Journal Starting a Forum (This One!)

Discussion in 'Case Studies and Journals' started by cardine, Dec 10, 2015.

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  1. cardine

    cardine Administrator Staff Member

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    Update #5

    The Apex Forum Affiliate Program was launched, where users can make $5 (or for a limited time get a free month of WordAi or Microsite Masters) for every new active user they refer.

    I also started doing Twitter Ads for Apex Forum, and will create a journal talking about what worked and what didn't work for me once I have some data under my belt. @megodon and I will be spending some time this week continuing to hone our ads and optimize.

    I've been updating the Parasite Case Study with what I think is some interesting new data.

    I've been preparing for a new case study we'll be doing involving automation that I think is going to be really cool. I will continue working on this and I hope to be able to post the new case study thread sometime this week.

    Lastly, I've been trying to stay as active as possible - it's been a lot of work but it's also been a lot of fun!

    On the horizon I'll also be doing Facebook ads, as well as sending a couple more emails out.

    I already kind of knew this but as much time as I'm spending with the affiliate program, the Twitter ads, the emails, and the Facebook ads, the thing that is going to make the most difference is the content and not the marketing. So although I have a lot of marketing things planned, high quality content is by far the most important part at this point.
     
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  2. propipper

    propipper Member

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    Hello.

    Yes, I wish you success as well with the new forum and glad to be a part of it. Working on a case study myself and will post that when ready to move forward.
     
  3. cardine

    cardine Administrator Staff Member

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    Update #6

    We did one more email for Microsite Masters users which generated a much better response than the first one did. At this point I think the vast majority of emails we'll be sending out in the future will be profiling content that has been posted. (Instead of "Sign Up for Apex Forum" future emails will read more like "Check Out This Parasite Case Study").

    We also have been doing some work growing our social media following. We have our Twitter up to 152 followers, and we are about to start doing the same for Facebook.

    Social media question: On our homepage we have the "Like" and "Tweet" buttons but those are specifically for the homepage of Apex Forum and not for their respective social media accounts (so if you click the "Like" button you do not "Like" the Facebook page). Should we change that and put a Facebook widget in there instead which links to the Facebook page?

    I've also been reaching out to various different blogs and industry leaders to get ourselves in front of different groups of internet marketers, SEOers, and business owners.
     
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  4. dzianis

    dzianis Moderator Staff Member

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    I think you shouldn't be sending people away from the forum while they're on it, and a FB widget would be sticking out a bit too much in that sidebar. Small FB and Twitter widgets showing feeds from those accounts could be placed in the footer, what matters most IMO is the sharing buttons on each individual thread, since it's reasonable people share content and not the forum homepage.
     
  5. cardine

    cardine Administrator Staff Member

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    Update #7

    Right now Apex Forum is starting to reach a good place with a bunch of consistent activity. It has been growing a bit through word of mouth as well, which is very encouraging.

    On the marketing side we have been continuing our Twitter ads and have started Facebook ads now as well. We are looking into potentially doing Reddit ads, and are also getting a couple small media buys started.

    In line with the last update we have continued talking to several industry leaders and we should be seeing a couple of them popping up in the next couple of weeks.

    I'm continuing to post content with the parasite case study now getting some very interesting results. There is another SaaS I'll be launching soon and sometime in the next week or so I'll do a Journal here where I log every little thing I do to market it. Lastly, I also have a couple more contests that are going to start very soon that I'm very excited.
     
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  6. KS1905

    KS1905 Active Member

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    Any plans on creating a PodCast? Maybe interviewing some of the members or talking about the topics. EcommerceFuel does that with their forum.

    Or maybe some Apex-branded educational videos/tutorials on youtube and other sites linking back to here for traffic.
     
  7. cardine

    cardine Administrator Staff Member

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    A podcast is a direction we might go in. I'd have to think about that a little more - might work to post a podcast here and then have a discussion spawn from it.

    For educational videos I'm a little wary as I want to avoid the "secret mind blowing illuminati methods that are really just basic marketing 101" that other people are doing right now - I'd have to think of a better way of making info and presenting it where a video format makes more sense than a blog post format.
     
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  8. L_C

    L_C Member

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    You don't know how much this statement made me smile. More amazing still is the people that eat it up like it is a revelation.
     
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  9. cardine

    cardine Administrator Staff Member

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    Update #8

    Did my first "content email" two days ago, where we email to a post on Apex Forum and the focus is only on getting people to read the content as opposed to making a hard sell for them to signup or anything like that. It went well and I think that we'll do it some more, provided of course that we are only emailing out really high quality guides and case studies.

    We also have an AMA slated for the very near future that I'm pretty excited about.

    Lastly we are making plans for our very first SEO contest, so I'd love to hear any feedback anyone would have on that.

    I'll also likely be starting the SaaS case study sometime early next week.

    Lastly, now that we have social media ads for both Twitter and Facebook, we are planning some outbound advertising campaigns. Things like Adwords, content network, media buys, and later retargeting.
     
  10. mark73

    mark73 New Member

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    You have done an excellent job here Cardine, the content is Top notch! Though well above my pay grade I'm afraid.

    I was actually recommended this forum on the Skype group I joined, so the word is definitely getting around.

    My inexperience will be of no help in case studies, so I'll try keep myself to the newbie section you've setup, and post any questions I have their.

    Thanks for this resource.
     
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  11. cardine

    cardine Administrator Staff Member

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    It's great to see you here, and welcome! In addition to the newbie section if there are any projects you are working on you should definitely consider starting a journal, we can always give feedback on whatever it is that you are working on.

