• 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?

digitalpoint

Well-known member
#21
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.
Just to further that... we had a strong user based BEFORE we had a forum. Part of the reason we opened a forum was because we needed a support venue for our existing users that were already using our tools.

Most notably this one: http://tools.digitalpoint.com/tracker.php Even though it's now rebuilt and consolidated into the forum framework, it existed before the forum did (and have tens of thousands of people that used it every day).

Before we had a forum, we tried to have old-school email lists as a sort of public support venue... http://www.digitalpoint.com/lists/summary-1.html You can see it pretty much ceased being used when we opened the forum in March of 2004.

The bottom line is a forum is no different than any other site when it comes to retaining users... give users something unique that they want and they will keep coming back. Any site that sits stagnant is doomed in the long run.

digitalpoint.com is constantly evolving... A rough timeline of some interesting things (these are just the major things I can think of off the top of my head):

2003 - I made our keyword tracking tool one afternoon because *I* needed it. Showed it to some friends and they loved it. Spent the next day making a registration/user system so others could use it (it never occurred to me that OTHERS would want to use it... haha)

2004 - Opened the forum because we had so many people using the keyword tracker... was the buzz of the marketing/SEO world back then.

Two months after opening, I had an interesting idea... why don't we do a revenue sharing system? I was actually the one that came up with the concept of AdSense revenue sharing. http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?t=519

Even Google since adopted the idea: http://code.google.com/apis/adsense/host/index.html

2005 - I was the one that invented the idea of co-op ad/link networks. This was great fun for a few years... we quite literally ruled Google search results in anything we wanted (for example, I decided to outrank westernunion.com and eharmony.com for their own company names)... it took literally 5 minutes of work. Google actually had to make quite a few algorithm changes over the years directly attributed to the ad network. Copycats pop up everywhere a few months later.

2006 - I thought the old (now defunct) Digg Spy was pretty neat... so I took their idea and applied it to the forum. http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?t=101069

Had the idea for our realtime user map: http://forums.digitalpoint.com/usermap.php

Based on demand, the usermap spawned our geovisitors tool: http://tools.digitalpoint.com/geovisitors.php Which is now used on hundreds of thousands of websites. For example, I just happened to see it on a random site I was looking at earlier today: http://leandrovieira.com/projects/jquery/lightbox/

2008 - Marketplace (now one of the largest domain/site marketplaces out there - http://marketplace.digitalpoint.com/

2009 - Phone Home system to recover stolen computers - http://tools.digitalpoint.com/phonehome.php

2010 - Digital Point Ads - http://advertising.digitalpoint.com/

Sphinx Search for vB4 (more or less a must have if you have more then 1M posts) - http://products.digitalpoint.com/vbulletin-sphinx-search.php

I have a list of neat things I want to build for my site that is about 4-5 years worth of work for me... I have plenty of good ideas for the foreseeable future. The only limiting factor right now is how much stuff I have time to build.

The point is, if you don't keep a step ahead of everyone else... well... it's just much harder to keep users. Users are a fickle bunch, and will leave your site as soon as there are better options for them.
 

Core Freedom

Well-known member
#22
Thank you, DigitalPoint, for going into so much detail and giving us newbies the lo-down on how it's done. Checked your site, with 15 million posts and over 500,000 members I think we ought to listen up. :p

Sadly, not many have the talents of developing software or even designing beautiful logos or websites. So many of us rely on other gifts that may not be technologically related and can't be sold in a snap like some things can.

Nonetheless, the fundamental remain the same: offering something very unique that is ours to give here on the planet. I'm loving what I have created so far and I could spend 20 hours talking back and forth helping people get over humps in their lives. Just how to monetize that is a whole other story. :DAnd I hear you say - patience yago...

As far as the one-hit wonder is concerned (previously mentioned), I did another test with a second post about how much $$ women get during divorce settlements, trying to put more emotions into it and not making it an article. It too got over 6000 views, over 500 retweets. And I did another today about women cheating and it's already at 800+ views and over 100 retweets. Okay, so the stuff gets read, the average time on the site right now is a bit over 15 minutes.

Borbole's add-on to let people read only so much of the post doesn't work on 1.1 - will need to wait until that is fixed.

Meanwhile, will continue refining the posts, putting the larger article-like posts in a separate area and making them inaccessible for now. Will keep you post ya'all. :notworthy:
 

digitalpoint

Well-known member
#23
Publishing articles is not a bad way to go if you are good at it and have the time to constantly be writing new articles. I mean when it comes down to it, sites like cnn.com are really just publishing articles (and they are doing very well for themselves). And just like any other site, if cnn.com stopped publishing new articles, they are going to stop getting the traffic they get. That's the downside... is article publishing is a contant job to keep it new/fresh.

