Com and Get It

Baiting Your Hook

What works in luring visitors to a site? Although heavily funded Internet companies can make seven- and eight-figure deals to buy prime advertising real estate on major Internet portals and online services like Yahoo! and AOL, you're likely priced out of that race. So winning visitors becomes a matter of creative, persistent marketing. The good news is that it's still the little things that will bring plenty of traffic your way.

For instance? "Always put your URL on letterhead, business cards, in e-mail signatures-wherever potential visitors are likely to see it," says Datovech.

Another low-cost traffic builder: "Get active in online discussion groups and chats, and, where appropriate, always give out your URL," says Shannon Kinnard, author of Marketing With E-mail: A Spam-Free Guide (Maximum Press). Sell bird toys? Scout out the many groups that focus on birds-a good place to find them is at Deja.com, a site that archives discussion lists-and get active. That will spread the word about you and your site.

Posting items for sale on major auction sites such as Amazon.com, eBay and Yahoo! is another big-time traffic builder for any Web site that retails. Those sites let you identify yourself to viewers, and a few dollars spent on putting out merchandise for bid might just bring in lots of traffic from surfers seeking more information.

Classified ads offer more possibilities for traffic generation on the cheap. Check out both Excite and Yahoo!. Classifieds are free there, and viewership is high.

When it comes to off-line advertising, expert opinion is mixed. Some pros advocate big spends on traditional media, while others tell you to fish where the fish are, which means advertising online to promote an online store. One idea is to incorporate your URL prominently into offline advertising for offline products or services, but not to launch an offline campaign for an online-only property. When money is tight, go where you know you'll find surfers.

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This article was originally published in the December 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Com and Get It.

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