This part will look at additional features you can add to your website to increase engagement. In the previous parts, I’ve been going through the different existing elements on your website that can increase user engagement. The reason I consider â€œforumsâ€ additional is because it’s really optional if you want to implement them into your structure. I usually encourage people with a huge following or visitor base to take advantage of the forum function because it’s a great way to engage your readers directly while allowing them to interact with each other.
Start by reading part 1-12 before jumping into this strategy simply because this is a more advanced technique to increase user engagement. Here’s what I’ll be discussing today:
- Why forums are so powerful
- Forum software
- Putting out the word
Forums = Powerful
The usage of forums has been around way before advanced search engines like Google even existed. They have been used to organize information and provide niche relevant people easy access to support. I remember several years back, when I need tech support, I would hop into a forum and find the information I need. With Google being effective in providing results, you can now simply do a quick search and find exactly what you are looking for. However, this doesn’t mean forums are NO longer in use because they have evolved into â€œbrandâ€ communities where large companies provide their readers a way to engage. They are also very real-time and you can sometimes find an answer within seconds because of the amount of people logged in at any given time.
Here are some more reasons why they are so effective:
- Cheap to get started
- Users build the community
- Real-time answers when no other support is available
- Niche targeted
- Solutions to custom problems that otherwise would NOT be available.
In the last one, here’s what I mean:
Authors tend to write content based on a common problem they had and now found a solution. However, with forums, you have an outlet where people with the same skills can solve your custom problem in real-time.
Now that you know some of the advantages of forums, let’s look at how you can implement them into your website.
If you do a quick search in Google, you’ll be able to find several software suites that’ll provide you with everything you need. However, look for the following:
- Easy to customize
- Easy installation
- Nice design
- FREE or low monthly cost
In my experience, I’ve used the following two and have been very happy with the interface:
Here is where things get a bit tricky, however, you have to use the resources available to you. One of the best ways to promote your forum is by emailing your subscribers with an update. Imagine if you have 10,000 loyal readers? A quick blast will generate enormous engagement and signups. Secondly, for new visitors, you might want to put a quick update on your website. A banner or redirect to landing page outlining the forum is a great way to get things moving in the right direction. I’ve used a simple pop-up form to announce the forum feature and it has worked extremely well in the past especially when I’m in a niche where visitors need instant help. Next,
Search engine optimization for your forum can be good, but this is a long-term approach and you need to be patient. Focus on keywords relevant to your niche while including the word forum. For example,
- Link building forum
- SEO forum
- Web design forum
- WordPress forum
If you have done research the right way, you can generate enormous traffic by simply ranking for high volume keywords.
Many people think forums are NO longer effective and I invite you to do a quick search using a keyword + forum so you can see how popular they are. Skim through a few and you’ll be surprised at the amount of people logged in at one time.