Website forums go by many names: community discussion groups, members’ help areas, message boards, and so on. If you’ve never thought about adding a forum to your website, it might be time to reconsider. By bringing users or customers together in a place where they can ask and answer questions and air opinions, they bring a wide range of benefits. Here we examine what they are.
What is a forum?
A forum is an internet messaging board that focuses on the discussion of a particular subject. You will often find that the topics being discussed in a forum are related to the subject matter of the website to which it is attached. For example, at eukhost, as we are a web hosting company, we have a Web Hosting Forum where people can discuss all aspects of web hosting, including asking questions about the services we offer.
The benefits of installing a website forum
Forums typically attract two kinds of users: those that ask the questions and those that know the answers. This makes them ideal places for your website’s users to get support on a whole host of topics related to your business. What many forums allow you to do is give users rankings based on the number of contributions that they make. This enables you to promote those who answer questions, and this kudos can lead them to take on voluntary customer support roles. As a result, you are able to extend your customer support and reduce the burden on your support team.
Once people start to make use of a forum, you’ll find that your website gets lots of new content every day. Fresh content shows Google that your website is regularly updated and as its user-generated, that your site is considered useful by its visitors and that its content is authentic – all of which can help boost search engine rankings. Even better, as the subject matter being discussed is relevant to your website, you’ll find that the content users create is rich in the keywords you want to rank for.
While it may seem counterproductive to create a forum where people are allowed to criticise your business, in reality, it can actually improve the reputation of the brand. Enabling people to have their say shows that you have nothing to hide and that you are a transparent and trustworthy business. Of course, you will need to respond to any criticism, but doing so will show that you are a company that cares, and this can help with retaining existing and gaining new customers.
Learn about your business
Following on from the section above, if forum contributors do make criticisms about your business, it enables you to discover issues that you might previously have been unaware of. This allows you the opportunity to make changes that will make your products and services even better for your customers. By monitoring the discussions on your forum, you will be able to gain greater insight into how your business is perceived by your customers and where its strengths and weaknesses lie. At the same time, the emergence of new problems will give you the chance to address them quickly.
Read through any forum and you’ll find lots of users talking about things that could make their experience better. Wouldn’t it be great if we could track delivery? If only these boots came with a spare pair of laces. Would be much better if I didn’t have to update manually. You get the idea! Just as you can use a forum to help discover problems, you can also find it an incredible source of inspiration for how to drive your company forward. If someone has a suggestion for improvement and others in the discussion agree, you already have a blueprint for innovation that you know will be a winner as far as customers are concerned.
Gain new customers
Forum content can be indexed by search engines and appear in search results. As a result, it can attract visitors who are not your customers but who are searching for solutions that your business may offer. These people may become regular visitors to the forum as a source of helpful information and if they value your forum content, they are also likely to value your brand and visit the rest of your website. This can result in new customers and increased sales.
If you haven’t considered the value of a website forum before, hopefully, the benefits discussed in this post will have made you reconsider. With an active forum, you can provide customer support, boost SEO, discover and fix problems, find new ways to improve your products and services and gain new customers.
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