Guests are very important for a forum. Guests are basically members who haven’t signed up yet. Your goal is to get those guests and visitors to sign up on your forum. Here are 5 tips you should use to make your forum guest-friendly, which could eventually lead them to becoming a registered member.
Give your forum a great design
Nobody likes forums with ugly skins. That’s just a turnoff and will make you lose potential members. Be wise on the colors you choose for your skin. Are they too bright? Too dark? Try and only use a handful of colors for your forum skin. What that means is that you shouldn’t have every single color in it like a rainbow skin. Those look terrible and very childish. Think of yourself as a guest viewing your forum. Would you want to join it or not?
Keep the ads to a limit
Ads are probably the #1 factor that make guests leave your site almost instantly. Nobody enjoys heading to a site only to be forced to view a page full of flashing ads and what not. If your forum is new, I highly do not recommend slapping on ads at all.
Make some interesting topics
Guests love browsing through forums and reading the topics. Create some interesting topics that would start discussion. They might want to participate in the discussion and may register on your forum.
Show that your forum is active
Guests won’t join inactive or dead forums. You need to make posts around your forum and encourage existing members to do the same. By doing that, your forum will look active. If your forum looks active, it’s possible you will get more members as active forums have a higher chance of gaining members.
Offer some kind of registration bonus
Guests sometimes will register on forums that offer an incentive. That includes getting a freebie of some sort. Be creative and give out something related to your forum’s subject.
On Mr.Bill's recommendation, I purchased and installed vBulletin Guest Redirection System Professional to improve conversions of guests to members.
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I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
Actually, since we dont display any ads to members (guests only), guests arent all that bad! We keep the spam and spammers to ZERO, and even though we only show ads to guests, we keep it to a maximum of 2 adblocks per page + some inline-text ads.
BUT - you need that user/member generated content to keep the site alive, so we allow guest/anon's to make new forum topics and comments.
Getting new members to sign up isnt all that tough.. Getting them to stay/come back and be vocal (make posts) is the really hard part..