Reviews are so 2010. They were THE must have for your website a couple of years ago and still are incredibly vital, but now your online visitor demands more…much much more.

We’re certainly not denying the importance of reviews – in fact, reviews and ratings are excellent for your website and if you don’t have them already, you really should implement them quickly. Reviews drive traffic and can increase conversions and we’ve written many well received articles about this including…

–  The importance of online customer reviews

– Tripadvisor versus your own review solution

– The Power of One Review

However, next year – you need to go beyond reviews and begin thinking more broadly about what your online visitors want to see.

– How can you inspire them more?

– How can you breed loyalty when they visit your website?

– How can you encourage more repeat visits and be THE place they get their trusted information from?

There can be so much more user generated content on your website than just reviews and ratings and if you explore each stage of the buying cycle on your website, you will see you can engage with your customers and gather social media at each point.

So, before reviews and ratings which are mainly used to drive the purchase/transaction phase, there is the dream/research phase of the buying cycle.

This is where visitors to your site are undecided on what to buy or even who to buy from. They need inspiration and advice.

YOU can inspire them on YOUR website and if you do this right, you can access wider audiences at earlier stages of the decision making process.

CustomerCycleDreamPrepurchasestage450pix

Why write this article now? Well because the travel industry is about to enter it’s most intensive phase of research for the entire year and you need to know how you can maximize this in future.

One way of doing this is implementing Discussions and Forums on your website and today these have become some of the most popular ways of engaging and interacting with new audiences on your website.

The Benefits of Having Discussions & Forums on your Website

Let’s cut to the chase. What are the benefits and drawbacks of having discussions and forums on your website;

Advantages

Challenges

One of the questions we get asked most is how can I make sure this application is used or that I gather content from my online visitors? Here are a few tips;

1) Make it simple for them to contribute to your site

2) Let them know about this new feature in your emails and other customer communications

3) Proactively gather content from them – emailing them to start a discussion or ask a question on your site

4) Incentivize them. You don’t have to give them a car but perhaps you can give a small prize to the most engaged discussions on your website?

5) Navigation – add discussions and forums to relevant places on your website, such as destination pages or other information pages and allow them to start conversation around these areas. Don’t give them free reign to start chatting about anything in the world as it may not be relevant to your business.

 

What about negative comments? Click here to read an article we wrote recently specifically dealing with this but remember, we’re not looking at product reviews here – therefore, any negative content isn’t necessarily directed towards your products or services.

Establishing a discussion forum can take some initial time and effort but once people start contributing to the discussion, you’ll quickly start to see the benefits that discussions and forums can bring to your business with the time and effort needed to maintain becoming less and less as your traffic and profits go up.

Our next article will focus on Tips and Hints – this comes in at the post purchase stage of the buying cycle on your website when visitors have already purchased your products and want more advice on how to use it / the experiences they are about to have. This can help drive ancillary sales.

To find out more about the benefits of adding discussions and forums functionality to your website, call us today on +44(0)1179 055 195 or email info@digitalvisitor.com