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How can forums hurt you if not managed properly?

Category: B2B News

The idea of setting up an online forum is one of the effective ways of opening up a corner for productive discussion. There are numerous forums that initiate discussions over the general issues or the common ambiguities about a specific niche.

The general forums are educational that are not primarily created for getting business leads and conversions, but it proves to be a great source of traffic for relevant businesses. For every common issue, there is a solution in shape of a product or service.

The students seeking guidance about their career can log into these forums and ask the experts about a reliable institute. Thus, it gives the educational institutes an opportunity to come into limelight. So, the online businesses can reach out to readers to help them with a product or service.

In terms of SEO, a backlink from a relevant forum contributes a lot in improving Alexa, PageRank and other ranking metrics. The digital marketers are always on the lookout for authentic links that are earned naturally from different platforms. And, forums prove to be a fruitful platform for linking to your website through user mentions, suggestions, and recommendations.

The significance of managing an onsite forum

Forums have a significant role in educating your customers. It is a cumbersome job to search active forums, create your profile, earn points by answering people, build an authority, and getting a link after a continuous struggle of three to six months.

To cut the procedure short, most of the businesses start a forum right on their root domain. It allows them to create threats of commonly asked questions, provide best answers and encourage other users to share their experiences as well.  

Every eCommerce website has the option to run a forum parallel to its shopping platform. There are tools and extensions that allow merchants to create a discussion corner on the same website rather than managing a separate domain, hosting and a user interface.

The selection of tools and extension depends on the eCommerce platform you use. The Magento users have a wide collection of tools to select from. Forum Magento Extension is a worth mentioning tool to start posting threads and continue a helpful discussion right on your business website. Whereas, WooCommerce and PrestaShop need to find an alternative solution that is compatible with their application version.

How can forums hurt your business if not managed?

A forum on a business website appeals the users as they are hopeful to find an answer to their specific query in the abundance of topics and thread. A merchant will never want a user to leave his website just because his or her problem wasn’t solved.

With the help of a forum, users can seek assistance and support and freely interact with the experts as well as other members. An eCommerce website can brew lots of benefits from a forum, but it can be devastating if not managed properly. Following are some of the adverse effects if you abandon a forum soon after its initiation.

Spam results in an adverse user experience

The forums have to continuously deal with spamming. It is a never ending experience for the moderators. Despite, the frequent Google algorithm for spam activities and the millions of website it has penalized for malicious link building activities, still people are intruding the forum with useless comments.

If you are managing a forum on your business website, you are required to create strict controls to keep spammers away from your platform. Additionally, you will be required to keep a close eye on every participant and the way he or she comments on a thread. If not managed properly, these spammers can populate the threads for no reason, which may result in a decline user activity.

In addition to the onsite forum, we often participate in other discussion platforms to attract users and earn backlinks. Managing user profiles for these websites is always difficult, as they have strict rules of creating a thread or participating in the already created ones. Avoid explicit promotion of your products; else they will block your profile that is backed by an effort of minimum two months.

There are several ways of managing your onsite forum for spam. You can restrict spam users right on the registration page. You can add custom fields or a mandatory captcha to the sign-up forms so that a user goes through the preliminary spam checks. If your online forum is powered by WooCommerce, then WordPress custom registration form can prove a helpful plugin in personalizing the sign-up procedure. Remove the unwanted fields, simplify it with relevant options, and incorporate a human check to make sure spammers stay away from your website.

Conversion declines due to old content

The members of any forum strive for fresh and appealing content. They tend to visit forums of their interest to find something new. For example, your brand followers would like to know about latest arrivals, discounts, deals, or valuable tips regularly. But, if you fail to deliver them the content they expect, they will stop visiting the forum anymore, which will result in conversion declines.

The core reason of having a forum is to boost sales by helping users clarify ambiguities through discussions. A merchant enjoys a higher conversion rate until he initiates fresh topics around his products or service. If the on-site forum is not kept active, the conversion will drop significantly.

Users’ conflict

A forum helps you establish a brand identity. People who are really interested in buying your products feels satisfied after asking a question in the forum and knowing from the existing customers. The moderator needs to be vigilant is a forum member sabotages your brand images. He can be your unhappy customer or a competitor. These issues can prove problematic when you struggle for a positive change, but some of the users negate it with derogatory remarks.

The on-site forums are generally created to provide a healthy discussion forum. So, it shall not be used for explicit promotion or advertising. Users are here to know about the features and benefits of your products, how it works and lots of other things. Avoid creating threads that direct users to visit a page or checkout for products, else other members will start mentioning other products which will may your corporate image.

Final Thoughts

A forum opens a two-way communication medium on your eCommerce website. It gives the users a reason to connect with your support team as they need an instant and authentic answer. In comparison emails or phone calls, a forum boasts a lot of expert answers to a question which not only help them understanding an issue but also encourage them to ask anything further. Whether you are managing an onsite or building a profile on other platforms, it is always difficult to manage them. You always have to struggle with the spam threads and comments. The safe passage for any merchant is to stay vigilant in posting and moderating the discussions. On a related note, you can also read our insightful article on how to overcome eCommerce challenges

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

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