With your new understanding of creating the foundation for a good website, as described in How To Build A Successful Website – Part One, you're now ready for Part 2 – Promoting your great website!
Now, there are many ways to do this and I'm only going to cover what I feel are the most important, cost effective and impactful ways to begin promoting your website on a limited or non-existent budget. Don't fret, many entrepreneurs start their business with limited cash flow. Thankfully, creating a website and building an online business are not cash intensive 🙂
#1 Existing Relationships
Many of the large tech companies that exist today started this way. From their garages and an e-mail list of under 100 family, friends and acquaintances they began to get the word out on the street about their new business venture.
Think about everyone you've ever met or come in contact with and tell them about your new website.
Be sure to vet each contact against the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation so you don't tick people off or get into legal trouble.
Although friends and family may not be your target market, they are a vital part of your businesses success. They know you best, will often be the most honest and hopefully they will be the most supportive. Here are some things to keep in mind when informing this inner circle about your new website.
- Ask them for their honest feedback about everything on your site. You may need to provide some general guidelines if they're not web savvy.
- Ask them if they would refer your site to their “inner circle” and if not, why?
- Let them know how much you value their input and how important it is to you and your success.
- Remember to say “thank you” even if the feedback is negative.
- Don't take "negative" feedback personally. Learn and grow from it.
- Follow-up with anyone who doesn't get back to you and remind them how valuable their opinion is.
- Depending upon the size of your list you may want to offer an incentive or gift for the input your friends and family provide...don't blow your budget here...save it for real clients.
#2 Online Advertising
Once you've gotten your inner circle out of the way, the next step to promoting and building a successful website is to search out those who are in your TARGET MARKET.
Social Media is one of the most effective ways to reach a targeted audience. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others keep important demographic data on every member. There are hundreds of other sites, like MySpace that do the same and include profiles for you to review and glean from.
You can learn more about the various social media sites and how to use them, by joining our 3C Tips for Online Success insiders club, but just to wet your whistle here are some quick guidelines.
- Create a compelling profile on select social media websites – you won't be able to manage them all so be very specific
- Connect with individuals who share common interests specifically those in your target market.
- Join groups within the social media sites you belong to and contribute useful information
- Invite members to visit your website and offer their feedback or get more information about your products or services.
A blog is another great way to establish your website as credible and popular among others in your industry. Search Engines also rank blogs well because the information is recent and often more specific in focus or “relevant” to a specific topic. Creating a blog within or linking it to your website is an excellent way to drive website traffic and gain visitors or followers. Keep in mind that a blog is most effective when it is regularly maintained.
Free and Low-Cost Classifieds
There are many sites that allow you to post a classified ad promoting your product and or service. Be sure to research the appropriate ones in your industry and that appeal to your target audience. Sites like Kijiji, Craig's List, ShoeStringShopping are great places to start.
Search Engine Advertising
I'm not a big fan of PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising. It's really an expensive method for driving traffic and many times advertisers are not ready to pay for complete and effective campaigns that not only bring more visitors to their website, but also convert the traffic into sales.
Many times a lot of money is spent on banners, Google Adwords, etc. only to have traffic come and go without a single transaction that leads to an exchange of information for a follow-up or a sale.
So, in short, if you want immediate traffic, pay-per-click advertising is good, but be sure to measure and track the success of your campaigns so that you're not just throwing money into cyberspace oblivion.
#3 Offline Advertising
I'm often amazed at the number of entrepreneurs who start a business, but don't create business cards with their website address and e-mail address on them. If you fall into this category, splurge and spend the $40 to $80 CAD to get some business cards!
Your business card is probably the cheapest form of advertising you can use, so be sure to put your website address and proper e-mail address on it!
Please don't put your FREE e-mail address from Hotmail, Gmail, etc. on it...my wife won't buy from you because she won't think you're serious or legit...that's the honest truth!
There are many other low-cost traditional advertising mediums (e.g. free newspaper classifieds) which you can use. It's just a matter of determining where your target audiences are and then placing the appropriate message along with your website address to get them to visit you.
I hope this quick summary, of the initial techniques we use will be useful to your website's success.