Marketing ideas for the shoestring bourgeoisie.

101 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website

Over 100 ways to drive traffic to your website, drive traffic to your website

One of the chief concerns we have as website owners is how to drive traffic to our websites. Without knowing how to get more traffic, how else will we get more leads, make more sales and continue to make money online?

There are a number of ways to get more traffic, so I’ve collected this list of my favorite traffic-generation techniques. I’ve tried to organize them into the following categories:

  • Content & Article Marketing
  • SEO & Search Engine Marketing
  • Video Marketing & Podcasting
  • Email Marketing & Syndication
  • Advertising & PPC
  • Public Relations & Spreading the Word
  • Social Media & Bookmarking

(Of course, some techniques could arguably be placed in more than one category. Enjoy!)

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Have more ideas? Add them to the comments below!!

In support of your efforts,

Matt

marketing ideas, drive traffic, drive traffic to your website

Content & Article Marketing

  1. Start a blog or add a blog to your website. Use WordPress. Tip: Don’t go with the free WordPress hosting offered by WordPress.com. It’s a watered-down version of WordPress you cannot optimize!
  1. Research your article keywords using the Google keyword tool. Target your blog posts and articles using these keywords. (Read How to Add Keywords to Your Website.) This will help your posts rank higher in the search results.
  1. Update your website or blog frequently. Three times each week is great. Daily is better.
  1. Write better headlines. Writing compelling headlines that convert into views is an art. Make sure you research your keywords and work them into your headline. Keep your headline congruent with the webpage it describes.
  1. Stay away from duplicating other posts and articles. Duplicate content is one of the big no-no’s according to Google and your site can be penalized or banned if you are engaging in this practice. Tip: If you’re hiring out your content writing, ensure the contractor knows their work needs to pass a plagiarism-detection tool like Copyscape.
  1. When considering content for your website or blog, there are two approaches to consider: timely hot topics or evergreen. Hot topics—like world events, emerging technology or celebrities—will offer you a chance to speak to something that is on everyone’s minds, however those topics often cool off and fade from relevance over time. Evergreen content—as the name suggests—is content that provides timeless value, based on principles that aren’t as likely to change with the public’s mood. A good piece of evergreen content can bring traffic steadily, year after year, and makes for a real asset to your website.
  1. Convert your blog articles to Adobe PDFs and offer them on Scribd.com.
  1. Offer to guest post at other highly-ranked websites. Include your URL in your resource box (your brief description about you and how to reach you for more information.)
  1. Comment on other blogs in your industry or niche. Make your comments thoughtful, courteous and use a keyword or two. Include the link back to your site.
  1. Similar to blog commenting, offer helpful solutions on Q&A sites like Yahoo Answers and Quora. Place the brief synopsis of your solution in answer to the question you’re addressing and post the link to the full article (already posted on your website) if they want to learn more.
  1. Join niche-related forums and offer advice, ask questions, etc. Include links to your websites in your forum signature.
  1. Offer a whitepaper that answers a common challenge for your audience. Collect email sign-ups in exchange. Deliver your whitepaper automatically using your confirmation autoresponder.
  1. Write an ebook. Include links to resources and to your own URL. Offer the ebook on your website.
  1. Place your new ebook into ebook directories for free or low-cost download.
  1. Convert your ebook into a PowerPoint presentation and post on SlideShare.
  1. Repackage your ebook for delivery on the Kindle, Nook and other tablet platforms. Then offer it for sale through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
  1. Add your blog posts to BlogCarnival.com. Host a blog carnival to bring exposure to others within your niche while building the value in your own site.
  1. Form a blog promotion network. Agree to retweet, mention, link or otherwise promote one member each week. (This requires 100% dedication from all members to make it work. If a member begins falling down on their commitment, they’re out.)
  1. Article marketing. Submit your pithy articles to sites like the following and remember to include keyword links leading back to your website. (Read Marketing Mastery Series: 5 Steps to Powerful Article Marketing.)
    1. Ezinearticles.com
    2. Ehow.com
    3. Hubpages.com
    4. Articlesbase.com
    5. Buzzle.com
    6. Associatedcontent.com (now Yahoo Voices)
    7. Suite101.com
  1. Build a quiz or self-test that shows people something about themselves. Entertaining, informative or both, bring value through self-discovery. Though I am certainly biased, here is an example I especially like: Branding 101: Discover Your Brand Archetype Quiz
  1. Create a Squidoo lens. This is a collection of original articles that link back to your site from your Squidoo page.
  1. Add a forum or discussion group software to your website. (Be warned: It takes time, dedication and love to grow a thriving community, but it can be well worth it.)
  1. Offer regular webinars and communicate the schedule and topics through your website and mailing lists. Tip: Record the seminars and add them to a members area on your website, or make them available 24/7, thereby bringing even more value to your site.
  1. Offer a free tool, template or software. When Hotmail was first introduced, each message carried a little signature at the bottom of each email that said “Get your free email at Hotmail”. The email system went viral, spreading naturally from inbox to inbox.
  1. Need help getting posts out regularly? Hire a ghost-writer through an outsourcing service like iWriter, oDesk, Elance, etc.
  1. Create a compelling infographic. When done well, infographics make even the driest material visually interesting, effectively grabbing and holding the reader’s attention long enough to deliver the message—and your URL.

