Customer Showcase November 2023: Heather from Gain Grow Retain

Heather Wendt
Heather Wendt HLV Staff
edited May 8 in Talk Community #1

I am Heather, and I run the Gain Grow Retain (GGR) community. Some information about the community I run:

GGR is a Community of Practice that was started over 3 years ago to support leaders in Customer Success. Over the years, we have grown from about 1,600 initial members to over 11,000. We are not tied to a product or revenue stream. The sole purpose is:

“Connecting people, knowledge, and ideas to advance the state of Customer Success.”

We are an open community, where only interacting with members, conversations, or content requires a sign-in (or even an account). New members find us via LinkedIn, Google, or word of mouth, with word of mouth leading the way.

We have a number of programs and initiatives in place to meet the needs of our audience.


The promise of community brings them to your site, and the content keeps them coming back. We use a variety of content streams to provide resources and answer questions, and because much of it is user-generated, we create a sense of ownership.

Office Hours

  • We use the Event widget along with Lu/ma and Zoom.
  • The top-level navigation and a sidebar widget help members stay up to date
  • Topics are focused on the real-time concerns of attendees, and we launch with a quick overview followed by breakout sessions and guided questions with a shared Google doc to capture room insights
  • We close with a large group conversation to continue delving into the topic.
  • Due to format, we do not record the sessions, but I create a summary document from the key insights and the large group discussion to post in our Knowledge Base.
  • The link is shared with registrants, and an awareness post is created.


All blogs are user-generated.

  • I send a ‘interested in contributing’ sign-up out once or twice a year using a data capture tool (we use
  • I also keep an eye out in our discussions and on LinkedIn for valuable blog content.

Recognition is important. Here are some options I use

  • Blog authors receive a Blog Contributor badge
  • A social graphic and URL are shared with the author to post for their network.
  • A GGR LinkedIn post is created with a link to the article.
  • A summary post that includes a discussion question is posted within the community with a direct link to the article.


GGR is in the process of completely revamping our gamification program to be a more strategic part of our engagement strategy. Looking at the behaviors we know encourage continued and even increased engagement, we have a host of ways to recognize and reward those behaviors.

Ranks are achieved based on points earned. The higher your rank, the more opportunities you have.

For example:

  • Only after achieving a specific rank are you able to create a signature block for your posts
  • Higher ranks have longer editing windows in case there is an addendum or correction desired

Badges are a way to recognize the behaviors taken along the way. Some are unique and only earned in a specific timeframe (Blog Contributor for 2023 or Question of the Month.)


Vanilla has such a wealth of information available about how users are engaging on your platform, but you can’t (and shouldn’t!) try to track them all.

So, how do you figure out what needs to be tracked?

Identify your North Star.

A north star is the main goal you are trying to achieve. Make sure it ties into the company goals for maximum value.

For Gain Grow Retain, we are looking to connect people, knowledge, and ideas. This means for our metrics, I am heavily looking at the following:

  • Active users (Daily Active Users (DAU) over Monthly Active Users (MAU))
  • New users: Are people finding us valuable enough to sign up? Are we positioning ourselves to allow people to find us in the first place?
  • Number of posts (new threads and comments) – are our members sharing insights and asking for help?
  • Knowledge Base usage: Is our content valuable? Is it accessible? Are we making it easy to find?
  • Searches – great source for finding what is missing!
  • Make sure you have a dashboard that captures this information as easily as possible.
  • For some items, you will need to use Excel to build a comparison (such as DAU and MAU) to identify trends.
  • You can set up many options for visuals. Be sure to maximize your analytics so you can tell your community's story well.

Creating a space for our members to connect and engage with each other and using content to keep them coming back have helped explain how we went from 6,700 to over 11,000 in just over a year and a half. I am excited to see the impact of developing a program to encourage ‘sticky’ behaviors.

Without the tools Vanilla provides, these programs and many others not mentioned would be exponentially more difficult, if not impossible.