Reasons To Have A Company Forum
Before beginning to design a forum, it is important to understand the structure of a forum and how it can help to promote your business.
Forums, simply put, are discussion boards or message boards that encourage users to interact with each other over popular topics. Usually, discussions are held under the watchful eye of a moderator who ensures posts are appropriate and stop any spamming.
Web forums are an optional addition to website design, though with their obvious benefits they now seem to have climbed a couple of notches in popularity. They allow for an exchange of ideas, suggestions, and comments, but more significantly they create an environment of trust and support – which is a unique feature that many successful businesses tend to exude. Any business hoping to create a robust online community and generate interest about them should by all means facilitate a forum on their website.
Forums like blogs are an excellent way to encourage dialogue with prospective or existing customers. A lot of companies prefer to opt against forums because of its time consuming nature and constant moderation. But the rewards are manifold as you gain more and more credibility and trust with visitors. Visitors tend to return repeatedly, when there are open channels for ideas and information to be exchanged, especially when topics get heated.
Whether you're into motorcycle maintenance or origami – when you reply to those who post inquiries, you have an opportunity to know your website guests and showcase your expertise on these specific topics. And people tend to do business with those they already know and trust. Over some time, you'll need less and less time to moderate your forum and initiate discussions as participants begin to do so, and you will begin to see the fruit of your labour and your traffic going up.
Benefits of Using a Forum for Your Business
Economies of Scale- Access to a Larger Market
From a prospect to a closed sale, your company needs to nurture every lead with care, customer service and that all important conversation. In every organization, this conversation usually takes place over a telephone call, email exchange or even a face-to-face meeting between the sales person and prospect.
But think about it. A sales person, no matter how well-trained, only has a finite amount of time and resources to handle a finite number of enquiries, let alone converting them into sales figures. In addition, the law of averages dictates that only a handful of customer enquiries may yield a sale. Imagine the tedium a salesperson needs to go through repeating the same information to the same enquiry from different prospects.
Since the option of repeating a broken recorder is highly unlikely, forums will be your next best alternatives to scale such conversations. Forums work on the simple premise of leveraging. A salesperson could start a conversation topic or thread in a forum and share their advice, thus leveraging their time and efforts across not one but multiple prospects, both immediate and potential.
Create Dialogue with Clients or Prospects
Communication is something we all know that is crucial to keep any relationship going strong. Likewise, conversations with clients are integral to any sales cycle and business-client relationship. Answering questions and offering solutions to customers in forums has proven to establish customers' trust in a company's credibility and integrity, and generating sales.
More importantly, you'll be surprised at how supportive and helpful enthusiasts of your products and services can be in helping to post replies on your behalf to posted queries to help your online community grow. Allow your enthusiasts to answer on your behalf and watch the workload of your sales people reduce.
Build Your Credibility & Niche Online
Like fire, a forum can be both a good servant and a bad master. In spite of the bad press forums have been receiving, a strong business rationale justifies their use. When you're thinking of purchasing a book or watching a movie, doesn't a third party (with no economic interest) endorsement sound more credible than a direct pitch?
Suppose you're intending to engage us to design your website. Which would sound more powerful:
Hooweb Solutions is a fantastic web design company who recently designed for...
We just designed our company website and we thought Hooweb really did a great job..
Customers really do put more weight on the word of neutral third-party sources.
All forums exist for a purpose, to connect people with a common interest or facilitate conversations related to a particular topic. When properly executed and maintained, your forum has the immense potential to establish a name for itself as an authority on a particular subject, product or service in your industry.
Understand Your Clients
A forum allows you to record and develop all conversations you have with your visitors to convert that enquiry into a closed sale. Your company forum can serve as the best market barometer of market trends. Watch out for trends developing as the conversations unfold, or directly listen to your customers' feedback.
Little or Almost No Overheads
Forums (like many other forms of social media) have been proven to reduce cost of sales and reliance on more costly traditional media over time.