SEO & Search Engine Marketing

  1. Use keyword-centric tags with your WordPress posts.
  1. In WordPress, make sure to leave trackbacks turned on. When you link to other site owners, an email will notify the blog owners of the new link and they will likely visit your site. They may even link back!
  1. Install the Google Sitemap XML plugin for WordPress. It automatically sends updates to Google and other search engines when you make a new post, helping your material get indexed more quickly. Don’t have a WordPress site? Use Ping-O-Matic to accomplish the same thing.
  1. Can’t use the Google Sitemap XML plugin for WordPress* to create your sitemap.xml or robots.txt files (used by Google and other search engines?) Use a sitemap generator like XML-Sitemaps.com.
  1. Two words: Google Authorship. Set it up and get your face to appear next to your posts in the Google search results. (Read Google Authorship: How to Get Your Picture into Google Search Results.)
  1. Install Google Analytics on your site and actually look at it once in a while. It doesn’t even have to be Google Analytics, but you should be able to see how much traffic you’re receiving on a weekly basis and where your visitors are coming in from? How can you intelligently drive more traffic to your site if you don’t know what’s already working for you?
  1. Submit your website to search engines and search directories. Seems obvious, but most folks don’t know where to start. Here is a list of some of the top search sites:
    1. Google
    2. Bing
    3. Yahoo! Search
    4. AltaVista
    5. Excite
    6. Go.com
    7. HotBot
    8. Galaxy
    9. Lycos
    10. Gigablast
    11. Alexa Internet
  1. Use the linkdomain command in Google (ex. linkdomain:marketingideas101.com). While this only shows a subset of the links that lead into a domain, it can give you an idea about how your competitors are getting their rankings.
  1. Research popular misspellings of your company’s name and those of your competitors. Buy those domain names and forward them to your website.
  1. Find expired domain names in your niche that are still receiving traffic and buy them, directing them toward your site. For this, I recommend Expired Domains.
  1. Use a custom 404 page to help people find the information they are seeking from your website in the event it moves or otherwise becomes unavailable.
  1. Reciprocal linking campaigns with mid- to high-PR sites can offer a boost to your rankings and traffic. The best backlink is a one-way, dofollow link from a high PR site. Also, if you’re just getting started with your website and you have low PR, you had better have some great content, otherwise your opt-in rate with a reciprocal campaign is likely to be low.
  1. Join a web ring like WebRing. Advantage: Niche-related linking. Disadvantage: Uglies up your site. (Not as much of a disadvantage if you already have an ugly site. If that’s the case, jump in!)
  1. Pay a freelancer or company to generate obscene amounts of traffic for you. Just beware of the very real chance it could be a scam (Read How NOT to Drive Traffic Using Fiverr.)

Video Marketing & Podcasting

  1. Read or speak to your ebook contents in an audio post or series of audio posts and place on BlogTalkRadio or iTunes.
  1. Why only create audio posts of your ebook, blog post or web content? Create a video demonstrating the same information and post to YouTube and Vimeo. Include links back to your site in your video description and in video captions. Tip: you can do this either by presenting the material yourself, hiring someone to present it, or by creating a video with something like Animoto.

Email Marketing & Syndication

  1. Link your blog with your Aweber email marketing account. Take signups for your newsletter, ebook or other promotional/informational offers. This will grow your emailing list.
  1. Establish an RSS feed for your site. Add it to FeedBurner.com. (Well.. what was Feedburner. Google gobbled them up.)
  1. Connect your RSS feed broadcasts to your Aweber email marketing service. This will deliver your blog posts in an enewsletter format to your mailing list. Set the mailing list to weekly or whatever is appropriate for your posting frequency.
  1. Email your current and past clients regularly. Ask them about their interest in new products and services (segment your list accordingly.) Send letters of appreciation, short polls, tips, client spotlights and other relevant correspondence to stay at the front of their minds.
  1. In your enewsletter, don’t embed complete articles. Instead, display hook paragraphs with links back to the full articles on your own site. This also allows you to gauge what topics are most important to your readers.
  1. Don’t stop with only offering your whitepaper from your newsletter signup confirmation page. Include your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ profiles and links to other websites you own that complement.
  1. Syndicate your blog with Technorati.
  1. Include your website URL in your email signature. (It’s a good place to offer some of your social media URLs as well.)
  1. Run a solo ad, whereby you pay someone to market your offer to their list. Research your list owners carefully here; all is not as it may seem. (Proceed with caution. Read Solo Ads Advertising: Why Solo Ad Scams Suck.)
  1. Conduct an ad swap. You have a mailing list. Another marketer has their mailing list. Your offers align with each others’ mailing lists. The other marketer sends your offer to their list and you send their offer to yours. All things being equal, you both should see your opt-in lists expand. (Get started at Safe-Swaps.com.)
  1. Join venture with another marketer. Similar to a solo ad, you run your ad to their list, with the difference being they get a cut of the sales instead of taking a flat fee.

Advertising & PPC

  1. Run pay-per-click (PPC) ads using Facebook ads, Google Adwords or Bing Ads. Tip: Watch your ad performance carefully at first. You can lose a lot of money quickly if you don’t pay attention!
  1. Pay for banner ads on other websites. Target websites in your niche, preferably. This is a quick way to begin receiving qualified traffic.
  1. Banner exchange. Similar to reciprocal links, you agree to trade banner ads with other website owners. Aim for the same or complementary niches.
  1. Post free or paid ads on classified ad sites like Craigslist, ClassifiedAds.com, and Backpage.
  1. Begin an affiliate marketing program and spread the wealth! Pay others to promote you to their website visitors and mailing lists by giving them a cut. Make sure you can track referred traffic correctly before rolling this out.

