The ROI in Forum and Comment Marketing

by Jason Acidre on October 21, 2013 · 43 comments · Content, Search, Social


Building and earning visibility through conversations has proven itself to be a very result-oriented approach in online marketing.

Sharing your knowledge and expertise on online communities doesn’t just help you build links (that get clicked more often than not), but it also allows you to build a strong brand presence that will let people in your industry know that you really know your stuff.

And best of all, it can also help you generate leads/sales directly.

Examples

To start off, I’ll throw a couple of samples of how I personally gained from just being active on some of the biggest online communities in the SEO industry in the past.

Note: My links’ actual conversion data (from early 2010 – June 2013) has been wiped out when Google Analytics’ new interface was launched earlier this month.

A few years back, my blog marketing strategy heavily relied on building conversations on other sites (particularly those that I knew where my target customers are) – and I believe they really paid off.

For instance, I used to be active on Warrior Forum in the early days of my blogging career (in which I have contributed 173 forum posts).

Warrior Forum

Over the span of 3 months, I’ve managed to get a few service inquiries:

warrior-conversions

And I was able to work on 2 good projects (for $500/month – that was my monthly rate before).

tony bianco

So if I had a total of 173 forum posts, which could have taken me 2 minutes to make each post (a total of 346 minutes or 5.8 hours), and say I’m paying myself $20/hour. Then the total investment I made for this specific task would be $116.

The return was two $500/month worth of projects. Not bad for an investment right?

Another sample would be my current presence on Inbound.org (being one of the community’s top users).

inbound.org

Which definitely have generated a lot of business leads for Xight Interactive for the past several months:

inbound-conversions

It has been much easier to close deals with prospected clients coming from this community, since they already know what type of service they are looking to get.

inbound-inquiry

Other than getting service leads, it also helps me scale my marketing efforts, as I get more linking opportunities – seeing that other community members perceive my brand as an authority in the field.

link opportunity

Calculating the amount of efforts I’ve done vs. the results I got (as a business owner) was definitely satisfying.

I’ve already shared 1,545 articles on Inbound.org (although I’m not saying it’s about the quantity of your contribution). So let’s say it takes me a minute to share a single post on the site – which actually isn’t, since I believe it’s just a few seconds (a total of 1,545 minutes or 25.8 hours). Then I’ve already spent $516 worth of my time on contributing to Inbound.org (if say I’m paying myself 20 bucks per hour).

The returns were I was able to close a lot of new client inquiries and got more marketing firepower for my blog’s brand – which I can truly say a win/win.

Improving your conversational marketing strategy

Like any other marketing strategy/tactic, conversational marketing also has a few best practices of its own.

Generosity is key.

The more you add value to the discussions or give valuable information to other people in your target communities, the more you can:

  • Make your brand and contributions appear more authentic.
  • Build an authoritative identity for your brand.
  • Standout in discussions that really matter (increases click-through visitors).
  • Help and influence other people.
  • Build better relationships and become more linkable.

I know some people in our industry who have been really generous in sharing their ideas/knowledge, which I think have helped a lot in establishing themselves as an authority in the field.

One perfect example would be Benj Arriola (of Internet Marketing Inc.), who has been so generous in giving people advice (whether it’s on a forum or in a Facebook group).

benj

Invest more time on communities that will actually drive results

Participate on blogs, forums, social network groups and other online communities in your industry that really matter. Choose the communities that have:

  • A strong search share (to ensure that your contributions will be seen by their constantly growing search-driven visitors).
  • Large traffic, an active community and majority of it is your target audience.

Scaling your conversational marketing efforts

There are also a few things that you can do to make the most out of your forum and comment marketing campaigns, such as:

Hire smart people to do the community infiltration for you

If you have a great in-house team that really knows how your product/service(s) work (your sales or marketing people), then adding these small tasks of participating to online discussions can tremendously help you build a solid sales funnel. Just imagine if they can just do this for 15 minutes every day, right?

I’ve been working with Affilorama for the past 3 years, and I know that they’re support and sales team do this on their free time.

Always measure

Check the top referring online communities that are driving conversions on your website (via Google Analytics). Spend more time on the ones that are really working.

Give product samples to other active community members

Get to know the other active users in your target communities, especially those who’re already/somehow considered to be an authority (but not the moderators).

Give them free samples of your products, as these can help you:

  • Get more inputs on how you can further improve your product (which can make your brand more link-worthy in the future).
  • Build rapport with the people who really care about your industry – and eventually build brand evangelists who can voluntarily promote your content within the communities they are active in.

