Forum Marketing – Can it Really Be Outsourced?

Forum marketing is one of the world’s easiest traffic strategies. It involves joining a forum related to your target market and then posting content and interacting with other readers.

In many forums, you are able to create a signature with a link to your site. Every time you participate in a discussion, your “sig” with your link appears at the bottom of your post. When people are interested in you or what you say, they click the link and you get traffic.

In order to get traffic from forum posting, you have to do it regularly. It involves logging into the forum for a set amount of time each day to interact. The more you do this, the more you’ll see traffic. It could be only as much as ten minutes, but that’s ten more minutes most of us don’t have to spare.

One way around this is to outsource your forum posting, but this is risky. Exactly how risky this is depends on your specific purpose in posting on forums.

Two Reasons to Post in Forums

There are two main reasons you may want to post in forums. One is just to build backlinks. The other is to drive traffic to your site and build authority, the two of which are closely related.

The link-building approach involves posting in forums to show Google and other search engines that you’re worth ranking. Their spiders will crawl your backlinks and if the forum is a high-traffic authority site, the links will add SEO juice to your site.

If you’re trying to drive traffic and build authority, you’re aiming for human eyes. This more personal approach can be extremely effective in building traffic in the long run, but it won’t work if your posts don’t provide enough value that people want to learn more about you.

Outsourcing Forum Posting for Backlinks

If you’re posting for backlinks, what you say in your posts isn’t as important as making sure you are able to put a link in your signature file. It’s the backlink you’re going for. The worst that could happen is that your posts get deleted. If backlinking is your purpose, you can hire someone to post for you without worrying about it (although keep in mind that this goes against most forums’ terms of service).

Driving Traffic and Building Authority

If you’re posting for human beings, it’s a different story. Think of it from the other forum members’ point of view. If you leave a comment that says something like, ‘Good point, thanks,’ why would anyone click on your link? People will only get curious about you if you’re saying something of value that adds to the discussion. You’re building your authority right there in the forum with your posts.

In other words, if you’re posting for traffic and authority, you need to give them your best. Part of what you’re doing is networking and building relationships. When you outsource, you may or may not get this. In the end it could be a complete waste of money and effort. At the worst, your reputation can be damaged.

This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to outsource forum posting for traffic and authority. But if you do, your staff or VA needs to be a great writer who is knowledgeable about your subject and can write naturally with your voice. They need to be able to build relationships with other forum members and you need to know what they’re doing on the forum. In the end if it’s quality you’re going for, it’s probably worth it to just spend the ten minutes necessary each day to do it yourself.

Why you should hire someone to help with your virtual event

If you have a lot of great information and content that you’d like to turn into a virtual event, but you’ve never had a virtual event before it is a good idea to hire someone who is an expert. Usually an expert will already have access to the technology you need, plus a lot of experience in pulling off flawless virtual events. By hiring someone to help with you virtual event, you will save time and money, not to mention your sanity.

A virtual event coordinator, planner, consultant or manager may do some or all of the following:

Offer Technology Support — Some virtual event coordinators will already have the venue/technology set up already. You’ll simply schedule the time, provide the content, and show up for the event knowing you have an experienced facilitator to help you if anything goes wrong.

Coordinate the Speakers / Presenters — A virtual events coordinator might ensure that all the speakers and presenters know what to do and where to be and how to use the technology.

Coordinate Contractors — A virtual event coordinator may also coordinate other contractors or even have at their disposal contractors who can help with any type of services you might need.

Prepare Sales Pages — The virtual events coordinator can prepare sales pages for your event via your contractors (or theirs) depending on if they offer full service or not.

Create Information Products — The virtual events coordinator can recommend information products, and even manage the creation of them given the right situation.

Work with Affiliates — Your virtual events manager or coordinator can also work with your affiliates to help promote the event.

Coordinate Registrations and Payments — Given the right technology your virtual events coordinator can also coordinate, setup technology, or otherwise make sure that registrations and payments happen seamlessly for your virtual event.

Email Marketing — A virtual events coordinator might handle or outsource or manage your contractors to do the email marketing for your virtual event.

Social Media Marketing — Your virtual events coordinator can also set up automation and help you with your social media marketing via Facebook, LinkedIn, and other venues.