Public Relations & Spreading the Word

  1. Offer to start an advice column for local media outlets. Have some example column posts and know your pitch well before approaching publishers. Finally, make sure the publisher’s audience matches your own.
  1. Along the same lines as an advice column, offer to write an editorial. This is akin to guest posting on someone else’s blog. By offering thoughtful insight into a common challenge or current event, you bring value to the publication and a spotlight to your own efforts.
  1. Write a compelling press release and post to free press release sites and local media outlets. Here is a short list of free and paid press release sites:
    1. Free-Press-Release.com
    2. Free-Press-Release-Center.info
    3. 24-7PressRelease.com
    4. 1888PressRelease.com
    5. PRBuzz.com
    6. PRCompass.com
    7. PRUrgent.com
    8. Express-Press-Release.net
    9. ClickPress.com
    10. PR9.net
    11. EcommWire.com
    12. PressMethod.com
    13. PRLog.org
    14. I-Newswire.com
    15. PressAbout.com
    16. NewswireToday.com
    17. PRLeap.com
    18. PR.com
    19. TheOpenPress.com
  1. Are your offline marketing materials supporting your online marketing efforts? You should have your URL on your business cards, flyers, brochures, letterhead; any and all stationary.
  1. Pay a high school or college student to place flyers with your offer and URL around town. Include college campuses, malls, grocery stores, houses, etc., so long as business proprietors are asked and so long as the location is congruent (or neutral) with your offer. These locations should be places where your target audience frequents. Tip: Not sure those flyers won’t end up in the trash? In today’s age of smart phones, pay for each image of the flyers as they’re placed.
  1. Drive your URL all around town. Brand your URL onto your license plate cover, bumper sticker, or have it added professionally to your vehicle’s rear window, tailgate, side, etc. Better if your car is unique in some way (and I’m not talking about that rust spot shaped like Elvis or the Virgin Mary.) Want to take this over the top? Invest in an eye-catching vehicle wrap.
  1. Buy a pair of sandals or boots and carve your URL into the bottom of them. Then go walk on wet sand or snow and give those who follow in your footsteps something to think about.
  1. Hold a contest. Winner gets a rave review on your site, a fun toy or gadget, cash.. whatever. The more compelling and niche-appropriate the prizes, the better. Announce the contest winners on your site.
  1. Join a local business group or association. Members often benefit from being listed in the member directory, complete with their website’s URL.
  1. Your business card should have your link on it, of course. Better, use the back of your business card to state a special offer, coupon code, promotion or other thrilling reason for them to visit your site. Now those networking mixers may actually bring some visits to your site instead of seeding your business cards at the bottom of trash bins all over town.
  1. Sponsor a league team. This might be softball, darts, roller derby, bowling—even chess. Consider the audience (the players and their families and fans) and your own interests when choosing your sponsorship opportunity.
  1. Get seen on television. This technique worked well for Dave Mayer of CleanBottle.com. Dressed in a gigantic bottle costume—complete with URL—Dave was first caught on video running along Tour de France bicyclists. The video went viral and CleanBottle’s orders exploded. He has since made this technique a cornerstone in his marketing strategy, though he’s occasionally roughed up by drunken cycling fans.
  1. Give a live talk, presentation, seminar or workshop. At the end of that event, you should be collecting a short survey to see how to improve the next event. Request email addresses from those who confirm they would like to opt into your mailing list.
  1. When folks were registering for that event, did they fill out a registration form? It better not have been printed! Any flyers or advertising for the event should point to your website where they’ll find more event details and the registration form.
  1. Give an interview. Regardless of the format, a recorded interview can offer you great exposure to your market and places you in the expert seat. As the interviewer for a list of questions ahead of time, or offer your own. Practice being at ease and ask for a copy of the interview for use in your own marketing efforts.
  1. Interview others. With every interview you conduct, the easier it will become for you to interview larger names in your industry. The larger the names, the larger the draw. Tip: Have your recorded interviews transcribed and offer them on your website. It’s a great way to generate fresh content!
  1. Offer to give a product review (whether positive or negative) or testimonial in exchange for a backlink.
  1. Send your product (for free) to other site owners for an online product review.
  1. Hand out promotional items with your URL on them. Don’t skimp here. Nice metal pens and USB drives tend to tend to stay with me for a very long time, even if they have a logo and URL emblazoned on them.
  1. Hold an online treasure hunt. Contestants compete to answer riddles and collect clues to win mind-boggling prizes. Of course, one of the clues (or maybe the treasure!?) will be on your website.
  1. Printed banners, billboards and skywriting. Enough said there. Better: Save yourself the printing costs. To retaliate against political sign thieves, Michigan digital marketing agency, Oneupweb projected a 30-foot video loop of a dancing Senator Obama onto the side of their building. The stunt made the evening news all over the country.
  1. Produce viral content. How? One idea is to make a legend come true. Athletic shoe manufacturer Hi-Tec, made a series of “reality” videos showing their new line of running shoes were so water-resistant, people were attempting to run on water—and they were succeeding.
  1. Tattoo (temporary or otherwise) your URL onto your body. Anything that important is sure to get looked up.
  1. Ask a celebrity to wear a t-shirt or dress with your URL printed on it.
  1. When attending a tradeshow, you and your team wear the same shirts, visibly labeled with your URL. Buttons and hats are another version of this.
  1. Create an award program. Establish the guidelines, the award graphics, press release templates, etc. Be discerning about how you select your candidates and make your announcement. Encourage the winner(s) to place the new badge on their website. Of course, it’s a link to the award summary on your own site.
  1. Promote a sale, introductory pricing, free trial or other enticing promotion to lead deal-conscious buyers to your website.

