New Online Shopping Deals Through Reverse Bid Auctions

Consumers are always looking for a way to save money on the items they want or need. Most of the items purchased online are luxury items and not necessarily a necessity. People need these luxuries to entertain themselves and when they can find these goods at a fraction of the cost they’re quick to spring on them. For years people have turned to sites like Amazon and eBay to find the lowest prices on consumer electronics and other goods but things are changing as people consider the potential discounts available.

One of the primary differences between traditional auction sites like eBay and pay per bid auction sites is that buyers pay a fraction of the cost consistently. This rarely happens on major auction sites, where the final cost is often just under the retail value. Image the delight of buyers on bid auction sites that get a MacBook or new LCD television for under $100.00.

This goes to show why reverse auctions and other pay per bid auctions have grown steadily in popularity as more people discover the savings to be had beyond the traditional auction model.

In a traditional auction buyers are competing against one another to purchase an item from a seller. As they bid, the price increases until one person stands out willing to pay the highest bid. The auction finishes and the product goes to the highest bidder.

Reverse auctions work in much the same manner in that they have a seller that’s offering an item for sale. A number of buyers all bid competitively in order to win the item that’s being sold. That’s where the similarity ends however. In a reverse auction, bidders are placing bids in order to drive the price down. When the auction finishes, the item goes to the lowest bidder. Some auctions force you to drive the price to zero before you can win, others let you continue to bid down the price until the price just gets to be too tempting and someone scoops it up in a “buy it now” fever.

Reverse auctions and other bid auctions have matured into a billion dollar global business yet they tend to remain under the radar. The primary reason is because they’ve only become common to consumers in recent years. Previously, these types of reverse auctions were used by business to business networks and government agencies.

There’s a great deal of excitement for consumers now, and it’s helping that popularity climb as more people hear about. The tension and nail-biting excitement really gets people going and can cause the adrenaline to surge in the last minutes and seconds of an auction. In many reverse bid auctions the potential buyer has to make a decision quickly about buying an item as they reveal the price lest someone else scoops it up.

With many bid auctions, there’s a constant overhanging chance that the item could get scooped up by another bidder at any time. Gone are the days of the constant flow of bids and “outlasting” other bidders. A strong strategy is needed for buyers that want to take a great deal home without overpaying in the excitement of the auction.

Gathering a Critical Mass of Members to a Forum

To engineer a successful forum, there are three key questions an administrator needs to ask before building the forum.

Goal #1. How will you gather a critical mass of members
Goal #2. What will compel members to provide content
Goal #3. How will the forum survive pass the first year
In this article we cover goal #1 – how to gather a critical mass of members.
Be niche

Your forum has to build a name for itself as the authority on a subject. All successful forums have something that sets them apart from the rest. For example, it could be the unique content of the site, an under-served niche demographic they target, or the personality of the site administrator.

If you’re creating a forum, ask yourself, “What will people get out of my forum that they can’t already get somewhere else?”

All successful forums have a purpose. They exist for a specific reason, to accomplish something. To connect people with common interests, or to facilitate conversation on issues related to the site.

One major reason many new forums fail is because there are too many forums on the same topic! Forums will not be successful if their sole purpose is building traffic for the main website.

Choice of forum software

Getting this right is critical. There is a high probability the existing forum posts will be lost by switching to different software later.

Consider search engine optimisation first. Since 85%+ of new traffic to your website will come from the search engines, having your discussion forum posts found by the search engines is essential.

Before you choose a discussion forum software package, make sure that all the posts within the forum can be found and ranked by the search engines. Most discussion forum software hide messages posts in such a way that they simply cannot be crawled by the search engines.

One way to find out if message posts within a specific forum software package are search engine optimised, is to visit a site using that software, copy a recent forum headline and paste it into Google and do a search (surround the search headline with quotes so Google knows exactly what to look for).

If the message headline comes up within the first 50 pages found by Google, you know the forum has been optimally indexed. If the headline doesn’t show, you might want to look for a different forum software package.

