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.
Here are 10 inexpensive ways to drive traffic and new customers to your Web site:
1. Search engines: A former client, which provides broadcast e-mail and fax services for corporations, runs ads on Google (GOOG) - Get Report (Stock Quote: GOOG). The company uses Google Ad words. A searcher 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 ReachLocal, which focuses on local searches such as "Florist in Downingtown, Pa.," which probably cost around $100 a month.
(GOOG) - Get Report2. Publicity: 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.
(GOOG) - Get Report3. 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 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.
(GOOG) - Get Report4. Links: 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. Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Report (Stock Quote: AMZN) 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.
(GOOG) - Get Report (AMZN) - Get Report5. Classified advertisements: Newspapers make the bulk of their money selling classified ads, but now online sites such as Craigslist, which costs nothing, and eBay (EBAY) - Get Report , which charges various fees (Stock Quote: EBAY), 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 his various services, along with prices charged.
(GOOG) - Get Report (AMZN) - Get Report (EBAY) - Get Report6. Online 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 here.
(GOOG) - Get Report (AMZN) - Get Report (EBAY) - Get Report7. Sponsorship: 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.
(GOOG) - Get Report (AMZN) - Get Report (EBAY) - Get Report8. Partnerships: 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.
(GOOG) - Get Report (AMZN) - Get Report (EBAY) - Get Report9. 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.
(GOOG) - Get Report (AMZN) - Get Report (EBAY) - Get Report10. E-mail marketing: I am a strong networker and have collected more than 7,000 contacts over the years, so I have a nice-sized group to e-mail. I also leverage LinkedIn and Facebook.
Don't despair if you don't have bags of money to spend promoting your site. Just be creative.
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