Picture this: a B2B analytics engineering product that generates 80% of its revenue from its online community. A media company with a premium membership community for subscribers. A B2B software company with 15,000 small business customers lifting each other up.
B2B online communities are booming. Now, millions of professionals join online communities to vet enterprise software purchases, teach each other industry secrets, network, and attend live events.
Let's look at 8 awesome B2B online community examples.
In this article…
Example of a pipeline generating B2B community
Five years ago, the $4.2 billion analytics engineering B2B software company dbt began experimenting with running its own online community.
Back then, the idea of a company running a branded community beyond a lifeless support forum was relatively novel. Most B2B companies saw the logic but spent their work hours pumping content into Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook instead.
Today, dbt is reaping the rewards of investing in community-led growth.
As dbt's CEO Tristan Handy told Peep Laja in a recent interview, they have a community with 25,000 members. Their community keeps on growing 10% every month like clockwork.
“80 plus percent of our revenue comes in from our community where buyers just wave their hands and say help me buy this thing,” says Tristan.
“We do very little account development on our own because we’re such a community-focused company. It’s not like we’re deliberately using our Slack community as a demand gen channel, it’s just where the majority of our organic growth comes from. There’s consistent growth coming from our community going back five years now, growing 10% month-over-month every month. The heat that generates that growth is all created in the community with our flywheel all centered around our community.”
Dbt has built something special. As dbt continues to grow, how they evolve their community will carry lessons for all B2B companies trying to unlock their own community-led growth.
An elite training ground for ambitious marketers
PEAK Community is one of the most influential marketing communities out there. Inside, hundreds of elite marketers share absolute golden techniques and help each other progress towards becoming CMOs and CEOs.
PEAK’s secret is keeping things exclusive. They have militant anti-pitching policies for software and agency vendors, keeping every post 100% focused on helping their members master advanced marketing skills together.
Plus, you need to know a member to join. One genius move is that on their community’s landing page, they’ve linked directly to LinkedIn members who are members of PEAK. This is instant social proof, a genuine requirement, and a sure-stop way of stopping spammy salespeople who are looking to promote and sell, not teach and learn.
To copy this tactic for your B2B community, link to a LinkedIn search that includes “people” and the keywords for your community. In this case, “people” + keywords=peak+community. LinkedIn will automatically geo-locate the person searching, making this tactic even more effective by showing members in the same city and country.
The PEAK Community uses Mighty Networks to run their community which, in our obvious opinion, is much better than Slack or Facebook Groups, as, in addition to the epic community feed in PEAK, you also can attend events, livestreams, watch replays of events, and purchase different levels of access based on your job level.
We love how they’ve created secret rooms for members at different levels of their careers such as having a secret room for Board Members, another for Marketing Leaders, and another for CMOs.
Again, the genius is the genuine exclusivity. You can’t join different rooms unless you’re actually in the required roles. This keeps the conversations way more relevant to each member. And gives members earlier in their careers, a goal to reach for as they move through their careers with other talented members.
They also keep community conversations sharply focused around core topics. This lets the community play more of a “jobs to be done” function, where members are trying to achieve a specific outcome such as making a tech stack decision, hiring for a role, or looking for small wins, which members find in the popular topic section “improve 1% weekly” filled with tiny optimizations for marketing leaders.
Speaking of small improvements, one small insight we noticed from PEAK that will help lift your own member engagement is that when their Host gives advice, engagement is low.
For example, they have a regular segment where they ask members what they did to improve 1% that week. When the community manager posts advice ("This is how you can improve by 1%"), people consume but don't engage. When they ask a question ("How did you improve by 1% this week?"), people contribute.
3. Exit Five
A massive marketing group
Exit Five is a community for B2B marketing pros. It’s run by the prolific B2B marketing expert and CMO Dave Gerhardt.
Exit Five is an interesting counterpoint to the PEAK Community. It’s easy to get access to Exit Five and it’s a much larger (and louder) community with 3,000 members.
Exit Five is also a valuable group with an action-packed feed of tactics, questions, and advice from other members. It's a little noisy at times, but the members are supportive and openly share what's working today in B2B marketing.
One of the core benefits of Exit Five is direct access to Dave Gerhardt, who will pop into questions, talk to other members, and share new episodes of his podcast. Exit Five’s subscription also includes access to a bundled library of video resources (hosted on a different platform) that cover popular marketing topics, delivering smart and practical techniques for B2B marketers.
Because the community is hosted with a Facebook Group (which I personally don’t enjoy as I like millions of people have deleted Facebook from my phone and only log in occasionally on my laptop), it can be hard to remember to go on Facebook. In this way, Dave Gerhardt has smartly made it a paid community ($20 USD per month), which helps to make sure people don't forget about it if they aren't regular Facebook users.
4. Fortune Connect
High-value leadership community
Offered as part of Fortune’s premium subscriptions, Fortune Connect™ is a membership community for executive-bound professionals. Of all the B2B communities listed here, Fortune’s community is the most curated, with a highly polished program and incredible content calendar for serious professionals.
Members attend livestreams, chat with fellow members in similar industries, and attend events with executives from Visa, PayPal, Unilever, Workday, Salesforce, Accenture, and more.
