Building a forum community on your site gives you a home field advantage. It brings the conversation to your turf, and this allows you to monitor and analyze what users are saying. This knowledge is valuable but it does not have immediate impact on your bottom line.
Sure, the user generated content itself – that is, the stuff users are posting to your forum – can be capitalized on through advertisements, sponsorships, and brand equity but it takes time to develop this revenue stream and it may not be ideal for eCommerce sites.
We believe there is a massive opportunity for eCommerce sites to integrate their catalogs with their forum community to galvanize sales. When users are talking about subjects relevant to the products you sell, it should be convenient for them to shop in your store. Therefore, we present three techniques for eCommerce integration within your forum community:
- Intelligent banner ads. Display a banner ad for products in your catalog relevant to the user generated content within a particular thread.
- In-text advertising. In this case, keywords in the text automatically hyperlink certain to a search result in your product catalog. For example, a hardware store that sells hammers would allow users to easily search for that keyword. Example pictured below.
- Discounts and specials. Provide sales, discounts, or other perks to forum users. The site owner can make these special deals part of the regular newsletter for the forum or announce them via the forum directly. Perhaps the perks can be used to entice new members to join and participate in the forum.
The above image shows a fancy hyperlink to a search result because a product was mentioned in a post.