Tuesday, February 8, 2011

7 Infallible Ways to Increase Visibility, Traffic, Leads and Buzz!

A few years ago I led the marketing and business development efforts at top online publisher, Early To Rise. While I was there, I also wrote several articles for their ezine focused on marketing, entrepreneurship and business building. Below is one of those articles, but I recently updated it for this publication. The tactics are proven, powerful and worth mentioning again!

Whether you're talking about the articles you include in your e-zine or about your sales message, one thing is certain: Content is king. The written word has the power to educate and inform... as well as create buzz about your website, product, or service. That's one of my main tasks for my consulting clients - to circulate their e-zine articles through multiple delivery channels. Reaching potential subscribers thereby increasing readership and, ultimately, revenues.

I am a firm believer of leveraging all content - marketing and editorial. By circulating it in multiple channels - online, e-mail, print, direct mail, and so forth - you can reach your prospects through whatever medium they prefer. And for those who like to receive their information through more than one medium, your message is re-enforced every time they see it in another channel. I strongly encourage you to take this multi-channel marketing approach with your own online business.

Here are seven of the best and most cost-effective channels I've used at top publishers and for my consulting clients:

1. Paid Search Ads (Pay-Per-Click) Google and Yahoo are the Titans of the paid-search ad world, with nearly 70 percent of market share. But there are other search engines that have a loyal following, such as Bing.com (with 16 percent market share), AOL.com (with 9.6 percent), Ask.com (5.1 percent), Infospace.com (1.1 percent), and Lycos.com (0.9 percent). Pay-per-click (PPC) ads with any of these search engines is a cost-effective way to target prospects looking for your specific product and get broad exposure. You create a text ad, then bid on keywords (the words or phrases your target audience will be searching for) to determine your ad's placement. PPC paid search ads are perfect for acquiring new customers. That's because leads that come in this way are searching specifically for your information (via targeted keywords). This makes them highly qualified prospects.

2. Organic Search Results (Search Engine Marketing) Search engine marketing (SEM) has a nominal cost. Annual fees with search engine networks or directories typically range from $25 to $95 per year. Some consumers give organic search results more "credibility" than paid search ads. And because they "trust" the results of an organic search more, they are more likely to click on an organic link. A survey by Jupiter Research illustrated that 80 percent of Web users seek organic search results. Their rationale is that organic results are un-biased. The marketer didn't pay for that ad space. So the link's appearance in the search results is based purely on various search algorithms and Web crawlers. Your goal should be to balance your online presence with both paid ads and organic search results. You should also optimizes all your efforts by (among other things) making sure keywords are in all the right places. It's important for your writers/editors to work with your search marketers. This includes title tags, URLs, meta keywords, meta descriptions, and body content.

3. Banner Ads Running banner ads on other websites can be another cost-effective part of your online marketing mix. The pricing model for this is typically CPM - a specified price for every 1,000 impressions/views you receive (usually between $3 and $10).Your media budget for banner ads will vary by:
-ad unit size/type (300 x 250 typically performs best)
-location on website (home page, inside pages)
-whether the ad is targeted to a specific page or is on every page of the site
-the time of year the ad is running

Online ad networks are a cheaper alternative. Their CPM usually ranges between $2 and $6, and they have a wider reach. Some networks to consider: Advertising.com, ValueClick.com, and FastClick.com. You can find a full list of sites here:
www.imediaconnection.com/resourceconnection/adnetwork.asp. If you're interested in how to get the best pricing for online advertising, check this out !

4. Reciprocal Ad Swaps or Editorial Contributions Some of your best resources will be your fellow publishers. This channel often gets overlooked by marketers who don't give it the respect it deserves. In the work I do for my clients, I spend a good portion of my time researching synergistic publishers and websites. I look for relevant connections between their publications (print and online) and my clients.

Swapping ads or providing guest editorials will save you money on lead-generation initiatives and give you added exposure to an external list source you might not otherwise have been featured in. Since you won't be paying for access to the other publisher's list of subscribers, you can get new customers for free. If you're writing an article, you can simply use an Editorial Note section for your byline and include a link to your newsletter sign up page. If you're running a text ad, then simply have content and link to your squeeze page. The only "cost" is allowing the other publisher to access your own list. It's a win-win situation. This technique also opens the door to longer-term joint venture opportunities.

5. Co-Registration Co-registration - or "co-reg" - is the practice of referring leads, subscriptions, or memberships in conjunction with another registration transaction, and usually happens after the fact.Co-reg ads use a CPL (cost per lead) payment model. You pay for the leads you capture. Your text ad and a small image of your publication appear on a webpage on another publisher's website after a primary transaction occurs. Your ad shares the page with other publishers looking to build their own e-mail lists with free subscriptions to their e-letters or free e-reports.

To make this work, I've found that you need to send special introductory "bonding" e-mails to the people who sign up for your newsletter before they get added to the general circulation. This helps them remember that they signed up for your e-letter. (So when it shows up in their inbox they won't think it's spam.) And it helps increase the potential that those subscribers will convert to paying customers.

6. Direct Mail Direct mail is still a consumer favorite - and another good way to get your sales message out. It can be especially effective used in concert with another effort, such as an e-mail campaign.

A recent survey published in DM News indicated that 70 percent of respondents preferred receiving unsolicited correspondence via mail vs. e-mail. As with any marketing medium, though, you can end up paying a lot. The most costly direct-mail packages are magalogs and tabloids (four-color mailers that look like magazines). However, 6 x 9 postcards, tri-fold self-mailers, and simple sales letters are three low-cost ways of taking advantage of this channel. Although 100 percent ROI (return on investment) is what you should aim for, many direct mailers are content with 80 percent. This lower figure takes into consideration the lifetime value of the names that come in from this channel, because they are typically reliable buyers in the future.

7. Print ads This is another channel that's gets a raw deal. One reason is because it can be costly. To place an ad in a high-circulation magazine or newspaper, you could shell out serious money. But you don't need a big budget to take advantage of print ads. If you don't have deep pockets, consider targeted newspapers and periodicals.

Let's say you're selling an investment report. Try using the Internet to research the wealthiest cities in America. Once you get that list, look online for local newspapers in those communities. These smaller newspapers hit your target audience... and offer a much cheaper ad rate than some of the larger, broad-circulation publications. You end up getting quality rather than quantity.

I once paid for an ad in a local newspaper in Aspen, CO that had a flat rate of less than $500. My ROI on this effort turned out to be more than 1,000 percent. How's that for a positive response rate!

The seven marketing channels I've just described can help you reach more customers... and eventually add dollar signs to your bottom line.

It's not too late to start this New Year off with a marketing bang. By leveraging the seven channels of multi-channel marketing, I'm confident you will be amazed by the results.
Add to Technorati Favorites AddMe - Search Engine Optimization