Forum Group Buys See the Highest ROI
Vendors have seen the highest ROI in forum group buys. Because Internet forums and their users are focused around a particular topic (e.g. automotive or paintball), vendors and customers gain specific advantages:
- Customers can learn about various products and offers
- Vendors can respond directly to FAQ and other queries
- Vendors can identify loyal customers and reward them to create brand ambassadors
- Customers can group together and bargain for discounts
Forums add proximity and quality to the relationships that buyers and vendors build. It sounds very much like what it is — a haven for CRM and the perfect environment for a group buy.
Forum Group Buys Can Be a Hassle
Without a doubt, while some vendors were starting to lament about daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, the more savvy vendors were busy organizing fruitful forum group buys. However, a recent study we carried out reveals that from 2013 – 2015 the frequency of forum group buys has dropped by a whopping 80%.
We think the drop is due to the buzzkill daily deal sites gave the term “group buy” combined with common group buying mistakes vendors were making. In any case, here are 5 reasons why forum group buys can be annoying and how to deal with them.
(1) You Might Miss It
Unless you frequent a forum it’s quite easy to miss out on a group buy. Even if you are a frequent forum user, you’d most probably have to navigate to the relevant topic section for group buys or sales. If this wasn’t your main reason for visiting, the opportunity could entirely slip by you.
If you want to catch forum group buys as they happen, the smartest way is to set up an RSS feed for that topic section. For many millennials setting up RSS feeds doesn’t often come naturally. However it’s simple to do and there are several RSS feed readers out there to facilitate.
(2) Tracking Engagement
Where daily deal sites have a slight advantage over independently run forum group buys is in user engagement. That is, neither buyers or vendors have to worry about hitting a minimum number of takers. In forum group buys the vendor or the organizer needs to constantly reach out and get people to opt in. This can be a frustrating effort and is amplified by members having to scroll through threads to figure out the status of a group buy.
Smart organizers found the solution of keeping the first post in a thread updated with the latest status of the group buy. Still this can be painstaking and there’s no denying that many a group buy has fallen apart because of these annoyances. LetsPool! has put together two solutions for this particular problem.
(a) A web platform that showcases the status of every group buy.
(b) A vBulletin Group Buy Dashboard that forum owners can install on their platforms.
(3) Managing Finances
Besides from the superfluous daily deal sites that made group buys seem unappetizing, scams happened often enough that some forums banned group buys altogether. While this protected customers and brand image, it also undermined the value that forums brought to buyer-vendor relationships.
There are a few options for mitigating these challenges:
-Have all group buy transactions managed by the forum
-Allow only vendors to organize group buys
-Give group buy organization privileges to only vetted senior forum members
These solutions are however limited in scope. You want group buys to be able to occur spontaneously, responsibly, and flexibly for old and new members alike. The simplest method for facilitating forum group buys is by using a platform like LetsPool!
(4) Sharing Information
Much like the difficulties with tracking engagement, tracking changing information on forum group buys can also be a hassle. This is mainly due to the nature of updates which invariably occur in the form of posts to the group buy thread. If users have to scroll through posts to find updated information and divide those from members’ comments, valuable pieces of information can often be lost.
A little trick to solve this problem is to segment a group buy into various threads. For example:
-Open one thread for posting specifications of the group buy where members have the option only to opt in. Simplify this thread by making it a poll so that users can choose between “yay”, “nay”, or “maybe”.
-Open another thread for FAQ and comments.
By creating separate threads and having links between them, forum members can more easily navigate and sift through information pertaining to the group buy. With LetsPool! there’s a dashboard where you can see all the group buy specs and a section below for comments. Easy as pie.
You will often find that there are many forums covering the same interest. Several vendors have set up accounts across multiple platforms in order to increase their reach. But you don’t need to be a genius to figure out how much duplication can happen when a vendor wants to host a group buy across multiple forums.
Vendors have turned to social media to solve this problem. Facebook group buys and even Twitter group buys have been facilitated with groups and hashtags. It’s easier to announce a group buy to a broad audience on these platforms and its also a faster way of engaging new customers. This means however that vendors have needed to come up with new ways of managing the group buy. Indeed the LetsPool! platform can be utilized within Facebook and Twitter group buys as well.
Forum Group Buys Aren’t Dead
Forum group buys aren’t as popular as they once were. However, there are sites that have used some of the best practices in this article and streamlined their group buys. You need to understand the importance of this.
Forum group buys are often independently run with no middleman and therefore see the highest ROI possible.
If you’re a forum owner, you need to start updating your policies and implementing systems to see the best benefit for your forum, your partner vendors, and your members. Contact us for a free consultation and we’ll help you gear up.