The Science Of Alternative Traffic Generation
If you don't maintain a presence on the Internet, whether
your business is online or off, competition will devour you.
Because the marketplace has become so hypercompetitive and
more sophisticated, access to information as vast and as
fast as the web is all the more reason to market your
products and services in cyberspace.
Since the Internet is fast becoming a medium of equal
stature to the TV and radio, a company not present on the
web can no longer be considered as just plain old-fashioned.
It will become easy prey to its competition and, more
significant, to the negative perception of the marketplace
that the product or service is also not up to par.
It's Not The Size That Counts
One of the biggest advantages of being on the web is the
fact that the small or medium-sized company can look just as
good (and be as effective if not profitable) as the larger
ones. An Internet business is more versatile and can often
personalize its offers. Every indicator of how the future
will be points to a much greater demand for personalized
The Internet offers the ability to closely tailor products
and services to exactly what one wants and needs.
Consequently, it is safe to conclude that the future of the
Internet lies in personalized services supplied by small
companies and individuals.
While they lack advertising budgets similar to those from
the big guns, smaller-sized entrepreneurs can still obtain
huge amounts of traffic through more economical means of
promotion. These are not restricted to banners and search
engines either. They comprise many processes that should be
included in one's portfolio of online marketing efforts.
There are emails (or, more specifically, signature files),
specialized directories, topic-specific indices, Intranets,
strategic marketing alliances, links on non-competing web
sites, buttons, discussion groups, classified ad sites (both
free and paid), "opt-in" mailing lists, reciprocal links,
newsgroups, online conferences, Internet chats,
community-based sites, and specialized online discussion
forums -- all of which can help market a company effectively
Look at it this way: The greatest rule in marketing success
often taught in the academic world is "location, location,
location." In cyberspace, that rule applies even more. In
other words, your site must be located in as many places as
possible and it must be as easily accessible.
Thus, get others to link to you. How do you do that? Well,
to cover all the techniques we use within the scope of this
article would be impossible (that's what our private web
site is for!) ... but let me share one of them with you that
has been tremendously successful for me.
If your site offers freebies (especially free information,
such as articles, reports, e-zines, books, software, and so
on) or a special incentive of some kind on a product or
service you sell, use the "tradeoff" technique and ask for a
link to your site in return. If you offer something of
value, not only will people feel the need to reciprocate but
also merely asking helps to elevate that value in the mind
of the prospect.
In addition to freebies and special offers, you can also
provide tools as a great way to get linked. Also known as
"interactive" traffic generators, some examples of tools
include games, quizzes, surveys, polls, form mailers,
referral functions, videos, search functions,
mini-directories, contests, article archives, and greeting
cards. There are also reminder services (such as
http://www.constantcontact.com), message boards, and chat rooms (such as
http://www.talkcity.com and http://www.beseen.com).
Other interactive traffic generators are often referred to
as "plug-ins," since they help visitors to experience your
site rather than just view it. But server side traffic
plug-ins in particular are better since there is no need for
a program to enable that experience. In other words, these
plug-ins actually work on the site itself and not on the
visitor's computer that may not have the necessary software
in the first place -- which is why I have a penchant for CGI
or ASP instead of Java.
If you want to add more interactivity to your site, there
are many scripts available that you can use -- and many of
them are free. Some great traffic "plug-in" script sites
Overlooked Traffic Generation Tools
But one of the simplest interactive traffic generators that
is often overlooked is the process of delivering pages of
consistently updated information -- in short, fresh content.
It can be as simple as changing the content of your site to
reflect current events and issues, continually adding new
articles and special reports, or posting past newsletter
issues in a special archive.
The element of scarcity is also a great way to generate an
abundant quantity of visitors, such as by offering
time-sensitive or password-protected information. In the
case of the latter, people who wish to view the "secret"
information will have to apply for it. For example, if you
offer a free report, don't make it accessible directly to
visitors. Have a form on your site that visitors need to
fill out in order to gain access.
Beyond content, offline traffic generation is just as
important. And the first rule in doing so effectively is to
specialize. The most common mistake newcomers to any field
of business make is to think that by expanding their
portfolio they will "secure" more business, and nothing can
be further from the truth. Specializing and narrowing one's
focus as much as possible will paradoxically increase the
likelihood of getting more hits let alone business.
Specialization is in itself a fundamental marketing process.
It's amazingly effective in creating top-of-mind awareness
among a target market. For instance, an accountant
specializing in car dealerships will get more traffic than a
general accountant will. An online clothing store
specializing in babies and mothers-to-be will get more
business than a typical clothing store will. A photographer
specializing in weddings will get more hits than a regular
Specialization is often referred to as "niche" marketing. As
more and more businesses get started (as well as more and
more web sites populate cyberspace), the less time, energy,
and money people will have to spend in making choices for
those with whom they will choose to do business. Therefore,
have your site focused on a niche, a specific theme, or a
particular concept. Think of a laser, which is basically a
beam of highly concentrated light. You want to focus like a
laser and thus burn your site into visitors' minds.
Nevertheless, here's the bottom-line: While you can (and
should) use them, never rely solely on search engines and
banners for generating traffic. If you do, your competition
will always be a step ahead.
Article from the Internet Marketing Challenge Site.
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