Building a business takes a lot of time and dedication. It is no longer all about the company’s physical presence, it is also about its online success. One method that business owners use to promote their companies is online forums. You can create a forum website as a marketing tool for your business. How can you do this, and what are the benefits? Read on to find out!
What is the Forum?
A forum, in basic terms, is simply an online discussion board where users share information and ideas. Forums are not live, and the content can be accessed at any time. The content that is shared is usually lengthy and informational, as it has the purpose of answering queries. When a conversation strays from the original topic, it is usually divided into a subcategory. Then it is easier for users to find the exact content that they are looking for.
Benefits of Using Forums
Setting up a customer forum for your business creates a type of community. The people who use the forum tend to have similar interests or needs, so it is useful for sharing information. If a potential customer asks a question, the answer will likely determine whether they will actually make the purchase. A representative from your company, or another customer, can answer the question, securing the new business.
This is the same idea as customers asking questions after they have already made a purchase. You can answer their question, which will increase customer loyalty and satisfaction. This method decreases the frustration that the customer is feeling, especially if you are quick to get back to them.
Creating feedback is another benefit of using forums for your business. Once a customer has used your service or made a purchase, they can use the forum to describe their experience. If they have constructive criticism, you can use the opportunity to improve. The customer will also be happy that you actually listened to what they have to say in order to enhance the company.
How to Get Started with Forums
It is clear that having a forum for your business is worth it. However, it can be difficult to get started. One of the first things that you can do is line up your moderators. Moderators will be assisting you with overseeing the forum. They will be available to answer questions or escalate concerns. Having multiple people perform this job is important so that the customer is not left waiting for a long period. If it is not financially possible to offer moderators a full salary, you could offer them a percentage of your revenue, or a big discount on products and services.
Figuring out how to host your forum is the next step. You can purchase web hosting packages that offer different features. For a single website forum, you will likely just need a simple hosting package that you can manage by yourself. Research companies that offer web hosting and determine which one you would like to work with for the foreseeable future.
Create categories for your content. Ideally, you will want to start with just a few categories that cover main topics. As more and more people get involved with your forum, you will be able to branch off into new subcategories. You could also consider making a ‘meet and greet’ category for the community to get to know each other. Chatting about generic things can help break the ice and get people more involved in the forum.
You should also make a list of rules and guidelines for users to follow. Although the majority of posters will be fine, there are always some people who enjoy heckling and ‘trolling.’ You can pin the rule list to the top of the forum so that it is always visible on the topic list. If anyone is caught breaking these rules, you will need to give them a warning or ban them from the forum.
Another thing to consider is eventually monetizing your forum. This will probably not be achieved in the early days of your forum, but later on, it should be introduced. You can do this by promoting your services and products in any way you can. Place banners and put text links strategically throughout your forum for users to see. A different method you could try is selling ad space to other companies. You can negotiate to pick the ads yourself, and all the revenue that they generate will go right into your pocket.
By setting up an online forum for your business, you are creating a sense of belonging. Members of your community will become more connected with you and with one another. They will be able to reach out and communicate with one another whenever they want. Overall, a forum is a great marketing strategy and should be implemented as soon as you can do so.