Attract Web Traffic The ‘Virtual” Water Cooler Way

There are of many ways to drive traffic to your website. And savvy online marketers know most of them.

But what about the rest of us?

What can we do to attract prospects if we don’t have deep pockets to run a pay-per-click Adwords campaign or can’t flash our web site URL on Oprah?

Well, here’s a simple, effective and unintimidating strategy you can use to attract a steady stream of qualified prospects to your web site.

Start posting.

Next to Adwords and article marketing, posting to online forums can be one of the most effective marketing activities you can engage in for instantly driving traffic to your web site.

And here’s a bonus – it won’t cost you a penny. Sure you’ll have to invest your time but you have to do that anyway to grow your business.

OK. So what exactly is posting? Posting is simply replying to comments other people have made in an online forum.

First, you need to find a forum that relates to your business or area of expertise. A Google search using relevant keywords coupled with the word “forum” will reveal a number of forum discussions.

For example, say you were financial planner. You could Google “financial planner forums” and the search engines will deliver plenty of forum options for you to choose from. And you can further define the parameters of the forum by using additional keywords like “financial planner trends forum”.

A word of caution: Look for a forum that is active and has lots of members. A good example of an active, lively forum is

Most forums will ask you to create an account if you want to post replies to different “threads” or discussions you take part in.

Now , here’s where the rubber meets the road.

The secret to effective posting that will generate sales leads for you is to build an identity in that forum community. To do that, you need to be active and consistent. Schedule your posting in as part of your regular marketing activities. Try to make 3-5 five posts a day to various threads that are in the forum.

This sounds a lot more overwhelming that it is. A reply can simply be two or three sentences. A half hour of posting each day will quickly elevate your status in the forum.

So what do you post? Well, you can initiate a post by asking a provocative question or introducing a controversial topic or you can simply read through the existing posts (which are categorized so you can see areas of interest) others have made and reply to those where you can add value.

Forum discussions are intended to be an environment where ideas are exchanged and counsel is given.

It isn’t a place where you go to flog your latest product or service. If you flagrantly enter posts that are of a traditional selling nature, you will be shown the door.

Besides, you will attract a lot more prospects to your site by giving insightful and practical advice on how to address a certain issue or solve a particular problem that relates to your area of expertise than you will acting like the Slap Chop guy.

Now, here’s where your marketing mileage ramps up.

In exchange for your participation, you are allowed to create a profile that every forum participant can see and a signature that appears at the end of every post.  

When you join the forum, you will have an opportunity to create your profile. You can use your real name or a made up name that reflects your expertise. You can also include your pet’s name, your hobbies, your expertise or profession – whatever you want. The idea is to let your profile reflect who you are.

Along with your profile, you’ll be asked if you want to create a signature. Make sure your signature makes it easy for people to visit your site and suggests to them that it might be worth a visit.

Happy profitable posting!


Gerry Black is a marketing writer based in Toronto, Canada who works with clients in the U.S. and Canada.

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