some best practices as communities scale:

Segment Member Interests

Enable members to specify topics and preferences to personalize experience.

Cultivate Subgroups

Form smaller niche groups and forums for more intimate connections.

Launch Chapters

Evolve geography, industry or demographic based local chapters.

Spotlight Quality Contributions

Feature standout member content and creativity.

Give Moderators More Support

Add moderator roles and tools to handle increased conversations and engagement.

Automate More Processes

Leverage bots, workflows, and artificial intelligence to streamline managing growth.

Expand Self-Service

Transition more services and support requests to member knowledge bases and forums.

With planning, larger communities can still feel intimate by nurturing subgroups aligned to evolving member interests.

Real-World Examples of Community Growth Strategies

Let’s explore some examples of organizations growing communities through marketing, partnerships and incentives:

  • Online course platform Skillshare onboards new learners through sponsored social media contests.
  • HubSpot fosters an engaged inbound marketing community through certification tiers, awards and a university program.
  • Glossier leverages diehard fans on social media and campuses to organically spread its community.
  • Developer forum Stack Overflow partners with tech brands on contests and philanthropy to extend reach.
  • Social app Strava engages users with challenges, medals and rewards for athletic activity milestones.
  • Professional association AIGA offers discounts, scholarships and portfolio reviews to design students to expand membership.
  • Nonprofit StudentsRebuild amplifies volunteering opportunities through partnerships with brands, charities and schools.

These examples showcase the power of strategic community growth efforts.

Key Takeaways

Some core tactics to consistently expand communities:

  • Map target member profiles and craft tailored positioning
  • Forge partnerships that expose your community to new audiences
  • Design compelling incentives and recognition programs
  • Reduce signup friction through streamlined onboarding
  • Provide ongoing member segmentation and subgroup cultivation
  • Analyze data continuously to optimize growth initiatives

With persistent nurturing, communities continue flourishing by evolving to meet the needs of new members.


In summary, growing communities requires proactive, multifaceted efforts over time. Committing to strategic marketing, partnerships and motivational incentives allows you to continually attract aligned members no matter the community’s stage. Make community expansion a never-ending focus by monitoring data and testing new tactics. Consistent nurturing ensures your community delivers fulfilling experiences as it expands. By embracing growth as an ongoing process versus one-off initiative, you can assemble an energized community delivering value to members and your organization for years to come.

By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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