How to Calculate the ROI of Online Communities

By Richard Millington

ROI People

Now we get to change tracks a little. Many organizations don’t create an online community to increase revenue via retention or acquisition; they create a community to save money. Many of the most successful examples of community we hear about are based around saving money. These communities have the closest immediate links to value and tend to gain high levels of funding. The most common are communities designed to reduce customer service costs via call deflection.

However, you might also want to measure if your community is (or could be) used to reduce customer acquisition costs, research costs, or recruitment costs. If the community can perform any of these tasks more more efficiently than current methods, there is a clear return.

Potential Benefits

The potential benefits (and methods of achieving these benefits) are shown below.

Reduced Marketing Costs

Attracting new customers to the business



Customer Service Costs

Reduced cost in customer service attributable to the community

  • Call deflection
  • Indirect call deflection
  • First contact resolution
  • Average handling time
Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC)

Reduced costs of acquiring a customer

  • Web traffic
  • Lead generation


Research Costs

The equivalent cost of gaining similar insights from elsewhere

  • Focus groups
  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Idea generation
  • Idea validation
  • Alerts of potential problems
  • Bug identification
  • Trending topics
  • Improved speed to remove problems
Reduced Recruitment Costs Recruitment Costs

Reduced cost in hiring and training a new staff member

  • Advertising for hires
  • Qualifying hires
  • Reduced training costs (time and expense)




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