Administrative Support — In addition to the above, many virtual events coordinators will handle administrative issues revolving around the virtual event.

Hiring a virtual events specialist can go far in helping you have a successful and profitable virtual event. You might decide to do it yourself the second time you have a virtual event but contracting with an expert for your first event can be a very good idea, especially if you’re overwhelmed.

A virtual events coordinator can keep you on track before, during, and after your event — so that you are successful the first time. Virtual events have a lot of factors that need to be taken care of, most importantly the technology. Having an expert on board can alleviate a lot of technology related stress. Additionally, having a virtual event service provider to keep you on track during the event can keep your event running smoothly.

What to do before your Virtual Event

Knowing what to do before your virtual event will help to make the big day very profitable and successful. The planning process is crucial to having a great, successful, low-stress event. During the planning process aside from knowing your content, the message and your audience, it is important to recognize ways to be prepared. If you pay close attention to, and are mindful of the following before your event and you will create a successful virtual event.

Market through all channels — If you don’t market your event, no matter how great the information and content is, you won’t have any visitors or only your friends will show up to support you. Use all means, from blogs, to article marketing, to affiliates, to Pay Per Click (PPC) to get the word out about your virtual event.

Choose the right Technology — Do your due diligence and choose the right technology to ensure that it has all the functionality that you need and want. Test out several platforms taking advantage of the fact that most services offer a free trial. Don’t skimp and only use the cheapest service, use the best system that does what you need it to do that you can afford.

Learn the Technology — Learn how to use the platform you choose to use. Watch the training videos if they exist, and ensure that you know how to use the system no matter what happens. If you don’t want to learn the technology hire someone who does know it to run the event. There are many service providers who specialize in online events.

Test the technology — Do a run through of the entire event with the speakers (or stand-ins for the speakers if you can’t get them) and even a limited test audience to test audience participation tools and features. Ask for feedback from everyone. For the best feedback create a form or survey using a service like surveymonkey.com.

Technology Glitches Happen — No matter how you prepare remember that glitches will happen. Don’t stress out about it too much because most people who use technology realize that things happen. Just do your best to anticipate as many eventualities as you can so that you can be prepared.

Notify Participants — Send out a reminder to the participants, speakers, organizers and attendees before the event more than once. Sometimes people get confused about times, directions and time zones, by explaining everything to them more than one way, more than one time you will eliminate most problems.

Send out an Agenda — Have a written agenda that is given out to all the speakers, organizers, and attendees so that they know what to expect. It will help them be mindful of their time limits, and understand the schedule.

Be on time — It is essential that the organizer of the event and all the speakers / presenters are on time for the event. In fact, it is best if they arrive 5 to 10 minutes early in order to greet guests before the start of the virtual event.

Website Tools to Help You Capture More Leads

Autoresponders — You probably already have one, but you may not be using it to its full potential if you don’t understand everything that it can do. We’re talking software like Aweber.com, GetResponse.com, MailChimp.com and others. Just having it won’t capture leads; you have to also know how to use it properly.

Contact & Subscription Forms — Many autoresponder or email list services provide templates for generating forms, but you can also use other form services such as Formstack.com, Google Docs, and Formsite.com. You can go beyond what’s premade on your autoresponder and use your own.

Customer Relationship Management Software — No matter how badly you want it to be your autoresponder software and email list management software is not the same thing as a customer relationship management tool. Many CRMs work with your email list providers to create a better way to manage your customer relationships. Look at Insightly.com, Zoho CRM, and others. You can also look at systems that do both like Infusionsoft.com.

Google Hangouts On Air — This is a fabulous way to get the word out about a new product, service or event that you’re having. There is a lot to learn about Google Hangouts so you may need to do some practice runs or find an expert to help you but it’s a great way to connect with your audience pushing more leads to your website.

WordPress Plugins — A few that can help you bring in traffic, capture leads, convert leads and more are: WordPress Leads, WordPress landing Pages, OptinMonster.com, magicboxplugin.com and wp-livechat.com. Honestly, there are so many WP plugins that you can use to optimize your website for capturing leads that you can’t really list them all here. Start with these.

