Winning Customers Without Blowing the Budget
For anyone selling online, and this is especially true for smaller merchants, there is a simple truth: without visitors your site is worthless. This may sound a little harsh but it’s a fundamental truth, visitors’ generally equal sales.
However, attracting visitors in these frugal times is an art form. Long gone are the days of throwing wads of cash at Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising schemes; the smart online marketer looks for ways to grow site visitors organically.
Here are my top tips for growing site visits without blowing your budget.
1. Article Marketing
In days gone by, I always recommended that a merchant set up a blog and spend some quality time writing about themselves, their products or the service they offer. This hasn’t changed, blogging is great for business, constantly changing highly relevant content is a search engine dream ticket.
I would add however that keeping your perfectly formed prose just for yourself is a little narrow-minded. If you are writing content, aggregate it, tweet it, put it on your Facebook fan page (more on this in a moment). Also don’t be afraid to offer your blogging services to others. Maybe there is a specific industry blog everyone in your space reads. Wouldn’t it be great if your blog was there? Remember, if you are writing for others always make sure there is a referring link and a bio about you and your company — like this article I am writing for is4profit.
However, writing simply isn’t enough, you need to be intelligent with it. Do some research, include relevant phrases and keywords related to your space. There are a number of great tools that can help, including Google’s Adwords calculator and free services such as keyworddiscovery.com.
2. Social Networking
An awful lot has been written about social networking as a lead generator so I won’t go over everything again. However it’s always good to double check you are covering the basics:
Monitor search terms. Tools such as TweetDeck can help. Search for your sector, company name, products and competitors and actively engage in the conversation.
Listen and learn. Don’t rush into pushing your product or company too quickly. Just as in real life no one likes a pushy sale, you’ll just be ignored.
Set up a fan page on Facebook and make sure it’s used. If you are writing content (see point 1) cross post it here.
3. Audio and Video Content
Get creative! We are in the middle of a revolution and it’s never been easier, or cheaper, to create great audio and video content. Also expectations are fairly low: no one expects you to be directing epic scenes filmed in 3D.
Video is brilliant as it gives you the chance to not only sell yourself, but it’s easy to cross post and search engines love it. Make sure you are descriptive when describing your video, use the keyword tools in point two to associate your video with great search terms.
Another, cheaper option is an audio podcast. This can be recorded and edited (try the open source tool, Audacity) easily and allows you to offer more in depth content as people are happy to listen to a show of 15 minutes if the information is useful. And as for publication, it’s easier than you think to get onto iTunes.
I get very frustrated when I hear of merchants or nefarious search engine “consultants” giving up and simply turning to Adwords. It’s easy to attract millions of visitors this way, but they are probably not in your target and it’s a high cost strategy.
If you get the core aspect of your offering right attracting visitors needn’t be expensive, or difficult. The key is to be creative, it takes time to improve your organic search rankings, or to suddenly become relevant to people that otherwise wouldn’t have heard about you, be patient and stick the course.
About the author:
Ben Dyer is the CEO of SellerDeck, the desktop portfolio of ecommerce and retail applications. He is an enthusiastic blogger and Tweeter, and has written many advisory articles for the small business media.