If you build it and don’t tell anyone, nobody’s coming.
A Fortune 50 company spent high six figures to develop a website. In many ways they were ahead of their time and their competition. But when a member of the development team tried to get the URL included on his new business cards, the company refused. The rationale? “Why would we do that? And besides, we’ve never done that before.”Chuckle if you will at this true story, but it is just an extreme example of how some companies handle their websites. Just having a website is not a strategy. Instead the goal is to reach certain audiences, and the Internet can be a very effective way to do that. Yet not integrating your online presence with the rest of your marketing is like printing a brochure and not giving it to anybody.
There are more than one billion pages on the web today. Next year at this time there will be more than two billion, with five million being added each day. Your audience won’t find you by accident, so you need to do something to help get the right people to see your site. A solid integrated marketing and promotions effort can double traffic for even long-standing sites.
The bedrock of that effort is site registration, so people can find you through normal search functions. With research showing up to 85 percent of Internet users finding what they need via search engines and directories, you ignore this simple step at your peril. Even very recognizable names see an increase in traffic and business by improving their rankings in the search engines through registration and optimization strategies.
Putting your URL on and in everything is another simple step to attract visitors to your site. So is online or offline notification. If you have a sizeable mailing list or client distribution, use it your advantage to tell these important people about your new website. While new sites don’t make headlines anymore, you can still grab attention through the traditional media. There are an increasing number of Internet columns and sections in daily newspapers, all of which are looking for new sites to suggest to their readers. Magazines that report on your industry will similarly be interested, especially if you have a unique or fun element on your site.
Dubious about using “yesterday’s” medium to promote new technology? We got an article in the Los Angeles Times about one site and saw traffic jump 15 percent. More widespread coverage for another site netted traffic increases eight times higher than when no coverage appeared.
Go to where the online audience already is and let relevant newsletters and newsgroups know about your site. Find related sites and get links to your property, or negotiate co-branded content for brand awareness building. Utilize high quality e-mail lists — we recommend double opt-in — to reach a target audience that can match your demographics almost perfectly. And don’t let the slump in the dot.com advertising industry fool you. Properly used online ads, sponsorships or keyword buys can have a very positive effect.
Contests, promotions, online polls, games, chat, newsletters and other elements help make sites attractive to your audience. Anything that builds a sense of community among your target audience will help spread the word, and if you are lucky, keep bringing them back.
In the midst of that, keep in mind that engaging design, intuitive navigation and useful content and technology are just as important as always. It is one thing to get people to check out your site. If they don’t like what they find, or can’t find what they like, they won’t be coming back, and they won’t be telling anybody else.
This article, written by Neal Linkon, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.