Do you want to take your lead generation and nurturing campaigns to the next level? One way to increase the engagement of your visitors is to have them participate in an active community. Not only will an online forum spark discussion regarding your brand, it will also give your users a reason to keep coming back – giving new content free exposure.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be Mark Zuckerberg to design a platform that will nurture an active community. Below are the tools you need to build, run, and maintain your own online forum without having to write code.
If you built your startup’s website DIY-style, then there’s a good chance you chose WordPress to be your core CMS. In which case, the simplest way to build a forum for your site is to use bbPress – a free plugin that integrates directly with your main dashboard. Once activated, you can then create multiple forum sections like products, community support, general topics, and so on.
Although bbPress has everything you need to build and manage your online community, you can choose a more comprehensive community platform like vBulletin. This gives you access to useful features such as account security, member groups, polls, and a number of other add-ons.
Despite the depth of community and personalization features available in vBulletin, it’s surprisingly easy to setup and use. Everything can be modified and managed from a single control panel. And just like bbPress, it can be used to provide your users with community-driven support.
Muut is the third option you should consider if you want to build an online forum section in your business website. It’s a tad more advanced than bbPress in terms of features, but it doesn’t have the high price tag that comes with vBulletin. In fact, the forever free plan of Muut already allows you to accommodate unlimited users and personalize your forum to fit your branding.
The Muut platform focuses on empowering discussions, whether through desktop or mobile, to keep customers coming back. Product photos, company news, blog posts – everything hosted on yours site becomes open to user comments. And to top it all off, everything is presented in an organized, clean, and functional way.
As your online community amasses users, it’ll eventually take its toll on your hosting platform, especially if you cater to thousands of members from different parts of the world. To preserve the performance of your website, you can use Inxy to reroute traffic through a globally-distributed network of servers.
Remember that having a slow website is a surefire way to annoy your users and ruin the reputation of your startup’s brand. According to statistics, nearly half of online visitors will immediately click away from a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. By running your website through a CDN, you can keep your online community alive even during busy times.
Wherever there’s opportunity to post comments, there will always be spammers who will ruin the experience of legitimate users. Although third-party platforms like Muut and vBulletin has built-in anti-spam features, bbPress relies on additional plugins like CleanTalk to stop bots from flooding your forums.
Having an online forum in your business website can significantly shorten the sales cycle. This is because your active community members, which comprise of your administrators and active users, provide a warm environment that boosts the confidence of new leads in your brand. With OptinMonster, you can take customer relationships a step further by promptly asking them to subscribe to your newsletter.
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