The World Wide Web is the fastest, most efficient way of communicating and making information available to others that we have ever had. After putting your website up on the internet, the next logical step is to let everyone know it is there and get them to visit it. This is most usually classified as generating and increasing traffic to the website. Another point to keep in mind is that you want “qualified traffic”, which means people who are actually looking for the product or service that you provide.
The web provides you with a huge, global market for your goods or service, but all the usual rules of marketing still apply – you need to have a quality product that is in demand for people to want to visit your website or stay long on it, and you still need to spend time promoting the website.
It’s important, when you begin marketing on the internet, that you keep statistics to enable you to locate which actions are working and to make sure you don’t invest time and money in a campaign that brings little return. There are three main areas that you should monitor to help control the marketing campaign.
Click Through Rate ( CTR )
This would apply mostly to adds run on search engines. It is the number of times your add is clicked-on out of the number of impressions – how often the add is displayed as a result of a search query .
This is the percentage of people who take the action you want them to take once they have reached your website. This may be to buy a product or service, opt-in to a mailing list or send you an Email.
Return On Investment ( ROI )
This last area is a measure of how much it is costing you to run your campaigns, compared to your profit.
The rest of this document briefly covers the main areas of promotion currently available on the web. Some of these areas have had books written about them specifically ( such as the Definitive Guide to Google AdWords by Perry S. Marshall ) and there is a lot more you can learn about each of these areas if you search the web for information on them. You can type the name of each one of the categories listed below in a search engine to pull up resources for and information on each.
The term “submitting your website” is used often in the rest of this write-up. It simply means filling in the details of your website for the people who maintain the service you are using. The details are most often the domain name of your website, a short description and keywords, and sometimes your personal details.
1) Web Directories
Web directories are maintained by people. When you submit a website to a directory someone actually goes and looks at it and decides 1) if they are willing to include it in the directory, and often 2) where it should be listed. Most are free. Some require a fee.
When you start going around and submitting your site to these, it is a VERY good idea to keep a database – or at least a written list – of all the ones you have registered with along with the user name & password you provided. By the time you have submitted to 10 or more directories it is unlikely you will remember all the details !
2) Search Engines
Search engines maintain a database of all the pages on the web, along with short descriptions, keywords to enable the pages to be found, and links to the relevent pages. The major search engines are Yahoo! Google, MSN and AOL. Most of the other search engines now get their results in part, or completely from these major engines.
Search engines often use programs ( called spiders ) to automatically locate and update new content arriving on the web and keep their listings accurate. This means that when you put a website up on the web, even if you do nothing,, it will eventually be found and listed. In this case though it may take some months. It is faster to go to all the major search engines and submit your website yourself to initially get listed. There are many things you should do to get a higher placement in the listings – what they are depend on the type of listing you are using.
Relevancy Based Listings
When you perform a search on Yahoo! or Google and many other search engines you’ll notice that you get results listed in several places. Usually there will be a partitioned row of results at the top, a column set off to the right or left and then a main body of listings lower left.
The main body provides results based on the keywords and descriptions found on your website. For this reason, it is important to have words that accurately describe your service in the text of the website and the titles of each page. As well, you should include both keywords and a short description in the markup code of your website inside “META tags”.
They look like this –
<meta name = ‘keywords’
content = ‘Villoni, Scala, clothes, bridal, bridesmaids, formal-wear, wedding, wedding dresses, dresses, ladies fashion, fashion, clothing, clothes, designer, designer clothes, designer dresses, made-to-measure, shop, store, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney, Australia’ />
<meta name = ‘description’
content = ‘Villoni has been established in Sydney since 1977, catering for the bridesmaids,
bride to be and mother of the bride. Our formal-wear suites every occasion from school formals,
parties, special occasions and dinner parties.’ />
things that you should work on to acheive higher ranking in the free / relevancy based listing are covered more in the last section on Search Engine Optimization.
The other two areas of listings are sometimes / sometimes not, labelled “sponsored listings”. This means that the advertisers are paying to have their websites included in these areas. Most usually, the advertiser bid against each other to get the higher position. ie: if I say I’ll pay 10 cents each time someone click on my listing, then someone else says they’ll pay 11 cents per click, then their add will appear above my one. This is also known as pay-per-click advertising. Both Google and Yahoo! offer it and there is a lot written about strategies to get the most for the least using the service.
The most well known pay-per-click advertising program is Google Adwords.
3) Classified Adds
Often you can place classified adds for free with classified-add running websites. Not only does this give you some exposure to people looking through the adds, but it also increases the number of references to your website overall. Search engines often include the page where your advertisement is as another search result for your website. Similarly to your submissions to web directories, it’s wise to keep a list of all the classified services you advertise in so that you can later change, or renew the adds.
4) Ebay & Yahoo! Auctions
Ebay is a huge auction marketplace that allows merchants to advertise their goods which then get sold to the highest bidder. There are many companies that now sell stock exclusively on Ebay, mailing purchases directly from their warehouse and avoiding any need to operate a storefront. Yahoo! also runs a similar online auction. On-line auctions are best suited to selling products rather than services.
5) Banner Exchanges
Banners are panels that are placed on websites separate to the main content and are used to promote something. You can join a banner exchange and give them a banner promoting your website. The exchange will then run the banner on other peoples sites in exchange for you running other peoples banners on yours. You can find LOTS of banner exchange services if you search the web for “banner exchanges”.
6) Link Trading
You probably know other businesses that have websites & it is a good idea to exchange links with them especially if the customers who visit their websites would be potential prospects for you. You just need to communicate with people who are in charge of their companies website and offer them a deal !
7) Marketing by Email
Giving something of value to potential clients before actually selling them a service or product often works very well. Traditionally it has often been the first in a series of books or a magazine with some solutions to problems that may face client.
On the web it is very easy to send lots of people Email or E-newsletters that keep them up to date on solutions to problems or give them useful information. When it comes time for them to look for someone to provide a service or product it is then likely that they will turn to you.
A sure way to turn people away from you is to send them unsolicited Email ( spam ), so it is important that they request the communication from you first. This is done by having them “opt-in” to a regular Emailing. This is usually called “permission based internet marketing”. You will see many websites that offer free newsletters and information that require the receiver to enter their name and Email address and request that it be sent to them.
From the technical viewpoint, automating this type of promotion is something that can be built into a web application without too much difficulty. The clients details are kept in a database, set up on the same host as the website, and programs can be written to automatically send out the free mailings. The mailings can be written and updated on the web in a similar manner to updating a content-managed website.
8) Affiliate Programs
These programs are based on a commission system where you offer the holders of other websites a cut of any sale that is referred from their website. They then advertise your service on their website with a link back to you. You can automate your own website to handle tracking of commissions.
There are thousands of newsletters published on the internet and often advertising space is very cheep. They often have large databases of opt-in subscribers who automatically receive their copies by regular Email. It is well worth while locating E-Newletters that cater to your public and place banners that link to your website.
10) Traditional Media
Write your domain name on your letterhead, sides of vehicles, business cards and everywhere it can be seen. Let all your clients know that you do have a website and that they can obtain useful information from it.