When we talk about forums, there are two main areas. Inbound and outbound. Inbound is where people are coming into your website and using a forum on your website. This can be difficult to start and manage. It works best for areas that need tech support.
If there’s many people coming to ask questions, and a forum is an easier way to answer the questions rather than individual e-mails. A great example of this is bytes for all . They have a forum as their main website.
Because so many people want to make changes and have problems, it’s a perfect setup. They come there and get their answers or get the help they need and there is a soft sell for the premium products. There is also a soft sell for premium membership in the forum. Forums require supervision. A moderator needs to monitor the postings to make sure there is no negative publicity, anger in some cases clarify the posts made by the visitors. It’s even good idea to have several monitors in different time zones to monitor the entire process.
A non-technical forum, like marketing, is hard to get started. Because if there’s not enough visitors and questions asked, that when people come to the forum they think it’s dead and leave. So it takes a certain amount of postings to get to a level where the forum is generating good traffic.
Out bound forums are forums that other people host on their website. This can be an excellent source of business intelligence. You can learn a great deal about your competitors, you can learn what people are saying about your products or services and you can learn about the prospects or customers.
A forum is a great way to start market research. You can yet feedback about features and user preferences. Forums that are narrowly focused provide the best opportunities for learning and discussing your market.
This is also a place where you can build your brand. If you spend time in the forum answering questions in helping people, this will build a reputation for your products and services. Often people in these forums are influential people, and can direct prospects to your website. Often people will go to these forums looking for advice from the regulars who post there. If you have a reputation on that forum, then people will recommend you.
This will also help your search engine marketing. Search engines will detect that you are being recommended and send more traffic. It’s important to invest time in the forums for posting any links to your website. People are very sensitive to spam me links. It’s important to develop the relationship first.
In this article were using that term forum as a generic model. This would really apply to any questions and answer website. Be sure to evaluate the audience carefully before you invest time. For instance Yahoo answers would not have quality prospects for most websites. Linkedin, Quora and others are much more professional.
Some businesses use the forums as a primary tool of marketing. We recommend you use it carefully is a mixture of marketing methods.