4 Roads recently completed a project for Dog.com.
Dog.com is owned by TABcom and was historically the number one forum for dog lovers. It successfully integrated a large portfolio of dog-related products and although neglected, also embraced aspects of an online community. However, new entrants to the market including large retailers and social networks meant Dog.com ceded its leadership position to these new players.
The bare-bones community forum, segregated from the primary e-commerce site, and with little other social functionality than member profiles, needed to be restored as a primary destination for dog owners worldwide, utilizing a more up to date and relevant social platform.
Using Telligent 7.0, and with the introduction of structured groups, hashtags, Q&A and wikis, the 4 Roads team were able to transform Dog.com into a site, selling dog supplies, with a flourishing community of loyal customers and dog-owners. Dog.com is now a place for dog owners to find the best products and services for the pet’s needs, while sharing their knowledge and interests with other dog owners.
TABcom approached 4 Roads, due to their expertise in community strategy, design and implementation. 4 Roads had the appropriate skills and experience to ensure the new Dog.com site offered the right blend of intelligent commerce, sales-validating community conversation and compelling content to meet the goals-to increase user registrations and sales conversions, as well as increase customer lifestyle visitor value. TABcom’s overriding vision was to convert more visitors into buyers and treat every interaction as an opportunity for sales.
4 Roads have reorganised and redesigned the Dog.com community so that it is visually aligned with the e-commerce interface. The redesign, not only allows easier discovery of products, it leads to sales completion and increased repeat purchasing and also builds the customer-base by converting some of the community members using the site purely for interest purposes, into paying customers.
Groups vs. Forums
A vital upgrade for Dog.com was the replacement of the original neglected forums, with groups.
Discussion forums were once virtually synonymous with online community, but they have serious limitations. Forums cannot be structured in a fine-grained manner and the most valuable conversations can easily get lost. Conversations on forums tend to be undirected, and can easily become dominated by a few voices, or easily stray from the topic.
For large or complex communities, groups provide better spaces for conversation, and allow the conversations to be more closely linked with other relevant material (blogs or files). Each group can be moderated separately, allowing for more appropriate application of the rules to the membership.
Dog.com implemented Nexus which creates a simplified sign up process, allowing visitors to sign up with their existing social media account details, including Facebook and Twitter.
4 Roads also created a custom provider for Dog.com, which enables users that have an existing ecommerce account, to easily and quickly join the Dog.com community. Nexus also encourages members to invite friends to join from other social networks. Nexus allows the Dog.com community to push content via their members’ external social media accounts, therefore pulling in new members. Dog.com also leverages connections helping users find friends within the community and invite friends from their external social networks.
Alongside the already implemented functionality, a next phase this community site will be to allow shoppers to be able to easily join the Dog.com community after completing a purchase. Like amazon.com, Dog.com will use online community thinking as a ‘social proofing’ and sales validation mechanism at every stage of a sale.
Longer terms goals also include the introduction of reviews and ratings, one of the most powerful factors that influence purchasing decisions and social calendaring to support local events or to find out about opportunities, such as rescue dogs needing rehoming in a particular area.
Dog.com is part of an extensive set of web properties owned by TABcom, who ultimately aim to create and use Dog.com as a blueprint concept, which can be applied to other TABcom sites. 4 Roads are excited to be working on such a project and aim to make Dog.com a site, which delivers the best consumer experiences on the market and crucially, help translate this into increased sales.
You can see the new Dog.com community here.