by David J. Miller, Creative Director/Partner, Group 365
 
Great news! It has been well documented that you can dramatically increase business sales if you can attract the right people to your website. The not-so-great news is that there are somewhere between 700 million and two billion active websites on the Internet, making it harder to attract those new customers. So, you must start with a plan, execute it then evaluate it. As General George Patton said, “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”
 

Develop the Plan: Before you can decide which traffic-building tactics will be appropriate for your situation, you need to ask yourself some important questions:

  •  Who are your desired (most profitable) visitors?
  •  What are the current traffic numbers?
  •  From where are they coming?
  •  What are the top objectives of your website?
  •  What benefits do you offer your customers?
  •  How do you define success — ROI?
Execute the Plan: After you have evaluated the answers, you can now put  together the “formula”. This consists of the ingredients that you will use to execute your web marketing plan. Here are examples to consider:
 
Organic Search Marketing: Since 8 out of 10 people use search engines to find products or services, this is perhaps the most effective method you can use to build traffic. Small changes like hiding keywords in the title tag and body text of your pages can have a big effect on your page rankings in search engines like Google, Yahoo. and MSN. Keep in mind that optimization is done on a page-by-page basis, not the entire site at once—each page should be written with a unique set of keywords in mind.
 
E-mail Marketing: Regular marketing to a house ‘opt-in’ list isabout seven times less expensive than other forms of advertising… and dramatically more effective. An effective method to build your in-house list is to create a form on your website and offer your customer something he/she would value enough to give you their email address. Then, with each campaign you send, be sure to include an “opt-out” link with contact information. Not only would it make your house list more valuable, but it’s the law! Then make sure you have a message or offer compelling enough that they will want to visit your site again and again.
 
Paid Search: The quickest and easiest way you can show up on the first page of Google is through their Adwords program (or sponsored search.) One of its many advantages is that you get instant feedback to your headlines and copy, making it a great way to optimize the messages in other marketing materials. Plus, you can get started with a relatively modest budget. Yahoo and MSN have their own version of Google’s Adwords program, but Google would be the best place to start for a number of reasons. They account for well over 60% of all searches (even more dominant in B-to-B searches), plus they offer a simple, step-by-step process and comprehensive tutorials to name just a few. You can find them at www.adwords.google.com.
 
Link Building: Having a lot of relevant websites linking back to your site is fast becoming one of the most powerful ways you can increase your web rankings. It can be time consuming, but it can yield huge returns. One way you can find good sites to link from is by doing a search for the keywords you would like optimized for your site and see what pops up on top. If you see any industry publications and/or associations, find out how you can partner with them to get your pages linked from their site. Another way is to get familiar with Blogs relevant to your industry and answer questions linking back to your site. It’s important, however, that the content you provide is truly valuable to the readers; otherwise you will come across as a spammer.
 
Directory Listings. The web’s version of the yellow pages takes many forms and varies in cost from free to a few hundred dollars a year. These can be a very effective in building qualified traffic to your site. Not only can it help your page rankings, but the traffic can be easily tracked and managed.
 
Other Tactics: Of course there are more than these five trafficbuilding methods you can try. Other examples you can test to see what works best for you are: Offline ads, direct mail, trade shows, PR, Podcasting, online banner ads, and the list goes on.
 

Evaluate the Results: One of the most critical ways you can make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck is by optimizing your campaign. You can’t make smart changes if you can’t see the results. One of the best ways to do this is by using Google Analytics—it’s free and easy to implement. You can find more information at www.google.com/analytics.

 
Reprinted from ASSET 2.0, the Investment Recovery Business Journal, Vol. 3, 2008

© The Investment Recovery Association