Just need to remember that your users don't care if your site is based around being a forum or not... they are there for the content, not the type of site you have.
 

Morgain

Well-known member
#25
Sadly, not many have the talents of developing software or even designing beautiful logos or websites. So many of us rely on other gifts that may not be technologically related and can't be sold in a snap like some things can.
I'm loving what I have created so far and I could spend 20 hours talking back and forth helping people get over humps in their lives. Just how to monetize that is a whole other story.
You're right that the more personal services like personal support cannot be sold as quickly as techie products or material products.
But many of the issues about getting people to find you are the same. Content is Queen.

I can understand a bit where you are coming from as I too am a personal services worker. I did try running a therapy service on the net years ago before forums really got going (after around 15 years as a therapist in the ordinary way). Just a content site with some samples of my advice, and an email based personal support service paid in quantity in advance by paypal. I gave it up because I most got transvestites (? why I don't know) which is not an area that interests me much. Or else it was men with unhappy marriages which was OK. I did get the impression men welcomed this style of support as it is less intense than talking to a live person.

You could run a forum category on your advice service with some information pages linked to it.
The forum category would be for general queries on how you work, areas you do/ do not work in (no one can be good at all human problem issues) how to book, what to expect in terms of timing and length of response. An obvious way to do the private exchange is in Conversations, paid by the screenfull.

You could look at adding in one of those site based live chat thingies (I recommend gchats) then you could do live support by appointment. Since you look beautiful you'd have to include on the forum a stern warning that you're not a prostitute and don't do online porn. Suggest you say that payment is in advance and any client who makes sexual comments to you is instantly closed out of the session with no refund - might be good to look at them clicking to agree with your conditions.


As far as the one-hit wonder is concerned (previously mentioned), I did another test with a second post about how much $$ women get during divorce settlements, trying to put more emotions into it and not making it an article. It too got over 6000 views, over 500 retweets. And I did another today about women cheating and it's already at 800+ views and over 100 retweets. Okay, so the stuff gets read, the average time on the site right now is a bit over 15 minutes.
Borbole's add-on to let people read only so much of the post doesn't work on 1.1 - will need to wait until that is fixed.

Put the full length item in an article out of reach to unregistered.
Put the first 5 lines - make them stimulating! - in a forum thread with a link to the full article. Clicking it will briung up the XF no entry message (which you could customise) asking them to register. Emphasise it's free and instant ( does not have to wait for the site owner to confirm it.)
Put this forum prominently near the top with a list of its recent threads on its description.
 

digitalpoint

Well-known member
#27
One thing about the "registration walls" in order to access content... You should ask yourself what do you gain, and what do you loose by requiring/not requiring registration to get at content.

1. Is a user that registers going to (for whatever reason) come back to your site more because they registered?

2. Do you gain financially either way? Is it a pay wall (pay to read)? If it's still free to register, you might actually be losing OUT on money if you are running ads on the site the public can't see.

3. Loss of random traffic is an issue as well... if Google can't spider the content, you are going to be getting less search traffic from Google.

Ultimately, if it's a free registration... just think carefully about what you are *actually* gaining by forcing a registration.
 

Core Freedom

Well-known member
#28
Morgaine, you have me rolling on the floor with your transvestite comment but having lived in San Francisco for 23 years I totally get what you are saying! And thank you for the compliment. I seem to attract only the most amazing, respectful and kind men, always have. I'm a huge fan of men, maybe because they always seem to treat me like a queen. :p Will think about implementing the chat thing. Visited the gchat site and it's overwhelming, so many different chat modules. Felt like I was browsing the never ending cereal aisle at Safeway. ;)

LancerForHire, checked your link but because it's on vB I'm not quite sure how it works on XF. The idea is great but the sample legal site where I tried to see it in action didn't seem to show the add-on in all its glory (that site was so packed with Google ads I had to do a hit and run). Will try to find your addon here and go from there.

DigitalPoint, great food for thought, thank you. I do love writing, could do it all day and all night. My ultimate goal for registration is to build the list. In the end, however, I want people there who truly want to be there and are like-minded. I don't want 100,000 registered users and only 1,000 active posters. And I don't want 100,000 who are there to spew negativity. If I can achieve 80% of the users to be active then I can tolerate a 20% range for those who posts less or not at all. Will eventually create a rule that registered users must post at least x-number of times in a x-number period of time or their profile will get deleted.

