Should You Create A Website Forum? 10 Benefits Worth ConsideringSo, you have a website that gets a decent amount of traffic every month. You post new articles to your blog frequently, and always keep your audience up to date with the latest. But you still want to generate more engagement on your site, and have heard that creating a forum is a great idea. Should you start one? The shorts answer: absolutely! But there are important reasons to consider why you should do it to ensure that you go into it with the right intentions and maximize its potential.
Here are the 10 reasons you should consider starting a discussion forum on your website.
Streamline Communication to Your Community
Social media and blog content can only go so far. If you want to really engage with your core base of fans, posting directly on your forum and replying to comments gives you instant access to the conversation without it all segmented across social media platforms.
Boost Your Site’s SEO Value
It’s no secret that the more content you have on your site, the better your SEO odds are. While you already post regularly on your blog to create new content for Google to crawl, with a forum, new pages are added to your site hourly or even every minute if the forum is popular enough. With relevant discussions and organic keywords from users, it’s an SEO slam dunk.
Create a Community Around Your Brand
At the end of the day, people are what drive your brand. With a tribe or community of followers all sharing and discussing relevant industry topics on your site, you’re fostering a community that has potential for endless growth, which can translate to sales in the long term. A forum on your website follows a “if you build it, they will come” type of formula. If you can build the forum and market it well, the sky is the limit, with exponential audience growth in your future.
Own Your Community
You actually fully own your forum and its data. You can export your data and move to a different service or software at any time. Other services like Facebook Groups and Google Groups own all of your data. You can't export the data and move to a different service. If their service closes at any time, like many other past Facebook and Google services, you'll lose everything your community built up over the years. Also, forums are valuable for SEO, and integrating one into your website ensures users stay on your site and allows for further customization. Other "groups" services don't allow you to do that. You can read about other benefits of forums over Facebook groups.
Engage Your Community
Once you have a huge audience of forum members on your site, you have a lot of communicative power. What would you say to your audience if you knew that they would be able to see it no matter the circumstances? Having ownership of a forum gives you a platform all your own to engage with your community. Unlike social media and other formats, you can comment back and forth with users and members of the community and show off the human side to your brand. That goes a long way toward building loyalty and boosting customer lifetime value.
You Can Monetize It
As with any business, your primary, end of the day goal is to make money. With a forum, you have plenty of opportunity to monetize your audience and create new revenue streams. The first, and most obvious upsell is to charge a subscription fee for either access to premium content or premium features of the forum. Additionally, you can use Google AdSense to host ads on the platform. Also, just asking members for a small donation can add up in the long run. If 5,000 members contribute $1 a month, that’s an extra $60K per year.
Capture New Audiences
One of the beauty of forums is that users can post questions and get immediate answers. As a part of your website, whenever someone on Google searches for a similar question, your link will show on the page and boost your rankings. Although the searcher might not had heard of your brand before, once they find the answer to their question, they can navigate through the rest of your site.
Learn More About Your Community
We think that we know who our customers are, but we can always learn more. There are tons of tools available, but a forum allows you intimate access to the topics they discuss, how they communicate, and what they’re looking for. You could hire a market research firm or send out a survey, but a forum gives you instant access to their perspective and thought patterns.
Maybe someone is on the fence about making a purchase from you. They stumble upon the forum section of your site and see all of the people having genuinely great experiences with your products or services. These posts alone serve as living testimonials for your site, and can be the final push they need to convert and make a purchase for you. The beauty is all you needed to do was provide a space for these past customers without any additional work on your end.
Improve Your Services
Just as you can learn a ton about your audience based on their posts on your forum, you can also learn more about your products and services. Of course, you only want to see great words written about your brand, but sometimes you’ll see common problems people encounter. You might not have otherwise known, but by learning more about the problems your customers have along with the positives, you can improve your services and products to best fit their needs.
So, should you start a forum? With all of these benefits and the minimal upfront work it takes to implement, you’d be missing out not to give it a shot. Having instant access to your growing community and giving them a place to congregate can elevate your brand and provide you with a way to engage directly with your customers apart from social media. Consider all of these benefits and start planning to add one to your site today!
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