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How to Shop for Forum Marketing Services

2012 August 9

As the carnage from Google Penguin and Google Panda continued to pile up and litter the internet with previously high-flying niche websites now relegated to Google’s basement, more and more online businesses are turning to less popular methods to generate traffic.

While everybody and his uncle is beating a path to Twitter and Facebook to generate social media traffic, many of these people are finding out the hard way that social media traffic behaves differently than search traffic. For one, most people go to social media sites to find out what their distant friends, close friends, relatives and co-workers are up to. They are not necessarily there because they are looking for a specific subject matter or that they are looking for to learn about a specific topic. They are just there to browse. Trying to sell those people with that particular mindset is like trying to sell ice cream to an Eskimo. It is not impossible but it is quite difficult.

Be that as it may, there are some opportunities with social media, but it is not as easy as most online publishers and web masters think. You have to filter a larger amount of traffic to an elaborate system of filters to be able to convert this mass into buyers or mailing list subscribers.

Discover the Power of Forum Marketing

One key source of traffic that is often overlooked is forum. Forums are online message boards where people congregate around a specific topic. There are hundreds of thousands of forums online. If there is a topic, there is more likely than not a forum dedicated to it. Imagine a space where people are already talking about the product or service that you are trying to sell. If that gets you excited, it should. However, the downside might be enough to kill your enthusiasm.

The downside is that there are many, many forums. You have to first of all look for them and not all of them are very easy to find. The second drawback is that not all of them have a lot of traffic. For many marketers, this is the deal killer because it all boils down to return on investment (ROI). Most online businesses and publishers only have a fixed amount of resources. You have to engage in a marketing activity that returns the value of the resources that you invested in marketing in that channel or else you are going to be operating at a loss. Traditionally, many marketers have written off forum marketing because they look at it primarily as having too little traffic and not enough return on investment.

These are valid criticisms regarding forums and they are definitely deal killers if you are trying to market a general brand. For example, if you are trying to market a McDonald’s type of brand, it is probably not a good idea to market it through niche forums. With that said, forum marketing is a very powerful alternative to search engine marketing if your niche is quite targeted. For example, if you are looking to sell products that serve a particular pet breed, you will get more bang for your buck if you hit a forum that is dedicated to that particular breed.

3 Main Benefits of Forum Marketing Services

1. Niche specificity. If your product or service is so targeted that people at a general category forum will not react to it, you are better off marketing it at a very niche targeted forum. The great thing about this is these people, being fans of a particular niche, tend to know each other. They tend to have influence on each other. If you are a vendor of products or services that cater to a specific niche and there are not that many competitors, you can quickly dominate that small pond. The whole dynamic here that you are shooting for is to be the biggest fish in a small pond.
2. The second advantage of niche forum marketing is you have more opportunities for brand consolidation. If there are too many competitors all shooting for a particular niche, your brand message tends to get lost in the background noise of competing brands. However, if you are in that small pond of people that are interested in a particular niche and they know each other, it is easier for you to introduce yourself, establish the right relationships and build credibility in a fairly short amount of time than if you had to filter a large population to a group of people that are interested in your niche and then filter that list some more. We are not saying that the traditional method of list filtration is a bad thing, but depending on your particular product or service niche, the amount of time, resources and money that you are spending filtering a large pool of uncategorized traffic may be more expensive than shooting for niche audience in the first place.
3. The third key benefit of niche forum marketing is that there is less noise in terms of feedback. It is easier for you to get the information that you need to build your brand equity and build up your product’s quality in a niche forum than if you were in a general forum. Also the level of commitment to that feedback is higher. People in a small community are probably more protective of their reputation than if they were just talking about general topic. This higher sensitivity to one’s credibility, especially in regard to a niche topic, can only benefit you because the feedback that you are getting will more likely than not be troll comments or random comments of people just blowing smoke or making wild guesses. The chances are higher that these are people that actually care about the particular subject category and have vested interests in terms of community reputation and credibility preventing them from giving you the bum steer.

Keep these benefits in mind when looking for a provider

When you are shopping for forum marketing services, you have to keep these factors in mind because they would help you decide quickly whether the service provider is just talking a good game or actually knows what it is doing. Do not expect to hit the ball right out of the ball park the first time you step up to the plate. You would probably have to go through quite a number of forum marketing services until you run into an outfit that truly knows what it is doing. Another key tip to keep in mind when finding a service provider is that ethical and competent forum marketing services will tell you straight out that they have not done marketing in your particular niche. How could they? There are so many niches out there in the world that it is almost impossible to find a service provider that has done marketing in that particular niche. Be very careful of service provider that seems to be an all-around expert in all sorts of arcane niches. More likely than not, they are just blowing smoke your way and are looking to separate you quickly from your money. Keep these tips in mind so you can find the right forum marketing company and constantly engage them to get the results that you are paying for.

 Photo Credit

This guest post was written by Chris Walker, an avid blogger for MarketingCopyExpert.Com, the Internet’s leading provider of forum marketing services

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