Just got the Trophy Pigeon Method report from Chris Munch, will implement it over the next couple of days and keep ya' all posted.
 

Morgain

Well-known member
#29
Morgaine, you have me rolling on the floor with your transvestite comment
I should perhaps make it clear that I did not mean I disapprove of trans people. Rather that someone who needs help is entitled to a strong and sensitive interest in their area of struggle. Not having that strong interest I am not qualified to help, and being bored is not my idea of creative work either.

thank you for the compliment. I seem to attract only the most amazing, respectful and kind men, always have. I'm a huge fan of men, maybe because they always seem to treat me like a queen. :p
I am selective in the men I choose to like. Perhaps because I was always devastatingly sexy I did not get such gentlemanly treatment - not at all the same thing as being beautiful.
There are in my eyes about 20% men who are not slave personalities, not bullies either, can cope with women of power like me, and have something else of interest about them. That 20% I adore and avoid the rest as much as possible. Where avoidance is not possible I act effectively. (off topic perhaps ;) sorry)
I tend to be even tougher on women - as my own gender their bloody stupidity lets down my side so I have less patience with it. Again those that are worth my trouble I adore.

Will think about implementing the chat thing. Visited the gchat site and it's overwhelming, so many different chat modules. Felt like I was browsing the never ending cereal aisle at Safeway. ;)
I should have given you a link. My apologies.
http://www.gchats.com/products/32_flash-web-messenger.html
But on looking it up it's not cheap - I recommended because I use other gchats products and they are good, with fast no nonsense support.
For a chatroom for example Visichat is brilliant - very intuitive for users, and flexible to admin. Not expensive.

I will ask my coder for the name of the4 website messenger he uses as it seems good and I know it was either free or not expensive .
 

Core Freedom

Well-known member
#30
The forum is starting to roll and people are signing up. I'm lovin' it!

Thanks for the link Morgain! And no worries, I didn't misunderstand you and hope I wasn't misunderstood myself.

I couldn't agree more with your comments. I love a woman who can think of herself as devastatingly sexy. Sadly I can't relate at all as I always saw myself as average. In the end it's all fleeting anyways. :rolleyes: I'd love you to join the already heated conversations, you're exactly the kind of woman I want to help keep the men (and women) in line. Glad another strong female can express her opinion. :notworthy:
 

EasyTarget

Well-known member
#31
BluePrint:

I am assuming you are using v1.1. The quickest and easiest solution for you is to use XF's notices system. So if someone is a visitor their will be a notice on the top of the screen reminding them, if you like the article, sign up and discuss...something like this... Your choice as whether you will allow visitors to be able to dismiss the notice or not.

First rule in marketing, tell the customer what to do!
"You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” -- Steve Jobs
 

Core Freedom

Well-known member
#32
Thanks, EasyTarget. :) I am using v1.1 and I do have a notice for visitors reminding them that are not logged in yet and to log in.

Getting lots of clicks and about 10-15% of all visitors submit Twitter 'likes' and conversations are happening but the sign ups are slower than anticipated with this many hits to the site. I was expecting at least 1/2 to 1% of site visitors to become members. But it's not even close. Still thinking of the best way to getting people involved. Need to find a 'refer your friends' module and an incentive to sign up. Like Morgain was saying earlier, I am giving away the cow (or was it the farm?).

I can't figure out the issue with Jaxel's portal attachments, which makes the slider pics invisible if I disallow guests to see attachments. And even if I disallow guests to see pictures, for some reason they can still see videos. Logically speaking it should disabled all attachments, including videos. Not sure why it won't disabled videos. Working on that now...

It's getting there, thanks to everyone's amazing feedback here! So much great advice, I hope with my limited technology know-how I can one day reciprocate and contribute here. :D
 

erich37

Well-known member
#33
Thanks, EasyTarget. :) I am using v1.1 and I do have a notice for visitors reminding them that are not logged in yet and to log in.

Getting lots of clicks and about 10-15% of all visitors submit Twitter 'likes' and conversations are happening but the sign ups are slower than anticipated with this many hits to the site. I was expecting at least 1/2 to 1% of site visitors to become members. But it's not even close. Still thinking of the best way to getting people involved. Need to find a 'refer your friends' module and an incentive to sign up. Like Morgain was saying earlier, I am giving away the cow (or was it the farm?).

I can't figure out the issue with Jaxel's portal attachments, which makes the slider pics invisible if I disallow guests to see attachments. And even if I disallow guests to see pictures, for some reason they can still see videos. Logically speaking it should disabled all attachments, including videos. Not sure why it won't disabled videos. Working on that now...