Social Media & Bookmarking

  1. Facebook. Share interesting or relevant posts, images and videos on your Facebook ‘fan page’. Every now and again, include a link to your own website.
  1. Facebook. Install the NetworkedBlogs Facebook app and connect your blog to Facebook. When you post to your blog, your post automatically shows in Facebook.
  1. Facebook. Link your Facebook account with your Twitter account so a post in Facebook automatically posts in Twitter. This lightens your need to log into both accounts and adds diversity to your Twitter posts, especially if you’re smart enough to automate some of them using…
  1. MarketMeSuite. Manage your social media streams and accounts from one place. Best: Create, schedule and upload your social media broadcasts a week, month, quarter or year at a time. Greatly reduces the social media marketing burden.
  1. Twitter. Display your Twitter feed on your website or blog. If you’re using your Facebook or Twitter account regularly, your tweets will display and serve to freshen your website. This encourages repeat visits and updates your website, keeping you fresh in Google’s search results.
  1. Twitter. Include your website’s link in your Twitter bio.
  1. Twitter. Tweet about your product, service or articles. Include links to your onsite material. Use hash tags (#) to add your tweets to relevant topic streams.
  1. LinkedIn. Connect your WordPress blog with your LinkedIn account so your blog posts appear on your profile.
  1. LinkedIn. Include your URL in your profile.
  1. LinkedIn. Start a LinkedIn group. Best: Target your niche and mention your geographical location in the group’s description to build a more focused group.
  1. LinkedIn. Too busy to start your own LinkedIn group? Join other groups and add value to those communications. Often, those posts can be expanded to become full articles on your own website. Then offer the link to the group.
  1. Pinterest. Add interesting, non-copyrighted graphics to your web pages and blog posts then pin them to your Pinterest account.
  1. Create a profile in any of these popular social bookmarking sites. Include your URL in your profile.
    1. Digg.com
    2. StumbleUpon.com
    3. Delicious.com
    4. Fark.com
    5. Slashdot.org
    6. Newsvine.com
    7. DZone.com
    8. Diigo.com
    9. Tumblr.com
    10. Pinterest.com
    11. Reddit.com
  1. Using these popular social bookmarking sites, bookmark links of value, related to your niche. Your own website should be one of these bookmarks.
  1. Ask others to bookmark your site. Or bribe them. Either way.

And finally–because you can’t have a list of only 100 marketing ideas on a website called “Marketing Ideas 101″:

Content & Article Marketing (cont.)

  1. Make a “100 Ways to” list post and ask people to share if they found it helpful. Not quite that ambitious? Make the list “10 Ways to”, “3 Ways to”, “50 Ways to”—you get the idea.

Share if you approve!!

marketing ideas, drive traffic, drive traffic to your website

References

Boorn, Cassie. 50 Ways to Drive Massive Traffic to Your Blog. Retrieved from http://askaprgirl.com/50-ways-to-drive-massive-traffic-to-your-blog/ on 12/17/2012.

SEOLogic. Web Traffic 101. Retrieved from http://www.seologic.com/guide/traffic on 12/09/2012.

WarriorForum. 50 Great Ideas to Get More Traffic to a website – I found it and you might find it useful. Retrieved from http://www.warriorforum.com/mind-warriors-success-power-self-improvement/166835-50-great-ideas-get-more-traffic-website-i-found-you-might-find-useful.html on 12/17/2012

 

(* Did you see a pattern? I’ve mentioned WordPress a few times now. I wonder if WordPress could be a powerful option for those who want to have a search engine optimized website that draws traffic. I wonder…)

Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival, December 18, 2012

Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival

Welcome to the December 18, 2012 edition of the Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival.

Blogging

Bill Smith presents Breaking The Barriers Of Language With WordPress Transposh posted at Captured Technology, saying, “Some websites have good content however, not all of them get high rankings because of the different languages that people use when writing.”

Jeremy Biberdorf presents It Is Your Blogging Journey, You Make The Rules posted at Modest Money, saying, “There are things where there is no set blueprint that you need to follow. You are free to do what works for you and sometimes just wing it. Blogging is one of those things. There may be strategies that have worked well for others, but how you approach it is completely up to you.”

Arnel Ariate presents Blogging for Money posted at Money Soldiers, saying, “I treat blogging as my business. Just like any other businesses, blogging needs customers. In this article, I talked about the different ways I did to increase my blog’s readership.”

Marketing Ideas

Matt Schoenherr presents How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog posted at Marketing Ideas 101, saying, “Driving traffic to your blog can be one of the most difficult things to do. With so many blogs starting up each day, it’s difficult to differentiate yourself and your blog from the others online and to culminate an effective online presence. While it does take hard work and perseverance, driving and maintaining traffic to your blog can be done by utilizing a few key practices to your daily blogging habits.”

Catherine presents Grow Your Business with Evolved Marketing and Advertising by Webshark 360 -Legal Brand Development, Marketing and Design.

David Leonhardt presents Does Google think it’s God? posted at David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing, saying, “Google looks at your website on the Internet that same way as God looks at you. Google sees what our websites are really made of – the code, the content, the information.”

Small Business Marketing

David Leonhardt presents What marketing experience means posted at David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing, saying, “Experience does not mean you know everything. It does, however, mean that you have a pretty good idea where to look and how to evaluate what you find.”

Patricia Lotich presents Customer Questions – Are You Paying Attention? posted at The Thriving Small Business, saying, “Another great opportunity to understand a consumer’s experience is by taking advantage of the questions customers ask. When a customer asks a question, it provides a great learning opportunity. What we learn from customer questions is very valuable and should be used as yet another tool to improve products and services.”

