Non-Traditional Marketing with Forums
Whether you’re a new startup developing your first digital marketing campaign or you’re a seasoned business re-evaluating or expanding your current marketing efforts, you have a lot to gain if you do things a little differently. Challenge yourself to try non-traditional marketing strategies. It is a dynamic way to expand your business’ reach and gives you the potential for great success.
Traditional Marketing Tactics
When it comes to marketing techniques, the digital landscape is saturated with strategies for using SEO and paid ads to expand your audience, gain leads, and convert traffic to sales.
Platforms like WordPress make it easy to optimize your web pages for SEO with keywords, meta descriptions, and strategic tags. Plug-ins like Yoast further help you to determine the effectiveness of your SEO efforts and can guide even a beginner through how to optimize a page for SEO, all with the intention of boosting your Google rankings.
Paid ads, whether on Google, Facebook or other social media platform, or elsewhere on the web, are another wildly popular marketing technique with a relatively low barrier to entry. Digital ads are within the reach of any business due to the wide range of price points, making ads accessible to even the smallest enterprises.
There’s nothing wrong with using SEO keyword strategies and digital ads as part of your marketing strategy – these are effective means of spreading the word about your organization, driving traffic to your site, and guiding leads down the sales funnel. Yet, while effective, they are also saturated forms of marketing. It can be difficult to get traction with these traditional campaigns.
How, then, can you do things differently and try some non-traditional marketing tactics? The solution here lies in using unconventional marketing tactics and thinking outside the box with how you promote your business and interact with your clients and customers.
We previously wrote about adding user forums to your website. In this post we turn that on its head. Here, we look at forums as a new channel for connecting with your audience.
For the purposes of this discussion, we’re focusing on user forums as a unique method of business marketing. We’ll explore why forum marketing is effective and how to incorporate user forums into your existing marketing strategy.
Forum marketing has many benefits. There are plenty of reasons why your business should consider incorporating user forums alongside your more traditional marketing methods. Here are four reasons to give forum marketing a try:
1. Establishing Thought Leadership
Forums are a great place to share your extensive knowledge of specific topics that relate to your business. Through strategic forum contributions, you can share your knowledge on various subjects in your field. Other people that spend time in forums are often other industry experts with a wide following. You can reap the benefits of associating with such leaders and other enthusiasts.
When you make a name for yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you draw people to your business as they are eager to give their time and money to people they consider to be experts. Doing this through forums is simple if you spend your time wisely. Take the time to write carefully crafted responses or posts. The more active you are, the more of a presence you’ll establish for your business.
2. Audience Engagement
There’s a reason why social media is so popular with business. It gives you a chance to mingle among your customers rather than bombard them with traditional advertising. Forum marketing has a similar effect. Customer service can thrive through interaction with user comments or concerns. You can also convey your business persona as humorous, serious, educational, etc. in the way you respond to other forum users.
Most importantly, you can see exactly what others in your industry, both competitors and potential customers, are saying, doing, and thinking. Forum marketing allows you to spend time alongside your customers without the barriers that other forms of marketing can have.
3. Low-Pressure Sales Tactic
Most customers don’t appreciate a hard sales job where a business is aggressively pursuing their money and attention. A more subtle approach is more effective and won’t repel clients the way an ultra sales-forward tactic does.
Forum marketing allows you to associate your business with your industry and promote knowledge about business, but in a non-threatening way that never feels overly salesy. Participating in forums also leads to your discussions being found in search results. When you’re freely sharing valuable industry insight, people will want to connect with you because you’ve demonstrated your knowledge.
Most forums have strict guidelines around overtly promoting products or services, so you’re forced to subtly convey your message to other users through expertly written content.
4. High ROI Strategy
Forum marketing has a high ROI. It allows your posts to extend to a wide-reaching audience, with little to no costs other than time. There is a low barrier to entry as nearly anyone is welcome to join. Depending on the forum, so you can quickly begin crafting strategic posts without navigating a steep learning curve.
Getting Started in Forum Marketing
Now that you understand the reasons why you should consider non-traditional marketing as part of your digital sales strategy, let’s examine how to enter the arena and find success with forums.
Find the Right Forums
Depending on your business and your target audience, there are certain forums that will be more effective for you than others. Examine your audience and determine which forums they hang out in. Are they new moms who read parenting blogs and forums? Is there a tech crowd that is active on Quora? Are they small business owners who spend time in entrepreneurial subreddits on Reddit? Once you identify where your target market spends their time online, you can carve out a position in those forums for yourself.
Spend Time There
While it’s tempting to dive right into a forum and start posting, you’re well-advised to take a more measured approach when you’re getting started with forum marketing. Spend some time just observing: who is present in your chosen forums? What type of post gets the biggest responses? Which comments attract the most interaction and attention? What do your fellow forum members like or dislike? Studying your targeted forums before you begin to contribute can help you form a successful strategy.
Learn the Guidelines
Each forum has a set of detailed guidelines for the type of content you can contribute, and it’s important to understand these from the beginning. For example, there are typically strict rules around directly promoting businesses, services, or products. If you don’t abide by the guidelines, your posts will be removed, you may damage your reputation, and you run the risk of being kicked out of the forum permanently.
Once you’ve done your homework and established your profile and action plan, it’s time to start your forum activity. Act strategically and keep the quality of posts in mind over saturating the forum with a large number of posts. For the best results, you’ll want to adopt several strategies for participating: ask questions, provide answers to other’s questions, comment on user’s posts, and write your own thought-provoking content.
Remember that forum marketing is about give-and-take, not just you preaching to your audience. Let them talk, listen to what messages they’re conveying, and respond accordingly. Carry yourself in a professional manner, be helpful, provide insights, and add value – these are all strategies for success in forum marketing. Remember that forum marketing is a long-term play, so don’t focus on seeing overnight results. Give your strategy time to work the way you’ve designed it.
Trying an outside-the-box approach by becoming active on user forums is a way to enhance the conversation in your industry. Your audience will come to respect you as an industry leader and will be more compelled to consider your business as a result. Trying a non-traditional marketing strategy like forum marketing is easy-entry. It allows you to reach a new audience while saving on financial resources and furthering your position as a trusted industry expert.
When formulating your digital strategy, feel free to reach out to us for any help we can provide. We provide a ton of consulting services that can help you market your site.