The Issue: Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, from Mom & Pop retail operations to independent professionals, manufacturers and, increasingly, developers of on-line businesses. This last group is the focus of this Issue of the Week.
What I Think: Although the nuts and bolts of online business vary widely, one thing is true of them all: The need to drive consistent numbers of “qualified” prospects to the business’ website. That is, people who will want to do business with you, and who are authorized and financially able to do so. What happens once they’re there is what each business is all about, but getting them there in the first place is Job One!
Following is a thumb-check of some of the best tools and techniques for driving traffic to your website. The key parts of many successful online marketing, public relations (PR) and publicity strategies, when you find the ones that meet your needs and fit your marketing budget, do your homework to determine the most cost-effective products—including talking with people who have used them; then go for it!
These marketing tools and techniques include:
- Phone Broadcasting, or “Voice Blasting” can get your business story seen by Internet and media audiences through Search Engine Inclusion and Search Engine Optimization, and can deliver your press releases directly to targeted media and trade publications.
- Marketing with Auto Posters. Another way of making sure people know who you are and what you’re selling is with on-line classified ads. In fact, Craigslist.com, Backpage.com, Kijiji.com, Oodle.com, have provided all-important exposure for many online businesses. These directories have excellent recognition among the major search engines. Working with meta tags and specific keywords to attract the attention of search engines indexed by Google, those directories will get you in the right places with the right traffic.
- Post Card Marketing. Direct mail postcards are effective for a wide variety of businesses, and can be adapted to almost any marketing purpose. But as with any marketing technique, direct mail postcards need to be optimized in every possible way. In order to get the best return on your investment, for instance, you must seek constant improvement in every aspect of your postcard marketing campaigns. For example, you can’t do everything at once. By limiting each direct mail postcard to one product (or service, or idea, or topic), you can develop it in a way that is more likely to generate a response. You could explain the primary benefits, offer a testimonial or two, include some product photos, and make a strong offer, using a strong but realistic call to action, balancing the desired response with the right incentive. But save the rest of your pitch for your website.
- Video-Sharing Site Marketing. Youtube is the largest video-sharing site, with the most traffic and the greatest number of users. Other such sites include MySpace, Facebook and Squidoo; but Youtube remains the best place to have your videos published and marketed, with an estimated 60 million unique viewers per month and a community base of predominately Generation Y viewers born between 1979 and 1994. The fourth most-highly trafficked site in the United States, with a worldwide presence and accessible in 18 different languages, Youtube packs the power to reach any audience in America.
- Article Marketing. If you’ve been hanging out a Freestyle Entrepreneur any length of time, you know that article writing can increase your exposure by having your content and business presence reproduced around the Internet. The Benefit? By picking the right subjects, people get to know who you are, what you do, and how to contact you. And, in theory, you should be rewarded with better search engine rankings.
Try This: To get the idea, try Googling John Ingrisano, Bill Sheridan or yours truly, Bill Willard. Can’t write for beans? Just give any one of us a shout!
- Pay-Per Click Marketing. “PPC” is an Internet advertising model used on search engines, advertising networks, and content sites, such as blogs, in which advertisers pay their host only when their ad is clicked. With search engines, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market. Content sites commonly charge a fixed price per click, rather than using a bidding system. Websites using PPC ads display an advertisement when a keyword query is made that matches the advertiser’s keyword list, or when relevant content is displayed on a content site. Known as sponsored links or sponsored ads, these ads appear adjacent to or above the results on search engine results pages, or wherever the developer chooses on content sites.
Try This: PPC providers come in all shapes and sizes, Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and Microsoft adCenter are the Big Three largest network operators, and all three use a bid-based model. Cost-per click (CPC), varies depending on the search engine and level of key-word competition.
- Ezine/Solo Ad Marketing. Ezine solo ads are another effective way to get the word out about your products or services. Ezine solo ads can help market websites or any product/company the advertiser selects by targeting specific markets with an SBO’s advertising dollars. The internet is such a popular advertising venue that small businesses on tight ad budgets may not get much bang for their marketing buck, so keep your ads short and to the point!
- Pre-Written Email. With the occasional gem being the exception, email can be a pain in the neck for many recipients, but it can also be one of the most effective tools ever invented for communication-and-response, and therefore, for marketing.
Try This: Pre-write email responses to many of the common product information and service requests you receive—or simply to say, “Thanks for your interest!”–with an aim for creating emails with powerful, consistently well-written marketing messages. These can be set up as auto responders, but they can and should also be useful in one-on-one communications. As you get started with this technique, you may want to check out auto-responder software, but be prepared to edit your messages or personalize them until they fit the bill.
- Banners/Text Ads. Text Link Ads are a big part of online advertising. By using these contextual ads, users can immediately identify your service and be directed to your site. One objective of this type of program is to increase traffic to your site and enhance your business’ placement and ranking in search engine listings.
- Print Ads. Newspaper advertising can be essential to your media mix, helping to build customer demand and drive online activity. The goal? Engaging interested audiences with your newspaper ads, and driving them to your website.
Try This: You can select the right newspapers (based on demographics, location, even publication type), submit an offer, and create ads – all in one place online. Communicate directly with publishers from your account, then review electronic tearsheets as proof that your ads ran, and pay your bill—typically one bill for all your newspaper ad buys. And don’t neglect church bulletins: A painter I know who runs parisshioner ads in our church bulletin, reports that they account for 25% of his business. Amen!
What Do You Think? What are you doing to increase and enhance your on-line marketing? What strategies and ad products are working best for you? Have you registered?
Bill Willard is a freelance writer in Clearwater FL. He has been a high-impact writer and editor for over 30 years. In addition to his byline pieces, Bill’s beat includes ghostwriting and editing for businesses of all types and sizes, professional practitioners and individuals, and is a www.thefreestyleentrepreneur.com Contributing Author. Visit his Website: www.writergazette.com/WillardAssociates.shtml
Or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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