1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Converting Visitors to Members - Just How?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Core Freedom, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Core Freedom

    Core Freedom Well-Known Member

    If this thread is in the wrong forum, I apologize. Wasn't sure where to place it.

    Okay, my brand new, two day old forum, which hasn't even officially launched yet, is getting visitors but not conversions to members. Do any of you have any tips or suggestions?

    For example, I wrote an article about Kirlian photography proving love and anger between two people and posted it to my Twitter and Facebook account as a test. In just a few hours the article has over 650 views and for the past few hours now I've had around 30-50 visitors online. Obviously people are sticking around.

    But only 3 members and still no comments.:cry:

    Are there any statistics about how many visitors turn into members or does the same old 1% rule apply?

    How does one go from actual visitors to members?

    And how do I get them to talk?
  2. principia

    principia Well-Known Member

  3. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    Just out of interest, what is the URL for your forums?

    Shaun :D
  4. Andrej

    Andrej Well-Known Member

  5. Edrondol

    Edrondol Well-Known Member

    At any given time my site has 100 - 150 lurkers (I have spiders filtered out) who are not registered guests. You know what? I'm okay with that. Granted, it's not a new board like yours is, but if you put in interesting content they'll register to comment.

    I've opened my site to guests to be able to post and so far it's been wonderful. (*knocks on wood*) Many are the times someone will post unregistered where they wouldn't have in the past. Of course, that also might mean that they might have registered to make that one comment, but I'm looking for good content more than I'm looking for a 1 time posting registered user...
    Core Freedom likes this.
  6. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    I think it's important to restrict access to some of the really interesting content otherwise what incentive is there to register?
    If I can view ANYTHING why register?
    If I can post freely why register?

    Here's my compromise:
    1) allowing to view titles to stimulate interest in the RANGE of the board;
    2) but only some selected content beyond that level, to demonstrate the quality in DEPTH on sample SPECIFICS;
    3) plus one guests forum for A) general chat and B) questions to act as a friendly first stage welcome.
    This last needs to notify admin or mod to swiftly Reply and keep linking the post to something interesting they can only get at by registering.
    Core Freedom likes this.
  7. Anthony Parsons

    Anthony Parsons Well-Known Member

    2 day old forum... I think your expectations may be a little high.

    Next point... you wrote one article which people liked to read. One hit wonder would be my first thought? If you want people to comment, you have to write content in a way that stimulates a question.

    Play dumb in some parts, citing you aren't sure about a specific and maybe a reader may have the answer, etc. Don't trick them, just be honest, be yourself, and sometimes you have to step knowledge down a little because if you know everything about a subject, then it leaves no room for people to typically want to comment. People join forums to learn, to work things out with others, to ask their own questions and get answers.

    A blog is for writing articles that don't need input, but may be open for comment.

    A forum is about having a topic and finding a solution, its a discussion, hence the difference between the two medium types.

    That is your aim. Create discussions, not articles.
    EQnoble, Lisa, Core Freedom and 3 others like this.
  8. erich37

    erich37 Well-Known Member

    what do you suggest for "Forum Descriptions" ?

    should those be just topic-words (keywords) or should those be formalized as questions?
    Core Freedom likes this.
  9. Anthony Parsons

    Anthony Parsons Well-Known Member

    Forum descriptions should only reflect what the forum is about, per forum basis. They aren't really going to help towards discussable content itself. There a hierarchy as I view them, not really much else.

    I make mine descriptive of the forum, ie. Forum Name: Chit Chat. Forum Description: Talk about your weekend, catchup or have a laugh.

    Again, IMO, they don't really relate to discussions themselves, other that hierarchy / categorisation purposes. JMO though.
    erich37 and Core Freedom like this.
  10. AzzidReign

    AzzidReign Well-Known Member

    Because you got your traffic from Twitter and Facebook. Users from those sources typically don't sign up from my experience.
    Core Freedom likes this.
  11. Anthony Parsons

    Anthony Parsons Well-Known Member

    I get a decent conversation rate from Twitter and Facebook actually. I think forum demographics and topic has a lot to do with it.
    Core Freedom likes this.
  12. AzzidReign

    AzzidReign Well-Known Member

    You'd be the first that I've heard good success with conversion rate with. So I commend you for doing well with that.

