Integrate Your Online Advertising
Why pay for clicks when you can actively network with your customers?
In the "old days" of the internet, most people paid for traditional banner ads or headline ads, or they paid for advertising under what was called a cost-per-click or CPC advertising. CPC advertising used to be the most popular method of advertising out there. But getting statistics on what worked and what didn't wasn't easy.
Many people today also market with Google's AdWords. While this is great for Google, it isn't always great if you buy words and you don't see your hit rate go up.
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What's becoming interesting in today's market are the alternative ways of advertising. E-mail marketing is alive and kicking--mostly through giving away a newsletter with insightful information and hoping readers will click through to your web site. Collecting e-mail addresses and sending valid offers, special events and discounts to those who sign up (and only those who sign up) can be a good way to drive visitors to your site. The monthly newsletters you send out need to showcase you as the go-to expert, but don't forget to feature some of your loyal customers and fans, too. People like to see their name in lights, and they often forward the newsletter to many others in the process. Make it easy to subscribe--and unsubscribe. This will help you comply with laws and also keep your visitors happy.
Using a blog and an RSS feed may seem overtly obvious or too simple in this market, but they matter. Your community needs to feel engaged. If you don't yet have a fully integrated social media website with a community and people to upload avatars, bios, link to Facebook and so on, a blog is a good way for you to keep information and write columns that others can comment on. Ideally, you want to be moving toward a true Web 2.0 model and keep the blog going, too. WordPress and Blogger are two very easy ways to create blogs and integrate them into your website. Be sure you follow up on comments, too. The more engaged your audience is the more they will develop into a loyal group of customers.
You'll also want to write articles--and a lot of them. You can become a columnist for online organizations and magazines that need writers. Don't expect to be paid (though some do offer a small stipend) but it is acceptable to ask to have a link to your website in the biography section of the article.
I also always recommend posting in appropriate forums in your area of expertise. One word of caution here: Don't directly sell things to people reading these forums. That's a sure-fire way to be banned and to upset the people there. Instead, put your website in your signature and offer sound, solid advice.
Use new social media tools like Twitter (and of course the "old" staples like LinkedIn and Facebook). These networks are still valuable; keep information updated and don't forget to get personal once in a while. People like to know that the person behind the website is a real human being. Be informative but don't be afraid to let people see who you are.
Dani Babb , Ph.D., is the founder of The Babb Group, an online entrepreneur, professor, author, public speaker and consultant. She has a Ph.D. in Organization and Management with a Technology emphasis, as well as an MBA with a technology emphasis. She is featured regularly on top networks such as CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business and the Today Show. She is also the author of The Online Professor's Practical Guide to Starting an Internet Business , available from Entrepreneur Press .