Converting a member to a buyer

(ForumSentinel) #1

So my site has both a store and a very large community forum. A large portion of the forum users only ever post in the community and never step foot in the store or otherwise interact with other areas of the site. This is all fine and well but since sales help keep the lights on for the entire site and keep other aspects free, the more we can convert to buyers, the better.

I’m looking for tips on how to increase store conversion and make the user more apt to buy product, while at the same time not coming off as pushy or as a gimmick. Thanks!

Strategies for converting newcomers to regulars
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(Sarah Hawk) #2

Great question!

Your most powerful tool is probably your email list. Do you currently market via email to people that sign up to the community? Read up on the Help Now, Sell Later approach.

One thing that not many communities do well is advertise on their own real estate. Do you advertise your own products on the forum? And if so, are you doing so strategically on the pages which get the most unique views?

(ForumSentinel) #3

Ah, thanks for the reply! LONG story short, I wouldn’t have an easily accessible, community specific email list (great idea though, I’ll need to do some leg work with other departments to see what I can get my hands on). A large complicated, multi-sector site can make things more difficult at times :smirk:. I know we do run banner ads although a sizable chunk of the members either have scripts to remove the banners or they just skip over them (I think many of us are conditioned to tune out website ads for the most part and our forum user is more wary of common marketing approaches).

I’ve had some luck with limited time discounts but it doesn’t seem sustainable to me to only gain buy-in with sales.

(Sarah Hawk) #4

Hearing you regarding ads.

I’m going to tag in some of our members with marketing expertise and see what suggestions they have.

@Anders_Alknes @scottgould @ArielleShnaidman @MichelleHP

(Scott Gould) #5

Hi Hawk and Sentinel,

I’ve not got much experience with monetisation (except for running events), but I do have one very simple suggestion!

Post on the forum, and ask your community what they think. Level with them.

I think you’d be surprised with what you’d learn from the exercise!

Good luck,

(Shnaidman Shnaidman) #6

Hey everyone!

I guess my first question would be, what do people talk about most in your forums, and how does it relate at all to what’s in your store? (Sorry if that’s vague, I’m having a hard time being specific since I’m not really sure what we’re talking about!).

Once you know the answer to that, maybe you’ll want to offer some of the top items for free to some of your community “leaders” or most active/influential users and let them show others how great it is.

Also, it might just be an issue of UX/UI on your website. Where is the store located on the site? If people are coming to your site for the community/forum but you want them to buy, the store should be conveniently located near it. I’m no UX/UI expert :slight_smile: but I know that every additional click or eye-scan someone needs to do, every second extra they need to spend on a site looking for something, it’s not good – especially since it sounds like most of these users probably don’t know your store is even there.

Hope that helps a bit!

(ForumSentinel) #7

@scottgould true that, I think we can overlook the most simple steps sometimes! I’ve not been shy asking for community feedback on past decisions so this one should be no different, thanks for the reminder.

@ArielleShnaidman We have a supplement section and that is literally all product discussion; we actually cover that section pretty thoroughly with giveaways, contests, review opportunities, etc. A large chunk of users there are repeat buyers. This is our second most active section although that is still substantially below our most active section, the Misc. It’s the misc we primarily want to increase conversion from.

There is a general distrust among those users however, who don’t want to be sold to (and by board rules all overt advertising can only be done in the supplement section) and consider the products to be ineffective or not worth the money. We’ll have to figure out some more strategies to show them efficacy and win them over. We have run lifting competitions there (e.g. best squat by body weight, pull-up amount, etc) where the winners receive free product so that’s been one way to get it in their hands without forcing anything upon them. I’ll have to do some digging to see if those threads resulted in more purchases.

The UX/UI could use an overhaul for sure though to make things more fluid and easier to navigate, the forum has basically been running an “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” strategy. With a huge user base the priority was stability over all. It’s looking old in the tooth but it would take a good convincing case for engineering resources to be devoted over other tasks. I’m not sure how to provide that since much of the improvements would be “theoretical”. It’s with this in mind I’m trying to tackle all I can from my end, because the more elements you bring in, the longer the decision process becomes.

I hope this makes some sense and doesn’t seem like a stream of consciousness ha.

(Scott Gould) #8

Read! Good luck!

(Jeanne Carboni) #9


This is tricky, as many of the community members do not want “to be sold to”. One thing that we do at SAP is to provide downloads for free code.

A lot of times this will lead to further purchases. The downside is that we don’t track it well, so I’m in the midst of working with a data scientist to help me pull these numbers together. It’s not that we can’t make the connection as an analytics provider. There are issues of data privacy that interfere. (If you are global, you will know what I mean. )

So, stepping outside of the software industry and into my role as a consumer, I can tell you that getting free stuff, or even discounts encourages me to click on the “try this” button. You can’t do this with traditionally push marketing tactics (the trust factor), but you can do it if you have built a relationship with the community members as a reputable source of information. That is the pull side of marketing that people are starting to get now.

(Yannis P. Triantafyllou) #10

Hi @ForumSentinel, @HAWK thanks for the intro.

What i think and experience: people prefer buying than been sold-to. This means that in order to convert members to buyers you have to do a lot of background work on understanding their interests, matching them to product categories and then work on building “experiences” (stories, content, activations, WoM etc) that will act as “purchasing incentives”.

I should never forget also that purchasing decisions involve a lot of sentiment BUT before sentiment there must exist “data”, info, that will allow the conversation to go on and sentiment to grow.

So, use your members that buy to drive-in more members to buy! @ArielleShnaidman implies it on her 1st paragraph. You also need help, resources, people. You’ve plenty as i understand in your community, waiting for “the meaning of being there” :smile: )

Try for example using product “fanatics” (amateur users with deep knowledge on specific products) and give them educative opps to stand out of the crowd.

I also understand you’re having an aged member base which is not so active. Try stirring it up a little by adding a fb (or other sm of relevance) community that will drive more traffic to the forum and the e-shop. We are working this direction on a project here in Greece (a feline lovers’ community), result is pretty promising for the time being!

Hope some of the above will help you. Good Luck and would be glad to hear good news.

ps a good e-mail list is a must, use any trick on the book to build it!

(ForumSentinel) #11

Some good thoughts, thank you. I’m going to look more into using members to drive buy-in as well as how we can use our social media channels to drive traffic into the forums.

(Yannis P. Triantafyllou) #12

Would be great to hear you’re having results @ForumSentinel, keep us posted on the outcome!