Marketing, Marketing, Marketing!!!
Okay, so now your website has been optimized to be more "search engine friendly", you've constructed some doorway pages based on your most important keywords/phrases, and you've submitted to the major search engines. Well, you're off to a good start, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. IMPORTANT: Don't forget about conventional offline marketing and possibly more online marketing!
Below is a list of possible marketing and promotional items to choose from - many of these you may be doing already; others you meant to do and forgot about; still others you've never heard of.
- Purchase Mirror Domains. A Mirror Domain is simply a unique URL (www.sitename.com) that points to your main website. For instance, if your website address is http://www.bikes.com, you may consider buying additional mirror domains that are similar to your target market, for instance www.cycles.com, www.bicycles.com, and so forth. With each mirror domain you purchase, you give visitors that many more opportunities to find your site, as well as the search engines! If you have 3 mirror domains, the search engines will treat them as 3 independent sites and index them, therefore improving your presence in the search engines threefold!
- Request Links on Industry Sites. You probably belong to various trade associations that feature member sites. Ask for a link. Even if you have to pay something for a link, it may bring you the kind of targeted traffic you crave.
- Include URL on Stationery, Cards, and Literature. Make sure that all reprints of cards, stationery, brochures, and literature contain your company's URL. And see that your printer gets the URL syntax correct. In print, I recommend leaving off the http:// part and including only the www.domain.com portion.
- Promote using traditional media. Don't discontinue print advertising you've found effective. But be sure to include your URL in any display or classified ads you purchase in trade journals, newspapers, etc. View your website as an information adjunct to the ad. Catch readers' attention with the ad, and then refer them to a Web page where they can obtain more information or perhaps place an order. Sometimes these ads are more targeted, more effective, and less expensive than online advertising. Consider other traditional media to drive people to your site, such as direct mail, classifieds, post cards, etc. Since SuperBowl 1999 we've seen TV used extensively to promote sites, since the Web is now considered a mass medium, though it is probably too broad for all but the most general portal sites.
- Develop a Free Service. It's one thing to say, "Come to our site and learn about our business." It's quite another to say "Use the free kitchen remodeling calculator available exclusively on our site."
- Request Reciprocal Links. Find complementary websites and request a reciprocal link to your site (especially to your free service, if you offer one). Develop an out-of-the way page where you put links to other sites -- so you don't send people out the back door as fast as you bring them in the front door.
- Request Links from Business Link Sites. Especially if you offer a free service, you can request links from many of the small business linking pages on the Web. When you have something free to offer, many doors open to you. Surf the Net looking for places that might link to your site. Then e-mail the site owner or webmaster with your site name, URL, and a brief 200-word description of what you offer there.
- Capture Visitor E-mail Addresses and Request Permission to Send Updates. On your website's response form, include a checkbox where the visitor can give you permission to e-mail updates about products or services. Now your e-mails to visitors are not "spam." You're responding to their request for more information. I recommend capturing first and last name in separate fields so you can market personally to them. But only ask for the information you need or they won't fill it out.
- Publish an E-Mail Newsletter. While it's a big commitment in time, publishing a weekly, monthly, or quarterly newsletter is one of the very best ways to keep in touch with your prospects, generate trust, develop brand awareness, and build future business. You can distribute your newsletter using your e-mail program, or have people subscribe on your website directly to a listserver program (such as Majordomo) offered by your Internet Service Provider.
- Install a "Signature" in your E-Mail Program. Most e-mail programs such as Eudora, Netscape, or Outlook allow you to designate a "signature" to appear at the end of each message you send. Limit it to 6 to 8 lines: Company name, address, phone number, URL, e-mail address, and a one-phrase description of your unique business offerings. Look for examples on e-mail messages sent to you.
- Promote Your Site in Mailing Lists and News Groups. The Internet offers thousands of very targeted mailing lists and news groups made up of people with very specialized interests. Use DejaNews http://www.dejanews.com to find appropriate sources. Don't bother with news groups constituted of pure "spam." Instead, find groups where a dialog is taking place. Don't use aggressive marketing and overtly plug your product or service, even if you see some jerks doing so. Rather, add to the discussion in a helpful way and let the "signature" at the end of your e-mail message do your marketing for you. People will gradually get to know and trust you, visit your site, and do business with you.
- Join a Mall. You may gain a little traffic this way, but not a lot. The biggest and free-est mall, if you will, is Yahoo. Get a good listing there, and you won't need other malls very much. Paying to be in a mall is seldom a good investment.
- Announce a Contest. People like getting something free. If you publicize a contest or drawing available on your site, you'll generate more traffic than normal.
- Join a Banner Exchange Program. Of the many banner exchange programs, LinkExchange is the biggest - http://www.linkexchange.com. Essentially, you agree to show a rotating banner on your site for other LinkExchange members, and they do the same for you, and there's a possibility you'll earn something through paid banner ads, too. Full list of banner exchange programs at http://bannertips.com/exchangenetworks.shtml
- Purchase Banner Ads on Appropriate Sites. You may need to spend money to boost traffic by purchasing banner advertising. Choose sites that seem to attract the kinds of people who would be good prospects for your business or product. Expect to pay $10 to $40 per thousand people who see your ad, and achieve a click-through rate of 0.5% to 1%. You can find media brokers who can help you find appropriate and cost-effective places to advertise.
- Buy a Text Ad in an E-Mail Newsletter. Businesses are finding that some of the best advertising buys are for small 4 to 12 line ads in established e-mail newsletters. Ads can both inform and motivate readers to click on the URL, and tend to bring much more targeted visitors.
- Rent targeted e-mail lists. We abhor "spam," bulk untargeted, unsolicited e-mail, and you'll pay a very stiff price in reputation and cancelled services if you yield to temptation here. But the direct marketing industry has developed targeted e-mail lists you can rent consisting of people who have agreed to receive commercial e-mail messages. Do a smaller test first to determine the quality of the list. S
- Employ search engine positioning. Registering your site with the search engines is the first step. But with tens of millions of webpages, your site may hardly be visible. These days you may need to construct a series of gateway pages, each tuned for a particular search phrase and search engine. Many small businesses outsource search engine positioning because of the considerable time investment it requires.
- Ask Visitors to Bookmark Your Site. It seems so simple, but make sure you ask visitors to bookmark your site.