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Promoting Your Website (Part 2) - Advertising your Site

Web site Promotion : Overview | Advertising | Our Service

Ever since the early days of product promotion, it has been important to create what is nowadays known as "brand awareness", whereby you would try to get a name which was known by a large number of people and associated with one product.  One very good early example of this was the vacuum cleaner which has been known more commonly, since early 1900s as "the Hoover" (Hoover being one of the few companies to produce reliable early vacuum cleaners).

As technology improves, the range of marketing possibilities has also increased.  Any company which wants to promote brand awareness throughout the world has to use displays, media, shop fronts and word of mouth in order to spread their name and link with identifiable products, as widely as possible.  In actual fact, many companies continue to rely upon word of mouth as being the most beneficial type of promotion, however, the rapid expansion of the internet has meant that it is even more important to get your presence felt and to create a corporate identity which will enable your web-site and reviews of your products to be found quickly and easily.  Without this a search for any product is likely to return 100+ website addresses, all of which may relate to the given product, something similar, a competitor's website or even something completely unrelated.

When dealing with the internet, you do however, also need to bear in mind that your business is mainly visual and so your website has to be just as good as your advertising, otherwise people will link through to your web site and then quickly move onto something else.

If a website promotion strategy is to work, you need to look at all of the various aspects - search engine optimisation, promotion tools, links to your website and online advertising.  This section looks at links and advertising.

Some websites will place a link to your site for free in return for a reciprocal link back to them.  However, the problem with these, is finding a site which will be used by your potential customers, but will not take traffic away from you.  The other option is to pay to have your own advert on other websites - you can come to a simple agreement with a website owner, or look to use one of the various advertising schemes.  In our experience, the latter offers better value for money.

There are two main advertising schemes which we would recommend - affiliate advertising schemes and Pay Per Click Advertising.

Affiliate Advertising Schemes

There are numerous affiliate advertising schemes - they list a wealth of different advertising campaigns and anyone with a website can pick and choose which advertisements they would like to place on their own web site, in exchange for a share of the revenue generated.

As an advertiser this is a good method of finding the best sites to place your advert - be it a text link, a banner, or even some streaming video with a link back to your site.  You can choose whether potential affiliates are to be automatically approved, or manually approved by you so that you can check the quality and content of their website.

The only problem is the amount of coding that this can lead to on your behalf. You can either pay a sum for every click-thru generated to your site, or a share of any orders placed by people who click through the affiliate link.  If the latter, then you need to add additional code to your shopping baskets in order to allow the affiliate scheme provider with the ability to track the value of orders placed.

The good news is that the affiliate scheme providers will provide you with all of the tools and code required.  You do however have to beware of the limits you set and the costs of setting up the affiliate scheme in the first place.

If you wish to use affiliate advertising to drive customers to your website, you should carefully look at the schemes on offer - some attract a much wider range of website owners (publishers) looking to place adverts on their website (such as Trade Doubler who are well known for working with people who wish to offer cash back or online loyalty schemes. This is seen as a big bonus to the advertisers on the Trade Doubler network and has proved a popular way of creating cashback sites.

There are plenty of other affiliate programmes out there, including some specifically for shareware programs (such as RegNow).  Others also offer lower fees to advertisers but possibly less appeal to publishers.  A full list of the most common affiliate scheme providers appears on our page dedicated to advertising publishers.

Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

Another option, which we have used to some degree in order to promote our websites is to use pay per click advertising, such as the scheme operated by Overture which provides its own search engine, but also ensures that your bids count towards listings with MSN, Yahoo!, Altavista, AlltheWeb and Lycos at the same time.  Bids can take the form of either a one-off payment, or an amount paid to the search engine for each click to your website which is generated from that search engine.   Following the creation of our new website (www.rwapadventures.com), we were pleased that we had found a hosting package which offered $50 to spend with Overture.  This has been used to great effect to help drive traffic to our new site.

A much more useful form of pay per click is Google AdWords.  Google AdWords is linked to their AdSense program, which encourages people to add a small advertising box or Google search box onto their website in return for commission based on how many visitors click through those adverts.  However, unlike traditional pay per click advertising, Google AdSense ensures that the adverts displayed in the box, are relevant to the actual text contained on that web page (or search results).  This means that if you place an advert through AdWords, you can be assured that the majority of people who will see your adverts are already reading something directly related to your own site.  As a result, they are more likely to click on the link and actually spend time looking at and reading your own web site.

However, some advertisers (and publishers) are moving away from Google Adwords for three main reasons:

  1. The highest converting adverts are those which appear in the search engine results, therefore publishers are better to offer affiliate scheme advertising (or direct links to websites) on their own sites.
  2. AdWords is based on pay per click technology (where the publisher receives an amount based on the number of times an advert is clicked).  Many advertisers have been the victims of click fraud where simple sites have been created which contain nothing but Google advertisements and the owners of these sites pay people to visit the site and click as many random adverts as possible.  This can result in a huge increase in advertising budgets, without any corresponding increase in sales. Although steps are taken by Google to tackle this type of fraud, it can be several weeks before it is detected and the sites black-listed.
  3. There is too much secrecy surrounding the action taken to try and prevent click fraud which makes it very difficult for advertisers to find details about where their clicks are coming from, or blocking clicks from certain countries (although you can prevent adverts displaying on certain named sites).

Also, we have found that although both of these schemes can be highly beneficial to a website, it can prove expensive unless you have a high turnover in sales and leads which generate new business for your business.  Having tried out many of the other free web promotion tools on the internet, we believe that the best way is to use pay per click (PPC) for high value/volume sales and to promote your website generally using commercial software which place this entirely under your control, rather than placing it in the hands of agents or relying upon free tools.

What About Emailshots?

Finally, as a last resort, companies may turn to the bane of all internet surfers lives - email shots. 

In order for these to be effective, it is essential that you know your audience and provide an opt-in scheme whereby people will sign up to receive email news from yourselves (rather than just purchasing bulk email lists which tend to go ignored by the intended recipients as spam emails).  One of the most effective methods of this form of marketing is to add an email opt-in option on your website and then send HTML newsletters to your interested customers. 

Constant Contact provides tools for sending a spam free Email CampaignYou also need to monitor the effectiveness of each email campaign, with information on how many customers actually read the emails and click on links.  You can check the effectiveness of your campaign using software such as IndexTools, although you may wish to consider an all-in-one option, such as the Constant Contact software available from Roving Software.

As to which method(s) of promoting your website you use is strictly a personal matter and depends upon the funds available and how many pages you are likely to submit to websites. For us, we have chosen a mixture of Pay Per Click with Overture and the Internet Business Promoter from Axandra.



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