Planning Your Website Promotion Campaign
by Tony L. Callahan
**************************************************So, you have your web Site completed. You have a great product or service, outstanding page content and a dazzling presentation. You have everything you need to become the next Net millionaire, except traffic. How do you go about getting traffic to your site? If you subscribe to the "Build it and they will come" school of web promotion, read no further. I admire those of you who have steadfast faith "miracle" web promotion. If however you are not convinced that the masses will beat a path to your door by themselves, then read on.
There are several avenues of web site promotion available to the web entrepreneur to utilize in their web promotion campaigns. There are banner exchange programs, Free For All (FFA) Links Pages, On-line Classified Ads, mass e-mailings and the elusive search engines. Each of these major categories of promotional tools comes in both free and paid flavors (except FFA Links). In this article, we will explore some of the features of these web promotional tools.
Banner Exchange Programs
Banner exchange programs are set up on the "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" premise. The problem with this premise is you have to scratch someone else's back up to twice as much as they will scratch yours. Many banner exchanges are based on a 2 to 1 ratio, meaning that for every two of someone else's banner that you display on your page, someone else will display one of your banners. This is not a bad deal for a high traffic site, but if your site receives a lower volume of traffic, you don't get much exposure. There is also the issue of providing someone a door out of your business into someone elses, possibly your competitors.
The alternative to the free exchange system is offered by many of the banner exchange programs. They are usually based on a rate per impressions basis. This means that you pay a flat rate per number of impressions. This will guarantee your banner will be displayed and is a good way to jump start the traffic flow to your site. This also circumvents the problem of a doorway out of your business as a paid member of a banner exchange program is rarely obligated to display other members banners.
Banner exchanges can be a wonderful way to get the word out about your new web site. All of my web businesses take advantage of one banner exchange program or another. Just do not expect to sign up with a banner exchange program, sit back and watch the traffic pour in. A banner exchange program is only one facet of a complete web promotion campaign.
Free For All Links Pages
The major advantage of Free For All (FFA) Links Pages are a low cost way to get the word out about your site. Low cost in terms of dollars, but certainly not in terms of time. First you have to find the pages. Try searching Web Crawler or Yahoo for free for all links pages. You either get nothing or you receive tens of thousands of results (depending on your search terms). Now you must post your link to these pages. Each submission takes between 3 and 5 minutes. You can see how this can quickly add up to be a large amount of time.
The major advantage to FFA Links Pages is that they can get your message in front of many people very quickly and economically. To determine if the FFA Link Page you have found is a good candidate for your message, look at the way the page is set up. Are there categories of links that allow visitors to peruse only the type of ads they wish to view? Are the links refreshed on a relatively short interval? If there are more than 50 links per category, I would not spend the time posting to this site. Your ad will very quickly become buried and invisible in the mass of links. After posting to several FFA Links Pages, watch your web site statistics. The sites that generate traffic to your are the ones that you should repost to.
If you have some time to spend on it, I recommend that you try Free For All Links Pages as a part of your web promotion campaign. All you have to lose is the time that you invest in them and you have total control over how much time that is.
On-line Classified Ads
My opinion of on-line classified ads can be summed up in two words: Don't Bother. The only people who spend time on on-line classified ads are the sellers, not the buyers. Therefore you only hope here is that by some miracle your ad, out of the thousands of others, catches some sellers eye. In addition to this, you have the same issues of time and volume that are present in the FFA Links Pages, as described above.
There are also classified ads that for a fee offer premium placement, flashy graphics, colored print and a host of other features to make you ad stand out. My opinion of these offerings is not much better than my opinion about the free on-line classifieds. If you have a very unique product or service, something that everyone just has to have, by all means give this avenue a try. But if you are like most of us, whose products are not that unique or vital to everyone's survival, you would be better off spending your web promotion campaigns time, money and resources in other places.
When I speak of mass e-mailings, I know some of you out there are thinking SPAM. I have only one comment on spam: DON'T DO IT! Sorry about shouting, but this is one area I feel very strongly about. Not only is spam receiving a large about of attention for various governing bodies, but it is a waste of the spammers time. Think about it. Do you read spam e-mail? And if you do read it, how often do you act on it? Lastly, what do you think of the type of company that would use this type of tactics? This is not the type of message that most of us want to put forward to our potential customers.
So is there an acceptable way to use e-mail in your web promotion campaigns? The answer is, yes there is. In order to properly use e-mail in your web promotion campaigns it is necessary to obtain the recipient's permission before sending the e-mail. There are several ways to do this, but the most common is the opt-in mailing list. Simply put, you ask your web sites visitors to join your mailing list. Equally important, you must also give each recipient the opportunity to cancel their membership in your mailing list at any time.
Once your mailing list is compiled, don't inundate your readers with e-mail. There is a difference between being informative and being a pest. If your readers begin to feel overwhelmed by your mailings, they will begin to ignore them. Worse yet, they may stop doing business with you all together. My research indicates that every two to four weeks is sufficient to remind your readers who you are without overwhelming them with junk e-mail.
There is currently a substantial debate raging as to whether or not it is necessary for a web site to be listed in the search engines in order to be successful. Putting all the rhetoric aside for a moment, the simple answer is: You must be listed in the search engines in order to be successful. Internet usage is growing at an incredible rate. More and more users go on-line every day. And how are those users finding what they are looking for? Search engines! One only has to look at the success of the scores of search engines to see that this is true.
The real issue at hand is how important is placement in the search engines? My answer is that placement is the most important issue related to the search engines. Many surveys and studies reveal that if your site is not in the first three pages of search results, it may as well not be there at all! How's that for important?
Here is where the debate gets fiery. How much of your web promotion campaigns resources is it worth to get a good placement in the search engines? And how do you go about getting this type of placement? There are many theories floating about out there, theories about META tags and keywords, content and descriptions. In the next issue of Web-Links Monthly, I will explore these theories and attempt to make some sense of them. Until then, it will have to suffice to say: Register your sites with the search engines! This may be the most important single component of your web promotion campaign.
In order to conduct a successful web site promotion campaign, it is necessary to utilize as many avenues of promotion as is practical. Banner exchange programs, Free For All (FFA) Links Pages, On-line Classified Ads, mass e-mailings and search engines all have their advantages and disadvantages. It will be left as an exercise for the reader to determine which of these avenues is right for your particular business.
Tony L. Callahan, is a successful Internet Promotions Consultant with more than twenty years of industry experience and is president of his own Internet marketing company, Link-Promote. He also publishes Web-Links Monthly, a newsletter full of tips, tricks, tools and techniques for successful web site promotions. To subscribe, send e-mail to: Web-Linksemail@example.com. For an online archive of articles by Mr. Callahan available for reprint, visit: http://www.link-promote.com/articles
Copyright ©1998, 2000 Tony L. Callahan All Rights Reserved
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