    And I think you even said it earlier...try to post something controversial to the point where you piss people off or make them want to ask questions. I know a former site I use to co-own, we had an article about girl gamers and how they weren't any good at FPS and only played stupid games. That article blew up, was our most popular article, and most commented article. We had 100's of women signing up just to yell at us. Though...that may not be what you want, but it brings people flocking in.

    Needless to say, we posted that to see what kind of reaction we would get. It was a site made to piss people off with our articles to get a rise out of people. I sold it and has gone downhill since but, was fun to see different writing styles (offensive usually lol) actually cause an increase in site traffic and activity. Sites like digg, reddit, and n4g just ate up the articles.

    Over the next months...maybe year, I'm going to try to come up with a way to not only increase user activity but also increase conversions. Hopefully I can get it done with the time and money/resources I have...
  13. jonsidneyb

    jonsidneyb Well-Known Member

    I think it is way too soon to tell. My forum is not that big, 25k members. New members didn't beat down the door but trickled in, then it started to grow all by itself.

    I didn't get members the first couple of days.
    Core Freedom likes this.
  14. Anthony Parsons

    Anthony Parsons Well-Known Member

    Yep, that sounds like something I would say... as you found, it works. Absolutely agree though, if that is not the user base you want in, then also not the best method. But if you want to get noticed, then all advertisement is good advertisement to get a site launched.

    If you make a forum specifically for contextual ads, then that approach is the exact winning combination that will drive your ROI through the roof people coming into your site, posting some flaming comment, then highly likely to leave via seeing another relevant ad on the same subject that pissed them off to get them on your site to begin with.
  15. Core Freedom

    Core Freedom Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for your feedback! Soooo appreciate it.

    Meanwhile, this same article I had mentioned above, in a 12 hour period got over 6,500 views and 778 retweets. But the user sign ups stayed at 3. :cautious: Two of which commented (on other stuff though). When I woke up and saw that the article had been viewed and retweeted this many times I wish I could have gotten a buck for every read (I wonder if there is a mod out there for that). :D

    Yes, Anthony, I agree that I saw the forum as an extended version of the blog. I used some of the blog postings to get conversations started as these same posts caused people to comment on the blog, but the blog seemed so much more limited. I also agree that the posts now are informative and not geared towards asking a question. I will change this. Thank you!

    My challenge is that I'm using Jaxel's portal and the slider works based on attachments. If I disable visitors viewing attachments then the slider won't work. The only other way around it is to build a forum for just visitors but that is going to be a management nightmare. So I decided to get Borbole's mod that limits how much text visitors can see of the actual post. I hope to get it working this morning, for some reason it's not blocking text yet.

    As far as advertisement is concerned, I haven't even thought much about that other than that I'd like to advertise things I would be an affiliate for. Things that complement my site instead of taking visitors away. But I don't even know how to place a banner on my site yet; I'm still looking for the ftp-server-technology-phobia-anonymous group. :confused:

    Thanks everyone! Will keep you posted.
  16. AzzidReign

    AzzidReign Well-Known Member

    Definitely not a good long term strategy. Whenever I get to those sites that either block what I can view or limit what I can view, I back right out and go looking for another link.

    If you really care that much about registration numbers, for one I would make a big "Become a member" banner at the bottom of the first post and allow them to register that way, because the way I see it, people are reading your articles and getting to the end, then backing out. They would have to scroll all the way to the top to register the way you have it now.

    Just a thought.
    Lisa and Morgain like this.
  17. Core Freedom

    Core Freedom Well-Known Member

    A little rebellious, aren't we, AzzidReign? Just kidding, I have a similar feeling when I'm too restricted after I see a link for a movie. What gets me really mad is this new plugin where you have to 'FB like' something BEFORE you can watch a movie or read the article. WITW?

