TWC’s marketing is not exclusively internet based, but that is certainly where the majority of effort goes.
At conventions we pass out and leave out fliers – which is oddly uncommon in the US. We also offer convention discounts and we advertise them, which is also strangely uncommon. Lastly, we contact magazines to review our products, I’ll touch back on this shortly.
As far as internet based marketing efforts go, my experience mostly agrees with what you outline. Forum posts do us well, banners don’t do much of anything, news items do decent.
But I much prefer forums as I find them a better long term resource than social media.
Specialist groups can also be a problem, even if you specialist.
If you like say 6mm, then which of the dozens of 6mm FB groups do you join?
TWC gets the most traffic out of social media groups and that is because in answer to your question: Join all of them. Then, when you post, post to *all of them*. The traffic and attention we generate via social media groups is an order of magnitude higher than what we get from forums and related websites. There are people who will say, “arg I saw your advertisement three times” but there are also a thousand people who saw it once because you posted in multiple places.
We do observe a higher conversion rate (people who see an advertisement choosing to followthrough and purchase) from forums than from social media, but due to the greater reach of social media the former does not argue against doing the latter.
TWC also maintains a customer mailing list and e-mails out our news announcements. This is a self-selected group who have chosen to subscribe to our mailing list, but it too is an important channel to hit.
It makes it easier for me and easier for them as they only need to check one site to see what is new.
As a source for news and a forum for discussion, that is a good policy. As a company selling a product, TWC must post widely because some wargamers have never and will never visit [insert_the_name_of_any_given_website_here] and so you have to hit everywhere to get as much exposure as possible.
An often missed basic tenant of marketing is that any given piece of information should be distributed everywhere consistently. If you post to five different channels, then when you announce a new product, your announcement should appear in all those channels. Some businesses blame their customers for not seeing their announcements, but the onus is on the business to reach its customers, as the customers are not the ones trying to sell a product and make a living.
Getting back to when I mentioned magazines and reviews. Print advertisements in magazines are terribly expensive and appear to have a lower return than reviews, thus we pursue reviews. This is something I think that provides an opportunity for forum and news sites such as TWW. Presuming a high quality of coverage and sufficient depth, TWC would be delighted to provide product for review – which might in turn be a draw for more members to TWW.