Build more non-linking brand mentions

Instead of aiming for links when using this approach, use conversations to mainly amplify your online branding efforts. Because there are ton of advantages in doing this, such as:

  • It reduces the chances of getting flagged as a spammer (especially on forums), when you’re slightly promoting your own products.
  • It can cultivate more branded search (given that you didn’t provide a link) – which is a very powerful signal that search engines use to determine strong brands.

forumpost

  • Search engines can understand these non-linking brand mentions (through phrase-based indexing and the concept of co-occurrence), which means they will most likely count them as votes for your website to have better ranking ability on search results.

For more tips on comment marketing, watch the video below from one of Rand’s Whiteboard Fridays.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris October 21, 2013 at 7:13 am

Nice Post Jason and if you are looking for traffic data pre-July

In GA under the acquisition tab go to > all traffic > secondary dimension > landing page

You’ll have to export them to filter etc.

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Jason Acidre October 21, 2013 at 7:56 am

Cool! thanks for the tip Chris, didn’t know that (and for dropping by)!

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Stephan October 21, 2013 at 9:44 am

Nice post,
I think this is a good strategy for you to make more relationship and get more traffic easily also.
thanks for your sharing

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Mariz October 23, 2013 at 12:37 am

I agree. This is way too great. I must try this.

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Stuart October 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Great post Jason, would be interesting to see the interaction over time – I’ve found as you get more authority in a specific community your conversion rates increase dramatically (due to the trust factor).

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Joe Smith October 21, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Yes, measuring as we involve in marketing is very important to have an idea on where we stand in spending/earning. The strategies that you have mentioned are good and you seem to have a lot of experience in what you do. Thanks for sharing.
Joe

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Lalit Burma@SubmissionWork.Com October 21, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Hey Jason, Good Morning

Like the way you describe everything with examples and stats in your every post, that’s your signature style, and its always help to get the clear picture of what we are reading.

In my opinion – another key factor here is doing everything on consistent basis. If you did some great guest post on forums or blogs for few weeks and disappear than this is not going to help. To put your name as brand into your reader’s mind, I think we need to do it on consistent basis.

What do you say Jason ?

“consistent flow of wind can give shape to mountains”

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Dawn@Integrity Media Corp. October 21, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Great post Jason! The content helped us a lot to make our marketing efforts through forums and commenting more effective. It also enabled us to reach our targets in getting the desired traffic for our website.

Have a great week Jason!

-Dawn

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Zenelia October 22, 2013 at 4:28 am

hey jason well you always write very informative and helpful posts…and this also make +1 to your valuable posts…and yes I am completely agree with your thoughts over forum engagement and comment marketing…and if you are good enough to engage the readers then that will surely result to a better ROI…..
So on my personal behalf I would request you to share a bit over webinar as I am studying about it and want to know more and interesting facts over webinar

Thanks for sharing such valuable posts
Keep posting

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Frank October 23, 2013 at 5:22 am

Nice post.
Thanks for Sharing your experiences!

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Joseph de Souza October 23, 2013 at 5:42 am

Another useful article which deals with comment marketing, message board ideas as well as several other marketing ideas for Small Marketing Budgets id by Neil Patel of Quicksprout : http://www.quicksprout.com/2011/09/08/21-big-marketing-ideas-for-small-marketing-budgets/

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Brett October 23, 2013 at 8:36 am

Nice to see somebody crunching the numbers as to the ROI from posting on forums. I’ve done quite well from forum posting over the years – once you get to 1000+ posts somewhere then you’ve really made a name for yourself.

Please check out findaforum.net as well – there are over 800 huge forums to post on (and the number is growing daily).

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David October 23, 2013 at 11:55 am

Traffic and roi is what all we are looking for. thanks for enlightening about this topic. cheers!

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Liudas Butkus October 23, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Great blog post. I’m not too active on different communities though I read tons of blog posts lately all talking how this can really be helpful for your business. I think I need to make a shift.

Also, I wanted to ask about Inbound.org. I just logged in there and found out that I got banned ( probably for mostly posting my own links). I wanted to ask how do you market there? What do you share? Your own content or mostly others? Or you focus on leaving comments there?…

And the video was also really helpful :)

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Lana October 24, 2013 at 12:45 am

Does linking your blog name or the author name make any impact?

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Arbaz October 25, 2013 at 7:01 am

That’s great strategy. Building relationships and staying active on forums and other promotional sites surely help you in getting some recognition and new clients that would be willing to pay you. Thanks for sharing this information with us :)

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Vukasin October 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Very nice post Jason. I will definitely check Inbound.org as you are getting lot of traffic from it. Do you have any tip before I start using it?

