I don't have a specific question, but I'm working on my forums at the moment and I thought it might be helpful to track what I'm doing and what works. As this is the only place I talk web development, you get stuck with it. Maybe they'll be something useful for other people with forum or you've got ideas...
I've got a big forum (over 5 million posts) but I've been neglecting it, it's ticking over but posts/registrations are gradually declining, and my goal is to reverse the trend.
I'm starting by looking at registrations.
First I compared the number of registrations to the number of people reaching a minimum of 5 posts over the last four years. Good news is that's remained fairly constant at around 22%, implying there isn't a big unnoticed issue after registration. Bad news is the number of registrations is down around 50% - part less general traffic/part less registrations.
I'm going to start by optimising what I've got i.e. increasing conversion rate of people viewing the site and registering, and also try increasing the conversion rate from registration to active posting. Then when I work on increasing traffic to the site, I'll be ready to get the maximum benefit from it.
So far I've:
- Asked nicely: I swapped the default message "If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed..." to a friendlier "We welcome new members, please [create an account] and say hello, tell us about your pet or ask for advice." (call to action with a nice big button and a line underneath on what do do if you get stuck).
- Resent activation messages to 'awaiting email confirmation users' - we've years of accounts (about 4k) that were never activated - many were spammers but I'll send a last message and display an onscreen message with instructions and then delete them to free up usernames.
Next, I'm going to try out turning off email activation... spammers are pretty smart now, is that really what's holding them back? I get a half dozen or so emails a month from people having trouble activating their accounts, and that's just the ones that are keen enough to email. Will it mean an influx of spam or more users being active because they don't have to wait on an email/swap phone apps to activate etc.?