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Market Insight from Forums


11/28/2011 02:36 AM

Google Discussions Search

Forum discussions are a great place to discover what’s in your prospects’ heads. I rely on forums to learn:

  1. Objections and Questions I need to address/answer on my website.
  2. How people in this community talk to each other. Are they helpful and kind? Snarky? Argumentative? Supportive? Superior? Nurturing? Dismissive? Your web copy will be more effective when it matches the “tone” of the market.
  3. Misperceptions I need to clear up.
  4. Where my fans and advocates hang out online – people I can ask to beta test new products and releases in exchange for reviews and testimonials.
  5. Where I should be reading posts, replying to discussions, and being an active member of the community.

As an example, I’ll use a product I’ve been drooling over lately: FitBit.

FitBit is a small gadget that tracks your movement, activity, heart rate, and other fitness-related measures throughout the day. Been featured on Dr. Oz segments, and mentioned in a lot of fitness magazines. Suppose FitBit came to Vitruvian and asked us to help them improve their marketing.

First, I’d do a Google discussions search on “fitbit success.” Why that phrase? Because “fitbit” by itself didn’t give me much, and I wanted a phrase that first suggests a good prospect – someone looking for good news about fitbit. Here’s what I find:

Google Discussions Search

A Sparkspeople Discussion Forum

This first post includes a potential objection related to heart rate monitors and how inconvenient and inaccurate they are, as well as a question about how chest straps fit on women.

Also of interest is the fact that Andrenee001 has already purchased a FitBit prior to posting her questions. Sounds like it was an impulse buy, or at least a purchase less informed than it might have been. To prevent returns, I would encourage FitBit to include a “stick” program designed to make people feel smart and good about their decision to buy.

A Sparkspeople Discussion Forum

A FitBit Review

This is a comprehensive review that tackles the question: Who needs FitBit, and who doesn’t?

Basically, Slysam says, if all you need is a workout tracker then FitBit is not for you. But if you want to track movement throughout the day – which contributes a lot to fitness – then FitBit is perfect.

That’s a great differentiating message from all the heart rate monitors: “You don’t have to be an athlete to be fit. Most people throughout history stayed fit and slim just by going about their day. FitBit shows you how much you move each day, and you’ll soon be motivated to find ways to move more: walking, household chores, choosing the stairs over the elevator. You’ll be amazed how much weight you can shed just by being slightly more active each day.”

A FitBit Review

Comparision of another product (Body Bugg) and FitBit

This is much more technical, involving other programs called Zumba and bootcamp, and comparing FitBit with a subscription-based gadget called BodyBugg. These questions would not be on the main sales pages for FitBit, but rather on a tab for “detailed information”:

How does FitBit work with Zumba, bootcamp, and other programs?
What does FitBit measure, exactly?
How accurate is FitBit?
Why should I buy FitBit instead of BodyBugg?

I’m already seeing a pattern here – people being helpful to each other, not snarking at those who know less or are newbies. And no flaming for different opinions. This appears to be a helpful community; a subset of fitness buffs who are more “geeky” and like data-based feedback to help them work out optimally.

I would invite SlySam to be a guest blogger, to be a contributor to the FitBit support forum, in exchange for first dibs at new releases. When you have someone knowledgeable and active in your target market and they write well and prolifically and like your stuff, you should take advantage of their enthusiasm and thank them for it.

Comparision of another product (Body Bugg) and FitBit

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