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As an online marketer or affiliate, you either create your own traffic, buy traffic, or tap into existing sources of traffic. Forum marketing fall into the third category – you join a forum choked full of active members and try to get them to visit your affiliate link either directly of indirectly

Most forums will not allow you to promote affiliate links outright in posts or threads – doing so will only get you an infraction, or worse, a ban. However, putting affiliate links in your forum signature is a totally different thing.

(Thread = Topic, and Posts=Replies to a Thread in case you’re scratching your head right now)

Almost all forums allow their members to use signatures in any post they create, or reply to. If you make good use of signatures to promote your affiliate links, you’ll find a constant stream of hot prospects and ready buyers.

How to Create Your Email Signature

Keep your email signatures simple and only list at most two or three different links for maximum impact. Remember that you can always change these links later and you’ll still get traffic from all the posts containing your signature.

Some forums allow HTML in your email signature, while others only allow BBCode (Bulletin Board Code) or plain text. From my experience, most forums that are powered by VBullettin and PHPBB, two of the largest forum system on the Internet, allow only BBCode in signatures.

BBCode is a little like HTML, but the syntax is completely different. The problem is, the signature box does not have a BBCode editor. Therefore the easiest way to generate BBCode is to create a new draft post and then copy the code to your signature box.

Or, you can use our online BBCode generator & editor to generate your signatures fast.

When creating your signature, make sure you hyperlink actual text / keywords to the URL, like the example below, and also include an interesting description as to what the link is about:

How to Promote Your Signatures

Here’s the biggest secret in forum promotion – always target hot topics, and if possible try to create hot topics yourself. It’s easy to identify the hot topics – they usually have tons of replies, and thousands of views.

Some forums also automatically assign a special icon to active hot threads – usually when they have reached a certain amount of views or replies – so look out for those.

The conversation in these threads are intensive, so make sure you get in a reply or rebuttal every now and then so that your signature appears in all pages of the threads. Of course, it helps a lot if you’re one of the first to reply to a thread and get into the first page of the thread.

How to Track Your Signature Links

You may be getting tons of traffic from your signature links, but you’ll never know how much traffic you’re getting and if you’re making any sale from it if you don’t track the links themselves.

An easy way to do is, after cloaking your links with LinkTracker, is to add a campaign to the end of the link. For example, if I wanted to promote Aweber I would use a tracking link like this:

http://gobala.linktrackr.com/aweber-forumname

So if I was using a signature in Warrior Forum for example, my link would look like this:

http://gobala.linktrackr.com/aweber-wforum

This will help me promote in as many forums as I want, and yet keep track of each forum traffic individually.

What About Direct Promotion in Threads?

As I mentioned earlier, directly promoting links in threads or posts is the best way to land your ass in trouble and get banned.

However, some forums do allocate a section – probably called “Free Advertising” or something similar – where members can blatantly promote anything they want.

This may seem like a good idea at first. But once you realize that the only people actually reading content in this section are the same people posting to it, it seems rather pointless. Unless of course, you’re promoting an affiliate link that is actually useful to all the others posting in section.

A good way to know for sure if it’s a good use of your time is to track clicks from your posts in this section. If you’re using LinkTrackr, then with the same link above you can just add an “on-the-fly” subcampaign like this:

http://gobala.linktrackr.com/aweber-wforumfreeads

After a few days, you can view your subcampaign stats and see how much clicks you’re getting.

What About Paid Forum Posters?

Yes, you can actually pay people to go to forums and reply to threads or create new threads on your behalf (and even using your name), and use your signature in all their posts. However, I do not recommend this because:

  1. It’s not good for your personal branding, as you cannot have complete control over the communication style of the poster
  2. It’s not good for long-term credibility especially if you’re trying to build authority in your niche

The only reason you may want to hire a paid forum poster is for SEO purposes. Instead of promoting an affiliate link directly in signatures, you use them to build one-way links to your affiliate website. If that’s what you want to do, then I recommend you check out paid forum posting from SubmitEdge.

With SubmitEgde’s service, you can also pay for unique profiles. Once the forum posting is completed, the profile is handed over to you. Of course, that will cost much more.

What About Forum Marketing Software?

Ok, first of all there is no such thing as a “forum marketing software” – only forum spamming software. Most software I’ve seen help you post to various forums automatically, but basically they are spamming the hell out of those forums and I do not recommend that you do that.

Besides, you don’t need to post to a hundred different forums unless you’re doing it for SEO purposes. To make sales as an affiliate, all you need to do is:

  1. Find the correct forums (4-5) that suits your niche market
  2. Only promote a handful of links (2-3) in your signatures
  3. Find hot threads that are related to the links, and participate honestly in them
  4. Track your links so you know where your traffic is coming from
  5. Focus more on the forums that give you the best traffic & conversions

Any questions? Do post them below.

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