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How to bring visitors to your Web site

Do you think that if you build it, they will come?Think again. There are techniques and secrets to drawing visitors, and not all are obvious.

Everyone with a Web site wants more visitors. In the last few months, I’ve spoken several times to different groups about this topic. It seems to be a popular topic, since many people aren’t happy with the number of visitors their sites log. I’ll try to explain how to get visitors to a Web site and will be a tutorial as much as anything else.

Promote Your Web Site In Your Current Advertising

One of the first things you should do is put your Web site address on everything. Put it on business cards, stationery, print advertisements, brochures, product literature, mailing labels, envelopes, hats and jackets. Put it in your TV ads and radio spots. If you can get your salespeople to agree, tattoo it on their foreheads. Don’t forget things like billboards, signs, tradeshow booth materials, vehicles, and banners. In short, put the Web address everywhere.

Frankly, this alone won’t generate much traffic to your Web site, but it will reinforce the other things that you’re doing. If you really want major increases in Web site visitors, you’ll have to do something else.

Design Special Advertising To Promote Your Web Site

You should begin to think about your Web site as another business destination-like a storefront in a strip mall. You will get a few visitors wandering by and stopping in, but the traffic will increase greatly if you give the visitors a reason to visit you.

Remember that inertia is a great motivator. Just because you announce that your site is open for business doesn’t mean that you’ll have lots of visitors-you’ll have to overcome their tendency to sit still.

Here’s a suggestion: think direct response advertising in everything that you do to generate Web traffic. Develop an offer (something that the consumer can have if they respond), and be sure to ask for action.

Let’s start with the concept of an offer. A jewelry store might offer a “free ring” to the first 50 who register on the site after seeing the ad (and keying in a special code to identify the ad they saw). A law firm might offer the brochure, “How To Keep Your Inheritance Away From The IRS.” A realtor might offer the brochure, “How To Sell Your House Fast For Top Dollar.” A distributor might offer free shipping.

The idea is not to spend a bunch of money on giveaways. The idea is to overcome inertia and get the customer to the Web site.

Once you have the offer, asking for action is easy: “Come to our Web site at www.great-deals-for-u.com (not a real Web site) and get our special deal.”

You will also want to include something that allows you to track the effect of your advertising. Perhaps you include a special code that the customer has to type when ordering the special premium. Perhaps you ask them to come to a special Web site address set up just for the promotion. However you do it, create some way to know that each customer came from a specific advertisement, mailing, or billboard. That way you can judge the effectiveness of your advertising.

Give Something Away

We have dramatically increased registrations and visits to a Web site by giving things away. You could give away something as expensive as a diamond ring or something as inexpensive as a copy of a research report (which you could email). Whatever you do, require the visitor to give you their email address (at least), and (maybe) their name. Remember that here, more is fewer. That is, the more you

ask for, the fewer signups you’ll get.

You might even consider doing a sweepstakes; be careful with sweepstakes, though, you’ll need to get some legal advice to avoid creating an illegal sweepstakes, lottery, or gambling game. In some states, if you offer prizes over a certain dollar amount, you’ll have to register and post a bond. A good sweepstakes attorney or printed resource can help out here. The advantage of a sweepstakes is that it allows you to offer a few prizes that are worth more. When a user registers, they get a chance to win. With limited cost, you can build quite a list.

Promote this on the Web site. Do mailings for the giveaway. Send out postcards. Put up a sign. Put it on your message- on-hold.

Using On-Line Tools

There are several ways you can promote your business on-line, including search engines, banner ads, link exchanges, banner exchanges, and USENET. For the purpose of this article, I’ll consider two of these briefly: search engines and USENET.

Most people have heard that it’s possible to move your site to the top of many search engines. The secret is in selecting keywords and placing the keywords at the right places in your Web pages. Selecting the right keywords, however, is more than half the battle.

Most sites start with a few guesses about what people might be searching for and with, and then look at their competition’s sites. By placing keywords in the text of your Web pages, inside titles, in captions for pictures and in the alternative text for images, you make your site more attractive to engines.

The second on-line tool for generating Web site traffic is USENET. USENET is a giant bulletin board where people from all over the Internet post and reply to messages. The thing that makes USENET useful is that it is divided into interest groups. Useful information about USENET is available at http://www.ibiblio.org/usenet-i/home.html.

USENET groups discuss things from marketing to pug dogs. If you find an active group that relates to your product, just participating in the discussion and including your Web site address at the bottom of your postings can generate significant Web traffic. Unfortunately, not every subject area has a USENET group, and not all of them are active or worthwhile.

If you try these techniques, you’ll find that they work. You’ll need to refine each promotion of your Web site, doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t, but by using the concepts here you can and will generate more traffic.

Bob Palmer is the President of Data Guidance Group Inc., a consulting firm in Memphis, Tenn, (www.dgginc.com).

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