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Saturday, September 09, 2006

10 Not-So-Obvious Ways to Promote Your Website

It is interesting to think that out of the numerous ways in which business owners can advertise their products and services, many of them neglect to place their company's URL in the very advertising they are already paying for.

Sometimes simply placing their website URL in their paid advertising is not that obvious. Here are 10 not-always-so-obvious ways to promote your Web site.

1. Include your URL on business cards, stationery, brochures and other literature. As silly as it may seem, this no-brainer is often overlooked. You'd be amazed how many business owners either forget to place their URL on their business cards or don't think doing so is all that important. Be sure when printing your company's promotional and marketing materials, to leave off the http:// part and include only the www.domain.com portion.

2. Don't neglect e-mail and e-mail newsletters as a way to bring visitors to your Web site. Utilize the signature file option (company name, address, phone number, URL, e-mail address) in your e-mail program. Many business owners sign their e-mails with just their first name, nothing more. Moreover, many business owners still send and receive business-related e-mails using a free e-mail account or their ISP's email, like Hotmail, Yahoo, or Ameritech, rather than using their corporate e-mail account - another free Web site promotion tool.

While it's a big commitment in time, publishing a weekly, monthly, or quarterly newsletter is one of the very best ways to keep in touch with your prospects, generate trust, develop brand awareness, and build future business. Don't forget to place your URL in each newsletter you send out.

3. Take a moment to use your traditional means of advertising to add your URL. Be sure to include your URL in any display or classified ads you purchase in trade journals, newspapers, magazines and more. View your Web site as an information adjunct to the ad - to capture the readers' attention with the ad, and then refer them to a URL where they can obtain more information and perhaps place an order. Look carefully at small display or classified ads in the back of magazines or trade periodicals. Sometimes these ads are more targeted, more effective, and less expensive than online advertising. Consider other traditional media to drive people to your site, such as direct mail, classifieds, post cards, etc.

4. Become an online expert in your field. Use your expertise to become an expert in your field and promote your Web site for free. Sign up for Yahoo Answers (http://answers.yahoo.com/) or Google Answers (http://answers.google.com/answers/) and answer questions asked by online visitors. You will have the opportunity to write your company's URL in your profile. This is a great way to gain additional Internet exposure as well.

5. Issue press releases. When your business has a newsworthy event, send press releases to print and online periodicals. Use these opportunities to mention your company's URL near the bottom of each news release. There are many online PR Websites, including PRWeb.com, PRWire.com and others you may use to promote something exciting happening within your company.

6. Promote your site in mailing lists and news groups. The Internet offers hundreds of targeted e-mail based discussion lists, chat rooms and news groups made up of people with very specialized interests. Spend at least one hour each week searching for groups where a conversation is taking place. Do not use aggressive marketing and overly plug your company, even if you see some people doing so. Instead, add to the discussion in a helpful way and let the signature at the end of your e-mail or post message do the marketing for you. People will gradually get to know and trust you, visit your Web site, and do business with you.

7. Ask visitors to bookmark your site. It seems so simple, but make sure you ask visitors to bookmark your Web site. Use a text link or graphic on the homepage of your Web site.

8. Place URL in any yellow book advertising you already do. I once knew of a company who was spending $90,000 in yellow page advertising, across numerous books in the area, and included front yellow book cover ads as well as full-page, full-color ads throughout the yellow pages. Not once did they mention their Web site, which has been on the Net for many years. The company surprisingly saw no value to it.

Whether placing full-page ads in your local yellow pages, or only paying for a bold listing in the white and business yellow pages of your local directory, consider leaving open one line for your company's Web site address. Because you are already paying for the directory advertising, this is one particular place you definitely do not want to overlook.

9. Write articles for use in newsletters and other Web sites. You can dramatically increase your Internet visibility when you write expert articles about your field and distribute them as free content for other article directories, e-mail newsletters and other related Web sites. At the bottom of each article written, request a link back to your Web site and a one-line description of what you offer. This is an effective viral marketing approach.

10. Devise other viral marketing techniques. Viral marketing uses the communication networks of your site visitors and current customers to spread the word about your Web site exponentially. Some examples include word-of-mouth, public relations, referrals, blogs, creating "buzz", and other forms of network marketing.

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