Most of the major forum scripts are geared for SEO, but there are ways to improve results further by adding search engine friendly URLs, or in the case of vBulletin, adding vBSEO (a full suite of SEO enhancements).

Dynamic URLs, session ids, etc. used by most forum software can be very detrimental to the forum health from search engine point of view.

Take care when choosing the type of forum and forum script or software that will be used. The forum should be easy to find and easy to use. Some forum scripts and software come with compulsory ads served from the parent company, and lead to a poor user experience.

Focus content and discussion

Users will sign up and post on your board if they find the existing content interesting, and consider it worthwhile to participate. Establish several interesting categories within your forum, without going overboard.

When launching the site you will not have many members, so keep the content focused on a few discussions only to avoid empty rooms. It is far better to have 4 active sections than 15 empty ones.

Don’t be afraid to lump similar topics together. Once a forum grows to a size where threads are pushed to page 2 and 3, then consider splitting a forum into two smaller ones.

Do not have too many off-topic discussion areas. Instead create one or two introductory discussions, where new users can post about themselves and existing users can welcome them.

Know that before making the forum public, it is a good idea to create maybe two or three threads in each forum area, so visitors will have somewhere to post. Many new forum users are too shy to post new threads on their own.

Function over form

Users care more about the content and community than the design. Image heavy sites have a high first impression, but subsequent low usability. Image rich sites take longer for each member to read threads, make a new post, move between forums etc. If the page refresh is slow, users post less and are less inclined to return. Google and Yahoo are not particularly attractive, but very successful search engines which observed the law of efficient page refresh.

Design should not be the focus, instead improve the user experience with clear and easy to use navigation, few fancy buttons and images and making sure everyone understands the functions of the site. There is no substitute for good form design, consistent branding, clear and readable type and ample white space.

Use hacks, add-ons and features sparingly

Many forum scripts have hundreds of freely available add-ons, for example, vBulletin, including social networking add-ons, live chat, shops and arcades.

The trick here is to employ fewer features, but do them well. Avoid making the mistake of adding so many features they become a visual barrier to new users, or slow existing users’ posting. Add too many features too quickly and you do not allow enough time to measure them, or allow your users to adopt them.

A simple, clean layout with features that promote registration, referral and posting are all that is required.

Super easy registration

Almost all forums have some barrier to entry, to screen out trolling and spam. However, a common mistake among forum administrators is making registration complex.

For example, some forums make you agree to rules, answer security questions, validate your identity via email and await moderator approval. While these measures counter spam, if your signup process is long and tedious, many users will give up. Try to achieve a good balance between security and ease of use.

Apart from making registration hassle-free, offer registrants some kind of benefit to join other than permission to post. These could be freebies or downloads.

Set your barriers to entry to be either large or small. Large will net you fewer members, but quality; small will gain you more users but of mixed quality.

Member referral schemes

Many forums fail due to a lack of publicity. Tell your friends to join, and if they find it interesting, they will tell their friends, who will in turn tell their friends etc. This can tie in very well with a referral scheme, whereby users are rewarded for referring other users to the board. Word-of-mouth advertising, in tandem with other forms of advertising e.g. SEO optimization, Google Ads, link trading with other forums, can result in a powerful combination which will draw more and more users to your forums.

Seeding links in other forums

Get people aware about your forum/site for free, simply by joining other forums and having your link in your forum/profile signature. Emailing sites such requests can attract negative publicity, as recipients may perceive you to desperate spammer.

The best technique is to join another forum. Have a link to your site in your signature, and try to make 10 or so posts each week. If you get a great reputation on the forum, people will check out your link. If you are a credible, it is likely people in those forums will join yours.

Useful forum articles

Forum design
Building content
Long term survival
Anthony Coundouris is a director and digital consultant for the digital marketing agency Firestarter.

How to Leverage Online Forums For Blog Traffic

There’s a very good chance if you are a regular Internet user that you spend a fair amount of time at online forums. For the people reading this article who don’t know what a forum is, here’s a brief introduction.