Canva.com — This is a nifty graphics generator that you can use for free with your own pictures, or use some of theirs for just a buck each, to generate terrific graphics for social media, presentations, blog graphics, Facebook covers and more. The reason this is so important is that you need to include visuals with your blog posts and social media updates to get noticed today. This makes it super simple.

Split Testing — You’ve hopefully heard of this but if you really want to improve your lead conversion rates so that you really can turn your website into a money maker, then you’ll need to practice split testing or A / B testing. You can use a variety of means to do this such as creating slightly different landing pages to see which one converts best, or different sign up forms, or offer different gifts. Practice makes perfect.

Finally, as they say: “Nothing is done until the paperwork is complete.” That’s true for your websites too. You must study your analytics to find out if what you’re doing is enough to get conversions. It’s good to know what is working and what is not working and you can’t know that without looking at and drilling down into the numbers. You can find out most of what you need to know using the free Google Analytics software available to all webmasters.

Understand the Buying Cycle of Your Audience

If you want to turn your business website into a lead machine and money magnet then it’s important to learn more about your audience. You can’t do the first thing from product creation, to landing page creation, to social media marketing without studying and understanding exactly who your audience is, what they want, and what they need.

Identify a Need, Problem, or Desire

Today most consumers understand that they have a need, problem or desire that they want filled, solved, or met. Once they identify that they turn straight to the Internet to conduct research about the issue before setting foot into a store or on a website to buy anything. According to research over 70 percent of people will look to websites to help get answers about every single stage of the buying process.

Seek Education Regarding Need, Problem or Desire

As they search for information they educate themselves not only on the need, problem or desire but also on the various solutions available. They watch videos, read blog posts, read articles and definitions. They look for groups, communities and others with whom they can relate. As a webmaster and business owner you need to ensure that you offer the education that your audience needs to help them determine how your solution is the right one.

Ask Other People Their Opinions

As they find solutions they ask their friends and colleagues for recommendation sand opinions about the information they’ve discovered. More education and discussion ensues about the need, problem or desire. Provide testimonials, recommendations, and information that will help lead people who need other people’s opinions to help them make a choice toward your product or service as their answer.

Check Out Recommendations

Once a few promising solutions have been discovered they go out and seek more information about the recommendations by reading articles, blog posts, and information about the creator of the solution. This is the point in which they often join mailing lists. Often if you have someone who is recommending you, in a testimonial on your site, your site visitor will click through or do a search on the person who gave the testimonial. Make sure it’s someone you want to represent you.

Make Purchase

Finally, once they feel trusting enough in the solution and solution provider they will make a purchase. After they make the purchase they are likely to share what they did with their friends and family as well as the new groups they’ve joined regarding their need, problem or desire. This is why ensuring that you offer real solutions and good customer service is imperative.

As you look through the buying cycle of the average customer today, how do you think your audience aligns with this cycle? Can your marketing and sales process match up to the buying cycle of your customers? Do you offer enough rich, quality content that pulls your audience into your marketing and sales funnel? Are the actions you take after they answer your call to action sufficient to continue the process?

Ways to generate revenue from your Virtual Event

Believe it or not there are many ways to make money from a virtual event. Sometimes the money you make is after the event happens, and sometimes during, and many times it is a combination of factors that enable you to earn money from having virtual events.

Sponsorships — Selling sponsorships is a great way to earn money on your virtual event. Choose sponsors that offer a benefit, discount, and value to your target audience. Be selective, limit the spots, and charge a premium.

You can also make requirements of your sponsors to promote your event, to announce their sponsorship with a badge on their site and more. There are ways to use the sponsorship to also promote the event by getting amazing value for your attendees.

Tickets — Many people have free events, but oftentimes this results in just having freebie seekers coming to the event. If you charge for the event, with great marketing, you can make quite a good income for the event even if the charge is low.

Imagine a 200 capacity conference room, charging only $5.00 each will result in a $1000 revenue from the event. Deciding your price point will take some research and knowledge of your target audience, and depend upon what you’re presenting.

It is important that if you’re selling tickets to an event that the event be more than a way to up sell other products and give something of true value to the attendees. When people are paying for an event they expect to get something amazing out of it.

Up-selling — By offering sneak-peeks and bonuses for attendees that offer discounts on other products and services that you and the speakers / presenters offer can go far in getting new clients and customers and add substantially to your bottom line.

