Forum Marketing: Internet Strategy for Businesses
If you are expert in an area and if you have a niche market, forum marketing is suitable for you. This form of marketing is one of the oldest and most subtle forms of indirect marketing. The main purpose of this form of marketing is to establish your expertise, build brand awareness and create visibility.
Forum builds an online community too. However forums are different from social media marketing because SMM is mostly about networking while forums are for problem solving. Here, people ask questions and get answers. It is also a place where animated discussions take place.
There are 2 ways in which you can opt for Forum Marketing:
- Get a forum on your website: Websites need fresh content and a forum is a great way to attract traffic to your website. Quite a lot of forum software are available for free over the internet.They are popular in 2 versions of software PHP and ASP. In most cases they require a database, available with the web host. They are compatible with MYSQL, Oracle and so on. Most forum software installation process is self explanatory. You can do it yourself if you are adventurous enough! Otherwise contact your web designer. They will do it for a small fee.
Managing a forum involves a lot of hard work because no user wants to post in an empty forum. So you will have to create discussion threads and topics and categories. Worse forums these days are targets of severe spamming, so increase your security and block automated signing.
- Join a forum: If you are not interested in getting direct traffic volume to your website, or if you are short of time you can post regularly on reputed forums. There gradually post, post and post and you become a sort of expert and users and readers visit the links to your website.
Before joining a forum research well. Do a check
What is the page rank of the forum?
What is it’s policy of sending a link to your website
What is the level of expertise of the forum?
Do not join every forum related to your business. We suggest that you join the best 2 or three. Post almost everyday in each forum. Most forums have a rule of 15 to 20 posts before linking to a website. Post frequently and you have a great related traffic to your website.
How Does It Work?
Usually each subject has it’s own forum for example real estate, web design, travel or wine making. A forum like say real estate maybe divided into further categories like say-
Real Estate Forum may be divided into real estate marketing, real estate for sale, real estate lead and so on. ‘Real estate for sale’ may be further subdivided state wise or country wise and so on.
Any new post becomes a thread when it receives replies.
Helpful Hints and Guidelines:
- Your address should be genuine
- Mention your website URL.
- You need to establish your credibility and expertise on a forum, act like an expert.
- Use your site’s keywords in the forum post title
- Ideally the post body should contain the keywords in the first 50 words
- The forum title should mostly be in such a way that it asks opinions from others. For Example
Online Customers: Incorrect
Are Customers Really Online? : Correct
- The tone should be formal yet conversational
- At no time should slang words be used, remember you are professional!
- If your post receives criticism, accept it gracefully and tell your critic why you think you are right. For Example
Cindy, criticism accepted. But, honestly all of Mexico isn’t all that unhygienic as NOT to go for surgery. While there have been a few cases of infection, there have been cases of surgery going the right way too. It’s just a matter of knowing the right doctor and his team. Moreover who says that there are never ever infections in surgeries in the US?
- Never berate your critic. If your critic is really rude, take the humorous way out
- NEVER post the wrong answers on a forum.
- If you are late to respond to a personal or urgent query, apologize.
- If you are answering back to a particular person, use that person’s forum name.
- Observe the etiquettes of old members of the forum, follow them.
How Do Forums Help In Marketing?
- They bring traffic volume to a website
- People have to register in a forum, so you get to build a list
- You gain credibility
- You develop a relationship with the forum users
- You upgrade your knowledge base.
- You get a link back to your website
There is a lot of discussion these days of blogs over forums. But forums have 2 distinct advantages.
Firstly they are well categorized. For example a travel forum will be categorized, continent wise, country wise and city wise. Therefore searching for information or posting queries on that forum is easy.
Secondly, forums make sure you are addressing the right people, not general public at large. People who visit the forum are interested in the topic and seek information on it. This addresses the issue of following blind leads.
Forum Marketing will give to traffic but not plenty of traffic as far as numbers is concerned. But yes, experience says that forum traffic to a website results in better conversions.