It doesnt matter if you have a small, personal Web site or a huge corporate Web presence. The purpose of putting a Web site together is to get the right people to see what youre doing, and if youre selling something, for them to buy it. A lot of Web sites are like billboards in the desert - pretty but never seen.
Most people Ive talked to have made a huge mistake and have put off launching their Web site until the last minute. Promoting your site is something you should start after you have a basic prototype to show potential partners. You can usually put this prototype online in a hidden area so you can restrict viewing. You also need to get Some feedback on your first designs.
Contact the owners of Web sites that are similar to what youre doing, and in most cases, dont be afraid of contacting competitors. People view an average of five to seven Web pages per visit, so if they leave your site youll want to send them to another site that is sending you traffic. You can swap links, banner ads, or even write articles cross-promoting your sites.
Getting people to your site is expensive. Some studies have shown that it can cost up to $20 to get one person to come to your site. If only one percent of visitors buy something, youll be in trouble quickly. By swapping links and doing cross-promotions, youll be able to drive a lot of qualified traffic without spending a lot of money.
If you are selling something, consider paying an affiliate a percentage of the sale. Avoid paying for traffic, as these deals can easily be cheated and youll wind up with a lot of traffic and no sales. Even if you pay an affiliate $1 for every $20 you sell, youre getting a low-cost way of selling products. These partners will drive traffic to your site if theyre making money, and its a cheap way of paying only for marketing that works. A site that will manage this process for you is Commission Junction.
If you have an e-mail list, you can have the partner Web site be a "sponsor" for your newsletter. You can trade this for being a "sponsor" of the partners list as well (or sell the sponsor placements and use the money for marketing programs). To get email addresses, you can ask for them, but giving away a small prize (a Palm M100 costs $149) works best. Never abuse these names or sell them to anyone else, and make sure that you put a privacy statement on your site so visitors will know exactly how youre going to use their names. Send them about two mailings a month at most, and make sure you include some useful information - not just a bunch of ads.
You can also purchase email addresses in very targeted categories. This can work very effectively - you can target people that love Sushi and send them a personalized offer. However, this type of promotion tends to be expensive, with names costing 15 to 20 cents each. The best way to try this type of marketing is to purchase a sample of the list and do a test mailing.
Some companies offer a banner ad exchange program. One of the better known is Link Exchange (now part of BCentral.com). You put a banner space on your site, and you get a certain number of ads on another site in return. You can even select the type of sites you want to put your ads on. This works great if youre getting a lot of traffic but dont have a huge budget.
Beware of promotions and opportunities that address a large group of people outside your customer base. These are typically sweepstakes programs that give away $5,000 or a large prize. They tend to attract a huge audience of people that arent interested in your product or site, and instead cost you money and time, especially if youre paying for your bandwidth.
Get your name out there any way
you can. Amazon.com
is a great example of branding. Almost everyone knows their name,
and a large percentage of Web shoppers have purchased from them.
Amazon.com is a great brand; they have a well-defined and mature
Web site, and they are able to get as many as eight percent of
visitors to buy. Spend some time at Amazon to see how they sell.
The only way to fail at Internet marketing is to do nothing. The cost of entry is low, the overhead (if youre smart) is low, so you can have some time to experiment and find out what works.