Alternative ways to attract website traffic

For anyone selling or promoting a product or service online there is one question above all that matters: how many people visited your site today?

Site traffic is the oxygen for your business if it is online. So let's look at a ways to attract new visitors as well as keeping your existing customers coming back for more.

1 Demographic advertising

One of the challenges for any small business is that of competition from the larger, more established companies. One of the prime examples where scale and resource can really count is with Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. If you are relying on ads to server traffic to your site being priced out of the market can be a massive problem.

However PPC isn't all about the big two, Google and Bing; social networks are getting into the game as well. With the average Facebook user spending up to 20 minutes per day on the site, there is a real opportunity for some incredibly targeted advertising.

Facebook ads are different from traditional PPC schemes as the advertiser has the ability to segment his advertising into demographics. Smaller businesses often know their core market better than the larger competition, so use this to your advantage. Generally speaking the average cost per click and the cost of visitor acquisition are significantly lower compared with Google. The reason for this is simple: it's all about behavioural targeting and Facebook is delivering adverts to the most relevant people.

2 Seeing is believing

I love it when I go to my local fishmonger, Andrew. He knows my name, he knows my daughter's favourite fish and he even gives me cooking tips. The reason I love visiting Andrew is simple, he makes it personal, and he makes me feel special. However it's a tangible thing as I am physically there in the shop. So how do you replicate this online?

The answer is simple, use video. Creating video for the web is quick and easy. Also thanks to sites such as YouTube expectations are not that high. Why not film a number of short video clips demonstrating your product/s or giving tips on what you're expert in. Not only does this help personalise the sales process, it can be a great lead generator as well. When you upload your video make sure you aggregate it to all the major video sharing sites (YouTube, Vimio, Metacafe) and tag it with relevant information so it turns up in searches.

3 Social networking and news

Social networks are critical to everything we do on the web today so it's worth revisiting this as a marketing medium.

Used correctly social networks such as Twitter or Facebook can become real business enablers, helping you to identify and locate current as well as future customers. They also let you respond to problems quickly and effectively, which in turn is a great way of generating leads and the all important traffic.

Social networks are renowned for their real time opinions, so use this to your advantage: employ search engines, or specific applications (such as TweetDeck) to find people talking about you or your company and get involved in the discussions. If you can help people out or offer advice on your area of expertise they are much more likely to turn to you when then need further assistance, or maybe a product. It's all about engagement, and this in turn means exposure to your brand -- the traffic naturally follows.

Additionally, social news sites, such as the recently re-launched Digg.com, are all about generating traffic spikes to your site. The idea is simple, you post your news and if someone likes what they read it gets bumped up the pecking order for more people to view and comment. Become active in these communities, or find existing customers or brand advocates who already are. If you have a corporate blog it should be hooked into social news sites as well as being posted out on your social media sites.

4 Multiple presences

There are many reasons why having multiple business presences is a good idea, from Twitter accounts to Facebook fan pages, it's all about spreading the news far and wide. However a great idea is to have a number of individual presences. To the untrained eye these could even look like separate businesses, but the key is they all drive traffic back to your site.

An example is a customer of ours; she sells shoes online and has a very successful store. However she also has dedicated men's and women's web outlets, as well as specific sports and leisure sites. It's all the same company, and the micro sites she has set up all send traffic back to the master site, albeit a specific set of pages. This strategy allows her to broaden her reach with targeted advertising, and it also helps demonstrate her reputation in specific fields.

Summary

Generating traffic to your site is no black art, but it's continually evolving. As business owners having multiple traffic generators isn't a nice to have, its essential. The good news is that size is increasingly becoming irrelevant with smaller, more agile businesses capable of doing amazing things -- the key is getting noticed.

The article was written by Ben Dyer, director of product development, Sellerdeck. Originally published on BusinessZone.

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