There are so many different ways you can promote products as an affiliate. There are paid methods and free methods. There are methods that produce results quickly and methods that take a longer period of time to pay off. One of the most exciting methods, in my opinion, is forum marketing.
There’s something incredible about belonging to a forum. In many ways, the most active members of a forum become like family. Working online can be isolating and belonging to a forum makes it so much less so.
There’s a lot of relationship building that happens on forums. And while this isn't about relationship building on forums, that’s a big part of using forums for marketing. People buy from those they know, like, and trust. People buy from those who are “in the know” and have a reputation as an authority figure. That’s exactly what can happen when you become active in a forum (or more than one forum).
As an affiliate marketer, it’s your goal to interact with your target audience. You want to put your link in front of those who are most likely to click through and buy what you’re promoting. That’s how you get paid, after all.
How to Choose the Right Forum
One of the most important parts of this is choosing the right forum in the first place. You have to find one that’s very targeted to what you’re promoting. There are bound to be great forums out there in your niche.
Which one is the most active? For effective affiliate marketing on forums, it’s important to choose one that’s highly trafficked. Ideally, there should be a constant stream of new threads and replied-to threads.
Some forums and niches are more active than others. You want to get the best results for the time you spend.
Note that some forums are dedicated to more general topics while others are dedicated to narrower topics. Consider what will work best for your goals and what you’re promoting. It might be the case that joining a more general forum is the right move because there will be plenty of ways for you to interact and connect with people as well as more chances to promote related products down the line.
Do a search for great forums. Make sure it meets all criteria before you sign up and start investing a lot of time into it.
Proper Etiquette for Marketing on Forums
I’m a longtime forum owner so of course proper forum etiquette is important to me. Never would I recommend that you join forums just to spam them. Never join and just start posting your link everywhere. That’s definitely not what this is all about.
One of the first things you should do is familiarize yourself with the culture of any forum you’re interested in. That means signing up, reading popular threads, paying attention to how the most active members present themselves, and reading the rules of the forum. Every forum you encounter will have its own culture and way of doing things—it’s important to respect and understand that or you’re not going to get very far at all with your forum marketing.
Be friendly and open with forum members, especially when you're new. Some will view you with an air of suspicion until you’ve proven yourself and that’s okay. Be who you are, be helpful, and show that you’re ready and willing to become an active and beloved participant of the forum.
How to Use Your Affiliate Link on a Forum without Making People Angry
I've mentioned already that I don’t recommend you join a forum and just start tossing your affiliate link around. That will make people (extremely) angry and you’re not going to make any sales anyway.
First, take a look at the rules. Are you even allowed to use affiliate links? Are you allowed to self-promote on the forum threads at all? Often, the answer is no—even on marketing forums. This comes as a result of forum owners having to deal with too many shady affiliate links.
Generally, you’ll only be allowed to use your link within your signature file. Most of the time, that link can’t be an affiliate link. So, what’s an affiliate supposed to do? The easy answer is to redirect your link, but that’s not really good marketing anyway because you’re doing nothing to presell your audience before they see the sales page. You’ll kill your conversions and the forum probably won’t like that you’re redirecting an affiliate link in the first place.
The better answer is to write a review or presell page of the product on your website or blog. That way, you can win people over with an interesting and insightful review or overview of the product.
It’s a win-win for everyone—the forum is happy because you’re offering something of value—an article on your own website that gives people information. The people who click through your link are happy because you’re helping them make a buying decision. You’re happy because you’re using the power of persuasion and preselling to get people to go ahead and click through your link to buy the product you’re promoting.
What's a signature file? It's that little space you get to fill out in your control panel or user profile edit area. It shows up underneath everything you post. There are generally rules for what you can include in the signature file, so make sure you follow those rules.
Make sure you study up on how to create an effective signature file link. Include a little mystery. Consider what’s going to get people to click on your link. You’ve chosen a particular forum because it’s a good fit for your niche. The people are actively interested in things like what you’re promoting. So figure out how to target them. The combination of a great reputation on the forum combined with an effective signature file link can be a winning combination for promoting affiliate products on a web forum.
What Not To Do When Promoting Products as an Affiliate on a Forum
This bears repeating—don’t just start spamming your link everywhere. Don’t use your affiliate link on the forum at all, in fact.
Generally, don’t promote products as an affiliate (or your own products) at all on forum threads.
Don’t start promoting without first interacting and providing value on a forum—you want people to respect you and take you seriously. The more you give, the more you’ll receive.
The Perfect Plan for Marketing Products as an Affiliate on Forums
Here’s what I recommend. First, find the perfect, active forum that’s full of targeted forum members. Sign up and familiarize yourself with the culture of the forum as well as the rules. Take a look at how successful, prominent members of the forum handle promotions—especially how they handle affiliate promotions in particular.
Then, start posting and sharing. Be helpful. Ask questions when you have them. Just generally dive in and start chatting.
I should mention that many people are intimidated at the thought of joining forums and posting right away. They get the feeling that it’s like speaking in front of a crowd or something like that. But really, there’s nothing to worry about. Just start posting and that fear will go away.
Post daily. Get to know people and build relationships with people. In the meantime, start building up a blog you’ll use for promotions. Write reviews and articles on the products you’re going to promote. Better yet, create a squeeze page where you give something away for free. Once targeted people have joined your list from your forum link, it will be much easier to market to them.
Whether you link them to a squeeze page to join your list where you’ll then promote affiliate products or you link them to a review or details on a product that might interest them, keep the needs of your audience in mind. They’ll buy if it’s clear you have their best interests at heart and you’re persuasively promoting the product.
The better your reputation over time, the easier it will be to get people on your list and make affiliate sales. You can do quite well using forum marketing—especially once you’re a prominent member of very active forums. Some marketers have built entire businesses based on forum marketing, with great results. It’s a stellar way to get targeted traffic.
Get Started Promoting Affiliate Products with Forum Marketing
Take this opportunity to get started with forum marketing today. It’s a fun, easy, and free way of marketing affiliate products and starting to make sales. You’ll be surprised about how quickly those sales can start coming in. Forum marketing has worked for as long as there have been forums.
There are few better, easier, and more effective ways of building a reputation, building relationships, and getting real sales of products you’re promoting as an affiliate.