    I was planning to give away a lot more than just 50 characters to my posts. Something around 200. All I can do is test, test, test. Right? ;)

    Will get more posts and discussions before putting out another long article type thing, working on that now.

    Thanks for all your input! :notworthy:
  18. Anthony Parsons

    Anthony Parsons Well-Known Member

    The problem as I see it, is that you're still focused on using "articles" as your content.

    Are you positive you have chosen the right medium for your site if you want to make an article repository?

    Next point, don't get overly focused on member numbers for a forum that is a few days old. For the majority of new forums, if you get 100 members in the first year, then that is a good target. The second year should get to something like 1000 and then it continues in such a dynamic growth manner.

    It is a minority of forums that take-off and explode in growth.

    People get way to wrapped up in member numbers in there first year of a forum, instead of just focusing on creating good content that is discussable and has holes in it for views. People don't register on forums just to say, "good article" after they've read it, and then nothing further.

    If you don't have time and patience to put into your forum, and lower expectations to more realistic numbers like the above for a majority of forum startups, then you will get frustrated and fail because you've given in before the forums had a chance to even become a success in future years.

    Then you have people like DigitalPoint, who are expert coders themselves and can take a software platform and write their own custom add-ons that people really want to use, so they join and thus a forum can make enormous profits, depending on the niche. If DigitalPoint forums, as an example, didn't have such coding expertise behind it, constantly evolving the site with features you can only get there, then it would have died with the majority of other SEO / online marketing type forums that have died to near zero growth, as that boom has now gone.

    The actual name for it is called, "Link Bait", which means someone creates something so unique, it goes viral and is used heavily, its something unique that isn't everywhere else. If you view DigitalPoint forums, as an example, it has its own advertising network, directory, marketplace and webmaster tools, which back the forums niche market and keep users coming back / sharing links from the site with others around the world.

    You have to constantly evolve if you want a forum to explode with traffic. If you don't have those skills, which I certainly don't, then you have to use what you have to create uniqueness that attracts.

    The first question any new website should ask themselves when starting is, 'What makes me unique from anything else being done, so people would want to come and register, participate, and build this website?'

    If you're doing the same thing as lots of others already, you just made your job a lot more difficult. You must be niche, you must be doing something unique. Unique could simply be taking what is a corrupt industry and opening it up as transparent from your site. That is unique if it's not being done already. You could be making some videos of your niche, that others aren't. You could be covering topics that other sites in your niche aren't. Uniqueness... study the competition and do it differently.
  19. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    Anthony I REALLY like your analysis. I think it is both helpful (and courteous) to the OP but also applicable a great deal further. It is on that wider basis I reply which I hope the OP will not mind.

    I have been trying out various article systems for a while and not satisfied. Most stick on too many value added features which cannot be disabled and require template edits. Managing categories is usually far too rigid.
    Right now I'm hopeful of the add-on wiki (EWRcarta) - I particularly like the glossary function of links on terms as my area is educational.

    Like the OP I am very focused on articles - I'm a writer. But I hope that if I keep the articles short, linking chapters if necessary, I can generate linked discussions. I plan to place links top and bottom of the articles to relevant forums as I prefer forum format to Comments.

    I guess the outlook is very much affected by how commercial the project needs to be. If a new admin is looking to develop a niche interest community without money being involved then the necessary slow growth in the first year is not an anxiety.
    But if the forum is to be a moneymaker it looks very different.

    From over 30 years self employment my advice is - don't give up the day job! It's an old saying.
    You get to the point where the choice to continue on two tracks is painfully necessary if you're to get a minimum of 6 hours sleep in 24. Until then self employment is a joy in so many ways but stable income is rarely one of them. Forums or whatever else is involved.