If you charged for the event be very careful how you approach this. Most people are used to getting a coupon with a percent or set amount off for a new purchase so this will probably be a fine thing to do. Giving bonus products such as free eReports, eBooks, a recording of the event, plus a transcription of the event.

After — When the event is over, the attendees have received their copy, those who paid received their copy, now you can sell the event, forever, over and over again as a download. Imagine that you can get paid for creating an information product that you can sell over and over again in various forms from a recording of the event to the transcript of the event.

If your event is super successful and you kept track along the way, you can even sell the planning and conducting of the event as a virtual events case study “How To” guide. Events can also be broken up. If you had several speakers you can break each part up into a separate product with extras such as check lists, questionnaires, and more added to the product. There are so many ways you can repackage each event only your imagination stands in your way.

Optimize Your Landing Pages to Get More Leads

If you want more leads, there is more to it than simply bringing in traffic to your website. Not only do you need to bring in targeted traffic often, but you also need to convert them to people who want to provide their information to you. There are only a few ways to do this and they all have to do with building trust. If you have a lousy landing page design you won’t get past the first click.

You Only Have Seconds to Impress — Most people click through to a website’s landing page and give it just a second or two before they click away. If you want people to stick around on your page long enough to sign up for your email list you’re going to have to realize what’s at stake and how little time you really have to impress them.

Don’t Overdo Your Landing Pages — Simple and clean is better than busy and overwrought, and there is new thought going into creating shorter more simple landing pages. A great idea is to create a separate landing page for the different places you’ve supplied a link back to your site whether it’s an advertisement, social media clicks, or from a blog post — but keeping the design simple and the message straight forward.

Understand Your Unique Selling Proposition — What makes you different from anyone else who is selling what you’re selling? How does your product or service approach the problem differently than the next guy? If your visitor clicked through from an article about learning how to create an excel spreadsheet, and went to a blog post on bathing kittens they would not be that impressed. It’s important to answer your prospects questions so that they immediately know your position.

Know What Your Goals Are — When you run and advertisement or place a guest blog post, or do an interview, or perform at a speaking engagement do you know what your goals are? If you don’t, then you should work on that. Knowing why you want people to visit your site, or listen to you speak, is one in the same. You can’t fulfill your goals if you can’t answer what they are.

Focus on Building Relationships — People like to buy from those whom they know, like and trust. If you can be someone that your audience trusts, because you have demonstrated trust by not sending them to an article about cats when they wanted to find out how to build spreadsheets, they will be intrigued enough to keep learning about you and clicking through to other parts of your website.

Be Consistent With Your Message — Whatever your overarching message is, it’s imperative that you are always consistent with the message. For instance, if you are a food blogger, and you are against using soy products, but you sell a weekly menu planner which lists soy products as some of the ingredients, you will confuse your audience. If you outsource some of the work it’s on you to ensure that your message is consistent by giving clear information to your contractors, then checking and double checking to ensure the message is coherent.

Don’t Forget the Call To Action — Even if you have your sign up form in 10 places, and as a pop up and pop under on your website if you’re not clear about what you want your audience to do when they get to your site and read your message, they’re not going to do anything. Every single article or video on your website should end with a call to action. Every. Single. Time.

Finally, for the first sign up form, don’t make it too complicated. Even when someone gives you their initial information they aren’t sure yet if they totally trust you. Take their name and email address and later you can get more information from them as you convert them from leads to customers and start making money.

Lead Generating Optimization Tips for Your Website

In spite of all the social media out there, your website is still the number one way of generating leads. But, to generate leads on a regular basis you must start thinking of your website as a lead generating money magnet and not just a brochure about your business. To generate leads on a regular basis you need to bring in targeted traffic, develop an extraordinary landing page, offer visitors something of value, and then follow up.

Bring in Targeted Traffic

The only way to bring in targeted traffic is to do the research necessary to understand who your audience is, and how they choose to purchase. Use many different means to get more people to your website such as social media, blog posts, video, contests, pay per click advertising and more. Ensure that your efforts are focused on your target audience addressing their pain points and showing how you might solve them.

