Your company is on the web, your site is receiving few hits, but you know that the number of Internet users is growing by leaps and bounds (285 million users worldwide, to be exact). So it is only a matter of time until the number of Internet users reaches "critical mass" and the multitudes will come streaming to your site, right? Wrong.
At the same time that the number of Internet users is growing, the number of Internet pages top 1 billion and the list is growing rapidly every day. So the chances of your site being found is like finding a needle in a very big virtual haystack, unless you actively market your site via Internet and traditional avenues.
In this column, we will address the following question: "How do I drive traffic to my site? We will also take this question to its logical conclusion by answering the following question: "Once I have traffic flowing to my site, how do I get them to return?"
Keep in mind that these questions are better asked prior to the development of your site than after it is finished. It is far less painful to incorporate these features during development, than after the site is completed. Doing this will save a lot of site redesign, not to mention ulcers.
When addressing the question of driving traffic to your site it is important to look at who your target market is and identify the top avenues for driving those individuals to your site.
The first step in this process is identifying the different Internet channels available for driving traffic to your site. Some possible mediums are:
Â·Links with other related sites
Â·Search engine optimization
Â·Internet Press Releases
Â·Opt-in e-mail lists
Â·Banner ads & site sponsorships
Â·Viral marketing (e.g. e-mail to a friend)
It will be important to research these channels in order to find the right mix for reaching the individuals you want to target.
Now that you have opened your virtual door to the world, how do you get site visitors to return? To a large degree, this depends on the type of product or service you are offering. But regardless of the line of business you are in, there are very definitely ways that you can reinforce reasons for visitors to return to your site.
The following are ideas on how you can get your site visitors to return:
Â·Live content feeds of news and information
Â·Online surveys that change regularly - This can also provide valuable marketing information!
Â·Provide relevant information that changes regularly
Â·Opt-in e-mail - Ask permission to e-mail visitors updates, newsletters, etc.
Â·Rent opt-in e-mail lists - send broadcast e-mails touting your site to individuals who have opted in to your area of interest
Â·Online contests - if you have a brick and mortar presence, tie the contest in with your store to drive traffic both places, make it fun!
Â·Make it easy for them to bookmark your site
By developing an ongoing program of driving and maintaining traffic on your site, you can be assured of a continual stream of traffic. By regularly following up with individuals who have opted into your e-mail program, you can be assured that your company will remain at the forefront of potential customers minds when it comes time to purchase.
After the purchase, this also presents an opportunity to maintain contact with your customers to further strengthen and cement the relationship with the goal of making them a customer for life. By proactively anticipating their needs based on prior buying patterns, you can provide an indispensable service to your customers. As we all know, it is much less expensive to keep an established customer than to develop a new one.
While this article focuses on Internet strategies, traditional marketing channels should not be ignored. It is important to include your URL on all published materials, advertisements, and broadcasts. It is also important that your web site and traditional advertising channels be co-branded with a similar look and feel so that visitors can expect the same appearance across all channels.
The Internet presents tremendous opportunity to develop prospects and customers. It also allows you to further strengthen your bond with customers so that you can develop a relationship with them that they are unwilling to walk away from.
About the Author
Spindustry Systems, Inc.