Auto forum marketing can be a powerful way to drive a few more sales on your parts website—but that's not the only benefit it gives. If you decide to go this route for marketing, then you’ll soon find out a few other perks that an automotive forum offers.
Here are five major benefits aside from your bottom line, as well as two important things to keep in mind when you're starting up this kind of marketing approach.
Benefit #1: Building relationships with customers
Having a relationship with your customer is one of the most fundamental parts of making a sale, and the same attitude you look for at your physical location applies online. Put simply, people are more likely to buy from a company they trust, and auto forum marketing gives you the opportunity to build that trust.
This isn't limited to the people you're actually talking to, either. When potential customers come in from search engines to read your forum conversations—and make no mistake about this, that will happen—they'll be paying attention to the way other people treat you.
What's going on here is this: Many of today's potential customers are looking for authenticity, not just statements from a business they're sure is just trying to get more sales.
As such, they don't trust ads that are too obvious, but they do trust people like themselves. These shoppers will believe (and will often accept) the opinions of vehicle owners like themselves who've had problems similar to their own.
If they see those normal people liking and listening to what you have to say, the value and trust they put on authenticity will be transferred to you. That's when potential customers will start seriously considering making a purchase from you, especially if they see you helping someone else resolve the same problem they're having.
Benefit #2: Establishing Yourself as an Authority
On a very fundamental level, people like experts.
If a car owner doesn’t feel confident that they can fix their own vehicle, they can and will look for someone who knows what they're doing. This is where you come in.
When you post on auto forums, you have the opportunity to establish yourself as an expert by diagnosing problems and telling someone what the best solution would be.
For example, if somebody's talking about a funny sound coming from a certain part of the car, you could mention the possible causes, how to determine which of those it is, and what they could do to solve each one.
This ties back to our earlier point about writing for people who will read the conversation later. Newcomers might have a different problem than the one you're talking about, so writing for the general audience can be the best course of action.
If you do this on a regular basis, especially when you're right about what the problem was, people on the forum will start to trust you more and more. They may even start asking for you by name instead of just addressing the community as a whole.
Either way, you'll be building up trust. And that's where the sales come from.
Benefit #3: Auto forum marketing is affordable
In most cases, marketing yourself on an auto forum is a low-cost way to drive your sales. All you really need is an employee who's good at talking online and has a bit of free time.
For particularly tough cases, you may also need to let one or more of your mechanics weigh in and provide that added level of expertise.
Aside from the time you're probably already paying them for, though, there really aren't any other expenses associated with auto forum marketing... so you can do it without shifting your budget around.
That said, there are often advertising opportunities available on forums, but going that route is up to you. For now, we’re just talking about the “free participation” kind of forum marketing.
Benefit #4: You get to talk with motorheads
When you're posting on auto forums, you're usually not talking to a general audience. You're talking to people who know and love cars. Quite frankly, it should be fun!
Getting to chat with people can be great for the morale of the employees doing it, and it's a good way to fill time when they don't have anything better to do.
Plus, relationships you build on the forum can become about more than just sales. You may even start to befriend some of the regulars on the forum, and it’s always a good feeling to be around like-minded people.
Benefit #5: You'll get to know your shoppers
The customer interactions you have online can improve your customer interactions at the parts counter, leading to better customer service and a more comprehensive idea of what your shopper wants.
When you interact with people online, you'll get more information about the kinds of questions and concerns they have—questions they might not ask at your counter, since they think you only care about the sale. Opening up a conversation online frees everything up so they can speak more freely about their concerns.
If your forum poster is also one of the workers at your parts counter, they'll be able to communicate more effectively with customers and really make use of the expertise they gained by answering the questions of others.
Two more things to keep in mind
As we've said, auto forum marketing is valuable, but it's not for everyone. You shouldn't force it as an option if you honestly want nothing to do with it. Before you start making accounts, here are two important things to keep in mind.
1. Forum marketing takes time.
You're not going to see an overnight increase in sales, so you'll need to put in consistent effort over time before you start making a true profit from it. Forums often include a little profile for each member, displaying how many times they've contributed and how long they've been a member.
If you're new to the forum, this can affect your credibility! It will get better the longer you participate, though.
2. You must be genuine in your communications.
If someone is shy or doesn't like talking to people, they probably aren't the best choice for a people-person task like this.
Don't look at forum posts as just a way to advertise. Look at them as a way to really help and communicate with other people, and only as advertisements when it makes sense in the context of a given conversation. The sales you get as a result are a bonus, though!
As long as you keep those points in mind, you'll be ready to start reaping the benefits of this unusual—but fun—advertising technique.
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If you're a RevolutionParts customer, take advantage of the marketing services we have available! We don't do auto forum marketing, but our PPC campaigns are sure to make a difference on your monthly parts website sales.
Read more here or get in touch with your Customer Success Manager to learn more.