Jon Rhodes presents Want High Affiliate Sales? Build Up Your Trust posted at Affiliate Help!, saying, “This article shows why it is so important to build trust when selling affiliate products online.”

baliconfederate presents So you Should Consider your Shipping Cost as a Marketing Cost? posted at WebandRank.com Blog, saying, “consider shipping cost like marketing investment.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog

marketing ideas drive traffic blog

Driving traffic to your blog can be one of the most difficult things to do.  With so many blogs starting up each day, it’s difficult to differentiate yourself and your blog from the others online and to culminate an effective online presence.  While it does take hard work and perseverance, driving and maintaining traffic to your blog can be done by utilizing a few key practices to your daily blogging habits.

Blog Targeting: Keep Your Audience in Mind

This is imperative when creating a blog and writing posts.  Have a targeted demographic in mind and write for them, covering topics they want to read about and that they would find useful in their lives. Often over-looked is the tone of your blog posts, which is crucial to your blog’s success.  If you’re writing a fashion and style blog, make the tone fun, informative and friendly—even casual, as if it’s between friends.

On the other hand, if you’re writing a blog for business men and women, or financially-minded people, then you want the tone to be business-like and knowledgeable. Business readers don’t want to feel like they’re getting information from an unreliable source, just as fashion readers don’t want to feel as if they’re being told what to do.  Knowing who is reading your blog and then writing to them will not only set your blog apart but ensure you have repeat readers.

Blog Optimization: Keep Your Search Keywords in Mind

Once you have your blog written in the appropriate tone and content, go back through and ensure that you’ve used words and phrases that will be picked up by Google search bots. (Read How To Work Keywords Into Your Website.) Using a SEO platform to build your blog on can make it extremely easy to ensure that your blog posts will be returned in searches for your topic.  Having good quality blog posts come up in results will make readers take note of the source and come back to peruse the rest of the blog.

Blog Management: Share, Post and Interact

Having a blog that isn’t seen isn’t really a blog at all.  Make your blog something that you are proud of, sharing it on all social media platforms so that you can encourage traffic and increase the amount of clicks on your links.  Sharing photos and posts on platforms that your readers are members of will increase your traffic and increase reader awareness of your blog.  Social media can give your blog a trustworthy reputation and brand it as a trusted source for your topic.

Drive traffic to your blog to help more, connect more, and earn more.

Before you decide to employ these small changes to your blogging practice and aim to make them a habit, install an analytics program so that you can see the results and increase in your traffic these techniques have brought to your blog.  Once you have mastered these habits and can create effective blog posts, there are many more techniques you can incorporate that are more advanced to drive traffic to your blog.  Because ultimately it is traffic to your blog that will eventually make your blog lucrative and help your message reach many more people, so do what you can to increase your blog traffic!

Defining ‘Moments of Truth’ in a Business Customer’s Lifecycle

marketing ideas romancing the customer

by Joseph Fiochetta

There are several critical times during a customer’s relationship where a decision is made–by the customer–to continue or discontinue interacting with a company. This may be the first bill, a customer service call, a retail experience, a Web site…any event that helps clarify the relationship with a particular brand, product, or service.

We call these “moments of truth” and how a marketer interacts with the customers can significantly increase (or decrease) the long-term viability of that relationship. Identifying and anticipating those points of clarify is critical to maintain and grow a profitable customer relationship.

Staying Connected with Customers
For one telecommunications leader, economic and competitive pressures were making it increasingly difficult to attract and keep new customers in a highly competitive space.

New small-to-medium-sized business customers represent a substantial economic gain to this communications services provider because these customers generate a higher percentage of cross-sell opportunities and are one of the faster growth segments in business today. But new customers typically tend to be more vulnerable to competitors and generally churn at a higher rate during the first weeks and months of the business relationship.

Within the company, customer communications were siloed–in the same way that products often are siloed–and “touch points”–points of interaction–with small business customers were driven by regulatory and budget constraints. They were not based on each customer’s actual need. For example, within the company’s old business model, small business customers received multiple contacts from various channels (direct mail, e-mail, teleservices) across various products with no integration.

A customer’s first contact included an informational and legal document to confirm an order–traditionally a generic, off-brand direct mail piece with no offer.

This was followed by a number of different welcome kits from each product category that were sent up to three months after a new customer’s service activation. In addition, customer service was not integrated into the marketing mix so contact with the customer was conducted independent of other channels.

Senior management recognized that the more services a customer purchases from a telecom provider, the less likely customers will take their business elsewhere, but the move from a product focus to a customer focus was not an easy one and required a commitment from multiple stakeholders within the organization. The shift away from how the company was organized versus how customers engaged with the brand created an impact on the organization at strategic, tactical, and operational levels.

Developing a Plan to ‘Onboard’ New Customers
Critical to success was key stakeholder buy-in throughout the process. To combat the problem of new customer turnover, the telecom performed a number of qualitative and quantitative measures necessary to realign the new customer experience.

First, three guiding principles were established to focus the plan:

  1. All communications should generate a measurable response so that management may tell–at an individual level, as well as at the intervention level–what worked and what did not.
  2. Customer-centric communications must be frequent and consistent, targeted, timed, and delivered in a manner that is most appropriate for the individual customer. Tracking preferences and behavior is essential.
  3. Communications should be focused on increasing “stickiness”–which is the ability to keep a consumer coming back for more. Thus, each customer’s value over the time of the relationship is tracked.

