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Small Business Resources > Marketing > Newsgroups


There are now thought to be over 30,000 Newsgroups accessible on the Internet. In fact, there is virtually a Newsgroup for every subject you could possibly think about ... and probably a lot you can’t.

What’s a Newsgroup?
Fundamentally they’re electronic forums where hundreds, sometimes many thousands, of people congregate on the Internet to discuss a particular subject. Individuals post messages, ask questions, discuss topic-related issues etc, which are read and replied to all over the world.

This represents a very powerful marketing tool and will bring home just how amazingly useful the Internet can be to your business. It’s never been so easy to reach a targeted audience, or to build your database of prospects/customers (the lifeblood of any business). It’s an advertiser’s dream. You no longer have to use the scatter approach to marketing in the hope of catching interested prospects, you can now go directly to where they hang-out.

Newsgroups are also useful for forming business-alliances and relations with others in the same/similar business as your own. You’ll be able to discuss marketing techniques; find answers to anything you want to know in relation to your business; form strong business associations (and joint ventures); source new products/services etc. All in all, this makes newsgroups one of the best vehicles on the Net to find both customers and business colleagues.

But before you can do this effectively, you need to know about something termed, Netiquette, which as you can probably work out refers to etiquette issues on the Internet. An unwritten code of practice, if you will.

The golden rule as far as Newsgroups are concerned is that you shouldn’t blatantly advertise (though there are some newsgroups specifically for this purpose). So forget about bursting on to the scene trying to sell your goods or services, or attempt to post anything that even has a hint of salesmanship about it. Do this and you’ll end up getting flamed which is the term used to describe an electronic insult.

Saying that however, if you know what you’re doing, you can enjoy a tremendous response from these same newsgroups with a subtle, smarter way of promoting your business through them. Let’s take a look at a simple Newsgroup strategy.

How To Bring People To Your Web Site
From Newsgroups Without Advertising

Firstly, you must keep in mind the purpose of your newsgroup participation. And that’s to provide a targeted group of people with a reason to visit your Web site. We only mention this in passing, because once you begin taking part in a Newsgroup regularly, they can become infectious to the extent that you lose sight of why you went there in the first place.

Let’s take a look at how best to approach Newsgroup marketing while keeping within the rules:

1. Monitoring
Don’t dive straight into those newsgroups related to your businesses subject matter, without first monitoring the postings. Spend a week or so just checking the thread of postings. What kind of issues are being discussed? What type of people post and respond (you can gather this from the language used)? What issues are discussed heavily? Which issues are virtually ignored or receive no reply to whatsoever? Are individuals making lengthy postings? Are they very short and to the point?

Just spend time in quiet observation. Get a feel for the style of each Newsgroup you monitor. Use this period as your research time.

2. Start Regular Postings
After the monitoring stage, begin to submit your own postings to the Newsgroup/s. Post answers to questions, ask questions yourself, join a discussion. This helps to get yourself known to the Newsgroup’s online community ... you become a familiar face as it were. For now, do no more.

3. Begin Posting Useful Information
Every now and then post an informative article to the newsgroup. Try to relate it to a heavily discussed issue. It should have no salesmanship, or hype, but just be informative. Though it should also be interesting in content and not staid or boring.

4. Post a More Detailed Article
The next stage is to expand a little on the information. Create a longer article, but only post a short description on the Newsgroup. This way you can either indicate at the end of your short posting that the full article is available by email, in which case you have a great opportunity of capturing a prospect’s email details, or you can indicate that you’ve stored further information at your Web site and include your URL.

There is no blatant advertising/promotion, yet it is a very effective way of bringing people to your Web site from Newsgroups that’s also acceptable.

5. Web Site Update
Every now and then you should update your Web site. Either change the look, add new information, new products/services etc. When you do this, you can send a posting to the Newsgroups you’ve been participating in. Don’t SHOUT out your update announcement, instead simply mention that you’ve updated your Web site and would like to hear what others think about it.

In fact, even before you update your site, if you’ve never posted the URL before, you can always use this same technique to attract visitors. Only this time you simply mention that you’ve just put together a Web site related to the subject being discussed and would like to invite opinions.

6. Add A Signature File
A signature file is a brief message you should always place at the foot of your posting (your email program should allow you to do this). The message should be no more than 3 or 4 lines long, should include your URL and email address and a headline-style text message. For example:

Bargain Computers ... the cheapest computers on the Net

It’s an unobtrusive way of getting your message across (your electronic signature) and is still the most effective Newsgroup marketing technique. Actually, you should include a signature file in every email you create as well. Make it a habit.

How To Find Relevant Newsgroups
As with all the online marketing techniques covered here, you’ll quickly discover just how simple the Internet is to use, and to source the exact information you require. Here’s a perfect illustration of that.

There are now tens of thousands of newsgroups and the number is growing every day. Yet finding even the most obscure of newsgroups is a simple process. If you know where to look that is.

One way is to use the search and find facility on the email/newsgroup programme supplied to you by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). But don’t manually go through them all yourself, instead perform a search on a number of different keywords that relate to your business and each time a list of newsgroups discussing the subject-related matter will be displayed. Run down the list and click to subscribe to those that interest you before moving onto your next keyword search.

However, your ISP may not subscribe to all 30,000+ newsgroups, maybe they only subscribe to 18,000 for example. So please bear this in mind. You are only searching your ISP’s database of newsgroups when using the email program, but at least this is a start.

In addition to searching through your ISP’s database, you should also check out Deja News Web site where you can search and even post, to thousands of newsgroups Worldwide. The URL is:

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