Forum marketing is one of those tools that, when used effectively, can produce tremendous results. On the other hand, if abused, it’s the quickest way to destroy your online reputation — permanently. The benefits from forum marketing, though, are just to great to avoid.
When you do it the right way, you can build authority, brand your business, increase traffic to your blog, and get hundreds of free leads.
Here’s a detailed “forum marketing for bloggers” guide – how to follow the basics of forum etiquette, and how to maximize personal benefit at the same time.
What Is Forum Marketing?
In essence, forum marketing is marketing your online business by the means of an online community i.e. a forum. Simple concept.
You post on forums, and use them to gain traffic, get leads, increase sales via your signature link. You market your product, service, or website through a forum.
Why Is It (Sometimes) Considered Unethical?
Often, eager young entrepreneurs go a little overboard with forum marketing. In other words, they spam the stuffings out of forums just to get their links out there.
They use a keyword stuffed username, write one-liner trash posts, and link to their blog posts in every single reply and thread they post. Needless to say, their stint on forums is usually relatively brief, once the mods catch on.
They never add any sort of value to the forum. It’s just take, take, take.
Their post devalues the forum, devalues the community, and even devalues themselves.
How To Do It The Right Way – Forum Marketing Tips
Forums are all about community and helping others – getting answers to questions, getting opinions on controversial subjects — just building relationships, getting social, and helping each other. No forum was ever created with the sole purpose of getting its members free traffic.
Here are a few tips on forum marketing to help you get started increasing your blog traffic.
Provide value – This is a no-brainer. If what you post on the forum doesn’t really provide value to anyone in any way and only restates a topic that has been used and abused, then there’s no point. You are not providing value, so there is absolutely no reason for you to post it.
Dropping trash one-liners like “great post” and “thanks!” will help you lose your reputation faster than you can say “Jack Robinson”.
Post on threads you know about – If you don’t know about search engine optimization, don’t post a thread/reply about it (unless you’re asking a question or sharing a personal experience).
When you post in categories that you actually know about, you mark yourself as an authority in the subject. Since you know your stuff, people click on your signature link to learn more.
Be relevant – If your signature link leads to a recipe blog, then you should be posting on recipe forums, NOT on an Internet marketing forum.
If the forum is not relevant to your niche, your link won’t get very many clicks. Whatever traffic does happenstance to make its way to your blog will be untargeted, and won’t actually convert and make you money.
Post threads as well as replies – Comparatively, new forum threads will get you considerably more traffic than replies would. That’s for a simple reason – everyone who views the thread is guaranteed to see your post (and thus, your signature link as well).
When you reply, your post often gets lost in the already-present sea of other commentators. No one sees your sig link, and no one clicks on it.
That said, don’t post new threads too often. Nobody likes to see five recent threads on one page of a board all by one person.
Get there first – If you’re gonna reply to a thread anyway, do your best to get there first. The first reply always gets the most exposure (after the original post).
The 1st or the 51st reply – which do you think gets more traffic? It’s the same with blog commenting.
High traffic forums – Another no-brainer. If the forum you post on gets 10 visitors daily, chances are that you’ll get 10 visitors yearly as a result. The higher the amount of traffic to the forum, the higher the amount of traffic to your signature link. Simple equation.
Most of the popular forums will show up on the first page of the SERPs for their respective niche keywords. Just type in [your niche] + forum, and you’ll find high traffic forums to get started on in the blink of an eye.
How To Format Your Signature For A Higher Click-Through Rate
Conversion rate optimization is one of my favorite pet peeves. My belief is that you should start testing everything (that includes your blog design, your landing page, your sales funnel, and your autoresponder series) as soon as possible. That way, you don’t miss out on potential traffic.
Here are a few tips on how to format your signature links for more clicks with less impressions.
Use formatting – Use HTML to format your signature text. Underline, italicize, and bold your text to make it stand out. When viewers scroll down the page, your text will catch their eye.
Include a small image – Also paste a small version of your logo in your signature. This also helps it to stand out. Keep in mind that some forums may require you to pay before you can include an image in your signature.
Don’t use your keywords as anchor text – Nofollow or dofollow, remember that your signature will be duplicated across hundreds of different forum threads as you become an active member. Never use your primary keywords as the anchor text. Use a more generic “click here” or “learn more” to stay safe.
Give people a reason to visit your blog – It’s a great idea to link to your squeeze page (where you should be giving something away free in exchange for their e-mail address) in your signature. Mentioning your free report will give viewers a reason to actually click on the link and visit your site.
Forum marketing is a powerful tactic, and can be a useful engine to power your blog’s success. As with all things, do it in moderation. Never abuse a forum — always put providing value for others in front of personal gain.
When you do that, chances are that you’ll end up gaining a whole lot more, anyway.