Forum Marketing as a Way to Engage with Customers
Every business is looking for unique ways to stand out from their competitors. Marketing strategies are rapidly evolving to help make this happen. When it comes to developing your own marketing plan, it’s in your best interest to explore alternative tactics. Enter the world of forum marketing. With forums, engaging with users gives you instant access to building your authority and demonstrating your ability to solve problems through dynamic solutions for your clients.
The appeal of forum marketing is that it’s subtle and, to forum readers, it doesn’t feel like marketing at all. When you’re not pushing a heavy sales agenda onto your users, you have a better chance at engaging them in an authentic conversation. The relaxed interaction lowers their guard and allows frank discussion.
Ideally, a forum is a place for users to post their questions or thoughts on a particular subject. It’s a place where you can share your industry expertise with other users and position yourself as a thought leader, without a specific call to action or overt mention of your company. In fact, many forums don’t allow this at all. Instead, a forum is a place to have a conversation on a topic without corporate agendas and schmoozy sales tactics taking over.
Your business may already be taking advantage of forum marketing and posting on external forums like Reddit or Quora, but there’s another aspect that you should consider. For many businesses, an internal forum on your own site is an ideal way to engage customers on your own terms. Let’s explore creating your own user forum on your site and how to use it to benefit your business.
Advantages of Adding a Forum To Your Own Site
Besides the initial set up costs and tasking someone on your team with monitoring your forum, it’s a relatively low-risk forum marketing strategy that can reap significant rewards for your business. These are some of the main advantages of creating an internal forum:
Increases Site Traffic
Hosting a forum is a great way to drive traffic to your site, and this can happen organically as your forum increases in popularity. Once forum users are on your site, they’re likely to stay there and explore your other pages. Without your forum, there’s a large piece of your customer base that might not discover your site at all.
You Call the Shots
Each forum is governed by a strict set of rules and guidelines for users. This prevents conversations from becoming advertisements, inappropriate, or full of spammy content. While most guidelines are standard across the majority of forums, as a business, you may find them restrictive when trying to convey your brand message. When you become the forum owner, it’s your job to set the regulations that users must follow. This allows you to ease up in areas that will benefit your organization.
Direct Line to Customer Thinking
Forum communication is advantageous because users are free to speak their mind. Hosting an internal forum is a passive way to see what your customers are saying to each other about your industry. If possible, get them talking about your products and services for real, honest feedback that you can use to improve your offerings.
Address Customers’ Pain Points
Forums are a great opportunity for users to vent, and they tend to do so with abandon when something isn’t working out in their favor. As you monitor your forum, you have the chance to read what your customers are complaining about, what issues they have within your particular industry, what they’re saying about your competitors and any other roadblocks that are sources of stress or irritation for them.
When you are able to understand your users’ pain points, you are in a position where you can provide solutions. In some cases, your solutions may be linked directly to your products and services. While in other situations you might just offer a helpful hint or tip that they can take away.
Even when you’re not overtly promoting your business, actionable advice goes a long way in establishing your authority and building trust among your forum’s participants.
How to Use Forum Marketing to Engage Customers
Get your forum participants to start talking about the right kinds of topics by establishing them yourself. Strike up a conversation with posts on the subject matter that you want to address. If you find that your forum veers off-topic from time to time, you can take matters into your own hands and start a new thread or re-direct the conversation in the direction you want it to go.
Once you’re on the right topics that are relevant to your business, engage with the other participants. Just like social media, forums work best and are most fruitful, when participants engage with one another. Don’t be shy about asking questions. Forums allow you to provide answers, share your opinion, comment on others’ posts, or challenge someone’s point of view in a constructive and thought-provoking manner.
The more you participate, the more you’re building yourself (and your business) up as a thought leader. Slowly establishing your business as an authority in your industry will organically lead to an increase in customers. It provides a gentle entrance into your sales funnel, more leads, and ultimately greater profits with each new client.
Forum marketing is an alternative strategy that can garner significant results for your business. Think outside the box about how you can further engage with your leads. Explore how you can use online communication to convert them into clients.
If you’re considering adding an internal forum to your site and need some support, contact us. We can discuss whether forums are an appropriate tool for you.