Q: I need help with using viral marketing to promote my Web site. I'm using newsgroups, chat rooms and free press releases, and I can see traffic coming into my Web site. But none of these submissions have added value. Can you make any recommendations?
A: It sounds like you've made a good start. Newsgroups, chat rooms and press releases can all be good sources of free traffic, and you're obviously taking advantage of this. What concerns me, though, is your comment that none of these submissions have added "value." I'm going to bet you mean these visitors aren't taking the action you've been hoping for--be it purchasing your product or subscribing to your newsletter.
Below, I'm going to give you a simple viral marketing strategy you can use to drive more free, targeted traffic to your Web site with powerful friend-to-friend recommendations. But first, I think you need to critically examine who your Web site visitors are, what's attracting them to your Web site and what action you're asking them to take once they've arrived.
You seem to feel you need more traffic. If your traffic is coming from general sources, then it's quite possible you may need to focus on attracting more targeted traffic. However, if your site already attracts targeted traffic that's just not converting, generating more traffic isn't going to solve your problem. Instead, you need to work on tweaking your sales process. And to do this, you need a good understanding of why visitors come to your Web site.
Your current viral marketing efforts are obviously working because you're seeing an increase in traffic. So you probably already know that in order to successfully market to newsgroups and chat rooms, you need to offer informative answers to posted questions while looking for subtle opportunities to refer people to your Web site for additional information. And since the media typically looks for unusual or unique stories, the publicity you generate through press releases will also likely be based on the positioning of your site as a resource for unique, hard-to-find information.
This should give you some insight into what the average visitor to your site might be looking for. Take a moment to examine your home page from the perspective of those who've just been referred by your newsgroup postings or by the media. Is the information they're looking for immediately visible? Or is it hidden numerous pages deep? If it's not easily found within 10 to 15 seconds, they're going to leave.
Next, once you've given visitors access to the information they're looking for, what action are you guiding them to take? Are your directions implicit or explicit? For example: "We offer a free newsletter" vs. "Subscribe to our free newsletter." If you don't provide clear take-action statements, they're going to leave.
First and foremost, a successful sales process ensures that benefits are highly visible to visitors, preferably within the first fold of your home page, and strategically guides them with explicit "do this next" directions. So if you'd like to increase the value of a single visitor to your Web site, I'd recommend that you start here.
Of course, while you're reworking and testing your sales process, you'll still want to make the most of the traffic you're already getting. So why not ensure that every visitor to your Web site is offered a free subscription to your newsletter within moments of arriving? At least this way, until your sales process is converting visitors to customers, you can capture the names and e-mail addresses of these valuable leads!
Plus, to add a little viral marketing to the mix, include special "pass it on" suggestions at the bottom of every newsletter. This way, readers are encouraged to share articles with close friends and associates, driving more traffic to your Web site and generating even more subscriptions. You could even post your subscription offer in your signature file when responding to posts in newsgroups and chat rooms.
A compelling newsletter offer paired with a simple "pass it on" strategy like this will not only allow you to squeeze the most value out of every visitor to your Web site, but also give you an opt-in list of targeted leads ready and waiting to purchase from you!
Corey Rudl, president and founder of the Internet Marketing Center, is the author of the best-selling course Insider Secrets to Marketing Your Business on the Internet. An internationally sought-after Internet business consultant and speaker, Corey focuses his energy on the research and development of practical, cost-effective Internet marketing strategies and software for the small and homebased business owner.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.