Fortune Connect is delivered with its own branded apps, giving it a much more premium experience than hosting in a Facebook Group or Slack Channel. Members can discover and download their apps via the Apple App and Google Play stores.
Members of the community get unparalleled access to CEOs, thought leaders, and experts through regular events, and special live digital access to Fortune’s flagship, invitation-only C-suite level conferences.
The app also contains the private membership community and social learning platform, where members can go enroll in quarterly learning sprints, as well as network with members in similar roles and job functions.
Support system for gym and wellness entrepreneurs
Mindbody is a B2B SaaS giant, with 1350 employees and a suite of tools used by gyms, salons, and wellness services businesses to manage their online scheduling and business operations.
Their online community—called Mindbody One—plays a key role in their customer retention strategy. This is not just a product training community or place to ask technical questions about Mindbody’s products. It’s designed to support the customer in a holistic and emotional way, offering access to over 15,000 other owners running similar small businesses all around the world.
As any small business entrepreneur knows, it’s lonely running a business and you don’t get the support and feedback loops that a corporate job offers. Inside Mindbody One, owners share resources they’ve created such as spreadsheets or staff training documents, trade tips on selling services and getting more customers, and attend regular training sessions.
The community isn’t hosted in a Facebook Group or Slack Channel. They have their own branded apps, allowing them to host events, community groups, livestreaming events, resources, video training, and create monthly content themes within a branded environment.
While Mindbody One is not designed to be focused on the company’s software products, you do need to be a Mindbody customer to join.
They verify every member, which protects the privacy of the community, and makes sure that it remains full of similar entrepreneurs all building health and wellness service businesses such as gyms, fitness classes, spas, and salons.
A platform to advance your best talent
Kahilla is one of the best enterprise examples of a B2B community you’ll find. They serve over 2,000 women members, helping them rise in corporate roles.
From live courses to on-demand training, Kahilla has crafted a new way to support mid-level managers and executive leaders with incredibly targeted self-improvement, community building, and resources to propel professional growth.
The brilliant move by Kahilla is that they don’t sell individual memberships. Instead, they offer corporate memberships, where large enterprise organizations purchase bulk memberships.
This delivers a high value experience for members, giving them access to a wide network of other women in the community, plus customized training and workshops that help members increase their influence and reach leadership roles in their own organizations.
You won’t find Kahilla hosted in a Slack channel or Facebook Group. Everything is delivered through their beautifully customized web platform and their own branded apps.
This focus on owning their own platform has paid dividends, as Kahilla isn’t renting space on a Slack channel, they’ve built a technology business used by the world’s top companies.
The value proposition to their enterprise customers is immense, helping them support diverse talent, offer incredible professional development content for ambitious talent, and access a private social network that connects ambitious women across companies.
7. The LISA Community
Global shipping professional network
Gert Jan Huisink started his career at sea, working in the commercial shipping industry. But the sea is a lonely place, with long distances and few opportunities to learn from other professionals on ships and ports that span the world.
While most B2B brands are just waking up to the idea of owning their own online community, Gert is already miles ahead. For the past seven years, he has run a highly successful and unique membership for maritime professionals.
Shipowners and suppliers connect in LISA’s branded apps and customized web platform. And between vast distances, business friendships are made and then reinforced through LISA’s popular conferences, online meet-ups, live events, and their online campus.
The community is about sharing practical knowledge. Operational issues, maintenance and repair issues, supplier issues, client issues, dry-docking issues, spare part issues, travel and logistics issues, purchase issues, vetting issues, certificate issues, Class issues, PSC issues, Flag state issues, crew issues, budget issues, internal issues—there’s no manual to navigate the complex world of moving the world’s goods.
Members can join individually to propel their own careers. Corporations also purchase memberships on behalf of their employees, giving them their own private groups, discounts for the annual LISA conference, and plenty of content to improve the performance of their ships and personnel.
As the shipping industry is a job where you're always going somewhere, members access the community via iOS and Android apps, helping them connect and learn from each other even in the absolute isolation of ocean-crossing journeys.
8. Mighty Community
We build community management software, so we’ve made sure to know how to run an online community as well!
Mighty Networks runs an online community with over 53,000 members, serving our incredible Hosts, creators, community managers, and entrepreneurs.
You’ll attend livestreams with our CEO, master our Community Design(™) principles, and meet our truly awesome Hosts that are some of the smartest, kindest, and most ambitious community strategists and leaders out there.
To give you a teaser, watch this free livestream featuring our CEO Gina Bianchini delivering a remarkable session on how to build a Big Purpose for your community—the spark that every community needs to attract members and get you one step closer to guaranteed success.
Ready to build your own B2B online community?
If you've seen success with your B2B community, move your community from Slack or Facebook into a community management platform. This gives you a much more premium experience, brand customization, ownership of your member emails, as well as analytics and the ability to create free, paid, or multi-tiered membership options. Here are the top 10 community management platforms ranked by G2.
For advanced B2B brands and professional networks, you can use Mighty Pro to spin up your memberships, livestreams, community, courses, events, and networking groups into your own custom branded iOS and Android apps. We'll help you launch your white-labeled mobile apps in the Apple and Google Play stores in less than four weeks!