The first step was to understand business priorities and analyze and document the telecom’s current state. Through customer focus groups, data analysis, contact mapping, impact analysis, and an environmental scan across multiple industries, a “best-practices approach” to prevent customer churn was developed.

As the company set out to develop best practices in developing new customer communications, it learned that:

  • The first 90 days are critical – there can be as much as a 15% to 20% “take rate” of additional products and services during this initial period.
  • The sooner one can engage a customer, the better.
  • Messages developed early in the relationship should be designed to set and validate customer expectations.
  • Personalization works!
  • Using multiple touch points across a variety of media are preferred by customers – because channel preference is situational.
  • Multiple response channels are essential.
  • Surveying and data gathering are critical components for gaining customer insight. Programs that are data gathering stimulate: customer interaction, transactions (revenue), stickiness (retention), and usage.
  • The velocity of customer communications and engagement should increase during “moments of truth.” Trigger-based programs, ones where offers and dialogue are built upon data-based business rules, can enhance an already effective new customer strategy.
  • Consultative selling is a key part of any customer program and can help avoid negative “moments of truth.” Right-sizing and proactive account management can effectively stem high attrition during choke points in the customer relationship.
  • A product-centric focus is not the key driver in new customer retention. Customer-centric programs that address the lifecycle of the customer through vulnerable periods are more profitable.

From this insight, the company set out to identify the critical milestones for each business customer through time-driven occurrences and data-driven activity. The customer’s “relationship” with the company was marked by five key lifestages: courting, honeymoon, newlywed, settling-in, and getting-the-itch. Within each lifestage, expectations were established and the metrics for success were developed to support the business case for this new change.

Implementing the New Approach
At the core of the company’s new strategy is a precise contact strategy that optimizes each customer interaction. Channel alignment, combined with predictive modeling and analytics as well as customer-centric messaging and creative, is the foundation of this evolving new customer onboarding process.

At each lifestage, the focus and intent of the communications change as a customer progresses from one stage to another. As a result, the telecom is able to identify each stage and allocate the right offer, message, and budget to that customer’s situation. This enables the telecom to communicate with customers when they are prone to churn.

Small business customers are contacted several times within the crucial first six-month period, not including billing and account information. Number of contacts, channel mix, message, and offer are determined by in which lifestage a customer resides. Further, each contact is treated as part of a continuity curriculum, where the conversation with the customer extends over a period of time versus the traditional single message approach.

For example, during the “honeymoon” period, a single welcome kit is sent within five to ten days from service activation (versus 12 weeks). This package establishes the one-to-one dialog with the new customer and thanks the customer for choosing the telecom, delivers product information, sets expectations for the customer experience, and validates the decision to interact with the brand.

While entering the “newlywed” stage, new customers receive messaging that acknowledges the products/services the customer currently has and offers additional solutions or offers based on how they migrate through the telecom’s solutions. The goal of this effort is to provide the customer with evolutionary products or services rather than the telecom’s focus product during that time period.

In the “settling in” period, customers can expect to receive loyalty-based packages with savings designed just for them–so the more detailed the information about the customer, the more dynamic the communication stream, and the more successful (and profitable) the customer interaction.

This right-message, right-time approach extends to other channels throughout the process. The sales and direct marketing channels work closely together to present a consistent and cohesive face to the customer.

Throughout the onboarding period–from service activation through month six, the telecom company is able to “right-size” a customer’s product and service mix through: account reviews, consultative-selling via inbound and outbound telemarketing, and rules-based triggers that can help identify and stem a potential churn event.

Of course, this new approach requires changes to infrastructure, budgets, and available resources that will be deployed over several phases. Although still in the first phase, early indicators point to the success of the new program. The telecom company was able to reduce customer churn, increase sales and revenue, and experience higher overall response rates as a result of the innovation.

By implementing customer-focused communication “best practices,” a marketer in the business-to-business space can optimize the profitability of new small business customers for the long term.

marketing ideas leadership

Joseph Fiochetta is director of strategy for Harte-Hanks, a worldwide, direct and targeted marketing company that provides direct marketing services and shopper advertising opportunities to a wide range of local, regional, national and international consumer and business-to-business marketers. He can be reached at (215)750-6600 or at joe_fiochetta@harte-hanks.com.

How To Work Keywords Into Your Website

marketing ideas how to add keywords

One of the most important things you can do to improve your rankings in the search engines and directories (Google, Yahoo, Bing, DMOZ, et cetera) is to ensure your website is optimized in accordance with the keywords and key phrases you are looking to target.

To “optimize” a website for search engine relevancy means going over it with a fine-tooth comb and seeking out ways to make the website more targeted toward the topic it incites. There are a number of ways to do this.

Domain Name

Does your domain name carry with it “maximum information per square inch?” As in, is your product or service in your name? While this can help your rankings, it is not the end all, be all. After all, do a search in Google on “fast food” and you will notice McDonald’s and Wendy’s sites come up to the top and their domain names are not mcdonaldsfastfood.com or wendysfastfood.com.

Page Titles

Each web page on your site should have its own distinct title. A web page title should tell the user and the search engines what the page is about and you want to make sure to work in a couple keywords relevant to your website and specific to that page. Recommendation: Resist the temptation to place your company name first in the title—your keywords are more important to both humans and bots, so they go first.

Metadata

Add keywords and key phrases into your website’s metadata. Every web page has the capacity to have within it a hidden description and set of keywords. Whether web designers make use of this feature is another matter. Besides your domain name and page titles, this is one of the first things the search engines use to determine where in their indexes your site should be placed. While the importance for metadata has been greatly reduced over the years, it is still something you want to address as it’s the meta description that shows up in the search results.