    If no "day job" exists substitute any kind of part time or low level work you can do which will bring in bread n butter money.
    Bread n butter money is whatever brings in RELIABLE and REGULAR sums of money.
    A modest £21 a week is actually worth double that if it comes in every week reliably. It means peace of mind up to the level if £21 which is worth real money. You can earn £21 by cleaning a house, valeting cars, painting, rubbish clearance to the local tip, gardening, babysitting, doing shopping or errands for elders, typing, delivering telephone directories, selling on ebay.
    I've been there on most of those. Don't knock it. In fact you can earn a lot more than £21 on such work by doing more than 3 hours a week; but I used that as a minimum to make the point that small amounts are highly worthwhile to underpin the dream business project.

    Really like your "holes" concept. I must remember that as I have a tendency to be too didactic asfter years of reseaerch and experience.
    I've found a 10 question quiz is very popular - and single questions - "What do you think of this [url or whatever]?"
    Also bringing in those URLs or an issue to consider - this week's discussion point, at a minimum.
    Why not ask the most active early members to take on an issue area that interests them to post in a discussion prompt per week? This only needs to be a sentence or two, or a URL with a one line description, plus the golden "What do you think of this?"

    Otherwise known as USP - Unique Selling PPoint.
    I have seen it described in New Age terms as - what do you personally have to offer the universe through this project, which is your special, sacred gift?
    That could be a smoother ball bearing; a chunk of sensitive, efficient code; a sympathetic and resourceful gathering around a common problem; a dramatic gripping roleplay approach; or cutting away the crap around health issues (Anthony mentions opening up corruption to fresh air and transparency).

    I agree studying the competition is key.
    But I would twin that with studying your own gut which is NOT the same as studying your navel! ;)

    Studying your gut asks questions like -
    - can you stick with this for long hours of work without getting sick of it?
    - can you put in a LOT of UNPAID hours? - new projects eat your life if they are going to be successful. As a general rule think TWO YEARS before you get your life back. Don't do this with a new baby, a new marriage, or in weak health, unless you have dedicated partner support (which has been explicitly agreed).
    - when you're bloody exhausted, it's 3am and you're feeling sick of the whole thing and your hot hairy lover awaits in bed will you give it that last quiet 10 minute check before signing off?
    - can you cope with endless repeats of the same support questions - even though you wrote a beautifully clear explkanation about just this? Can you stay polite when they are not?

    If your gut desire wobbles badly and feels like soup as you read the above then niche or no niche you're heading for failure. You could still succeed if you think those questions over and talk honestly with your gut about gearing up to cope with that level of pressure. Gut dialogue could need days weeks or months to find the bedrock strength needed: better hesitate now and work this out than crash later which will hurt much more.

    Which is not to say that niche offering/ personal sacred gift/ USP is not just as important.

    Lastly an interesting distinction arises around what we LIKE to do and what we LOVE to do.
    I used to make exquisite silk lingerie for myself, not having money to match my desire for such quality. I like sewing especially delicate stuff, by hand. A lot of people admired my lace trimmed petticoats, chemises, nighties in ivory silk.
    So I made some for them. But I found that if I wasn't doing it for my own pleasure it was mere drudgery for low pay, which threatened to put me off sewing forever. I stopped doing it for others.
    Where I have been the most successful in making money is in services/ products that I do like, a lot, but they are not my most sensitive or passionate joy. There is enough pleasure to make the work pleasant most of the time but not so great and sensitive a passion it erodes when I have to put in the hours and I'm tired and bloody fed up with it. At such times "think of the money" however modest the money is, helps me go the extra mile. For about 50% - 80% of the time I enjoy the project and the money pushes the rest out of me.

    Self employment ain't a soft option. It's tough, unforgiving of mistakes, exhausting, unstable. But oh the freedom from commands from fools, from bureaucracy, the flexible hours (though long). For me the freedom is key.
    The Delphic Oracle of ancient Greece reputedly said "Know thyself." Well the Delphic Oracle ran a damn fine business for many centuries with viral marketing, secondary products, the lot.
  20. Anthony Parsons

    Anthony Parsons Well-Known Member

    Absolutely key points... Well said.

Share This Page