It's getting there, thanks to everyone's amazing feedback here! So much great advice, I hope with my limited technology know-how I can one day reciprocate and contribute here. :D
it looks like it costs USD 7 per month to sign-up. I understand this is for your premium-content, but might be misunderstood by some users....?
Well, I would not charge anything before you have a certain amount of users.....
 

dutchbb

Well-known member
#35
- Do not restrict already indexed content. It's one of the best ways to annoy the hell out of anyone and the registration may be lost forever.
- Do not show pop-ups. See above.
- Do not beg for registrations. Each registration is the result of a certain need, it's simply supply and demand, not beg and receive.

Providing good response is far more important and effective than restricting access. Any forum starting from scratch needs the admin/mods to participate in all new threads. The focus should be on quality, not quantity. Posting threads is fine, but don't do it to 'fill' the space. Every thread should be important and serve a purpose. Similarly, there shouldn't be 101 forums with each having sub-forums. Forums and sub-forums exist to separate content, not to create content.

Restricting features can help as a motivation for registration, but only if above is followed.
- Searching
- Posting
- Attachments

And any features you want to link to membership can be restricted for guests. But remember: restriction = annoyance. Good response = incentive.

How to make them talk?

When starting from scratch, the only thing you can do is provide good content. Try to invite friends and if they are qualified, ask them to moderate. Just start talking. Talk to anyone willing to post, any new post should get plenty response. Expect this process of making more people talk to take time. It can take weeks, but you should see progress.

If the forum dies, you're doing something wrong:
- Did you provide good content?
- Did you and others participate enough?
- Is your site interesting to anyone?
- Is your site easy to find and use?

Hope this helps.
 

Anthony Parsons

Well-known member
#37
I love it when community input derives a good list of current, workable solutions. Welcome to the difference between forums and blogs! o_O

You'll do fine blueprint... just takes a lot of work to get a forum going.
 

Core Freedom

Well-known member
#38
Thank you, Anthony, for your confidence and all your wisdom. I'm sure many will benefit greatly from the input here. It's a real learning curve for sure. I'm learning that forum is considered one box and a blog is considered another box. And somehow I get the two shouldn't mix. But this is exactly why I went from Blogger to Wordpress and installed Wishlist to create a membership but then people were catching me on FB or somehow found my personal e-mail address and communicated their innermost secrets with me. While flattering, I decided for the forum because I wanted to create a platform where people can share their wisdom with others, not just in form of little bite size formats, a bit more expanded from Twitter or Facebook, but almost in form of a diary (open in all its glory to the public of course). :p So in fact it needs to be a blog/forum combination in order for it to be what I envision for it. Need to come up with a new word for that! Blogum? Flogum? Forlog? Oh, sounds like an STD or torture practice, never mind...:LOL:

Even not officially open yet, after 5 days of just testing with Twitter, there are 14 members, 4 of which are me or a variation thereof :)p). People are actively talking and sharing amazing things in just these past 5 days. What still puzzles me is that every post I put out on Twitter gets around 5000 to 12,000 views and hundreds of retweets. So that's an average of about 8,000 to 10,000 visitors to my site per day this week. You would think (and I expect) that this is a numbers game and at least a percentage of those viewers would say something, especially knowing that the average person right now spends 15 minutes peaking around. So I'm still not sure what the real reason is for not getting in on the action. Either Twitter is just not my clientele or there are technical issues in being able to sign up. ;)
 

Anthony Parsons

Well-known member
#39
Very different medium types though. Twitter and Facebook are short, to the point statements. Forums require a person to put in more effort. So if your demographics are teens who don't want to do anything beyond view on a mobile phone, then a forum is not going to get much input...

If your market is mobile, then you need to concentrate on getting your site on a mobile platform near instantly, using Tapatalk or Forumrunner, or both, to give mobile users, who are lazy and time restricted typically, fast options to post brief messages on your forum with Facebook signup activated so even registration is quick and easy for them.
 

Core Freedom

Well-known member
#40
Nah, my blorum :)p) is about love, relationships, spirituality, ghosts and things. Nothing technical, all matters of the heart and the unseen but one does have to be a bit 'weird' and out there to 'get it' or be interested in it.

I'm thinking to hold an official pre-launch this 11/11/11 and offer premium memberships for free for life as in 'grandfathered' in (ugh I don't like that term). Am setting this up today. They will have to be registered by 12/21/11 to get 'grandmothered' in. That'll be the official launch date.