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Michelle October 25, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Excellent post, Jason, thanks for this!

Don’t you think the length of the comment is as important as the comment itself? I sometimes see blog comments that are like 1,000-word strong and I see that as a turn-off rather than adding value to the original post.

What’s your opinion on this?

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Brandon@PageRankWorld October 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Awesome post — it’s funny, this type of marketing is currently driving 100% of my conversions.

I’ve been doing something wrong when it comes to keyword research or maybe just my SEO efforts in general, and I’m getting a 0% conversion from search traffic, but on the other hand I’m getting around a 2% conversion rate from forum marketing/comments on other people’s sites.

Thanks!
Brandon

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Sef October 27, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Great post Jason, spending time on discussion boards or channels can make a difference as it’s always viewed by your target audience. Just one question, why you didn’t include your ROI in guest blogging? I’m sure you’ve got it doubled ajeje

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Jamesseochicago October 29, 2013 at 10:38 am

Interesting thoughts here. Maintaining your brand reputation over time is ideal and a great way to showcase your expertise. Working through Social, I think there’s a tremendous opportunity to intersect these two points.

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James Parker November 3, 2013 at 7:56 am

This is a great post. Building and maintaining a brand of yourself through forums and commenting is a really great things. I have never worked with forums but I am thinking of getting started with it soon.
Thanks for sharing all the tips through this article with us :)

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Alexandra Petean-Nicola November 4, 2013 at 1:02 am

I do think that sharing your ideas right were they are needed the most is what helps a business the most. For example I take time to engage on different G+ communities and try to give them answers where I know the solution. And people appreciate this.

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Kenneth Villegas November 7, 2013 at 9:58 am

I agree with you Kaiser!Your knowledge in this industry is superb, that’s why you are getting more clients. But comment marketing is not for all especially if you are not that good enough to share something useful or helpful to other members of the community. Unlike you, you gave an in depth knowledge about online marketing/SEO. In return, members would give a good feedback from you because of your knowledge. Thanks for posting!

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STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION) November 9, 2013 at 9:34 am

Jason, thanks for the tips from this well drafted post. I have done this at legal Q&A forums and it has helped a lot. But boy is it time consuming.

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diwaker November 9, 2013 at 11:08 am

hi JASON,

Great post and very nicely written. Actually when you want to work anything online you have to create your brand by posting on forum , commenting on site or blogs and posting on social networking sites etc.

thanks for sharing

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Jamesseochicago November 14, 2013 at 11:34 am

Great post! Never though that you could measure the ROI of comments!

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John November 15, 2013 at 6:03 am

Hi Jason,

I like your approach, though I think that 2 min for a useful post in a good forum is not realistic…but maybe I am just a bit slow;)

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Olga November 20, 2013 at 3:14 am

Hi Jason,

This is what I observe with my activities in driving traffic as well. Forums and other community boards do work. The payoff is proportional to the time and effort you invest. The key to success here is to find the right board, the one where many folks from your target audience reside in. For SEO/Internet marketing industry it’s definitely warriorforum you mentioned.

Inbound.org is a fascinating place as well.

That’s amazing you shared these emails from leads that loved your shares on inbound and thus decided to hire you. I had no idea it works that way!

All the best,
Olga

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Parag Patel December 2, 2013 at 5:10 am

When we will consider exactly how should we help other on forum then it will good however the primary factor is the fact that can we get take advantage of there. To be sure that this information is related going to content but exactly how should we impressed the moderator which only think his forum only business.

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Abhijit Gupta December 4, 2013 at 1:42 am

This is a very interesting post on forum comment marketing. I really learned a lot from yours blog. Forum commenting is a really great thing. This will surely help me in future. Thanks for this tips.

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Sai Krishna December 6, 2013 at 9:35 am

Thank you for sharing your research result here, few weeks back I planned to create a forum and work hard on it, but due to my doubts on ROI i stopped that project.

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Nikhil Jain December 9, 2013 at 6:09 am

Great post, and thanks for sharing this. This will definitely go into a special place in my bookmarks! On the subject of forum commenting that drives ROI, I’ve made similar efforts to incorporate this into my marketing efforts and discovered that generosity REALLY is the key to success. If everyone contributed extensively, it will bring value to the community without having it cheapened because that’s the situation with some forums now. I won’t name names but it’s just the way it is, from my observation, at least.

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MaryX December 14, 2013 at 8:52 am

Some forum posting companies/websites such as E07.net, paidforumposter are earning really good money, because it is demanded, it is a form of advertisement instead of link building.

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