Customer Community Success Metrics for 2009

Customer communities are all the rage nowadays, but it is not always clear what works and indeed how to measure success.

As 2009 draws to a close we have been reviewing how Open Text customer communities have been doing.

Background: For those not familiar with Open Text, we are a vendor of enterprise-class software to manage digital files (called content). The term enterprise indicates that we sell to organizations not consumers. We have relatively few customer organizations, but they are often typically some of the biggest organizations in business and government. We estimate that at least 1 in 3 Internet users visit sites that run our software! The software we use for our own communities is the same as we sell.

The Sites

For historic reasons, we run three primary community sites (requiring membership) in addition to our typical corporate websites. The community sites are:

  • Open Text Knowledge Centre (KC)
    • Primarily for system administrators of the software we sell

  • Open Text Developer Network (OTDN) which is housed on the KC
    • Primarily for developers using Open Text APIs

  • Open Text Online Communities
    • Primarily for business champions and power users

Site Metrics

  1. The Knowledge Centre is by far the oldest community, dating back to 1996! As you'd expect, it has the most members and the most ongoing activity. Every day approximately 4,000 users access the site, and between 150,000-200,000 documents downloads are performed every month!
  2. OTDN just completed its first full year during which just over 3,200 unique users participated over the past year
  3. Online Communities got started in its present form in 2005. This last year 10,600 members collectively visited 118,000 times over the year
These numbers only measure direct participation. As you might expect, many community members participate through email-mediated discussions.


Multiple systems have traditionally meant that there are multiple, disconnected silos of information. As a result, users don't know where to look and administrators have to duplicate critical content between systems.

A better approach is to deploy a single, 'enterprise library' of digital files (content) which contains all of the files, but just one active copy of each. The three sites above will soon converge to use the same enterprise library, which will also be used by our corporate website that is open to the general public.

One single repository can make user navigation harder unless the most relevant content is presented and organized in a fashion that best meets the needs of each type of user (i.e. persona). Communities of users with similar interests or jobs are one approach to organizing content, but of course there are others, including personalization based on the activities and preferences of specific users.

Measuring 2010 success

These communities will continue to develop, but the latest social networking approaches provide new ways to surface important content. As we deploy more social networking approaches during 2010 we'll have a solid base of community metrics from 2009 to judge progress. As you might expect, activities on external sites like twitter, YouTube and facebook are becoming increasingly important.

Syndicated at http://conversations.opentext.com/

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