Develop an Extraordinary Landing Page

You can bring in all the traffic you want to but if your landing pages are not effective and made with the audience in mind from where they are coming, you will probably lose more of them than you need to. Create more than one landing page to your website that is directly focused on the portion of the audience that clicked in a certain place to visit your site. For instance, the link to the landing page on a guest blog post on ABC blog should be just for people visiting from ABC blog.

Offer Something of Value

You’ve heard about giving away free things before but you must do it in a much more focused fashion than you might image. You don’t want to give away just anything for free. You want to choose something that only your target audience would want. After all, if you’re giving away a free iPad, you will get thousands of visitors and sign ups, but you might have zero who are really your target audience and the entire campaign will be a wasted expense.

Run Retargeting Advertisements

If you have site visitors who don’t sign up for your email list, you need to do something else to attract them, such as paying for retargeting advertising. This means that you can run an advertisement on Facebook, for instance, that will only show up to people who have previously visited your website. This is a very effective and powerful way to bring people back to your website so that you have a second chance.

Finally, the most important part of getting more leads is to follow up. When you do get a lead, you want to make the lead pay off. Following up is the only way to turn the lead into a money generator. It costs time and money to capture that lead, don’t waste the effort on getting the leads if you’re not going to have a plan in place to convert those leads into money makers.

Why You Should Launch Your Own Affiliate Program

What if there was a way to reach more potential customers in a shorter amount of time?
And what if you could spend more time focusing on your actual business rather than
trying to market it? What if you could make more money by spending less? Well, there is
a way, you can and you will!

By launching your own affiliate marketing program you will have the opportunity to
reach a greater audience and grow your customer base through a well-equipped team of
affiliate marketers. You can’t possibly reach your entire market on your own, but you can
certainly reach a greater percentage through the help of affiliate marketers who work for
you. Their goal is to sell your business and your product while you focus your efforts on
what’s really important like creating your product, maintaining client relationships and
building relationships with industry peers.

An affiliate marketing program is a cost-effective, reliable way for your business to
achieve exponential growth that can only occur when you have a dedicated team working
for you. And the best part is, it requires little to no investment at all. You will need to
purchase a quality affiliate management program, but other than initial start-up costs
(which are minimal) you only stand to make money. A well managed, well executed
affiliate marketing program is not only a great business tool, it is a great way to bring in
additional revenue and grow your business beyond what you have ever imagined.

Get More Leads With Your Website

Your website is still the hub of your online business. It’s where all traffic should be sent from social media, guest blog posts, pay per click advertising, social networking, (off line and on). Once the traffic gets to your website though, your audience needs to know what to do next, otherwise they’re not going to be converted to a real lead.

Optimize Your Landing Pages

In reality most people do not find your website and get taken to your “home” page. Well, you hope not. You really want people finding your site through various landing pages that you will create based on where you are posting links back to your site, whether that is social media, guest blog posts, or pay per click advertisements.

Focus on the Visitor of One

Your landing pages should be optimized with the visitor in mind. That way you can speak directly to the type of client who would go to a particular website or blog, read your article, then click through to your site. Plus, it’s going to make it easier to find out if your efforts are working if you can easily tell where your traffic is originating.

Provide Enough Information for Your Visitors

People shop differently today than they used to. Today, people identify a need, then they do research before they ever talk to a single sales person, about the products they want. They go to the Internet, search for the product, or ask a question based on their problem — then after they find the answers, and they look at many variations of answers, then and only then do they get into buying mode. Be informative and educational.

Focus on Benefits Over Features

You’ve heard it said before, people care about what’s in it for them and that is still true. When you are giving your audience information it should be focused only on them and what they want and need, not on you or how you’ll do it. They don’t care. They really just want to know how they can fix their issues and solve their problems and they want to know and trust that what you’re offering will work.

Put Your Signup Form in Multiple Areas

Don’t only put your sign up form in one spot on your website. Put them at the end of blog posts, articles and other information. Put sign up forms in your check out process. Whenever you can find a way to get people to sign up to receive more information you should do it. It might seem like more work to put a sign up form at the end of your blog posts but with the right plugin you can make sure it happens automatically.

Finally, make sure that everything you do focuses on your target audience so that the visitors you bring to your site are the right audience. That way, if you choose to offer a free gift for signing up for your newsletter only your target audience will want it. Plus, once you collect the information for the lead, always follow up. That’s the only way the lead will become a customer.