Forum Marketing remains one of the fastest yet most effective ways to build back-links to your website. Forums literally exploded to life in the recent years since the late 1990s when the Dot-Com Bubble reached an entire new high and everyone thought of new ideas to improve the Internet. Till today, thousands of people participate in forums every single day.
It is a great way to make your online business stand out from the crowd. Forum users are generally net savvy and open to making online purchases. Many forum users are also respected experts and bloggers in the specific topics covered by the forum.
Forum marketing is a high ROI (Return on Investment) strategy because making a good impression in front of this savvy and influential audience can help your marketing message spread far and wide.
How To Use Forum Marketing
Step One: Find The Right Forums
The forums that you are going to post on depends solely on the particular niche that you are in. Not all forums are worth your time. Finding the right community and targeted traffic for your business is as important as icing on a cake. If you make the cake without icing, the cake will most likely turn out bad.
Start by searching on Google “Internet Marketing Forums + Your Niche” and you will find millions of results.
Narrow your list to 5-10 forums that will be worth your time using the following criteria:
- Look for forums that have at least 1,000 members and 10,000 posts.
- Make sure the forum gets at least ten to fifteen new posts on a daily basis.
- Ignore forums that are overrun by spam.
- Avoid forums hosted by your direct competitors.
Step Two: Pick A Good Username and Avatar
Your user name and avatar are the first things other users will notice about you. Pick a user name that is easy to remember and pronounce. Using your real name might be appropriate, especially if your name is closely identified with your brand. Stay away from bizarre numbers or usernames and do not pick user names that only have meaning for you but would otherwise be nonsensical to everyone else. Complicated usernames are more likely to be forgotten much easier than simple usernames!
Avatars are small pictures attached to all your posts. A good head shot of yourself or cute pictures of your kids or pets make the best avatars. Avoid using any pictures that might be considered offensive or controversial.
Step Three: Create a Forum Account
Seniority is important in forum communities. Users with older registration dates are given more deference than newer users. Forum members usually look up to the seniors and heed their advice with more respect, having a good first impression of them having more experience. Some forums even prevent new users from posting for the first few days after their initial registration. Given the tremendous advantage of early registration, you should create your forum accounts as soon as possible.
Effective forum marketing means that it is part of your long-term strategy. Think of forums as a permanent marketing channel for your business, instead of just one of many targets to blast your hot new advertising campaign.
Step Four: Abide By The Rules
Rules are absolutely important in forums.
During the registration process you will be asked to agree to the forum’s user agreement and posting guidelines. Read these rules and guidelines carefully. There is a huge chunk of text in these documents, so it is tempting to just skip over them and click yes without reading. However, many forums have unique guidelines that you need to pay attention to. Some of the most important issues to look for include:
- Are users allowed to place links in their posts?
- Are users allowed to promote their own businesses?
- Are users allowed to post commercial messages in their signatures?
- Are users allowed to contact other members for commercial purposes?
- What restrictions are placed on new users?
- What special privileges are given to veteran users?
Certain rules give you some benefits over other forums and making sure that you stay away from the ban hammer is essential. Forum Moderators are usually very strict and getting banned even temporarily ruins your reputation and takes away signature privileges.
Step Five: Make valuable contributions to the community
The key to successful Forum Marketing is contributing to the community. Whenever anyone asks a question related to your products or services, dazzle them with incredibly useful answers. These situations are opportunities to demonstrate your expertise and to generate good will. Backup your advice with links to trusted sources, and respond to follow up questions quickly.
Leave out your sales pitch in the beginning. Any hint of bias in your initial posts will erase all your hard work. By keeping your answers objective, the entire community will start thinking of you as a trusted expert. They will soon start asking you for your recommendations. When you get direct inquiries for recommendations you may then safely mention your business without appearing biased. Alexa Smith, for example, is a trusted member on the Warrior Forums and contributes valuable information on a daily basis. If she posts a sales pitch now, it will probably have a lot of traffic very quickly.
Step Six: Put your Website’s Address in the Signature
Forum signatures are blocks of text or graphic that are attached to the end of all your posts. Most people use signatures to display their favorite quotes or links to their favorite websites. Some forums also allow users to use signatures to promote their own websites. If you are in a forum that allows self-promotional signatures, make sure you take full advantage of this opportunity and create a forum marketing signature that works.
Do not abuse this opportunity by putting flashy images or long advertising messages in your signature. An accurate, short description of your business and a link to your website is the best way to go.
My Thoughts on Forum Marketing
Forum Marketing will continue to be one of the most effective strategies to increase website traffic for a long time to come. Start using these Forum Marketing tips now and kick-start your Forum Marketing campaign in the long-run.