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Where to market to webmasters?

Suggestions on where to advertise

12:23 am on Jan 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Can you guys suggest websites that I might advertise on, with the main demographic being website owners? Specifically, small- to medium-sized message board website owners that may want to work together for a mutual benefit.

I've tried PPC on Facebook, and had TERRIBLE results (I suspect because you can't target the demographic well). That was just a bunch of money wasted, really.

I've tried Google Adwords, but there really aren't any keywords that target a search that only message board webmasters would use. So I end up paying $5 /click for the wrong audience.

I've even tried sending personal emails to websites, but with 0 replies, I have to assume that my emails are being improperly filtered.

Personally, I don't frequent many websites outside of my own, and occasionally Amazon, so I can't look to my own habits for a guide, either.

Any suggestions? TIA!
4:57 am on Jan 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Sounds like your target is too vague and general. You'd need to be a bit more specific. Anyone could be a website owner...
8:33 am on Jan 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I don't mean potential website owners, but those that currently own small- to medium-sized message boards.

Ideally, these would be owners of active message boards that are a couple of years old, have at least 100,000 monthly pageviews, and are using cookie-cutter programs (like vBulletin).

I've thought that our audience is too specific! LOL
6:04 pm on Jan 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Try Craigslist. I am putting ads up for a current popular platform and for an old obsolete platform. In both cases, I've gotten decent clients. In fact, my dance card went from being mostly empty to "I'm not going to do the laundry today because I have to catch up"

I do two things (1) look at the computer gigs and (2) periodically post an ad. To tell the truth was expecting to end up with people with hockey masks holding chainsaws.. The truth is that I've landed some really great clients.

The trick with CL is to have a well focused ad, not a generic "I do web stuff for 29 bucks" ad.. People who need help will search by the name of the product/tool they need help with.

Your mileage may vary.. Taxes and tags extra.. Limited time offer etc.

6:08 pm on Jan 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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phpBB offers advertising. Sites that offer vBulletin mods or templates that are free or paid, might offer advertising. Anywhere your potential clients are is where you should be.

How about creating a useful mod/add-on and giving it away? That's a good way to attract visitors and slip in some advertising.

Why advertise on phpBB.com?
Over 5 million visits per month.
Over 25,000 unique visitors daily with over 8000 downloads of our software.
Thriving community with over 400,000 registered users.
A very targeted audience of males between 16 and 45 years of age who are interested in technology, hosting, development and other web-related topics.
6:17 pm on Jan 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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That's a great idea MB. I may use that one!

@GoNC - Have you spent time building authority and community? IMHO - the online service community is getting harder and harder to reach with a direct ads. Invest in the communities you're targeting and gently (never overtly) let them know you have something to offer.
10:02 am on Jan 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the replies, all.

Unfortunately for me, an ad on phpBB probably wouldn't fly because, on some level, we're competing with them. We're hoping to find existing message board site owners to partner with, give them a new and customized format (away from cookie-cutters), in a revenue-sharing system.

Somehow, I doubt they'd approve an ad that says "drop phpBB and work with us, instead!" LOL

We've done this with 6 sites so far, and have had a great success in increasing traffic and revenue for everyone, so now we're in a position to take on a few new clients.

AFAIK, this isn't something that a regular board owner is going to search for, though; they really wouldn't even know that this option exists in order to KNOW to search for it. Which is one reason why (I think) our AdSense ads were a waste of money.

@Lorax, spending time building authority, etc, is a grand idea; in fact, it's how I've built most of my businesses! Dating back to my first online business in 1995, which was "marketed" entirely on Usenet by simply contributing and letting my 2-line signature file do the work.

The only problem I have with this now is that I don't know of any online communities where message board owners generally hang out. Most of them are focused on contributing to their own boards.

Which sort of leads me back to the first question; what communities would these message board owners be hanging out on, other than their own?
1:19 pm on Jan 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Good luck. You have an uphill battle convincing a site owner to let you jump on their baby's back for a ride. No offense intended, I'm not calling your business model parasitic. I'm only pointing out that the model gives that impression. Which is why your struggle is uphill and against the current.

If your company is skilled with building traffic then it may make sense to invest in creating your own communities and keeping 100% of the revenue, putting the money where the mouth is and all that. If building communities is not your thing then take some time to learn it. There's lots of scientific data as well as professional discussions about the topic. If you're bright enough to figure out traffic you're bright enough to figure out communities.
11:07 pm on Jan 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'm trying to be cautious with the information I post, because I don't want it to be perceived as advertising.

Your perception is a little off, but I can see how you got there. We have 46 websites of our own that we have been building for roughly 13 years, and they are all doing well; building communities isn't the issue there.

A few years ago, though, I stumbled across a site that had a very inferior message board system, with very little revenue being generated, in spite of a lot of traffic. The owner of the site was being hit with increased hosting fees, etc, to the point that it cost more to keep the site going than he was making. Worse, he had little technical expertise, and just changing servers was over his head. He had a good idea originally, he just didn't know how to make it profitable or how to manage the technical side of it.

So, I approached him and offered to join forces; I would supply him with an updated website (for free), unlimited hosting (for free), I would handle the marketing for the site, and in his case, I offered to take over moderating (since it was becoming a full time job for him). In exchange, I wanted to use my own ad network instead of what he was using, to increase the revenue, and then we would share the revenue.

He agreed, and within about 3 months we had everything rebuilt and working smoothly. From the day we joined forces, the revenue for the site increased by about 350%, so his share was already 75% more than he was getting before.

Since then, we've partnered with 5 other sites in a similar way (4 of them still do their own moderating, but we handle the design, development, marketing, and ads). It's worked out well for everyone, which is why I'm now working towards expanding to more partners.

I also bought one site out entirely, which wasn't really part of the plan, but that was his preference. It was a bad choice for him, though; in 4 months, we've already made more in ad revenue than the purchase price.

So, yeah, I get why you would think that this is somewhat parasitic, and that might be a handicap worth considering; I simply hadn't thought of it that way. I compare us more to an ad network; sure, they get 40%, but the 60% you get is still a lot more than you would have gotten on your own.