A large part of my consulting practice is developing and implementing marketing plans for organizations that depend on their Web sites to sell products or promote services.
Company leaders have visions of leveraging the Web to be a low-cost, high-impact marketing tool and sales generator.
There are 10 inexpensive ways to drive traffic and new customers to your Web site. Here they are:
1. Search engines:
A former client that provides broadcast e-mail and fax services for corporations runs ads on
. The company uses Google Ad words. An Internet surfer types in "broadcast e-mail," and small ads appear on the side of the search page. When you click on the ad, you go to another site, whose owner pays as little as a nickel and as much as he thinks a lead is worth. My client told me he gets hundreds of leads each day. Go to Google and click on "advertising." You can also do this through
, which focuses on local searches such as "Florist in Downingtown, Pa.," which probably cost around $100 a month.
Every day, editors receive press releases about new Web sites. Send a two- to three-paragraph letter to the business editor, letting him know what makes the Web site unique and why readers would be interested. Paste a screen shot of the Web site into the letter. Unique and compelling content will always garner interest.
3. Target list:
Make a list of local, regional and national newspapers, magazines, on-line publications, and radio and television stations. Once you have sent the releases, call the editors you mailed and faxed information to within three to five working days to make sure they received it and check to see if they have any questions. If there isn't an immediate response, politely send them updates on how your site is doing.
Develop links to other Web sites to drive traffic to yours. Offer site owners a 5% to 15% commission. The amount of commission you offer will be dependent on the gross profit margins of your products.
has developed such a successful links program that there are over 100,000 sites selling books for Amazon and each owner receives a commission of up to 15%, depending on the volume of business.
5. Classified advertisements:
Newspapers make the bulk of their money selling classified ads, but now online sites such as
, which costs nothing, and
, which charges various fees, have become the best places to run ads from products to services. If you are selling a service such as magic shows for children or handyman services, nothing tops Craigslist. A magician can show photos and videos of his act and a handyman can list all of the various services, along with prices charged.
6. On-line newsletter:
Develop a newsletter that provides insight into your industry. First, send it to everyone on your e-mail list in your computer. Then offer it for free to individuals who visit your Web site. My client can develop a weekly parent's advice column and interview authorities on raising children. She can e-mail the newsletter once a week. The best and easiest service is
Offer to donate your services or products at a charity auction. Charity auctions publicize their events and what is being offered to prospective attendees. Usually, charities mail to a minimum of a few thousand people to attract a strong audience.
There are media outlets willing to provide free advertising for a percentage of the sales of a product with potential. One large regional newspaper provided free advertising to a Web site company that sells collectibles.
9. Network marketing:
Offer individuals who are looking for second sources of income the ability to promote your Web site for a percentage of sales. This would work similar to companies allowing you to link of their Web site, except this audience may not have an online presence, but they would be glad to hand out brochures and talk about your product or service. Information these individuals would need could be posted on your site, and they could download your presentation materials as they need them.
10. E-mail marketing:
I am a strong networker and have collected over 7,000 contacts over the years, so I have a nice-size group to e-mail. I also leverage
Don't despair if you don't have bags of money to spend promoting your site. Just be creative.
Marc Kramer, a serial entrepreneur, is the author of five books and is an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton's Global Consulting Practicum, where he serves as Country Manager for Chile.