Before the internet, merchants often made more money by withholding information. To shop around for a car, you had to comb through scores of newspaper classifieds or drive to several dealerships just to compare prices. Before do-it-yourself websites, a contractor banked on your insufficient knowledge of the electrical components in your house. If someone didn’t teach you and you didn’t have the time to read a book about it, you just had to trust the person selling you the good or service.
Now, comparative shopping sites can pull up the same product’s pricing from dozens of sites in less than ten seconds. The service that seemed too hard to do on our own is outlined step-by-step on a do-it-yourself website. In this internet age, being an informed consumer is easier than ever. Rather than trying to hold on to information that your customer should be able to find anyway, be the first to offer useful information in forums so you can become an influencer in your industry.
What are you more likely to trust—a site that is completely new to you or a site that is owned by a trusted member of the forum you like? Would you be more likely to trust a site that has no other presence on the web aside from their store, or a site that pulls up on pages and pages of forum and blog posts when you Google them? You can put your phone number, address, and profile on your store to establish credibility, but it doesn’t show that you are a leader in an industry. It just shows that you exist.
If you read our blog frequently, you saw how creating a blog can help you establish yourself in an industry. But how will people know about this blog? Participate in forums, and when appropriate, you can include links to your blog or even your store with helpful information. Forums are full of people with tons of questions. If you can answer those questions AND lead those people to a blog post or your storefront with even more relevant information, you can gain that customer and possibly other forum members who read that thread.
Be sure that the forums you post your links in allow links in their forum posts. Sometimes forums consider this spamming. Spamming a forum can get you banned from that forum. Just read the terms and conditions for the forums you join.
So focus on offering a service to the web community. You will be rewarded by search engines, and hopefully by more customers.