Paying customers are the lifeblood of your business but you won’t have customers without a sufficient amount of traffic so I view these two as one because of their symbiotic relationship.
I’m going to focus mostly on acquiring traffic in this article because every business has its own unique ways to convert traffic into buying customers.
Everyone that has been attempting to do business online over the last decade has seen the methods used constantly evolve. This fluidity is partly do to the net maturing, partly the nature of business and partly due to some less than ethical marketers abusing methods as they become popular.
Some traffic acquisition methods are:
- Search Engines
- FFA (Free For All) links pages
- Free Classified Ads
- Safelist Advertising
- Manual Traffic Exchanges
- Automatic Surf Traffic Exchanges
- Banner Exchanges
- Social Networking
Search engines are still a great way to get free, targeted traffic to your website but it isn’t nearly as easy to get your site listed on one of the first three pages of results as it used to be. There are multiple reasons for this and some are: millions of websites are being added daily, some webmasters try to trick the search engines so they get listed on top, the programming on websites is advancing faster than the search engine spiders are evolving, more images are being used on websites to convey the message and search engine spiders cannot read a message and a lot of duplicate websites from webmasters putting up sites for the sole purpose of making money from a visitor that lands on their site and clicks an ad to exit because the information they were seeking wasn’t on the page.
When these types of pages were first introduced, a marketer could post an ad on the FFA page and others would see it and, hopefully, click the link to get more information. It didn’t take some marketers long to created software to automatically submit their ads to FFA pages and when this happened the only ones to benefit from FFA pages are the people hosting them.
Hosting an FFA page can still benefit you if you realize most people are new business owners that are new to online businesses. That is a target market worth cultivating and some smart marketers do very well using this advertising method. Many have abandoned this medium so they know there is a potential gold mine if they are patient and willing to teach. You must become skilled at reverse marketing if you intend to use this method.
What makes this so attractive to the marketers hosting the FFA pages is everyone placing an ad must agree to receive a confirmation email acknowledging the post. This means they voluntarily give you their email address even if they are savvy enough to use a junk email address that has been created solely for advertising. Smart hosters add a free offer in the confirmation message they send 4-7 days after the initial post. This offer usually offers a free gift that will help the existing advertiser build their current business. To receive this offer, they must give a real email address so they can receive information on how to download the gift. This real address will be used to build a relationship or send newsletters. It depends on the person hosting the FFA page and their marketing expertise and preferences.
Free Classified Ads
Free classified ads started out much like FFA pages. Some marketers found a way to write scripts to automate the posting of ads which ruined the effectiveness for the poster. Like FFA pages, the person hosting the classified ad site captures your email address and the right to email you an acknowledgement. Some of the people are using their classified ad sites to build viable double opt-in lists from the entry level marketers posting to their site.
Safelist advertising started out very effective but as commercial submitters were developed the effectiveness dropped dramatically. I still have limited success with safelists because I use them as a lead generation tool and know the target audience is mostly women that are running home based businesses. If I’m not generating leads for my specific business, I’m offering something that will help them grow their current business and will help me in mine at the same time.
Browsing safelist ad subject lines to see what catches your eye is a great way to create a swipe file for writing new ads.
Safelists are also a great place to test a classified ad you are thinking about running offline. If you get any response in this environment, you may get responses offline.
Manual Traffic Exchanges
Your target market is other business people so use lead capture pages, offer a way to bookmark your site with a mouse click and keep it short enough to be seen and peak curiosity in 10 seconds or less. This advertising medium is time consuming and often requires 1,000 – 3,000 page views for every lead generated.
Automatic Surf Traffic Exchanges
Your target market is other business people so use lead capture pages, offer a way to bookmark your site with a mouse click and keep it short enough to be seen and peak curiosity in 10 seconds or less. This advertising medium generates a lead every 3,000 – 15,000 page views depending on the auto-surf exchange and the quality of your lead capture page. Novice marketers seldom look at these exchanges while they are running and experienced marketers will occasionally glance at them to see the competition and to look for pages that catch their eye. These attention grabbing pages are often added to a swipe file for use in creating new lead capture pages for their business. The Slam Hits traffic exchange is a good example of an auto-surf traffic exchange.
Free banner exchanges aren’t as effective as they used to be because people are growing immune to their presence because of the gaudy and junk banners many display. They are still with the effort because some banner exchanges give webmasters the opportunity to target their advertising. This means you choose the type of person you want visiting your site and the types of websites you want your banner shown on. This type of targeting gives you prospects that had to click your banner to reach your site which means they are interested in what you are selling. When you get a chance to get someone to your site that has shown some interest in what you offer, does it matter how high the click through rate is when you’ve expended very little effort to get this free targeted lead?
Blogs which is short for web logs are a great way to easily add fresh content to your site without writing more web pages. These informal or sometimes formal entries can be informative, thought provoking or fun entries but once started they need to remain on a fixed schedule and on topic. When these first became popular, they were ways to quickly get indexed in search engines but some marketers created new ways to abuse them and reduced the effectiveness for indexing.
I still think blogs are a great tool for quickly adding content and when set up correctly are a great way to get your visitors involved by encouraging them to leave feedback.
Note: The WordPress blogging script has evolved so much it is the choice of many webmasters for their sites. The search engines love it too.
Using social networks to create large lists of like minded people you can market to is time consuming when done correctly but some marketers are finding ways to automate the process and I expect them to dramatically reduce the value of these networks within less than a year. Social networking is much more valuable if you go into it with the mindset that you are building a contact list of people that may allow you to build your business and contact list in ways you never thought possible.
Example: You have a site up related to dating. You are contacted by someone running an online dating service and during your conversation you find out you are both interested in other types of income opportunities and search engine optimization as a means to market your business. In the coming weeks, you share different marketing methods and this contact puts your name in front of another webmaster. This new contact gives you the contact of someone skilled in copywriting.
As you can see from the above example, a common interest was initially shared and that led to communication which led to new contacts in different areas. There is no telling whether any of these relationships will develop but they have a chance because everyone involved is willing to share knowledge and skills in the process of creating friendships or working relationships that might prove beneficial to both parties.
Build your traffic in the best way for your skill set, marketing plan and mindset but always be consistent and focused on the task at hand.
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