You have got a great idea, and your website is now complete. You are ready to open for business but where are your customers? Simple – you are going to have to go out and get them. It sounds easy, but advertising can be a pitfall that can cripple many e-businesses.
There are several methods of advertising on the Internet. Some are free, some are low cost, while others are insanely expensive. The first thing you will need to look at is how much you are willing to pay for traffic, and how far your advertising dollar can go.
One of the most effective, and cheapest, methods of advertising is through e-zines. There are thousands, if not millions of e-zines published every single day. The best way to approach e-zines for advertising is to join a couple that fit your product profile and that you find interesting. Most e-zines offer incentives to new businesses signing up, and will even run your ad for free just for subscribing. You can find many e-zines that offer ads for as little as a dollar. It is a fantastic way to reach thousands of people who are already interested in your type of business.
In fact, you can utilize e-zines to promote your product for free, if you can write an informative article. E-zines are desperate for content, and will often offer to publish your article in exchange for a link back to your site. If you go this route, make sure that your article is informative and not just a sales pitch. For example, if your e-business deals with making money from home, an article about how working from home decreases stress would be very well received. You can rely more on making a good impression with the article and a simple link back, than a hard sell that might not even make into print.
Link exchanges are another free alternative to costly advertising. Be prepared to get lost in the shuffle if you choose a popular site. The best way to make use of this method is by running your own link exchange from your site and offering a free posting in exchange for a link back to your site. My links page, for example, can be found at http://www.iscaweb.com/Links.html
Targeted advertising is by far the best way to bring in traffic to your website. By using targeted keywords, your customers are not just stumbling into your website. Half the work is already done by the keywords. You just need to supply the information. Google Ad Words can be used very effectively as well as other targeted keyword companies. Most of these operate on a pay per click basis, so you will need to research your keywords and supply the best possible words to ensure a good cost-to-click ratio.
Press releases are a great way to get the word out about your site and possibly create media buzz. While this method is more expensive than the above methods, it has the potential to bring in substantial traffic. Before sending out your release, make sure that it is formatted correctly and contains a powerful first paragraph. News editors are inundated daily and you do not want to get lost in the shuffle.
When writing your press release, it is important to make it news worthy, instead of a plain announcement. Using our example above, if a recent study is released about stress management and working from home, it would be a perfect time to send out a press release that mentions the study and your business. Be prepared to receive phone calls and answer questions if your release is a hit.
You don’t necessarily have to wait for an event to happen to send out your release. If all else fails, get creative! There are many ways to tie in your business to current events, all you need is a little imagination.
We have covered just a couple of ways to effectively advertise your new or existing e-business. The best advice is to start wisely, plan your advertising budget accordingly and get the word out as effectively as possible.