When considering all of the tools available to us as marketers, it’s fair to assume that we all head towards the data. That’s right, I want the cold, hard statistics and I want to use them for many strategies.
But what if the data doesn’t QUITE match up to your business, or in our case, client? To put this into context, we have a client that works in a niche, yet topical industry. They operate in a B2B, industrial arena, yet the customer facet of the industry generates a lot search volume for the same terms, and the long tail keywords are geared towards consumer searches rather then searches from their corporate audience.
So, after gathering data from my firm favourites – Google Trends, AHRefs, Google Analytics and Answer the Public – I delved into, a somewhat under-utilised avenue – forums.
Forums are some of the most active places on the internet for individuals to ask and answer questions and discuss topics about specific products, services or industries. There are some NICHE forums out there, and there a number of ways that you can use them in your marketing.
Using forums for content marketing purposes
There are a number of ways in which you can use forums. From research for content marketing, including copy, messaging and topics to be used in blog, digital PR, on-page, email and social strategies too.
Forums are THE place for those within an industry or interested in a product or service to gather and voice their thoughts or ask questions.
Stay with me…
Questions that they may have previously searched online but resulted to a forum because they weren’t met with relevant results. Using these topics to build content around and using the questions asked as long-tail keywords/search queries, you can start to create content specifically for your audience.
Of course, you can blend this information with other data you have gathered to create a comprehensive, well-optimised piece of content. Once the content has been published on your website, you can return to said forums, responding and posting a link to your content, as well as outreaching to relevant publications and sites that your audience will also be using, promoting on your social platforms and using in email marketing as top-of-the-funnel content.
You can also use these forums to test content, or if you so wish, new ideas for products or services. A word of warning though – develop a thick skin. Especially when using Reddit – those threads can be BRUTAL. Sure, it can be a rough ride sometimes, but often the end result is worth it.
All jokes aside, forums are a useful place for you to test content and receive constructive feedback from a small segment of your audience before publishing, promoting or pitching them to press.
In this case it’s always useful to have the time to interact and build relationships with the users before and after asking them for their thoughts.
Using forums for brand awareness
Even if you don’t want to use forums right now for research and content purposes, they are a great place for you to raise your brand awareness directly in front of your audience.
By being active on industry forums and responding to questions and discussions with valuable and actionable insights, you can raise the profile of your brand and build trusting relationships, turning them into loyal brand ambassadors. You can also, of course, generate traffic to your site.
Using forums to address complaints and concerns gives you the opportunity to turn any negative situations into positive ones and keep on top of your brand perception.
Using forums for brand community and management
What is stopping you from creating your own forum?
Why not create a space that facilitates your audience in this way. By acting as the moderator, you and your team respond quickly and concisely, providing the information required and using the threads and forum as a strategy to nurture individuals through to leads and finally, customers.
By interacting with users in this way, you will build your brand’s credibility and create a community of brand advocates. Having another domain associated with your name could also increase your visibility in the SERPS and increase traffic, especially when you link to content on your website.
There may be some SEO considerations and this strategy would require a considered and methodical approach; we advise seeking advice from a marketing professional before building a forum.
If you would like more information on using forums or using content marketing to generate inbound leads through various strategies, please get in contact with a member of the Media Matters team today.