Online forums or “community forums”, are dynamic websites that allow users to start discussions by posting new topics, which other members of the forum can reply to. Forums are available for any topic with a following from hobbies, to business, to gossip, entertainment – virtually anything!

While forums come in different sizes, from the brand new that resemble ghost towns because no one uses them (yet), to large uber-communities, with tens of thousands of new posts made every day.

I won’t go into more detail because forums, while being simple in concept, are complex in features, you really need to go check some out if you have never seen one. Forums bring together like minded people with a common interest. If you are a forum virgin I think you will quickly become addicted once you join one full of people who share your interests and passions.

HOW TO USE FORUMS TO PROMOTE YOUR BLOG

Let me start with how not to use forums to promote your blog. DON’T join a forum and make your first post something like this

Hey check out my blog, it’s great -

www.myblog.com
Blatant self promotion doesn’t go down well in forums, especially if you are a new member. Forum communities have rules for conduct and won’t tolerate bad behaviour. Often rules are available as “sticky” posts, which are at the top of each forum page, so read them if you are unsure of what is expected from members. Even if there are no specific rules, it’s never a good idea to start off your membership in a community by trying to sell or promote something. Would you start a new friendship by trying to get a person to buy from you? No you wouldn’t, so don’t try it in a forum either.

Credibility, as I’ve mentioned before, is important, and when using forums as a traffic tool for your blog, your credibility is important again. Forum communities often have what I like to call “elders”. These are members who have made thousands of posts and have a lot of respect in the forum. They may be moderators who have been members of the forum for many years. Elders have a lot of credibility since they have devoted so much time to the forums.

ADDING VALUE TO A FORUM

You don’t have to become an “elder” in a forum, although if you find a forum which has the perfect audience for your blog, becoming an “elder” it may be one of the best traffic strategies for you to aim for long term.

The important concept to grasp is — to actually get someone to click through from an entry you make in a forum to your blog you need to have credibility and add value. The more often you add value, the more credibility you gain.

Adding value to a forum is just like adding value to your blog. If you help people to solve problems, gain insights or make money, you add value to their life. How you eventually gain traffic is simple – you leave links to your blog in posts you make in forums.

Here’s how I do it

Step 1: Forum signature and photograph

Your forum signature is the most important tool for gaining traffic from forums. In your signature you leave a link to your blog and for most forums your signature can be automatically added to the end of every post you make. Once you set it up you’re done – every post you make to a forum is a little advertisement for your blog.

Make sure, if the forum rules permit it, that you set this up first. Some forums only allow you to have a signature after you have made a certain number of posts or restrict what content and style you can use in your signature. Be aware of signature policies before creating your signature.

You should also include an avatar/photograph in your profile which is displayed in every post you make. If you are into personal branding like I am, and you should be if you want more blog traffic, it’s important you start exposing your image and name in as many places as you can. Posts made to forums help increase exposure and public awareness of “you”.

Step 2: Add Value

Once you have the basic profile data set up you need to start adding value to the forum. This means you can’t be a lurker – just reading the forum isn’t going to get you traffic. You need to start making posts, demonstrate your knowledge, expertise and personality by helping people, interacting and making friends.

Step 3: Indirect Self Promotion

Once you have built up a little credibility you can start to subtly self promote your blog outside of your signature. It’s still not acceptable to spread links to your blog everywhere, but what I like to do is offer links to my blog pillar articles when one of them is relevant to a question or discussion in a forum. This is a great way to add value to a forum and send traffic to your blog – just remember you have to get the context spot on or you will appear to be self promoting.

SIGNATURE POWER

If you just focus on making 10 value adding posts to forums every day by the end of the year you will have over 3500 links pointing to your blog, sending a nice consistent trickle of traffic to your blog. The more credibility and respect you have in a forum the greater the potential for that trickle to become a stream or even a torrent of traffic.