    Regardless, welcome and I look forward to seeing you around on Apex Forum :)
     
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  12. Reborn

    Reborn Member

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    I think you haven't talked about this in this thread yet - did you hesitate between different forum software solutions, and why did you choose the one you're using now?
     
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  13. cardine

    cardine Administrator Staff Member

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    Good question! I spent quite a bit of time thinking about it. In the end I was deciding between vBulletin and Xenforo. In the end I decided that Xenforo was more modern and more scalable. For instance things like referring to a user inline by just using "@", likes built right in, social integration built right in, and the layout seemed like a natural evolution of vBulletin. And I have heard many bad things about vBulletin at scale.
     
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  14. cardine

    cardine Administrator Staff Member

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    Update #9

    We ended up doing our first AMA with @MatthewWoodward which was very successful with a lot of great questions by users and a lot of great questions from Matt.

    We are still finishing up plans for the SEO contest and I hope to have it completely announced by the beginning of next week.

    I started the SaaS journal as promised, although I still need to do quite a bit of work, both in terms of actually promoting the SaaS and talking about it in that journal.

    I have created an Adwords campaign for Apex Forum and so far it is doing very well. The cost per conversion is a little high to start, but I am ok with overpaying a little bit at the beginning to get Apex Forum in front of more target people and there is plenty of room to optimize. A content network and remarketing campaign will come very soon as well.

    I've been continuing to write lots of (hopefully!) high quality content and also making sure that some of this high quality content also gets seen on industry relevant content aggregators.
     
  15. JasonAAO

    JasonAAO Member

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    any plans on opening a BST section? I dont think that question has been asked yet.
     
  16. dzianis

    dzianis Moderator Staff Member

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  17. Anaconda

    Anaconda Established Member

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    I hate facebook groups, miss a day, week or month and you might as well not bother going again. The same question come up 850 times because there is no way to track anything. I love a forum where everything is logically discussed within a thread. Thank you! I'll try not to make too much of a nuisance of myself. :)
     
  18. cardine

    cardine Administrator Staff Member

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    Update #10

    The first Apex Forum SEO Competition is now live! I spent a lot of time getting this all setup and benefited a lot from all of the great feedback that everyone provided. I'm now working on promoting the competition as much as possible before we reach the deadline to enter (Monday March 21st). We've already done a couple emails and we'll be doing a couple more. We also have Twitter and Facebook ads set up to try to get as much publicity as possible for the competition before it starts.

    As my first case study comes to a conclusion, I'll be looking to start another case study or two to take its place. I have a couple ideas myself, and if anyone else has an interesting SEO theory they'd like to see proven or disproven, or something they think would benefit a lot from a case study let me know and I can consider it as well. I'm also going to very soon start compiling all of the things we've "learned" from each case study so that there is a central Wiki style thread with a list of claims that have either been supported by data from one of our case studies or refuted by data from one of our case studies so that we can easily keep track of all of the useful things Apex Forum users have been uncovering.

    I've also been working a little bit on getting some free publicity as well. I was able to get the contents of this thread as the number one post on /r/entrepreneur, and did some work both directly and indirectly to help get other posts talked about on several other different sites. There were a bunch of small successes and a lot of lessons learned for the next time around.

    And of course, I'm posting as much as possible with as much quality as possible.
     
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  19. sites

    sites Active Member

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    [ x ] Newbie friendly culture
    [ x ] High quality posts, in spite of #1
    [ x ] Great and consistent gamification strategy, including tactics which cannot be replicated easily
    [ x ] Brilliant cross marketing of products
    [ x ] All the above with minimal friction

    You are off to a great start. Kudos.
     
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  20. cardine

    cardine Administrator Staff Member

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    Update #11

    We got the first Apex Forum SEO Contest up and running! It took a lot of effort to get going. I spent a lot of time with @megodon organizing the pretty awesome prize pool, emailing users, and getting other people to talking about it as much as possible. Now that it is up and running we will be working on maintaining it, and I'm extremely excited to watch how everything unfolds!

    I've been doing more guerrilla style marketing. The WPSerpFuel thread led to a little bit of controversy to the point where the product owner created two pretty long videos arguing his points. I fully stand behind every point I made, but I also am pleased with the amount of organic linking and traffic that happened in other places where that product was being discussed.

    I've been a little neglectful with my other case studies with all of the time I've been spending everywhere else! We have a couple more case studies that we will be starting soon that I've been putting off until Article Forge is launched and the SEO contest is running smoothly. With that being the case I'm still spending a lot of time writing as much high quality content as I can... which is still a lot of writing!

    I'm extremely excited about how this month has progressed - this is the most consistently active I've seen Apex Forum and the signal to noise ratio has been awesome recently!

    I also thought I would post some stats for February. Here are the Google Analytics numbers for how people are finding Apex Forum (I blanked out the actual numbers, but you can see the percentages):
    upload_2016-3-23_17-3-22.png

    I don't know if there is anything specifically you can draw from that, but it is cool to see what the distribution is. The "Paid Search" metric is a little wonky - out of the 8.27% that Analytics is reporting, only 0.41% of it is from Adwords, and everything else has "not set" as the keyword so I have no clue where that is coming from. These "phantom paid traffic" visitors are also screwing up the bounce rate, pages/session, and time on site metrics as well for the "paid traffic" category.

    I'm also starting to find for my Adwords campaign there are specific keywords that are converting better than others. For those better performing keywords I have been doing outreach to the sites that are currently ranking organically.