To successfully market your Web site you need to run an on-going campaign, just as you would for a product or service. We’ve identified 11 components which we cover below. Not all apply to every Web site, and the emphasis on each component may vary according to your situation. They include:
1. Announcing your Web site with Internet search engines and directories
2. Issuing a press release
3. Announcing in newsgroups
4. Participating in e-mail lists
5. Obtaining links from other Web sites
6. Purchasing ad banners on other Web sites
7. Running on-site events
8. Issuing an e-newsletter
9. Conducting a direct e-marketing campaign
10. Integrating your traditional marketing and sales programs
11. Measuring your results
A bonus of running a Web site marketing campaign is that it introduces you to the advantages of using the Internet as a marketing medium for all your products. For example, you can send press releases to editors by e-mail, or conduct direct e-marketing campaigns that invite prospects to in-store specials.
1. Announcing Your Web Site with Internet Search Engines and Directories
The objective here is to get your Web site listed in the Internet’s equivalent of the yellow pages. This is probably the most cost effective way of reaching prospects who otherwise may not be aware of your company. Once listed, prospects who search on these directories can find your site.
There are hundreds of sites where you can announce your site. Each typically falls into one of six categories: 1) search engines; 2) announcement sites; 3) general directories; 4) geographic sites; 5) specific-interest sites; or 6) selective sites.
Always announce your site the day it’s published as it will take from a day to several weeks for the search engines to include it in their databases. It’s best to not announce before your site is published, however, as prospects who click to a site still under construction are unlikely to return.
As your Web site changes and grows you may want to announce additional Web pages to the search engines. For example, if you create a new section of your site for a new product, you may want to announce the main page of that section.
o See our tips document to learn more about announcing Web pages to search engines and directories.
2. Issuing a Press Release
A press release allows you to reach prospects through publications that cover your topic of interest. A release needs to be coordinated with the launch of your site (or it’s not news) and may be distributed by e-mail, newswire, fax or mail. The four keys to a successful press release are: 1) having newsworthy content; 2)targeting interested editors; 3) matching distribution method with editor preference; and 4) properly formatting the release for each method of distribution.
3. Announcing in Newsgroups
A newsgroup is an electronic bulletin board where people with shared interests can communicate. There are over 20,000 newsgroups on the Internet with millions of daily participants. Done right and with care, posting to a newsgroup can generate tremendous, almost instant, word-of-mouth.
If you want to post, target only those newsgroups that cover topics associated with your product. First determine if the newsgroup accepts postings. If it does, monitor the postings and participant response. When you post, provide useful advice or information, not an advertisement for your product. Be specific and keep it short. You can end with a mention that your site has useful information on the topic you are posting. If possible, become a known participant by posting frequently with both advice and questions. And don’t forget to include your signature on every e-mail or posting. If you have an announcement be sure to post it to the “announcement newsgroups” which are designed for announcements. Finally, if there’s sufficient interest, you may even want to create your own newsgroup.
4. Participating in E-mail Lists
An e-mail list is much like a newsgroup. The key difference is that messages go directly to a participant’s e-mail box rather than the participant going to the newsgroup to read the postings. For that reason, posting to an e-mail list requires even more caution than a newsgroup. Otherwise, newsgroups rules apply.
5. Obtaining Links From Other Web Sites
There are two types of links: 1) one-way links to your Web site; and 2) two-way links where you provide a return link to the other Web site.
Getting a link simply requires finding sites that have a reason for pointing to you, then asking for the link. If a site acts as a resource for information that resides on your site, the owners of the site will probably want to point to you. If you can’t get them to point to your main page, then ask for a link to your page that contains the specific information.
Seek out partners for trading links including vendors, suppliers and providers of complimentary products.
6. Purchasing Ad Banners on Other Web Sites
As more links appear on any given page, advertising increasingly becomes a way to stand out from your competition. You can sponsor another site through barter or direct payment. In either case, you can find appropriate sites to sponsor yourself or have another company find them for you.
o Join bCentral for free Internet advertising.
7. Running On-Site Events
Running events on your site is an excellent way to encourage repeat traffic. You’ll want to begin running events once traffic from your site launch begins to fade. Examples include contests, games, on-line interviews, chat sessions and audio broadcasts.
8. Issuing an E-Newsletter
You can ask site visitors to sign up for a newsletter, then distribute it by e-mail. An e-newsletter allows you to keep visitors up-to-date on site changes and new offerings. It also serves as a channel for delivering valuable information related to your products that can help convert prospects into customers.
o Visit ListBot and get a free mailing list for your Web site and stay in touch with your Web site visitors.
9. Conducting a Direct e-Marketing Campaign
Direct e-marketing on the Internet is in its formative stages. You can send your message in e-mail or HTML format; solicited or unsolicited. We do not recommend using unsolicited e-mail as the receiver bears the cost.
The trend in direct e-marketing is in “push” technologies and services. These allow you to send regularly scheduled messages and other content to individuals who have signed up to receive it. The business models for these technologies are still in definition, but they deserve attention and testing.
10. Integrating Your Traditional Marketing and Sales Programs
Start by including your Web site address on your flyers, letterheads and brochures. If there are advantages to delivering services, programs or information through your Web site, then provide an incentive in your traditional materials to get customers to go to your site for fulfillment.
11. Measuring Your Results
To measure the effectiveness of each component of your campaign, first determine where your traffic originates. Then measure what individuals do once they get to your site to determine if traffic generated from one source is more valuable than others. Note that this is different than measuring the effectiveness of the site itself. With data in hand, you can begin the process of fine-tuning your Web site marketing programs.