Attract People to Your Site, How to

Creating an online site for selling on the web is not enough on its own, just like getting a new telephone number and expecting it to ring is not realistic.

To attract visitors to your website and convert them to customers you have to market the site.

Here are some pointers on how you can persuade your prospects to visit and buy your products.

1. Start with your existing marketing materials.

Put your web site address on your existing brochures, advertising and business cards. Wherever you promote your company name, promote your web address as well.

2. Try and get a web address that is memorable.

It’s worth spending some time thinking about your web site address (URL). Ideally it should be easy to remember, stand out from the crowd, include your company name and communicate your message. This will take some time and probably a lot of investigation, as many good domain names have already been taken.

3. Manually register with the top search engines.

Either research the most effective way to do the registration yourself, or employ a professional who comes recommended. Just using the free, automatic registrations without any thought or investigation will leave you in the middle of the crowd. Search engines can provide considerable traffic, so it’s worth investing some time in learning about them.

4. Newsgroups and forums.

There are lots of places where people hold discussions online. Some of these forums will be talking about your speciality. For instance, if you sell yachting gear, there are plenty of specialist boating forums. Provided that you participate responsibly, you can get the chance to talk about your company, products and offerings. This has the added benefit that it can be enjoyable and is likely to provide lots of useful tips for you, too.

5. Target your web marketing.

There are lots of opportunities to advertise online – pay per click adverts, email mailing lists (where people have opted-in to the list), directories and so on. Before parting with your cash, you should use the same judgement that you would use when deciding whether to advertise in conventional media. Who will be looking at this medium and are they my target market? Getting your message in front of large numbers isn’t the issue, they must be interested and potential customers for your products.

6. What’s working?

It’s a sad fact that when it comes to marketing, the anoraks are in the driving seat. Although being creative is crucial, measuring the results and putting the next round of money where you got the most results last time is the way to success. So measure everything you do, and try to find out where all your leads and customers come from. Use questions on your web site to ask buyers how they heard about your site.

7. Links and affiliations.

If you can, find specialist sites that cater for your particular niche and ask if they’ll link to you, or put you in their search results. In return, put a link back to them. It’ll improve your search engine rankings too. Alternatively, join a referral, or affiliate scheme (or set up your own) so the linking site is rewarded on results. This can offer added value to your visitors as well as boosting your traffic – it’s a win-win situation.

8. Use PR to get your site noticed.

Several of Actinic’s customers have had national coverage because they have an interesting story, from selling live pond fish online to using ecommerce to correct a work/life balance. If you can get the press interested, it’s worth a fortune in marketing.

9. Learn from others’ successes.

Keep an eye on your competitors, and on successful sites in other market sectors. Don’t just try to copy them, but do learn from what they are doing, and think about how you can adapt good ideas in appropriate ways. Trawl magazines and ecommerce suppliers’ web sites for case studies, and find out what other sites attribute their success to.

10. Provide extra value.

Also known as being ‘sticky’, a site that gives visitors a reason to return is more likely to win repeat orders. For example, an ecommerce solutions specialist might provide free advice on selling online while a food site could give recipes. And remember that existing customers are your best ones, so reward them by special offers, like 3 for the price of 2 or a discount for a limited period, e.g. a weekend. And if their recommendation to a friend leads to a sale, ensure you can spot this and say thank you.

Chris Barling is the Chairman of ecommerce & EPOS supplier, SellerDeck.

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