Copy

Your copy (the text you write,) your links and the images you choose can all be constructed to give the search engines a greater idea about your website’s singular reason for being.

When you seek to “keyword optimize” your website, you begin by knowing the keywords you want to target. Once you have a list of 20 to 30 keywords or key phrases, you may then begin to craft your message to your public, sprinkling in those important words along the way. A good rule of thumb here is to focus on a few keywords per page, rather than trying to stuff them all onto every page.

Tip: Write for humans, but optimize for search engines. Do not pack your site with your keywords. The top search engines have algorithms in place that will penalize for “keyword stuffing.” (Keyword stuffing is considered to be a “black hat” search engine optimization technique and is wonderful way to get your website banned from the search engines. Not recommended.)

Links

Descriptive links are another great way to tell the search engines what your site is about and they carry a good amount of weight and should be used wisely. If you are merely stating “click here” or “read more” you are missing an opportunity. Instead of stopping at “read more”, build a little more information into the link by saying “read more about online marketing” (or whatever your topic.) Assuming “online marketing” was one of our key phrases, we just gave that search engine a little more reason to promote our site when someone searches on online marketing.

Images

Even the images you use can build relevancy for your website. For example, if you have a dog grooming company, abstain from putting up pictures of your clients that still carry the same filename as the day they were pulled off the digital camera. “DC3459.jpg” tells the search engines nothing about the subject of that image. Since search engines cannot actually see the image to interpret it (yet,) they can only rely upon the filename you give your image (and an “alt” tag, which we will discuss later,) balanced against the rest of the page on which it resides. A better filename might be “dog-grooming-service.jpg” or “pet-grooming.jpg.” This same principle holds true for every filename you use on your site (.doc, .pdf, .gif, .htm, .php, etc.,) including even the pages of your website.

Does it sound like we are catering to the search engines? We are. Search engines and directories are large conduits into your website. Without them, there would be considerably less traffic on your site, so you want to make it clear to them you are 1) an authority in your field, and 2) your website contains great value to those who will find it.

Marketing Idea #9: Match Competitors’ Prices

marketing ideas match competitor prices

Offer to match your competition’s prices. Bargain shoppers thrive on being able to bring in your competition’s ads to have you beat the prices. There are a few things that work to your advantage here:

  • Your regular patrons will be less likely to be swayed away from you because of price.
  • The hunt for the lowest price is a process that engages the public and draws attention.
  • You never have to worry about keeping a tab on the competition’s price strategy (but you do have to worry about being able to maintain the same price strategy).

Caution: Make sure your margins allow for price wars. There is something to be said for positioning yourself as the premium product or service in the marketplace. For instance, Ruler or Sage brand archetypes may not want to battle at the low end of the pricing scale since those brands lend more to a moderate to high pricing strategy. In contrast, the Jester or Regular Guy/Girl brand archetypes would be better suited for this tactic, due to their broader mass appeal.

Marketing Idea #18: Start an Affiliate Program

marketing ideas affiliate programs

Create a referral or affiliate program. Otherwise known as making it worth other people’s time to help you reach new clients. The goal of a referral program is to create revenue or to provide some other incentive for those who help you reach more people.

Example: Dreamscape Multimedia offers a referral program with our web hosting service and makes it free to sign up using a simple one-page form. We call it our Prosperity program, as it pays a hefty 50 percent monthly commission* on web hosting accounts you refer to us.

*Giving back 50 percent of a revenue stream may not be possible for your company. Determine what a responsible return might look like, and proceed conservatively at first.

Marketing Idea #25: Always Carry Business Cards

marketing ideas business cards

Always have enough business cards with you. While this seems like it should be obvious, people are still caught off-guard without their business cards. You’ll never know when or where opportunities will arise. Also, whenever you know you’re on your way to a trade show, mixer, or other networking event, make sure you take a lot of business cards. It’s better to have too many than not enough!

Tip: Keep a number of “card caches” around you at all times. Keeping business cards in your car, at your desk, at your home office, and in your briefcase or purse can keep you from looking ill-prepared if you forget to replenish the cards in your wallet.

What NOT to do: I’ve seen people leave their business cards randomly at restaurants, in rest rooms, and on bar counters by registers. Maybe this works, but I’m doubtful. In my mind, this would be even less effective than placing your business card on a bulletin board! Do you really think the wait staff are going to keep you business cards after you leave? Nah. I think they’re going to clean the table and those expensive die-cut, embossed business cards you had to have are going to end up wearing your table scraps in the trash.

Hint: Save your cards for the people who care.

Marketing Idea #83: Tradeshow Giveaways

Marketing Ideas Tradeshow Giveaways

The best and most obvious reason for visiting some tables at trade shows is for the free giveaways. You will find that many people will make the rounds to collect the free stuff. In some cases, the booths without free giveaways may experience lower traffic as a result. It’s a cheap ploy, but the right giveaway can gain you exposure you wouldn’t have had without it. Of course, you have to question the quality of your traffic if it’s only coming over to steal another one of those great metal pens…

Tip: Have fun with your giveaways! After all, if it’s really good, it will likely end up in the hands of their kids.


 

10 ways to master the tradeshow giveaway game

by Susan Friedmann

Walk around any trade show and you will be able to collect a bag full of trade show giveaway items all designed to promote business. Everyone enjoys receiving a gift. Gift giving creates a favorable impression. It can build goodwill, be an incentive, communicate a message, and create awareness. However, how many promotional giveaways do an effective job?

