Promote Your Web Site!!
Two of the fundamental elements of ecommerce are site construction and site promotion ~ neither phase is ever completely finished, and both are equally important.
After the framework for your site is properly constructed and is available for viewing on the World Wide Web, then the focus can shift to the second part of the process: promotion.
Many of the suggestions below are things you can easily do, whereas others may require assistance (depending on your level of expertise). The good news is that much of it is not difficult ~ but you must dedicate time and perhaps some $$ to the project for it to succeed!
It's all about traffic...
The best looking site in the world with the best looking products at the best price is not going to perform unless it gets a solid visitor flow, and that doesn't happen without some effort and the need to budget some money. It is not just random window shoppers that you are looking to get ~ those are people who may not even be interested in what you have to offer ~ but rather, quality targeted traffic is the primary goal of any successful ecommerce site.
There are a number of ways you can do site promotion ~ some are free, some are inexpensive, and others are more costly. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Be sure to add a "signature" to the bottom of all the emails you send out, and in that signature put your website address and a very short blurb about your business. This does not cost anything and if you do a lot of communication, it gets your URL out to a lot of people. Check your email program's "Help" menu to learn how to automatically add a signature ~ it is very quick & easy.
- Prominently add your URL to every piece of paper literature that your business gives out ~ from business cards to letterhead to color brochures. If you've previously had all these printed and you are not yet ready to replace them, then for now you can just add a simple & very cheap Avery 5160 label (30 to a sheet) with the web address.
- Work out reciprocal linkage with other complementary sites ~ ie, they will put your hyperlinked listing on their "Links" page, and you do the same for them. This can be very effective and doesn't cost anything.
- If you have names/addresses in a postal mailing list database, then you can consider postal mailing them a postcard announcing your website.
The total cost of postage can be reasonably expensive depending on the size of the list, so if you can combine the site address information with some other announcement, then it may be more cost effective. For example, you invite people to visit your website AND you also let them know that you'll be participating at a show in their area; or, you also let them know about a special offer at your realworld store location during a certain time period.
Here's a quality postcard company: Modern Postcard
- Email broadcasting ~ If you've been accumulating email addresses then you can periodically send out a message to the entire list with updated info about your site.
CAUTION! Most people hate getting unsolicited email advertising so you'd want to only do this when you actually have something important to announce. It is best to keep the message brief and do not include any graphics that will clog their email inbox.
An example of an appropriate mass emailing that your customers will appreciate is to offer people a discount on a new item if they order by a certain date.
- You can purchase advertising in paper print media with your website address as a prominent part of the ad. Be aware that this can also be fairly expensive, so you'd only want to select publications that very directly appeal to your clientele.
- "Pay Per Click" search engine positioning ~ Programs such as Google's AdWords and the Yahoo/Bing Network will help get your site on one of the first results pages for selective queries, with moderate monthly expense.
- Online Malls & Portals ... When you are ready to take a step up in your promotional campaigns, you could consider adding your products to highly visible online outlets such as Amazon's Shops.
- Banner ads on websites ~ The price is all over the map, from trading (they run your banner and you run their's so there is no $$ cost); to a flat fee based on time or number of exposures; to a charge only if someone actually clicks the banner to go to your site.
You'd want to carefully target this market by only picking sites that would likely attract the kind of clientele that is interested in your specific type of business.
Do note that some banners are really ugly so if you are doing a trade and the ad you must run is in the ugly category, then it may very well diminish the effectiveness of your own site and will ultimately drive your own visitors away, so be very selective about what you'll accept!
- Miscellaneous promotions...
- Write articles in the field of your expertise and submit them to websites and/or to E-Zines that will feature such content;
- Participate in "web rings";
- Join topic related discussion/mailing lists;
- Create an online promotion such as a contest, then announce it widely across the WWW and to all your existing customers;
- Some people get magnetic signs with their URL to place on their vehicles ~ for instance, the side door of a car or the back door of a van;
- Send press releases to all your local media and even to national media if you are doing something special in a niche field. Here are some helpful writing tips.
The various suggestions above have worked for others and many of them may work for you as well. What is important is to realistically assess your budget and spend what you can, but don't go overboard, as there are many extraneous factors which impact customer orders on the WWW (including the general state of the economy). If you find a successful path then you can always dedicate more $$ as your sales levels rise.
The bottom line...
However much we may wish that it was real easy to make sales, it rarely works out that way. Successful ecommerce sites have learned that if they want to get something positive out of a website, then they must put something into it.
That is to say, if nothing is done to generate traffic, then it is reasonable to expect nothing in return, whereas a carefully thought out and targeted promotion campaign will help you take a big step forward in attracting the kind of customers who will support what you do.
If you work on your site promotion a little bit every week, then before you know it you'll see more traffic & more sales activity... the suggestions outlined above can serve as a starting point.
Do not hesitate to [contact us] if you need any assistance...
~ Steve Reynolds and Ann Contois
Return to the... [CWSD Home Page]