This week we continue with Part 2 of our 3-part series on how to market your online business. Part 1 is available athttp://onlinebusinessbasics.com/articles/checklist1.html .As much as we all love fre...
This week we continue with Part 2 of our 3-part series on how to market your online business. Part 1 is available at http://onlinebusinessbasics.com/articles/checklist1.html .
As much as we all love free stuff, an Internet business is still a business and you can reasonably expect to invest in marketing. Fortunately, online marketing can be quite affordable -- even to beginners on limited budgets. Here's a quick list of some of the more popular paid methods for small businesses.
PART 2: Effective Fee-Based Online Marketing Methods
1. Search engines. Web surfers typically use the large search engines such as Google, MSN, and AOL to find the information they want. If you can manage to get a good ranking for some of your top key phrases, you can get a steady stream of traffic. Expect to invest funds for review/submissions, and possibly even for hiring an optimization expert or for self-education. A great site to learn about search engine optimization is Search Engine Watch, http://searchenginewatch.com/ .
2. Major indexes. Yahoo [ http://yahoo.com/ ] and Open Directory [ http://www.dmoz.org/ ] are two of the best- known indexes. Both of them can significantly increase your link popularity, and provide you with additional traffic. At the time of writing, Yahoo charges an annual review fee for commercial websites. Submissions to Open Directory are currently still free.
3. Pay-per-click search engines. With these search engines, you literally pay a certain amount of money for every click they send your way. The more you bid, the higher you'll rank for your search term and the more visible your link will be. The largest and most popular PPC SE is Overture, http://www.overture.com/. A list of PPC SEs is available from http://payperclicksearchengines.com/ .
4. Ezine advertising. Although this takes a fair bit of practice and experimentation, ezine advertising is potentially one of the best and most profitable ways to promote your business online. The editor has already done the hard work of putting together a list of opt-in, interested prospects; you just take advantage of it. Search for complementary ezines at NetterWeb.com, http://www.netterweb.com/ or use the excellent Lifestyles Publishing Directory of Ezines at http://buildyourhomebiz.com/directory.html .
5. Direct email campaign from a reputable list broker. There are companies on the web that specialize in building permission-based email lists, targeted to each subscriber's area of interest. This is true 'opt-in', unlike the endless stream of spam email that implores you to purchase '30 million addresses for only $99!' True opt-in lists are not cheap by any means, but they have the potential to yield great results. Check out http://www.postmasterdirect.com/ as an example.
6. Press releases. Your newsworthy press release could generate loads of free publicity for your business. Invest some of your marketing funds in educating yourself on how to generate publicity; an excellent source of information is Paul Hartunian's website at http://www.prprofits.com/ .
7. Advertise on a targeted website. Find complementary but non-competing sites and check their rates for advertising. Banner ads are the most common type of advertising permitted; however, they're usually not very effective. Text ads or endorsements typically perform better.
8. Mini-sites. These small sites (typically around 3 or 4 pages) are focused on selling one product. There's usually no free content; just a sales letter, perhaps a FAQ and some contact information. Mini-sites are an excellent way to get your prospect to do just one thing, whether that's order your product or sign up for your newsletter. The costs to create a mini-site would include domain name registration and hosting fees.
9. Experiment with some of the promotional services offered online. The only way to know for sure whether or not they'll work for you is to try them (and track the results). Use discretion -- be careful not to associate your business with promotion services that are nothing but 'disguised' ways to spam! Before you shell out the cash for these types of services, ask around for first-hand experiences.
10. Hold a conference. A great credibility builder is to offer a web or phone conference for your visitors. Use it to offer helpful information -- for example, you could open the conference to questions from the audience -- and generate additional interest in your product or service. Two sites that offer conference services are http://www.easyconference.com/ and http://www.bridgerentals.com/ .
Don't be afraid to invest in marketing your online business. Effective 'free' promotion is always wonderful, but there are many equally effective paid methods that can result in a great return on your investment. Be sure to track the results for each method you use; that way you'll be able to concentrate your efforts on those methods that work best for *your* business.
Stay tuned next time for a checklist on promoting your Internet business in the 'real world'!
__________ ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Angela is the editor of Online Business Basics, a practical guide to building a business on a beginner's budget. It's a proven hit with beginners, for the down-to-earth style and loads of instantly useable tips! For details, visit http://onlinebusinessbasics.com/article.html OR request a series of 10 free reports to get you started: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org