Before jumping into the trade show giveaway game consider the following 10 ways to master the tradeshow giveaway game:

Define Your Audience: Having a focused objective for your trade show giveaway will also help you decide who should receive it. Consider having different gifts for various visitors. You might have different quality gifts for your key customers, prospects, and general passers by.

Set Your Goal: What do you want to achieve by giving away a premium item? Trade show giveaway items should be designed to increase your recognition, communicate a message, motivate an action, or promote your small business. It’s important not only that the message have an impact, but also the premium itself.

Find the Right Item: There is a multitude of different items you could consider as a premium giveaway. However, which one will best suit your purpose? To select the right item, decide on your objective. Do you want it to enhance a theme, convey a specific message, or educate your target audience? Set a purpose to make your selection process easier. A promotional specialist can also help you make an effective selection. Remember your company image is reflected in whatever you choose to give away.

Add Your Message: Is there an item that naturally complements your marketing message? Have the message imprinted on the item with your company name, logo, and phone number. An important aspect of any gift is to remember who it was from long after the fact.

Set a Price: The price range for trade show giveaway items is enormous. Quality, quantity, and special orders all impact the price. Establish a budget as part of your exhibit marketing plan. Consider ordering the same item for several different shows. The greater the quantity of your order, the lower the individual unit price.

Establish Qualifiers: What must visitors do to qualify for a giveaway item? There are several ways to use your trade show giveaway effectively:

  • as a reward for visitors participating in a demonstration, presentation, or contest
  • as a token of your appreciation when visitors have given you qualifying information about their specific needs
  • as a thank you for stopping at the booth

Use the Pre-qualifying Secret: Trade show giveaways can be used to pre-qualify your prospects. One company uses playing cards. Prior to the show, they send “kings” to their key customers, “queens” to suppliers, and “jacks” to new or hot prospects. They request that the cards are brought to the booth in exchange for a special gift. When the cards are presented, the booth staff already knows certain information about the visitor. They can then act on their previous knowledge and use time with the visitor more productively.

Have a Sales Incentive: Will your trade show giveaway directly help future sales? Hand out a discount coupon or a gift certificate requiring future contact with your company for redemption. Consider premiums that will help generate frequent visits to customers and prospects, such as calling you for free refills.

Inform Your Target Audience: Novel trade show giveaways can actively help to draw prospects to your booth. Make sure your prospects know about it. Send a tickler invitation with details of the giveaway, or create a two-piece premium, sending one part out to key prospects prior to the show and telling them to collect the other half at your booth.

Have a Tracking Mechanism: Establish a tracking mechanism to measure the success of your trade show giveaways.

If it is a redemption item, code it so that you know it resulted from the show. Post-show follow-up could include a question about the premium: Did visitors remember receiving it, and how useful was the item? After the trade show, critique your giveaways with your exhibit team:

  • Did it draw specific prospects to the booth?
  • Was it eye-catching enough to persuade passers by to stop?
  • Did your customers find it useful?
  • Did it project the right corporate image?

There are plenty of exciting trade show giveaways for you to choose from to avoid the usual pens, pencils, and key chains. Make your premium work for you by applying the 10 ways to master your trade show giveaways and experience show success…it will be money well invested.


Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, is The Tradeshow Coach, and author of “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies,” working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training. For a free copy of “10 Common Mistakes Exhibitors Make”, e-mail article4 (at) thetradeshowcoach.com, or visit her website www.thetradeshowcoach.com.

Marketing Idea #2: What is Your Marketing Budget?

Marketing Ideas Marketing Budget

Set aside money for marketing efforts each year. Don’t use it for anything else. Often, we have a tendency to pull our marketing funds from the same pool of money as our operating funds. This habit can reduce an organization’s ability to market itself when the time is right. Be especially protective of your marketing budget; this is the investment that pays the bills.

Below, I’ve reposted a brief article by the Wall Street Journal which discusses the success of companies who remain steady in their marketing efforts, even in the face of a recession. Folks, if this can’t convince you to invest in your own marketing efforts, I don’t know what will.

In support of your efforts,

Matt

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The Basic Argument for Advertising in a Recession

from The Wall Street Journal (publication information unknown)
View the original article

When times turn bad, they’re made worse by hesitation, halfway measures, and panicky decisions. Such as the decision to reduce or eliminate advertising. The fact is, companies that maintain or increase their advertising spending during recessions get ahead. A less crowded field allows messages to be seen more clearly, and that increased visibility results in higher sales both during and after a recession.

Recessionary Advertising Works

Studies by the American Business Press examined the relationship between advertising and sales in 143 companies during the severe 1974/75 downturn. They found that companies that did not cut advertising either year had the highest growth in sales and the net income during the two study years and the following two years. The studies also proved that companies that cut advertising during both years had the lowest sales and net-income increases during the two study years and the following two years.

And not surprisingly, companies that cut advertising during only one of the recession years had sales and net-income increases that fell in between.

Long-Term Benefits

A study by McGraw-Hill of both the 1974/75 and 1981/82 recessions confirmed the long-range advantage of keeping a strong advertising presence. It found that companies that cut advertising in 1981/82 increased sales by only 19% between 1980 and 1985, while companies that continued to advertise in 1981/82 enjoyed a 275% sales increase.

An industry-specific study published by the Harvard Business Review found that airlines that increased their advertising expenditure during 1974/75 increased sales and market share in both years, while airlines that cut advertising in both years lost sales and share both years.

The results of all three studies are consistent, clear and unequivocal: Those companies that advertise during a recession have better sales than those companies that don’t.

The way to minimize a downturn and take maximum advantage of the upturn is to maintain a strong communications link with your buying public.