8 Affordable Ways to Drive Web Traffic

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How do you drive traffic to your Web site without burning through your available cash in a few weeks? Here are eight cost-effective ways to get hits to your site:


1. Google. The world's largest search engine, Google facilitates 250 million Web searches daily for its users. As an advertiser, you can buy preference in Google's search engine, based on key word, on a cost-per-click basis.


It could cost as little as a dime a click or more than a dollar a click, depending on the popularity of the key word you want to buy. If the key word costs 30 cents per click, and 100 people click on your site that day as a result of a Google search on the key word you bought, Google charges you $30. Google lets you put a limit on how much you spend per day, so the cost can fit any budget.


2. Overture. Another search engine that lets you buy preferential rating on key words, Overture reaches more than 80 percent of active Internet users by displaying your business in search results on leading sites like Yahoo, MSN and Alta Vista.


How do you determine what you can afford to pay? Say your product costs $100, and out of every 100 clicks on your site, you get one sale for a total of $100. You can afford to pay $1 per hit if breaking even on the initial sale is your goal.


3. Affiliate marketing. Find Web sites that cater to the same market you do. Arrange for them to feature your products on their site and in their e-mails. Online ads, e-mail blurbs and Web pages talking about your product link to your site where the user can buy the product under discussion. The affiliate gets a percentage of the sale ranging from 15 percent to 50 percent. To recruit affiliates or make money being an affiliate for other marketers, visit www.affiliatesdirectory.com.


Amazon.com runs one of the largest affiliate programs, letting you feature books on your site that are related to your topic and of interest to your audience; when the user clicks on the book page, he automatically is linked to www.amazon.com where he can buy the book online. It's a service for your visitors, and you earn a small commission on each sale.


4. Co-registration. In co-registration marketing, the user who visits a Web site is served a pop-up window containing some special offers; most frequently these are subscriptions to free e-zines. By arranging to have your e-zine or another offer featured in these co-registration pop-ups, you can capture many new names for your online database at a relatively low cost compared with traditional e-mail marketing.


A number of companies can find co-registration deals for you. One of these is VentureDirect Online, www.venturedirect.com. Another is E-Tactics, www.e-tactics.com.


5. Banner ads. Banner ads have seen a resurgence thanks to the increasing sophistication and popularity of Macromedia Flash; in an attempt to recapture the attention of the overloaded Internet user, animation and effects in banners have become more sophisticated and dynamic.


Banner ads can work but should be tested conservatively and cautiously, and don't get your hopes of a breakthrough up too high. Banners usually supplement other traffic generation methods and only occasionally are a primary source of unique visits. Exceptions? Of course.


6. E-mail marketing. Sending solo promotional e-mails to a rented list of opt-in names is an expensive way to acquire new names. Say you rent a list of 1,000 e-mail names for $200, get a 2 percent click-through, and 10 percent of those sign up for your e-zine. Your cost to acquire those two new subscribers is a whopping $100 per name. Business-to-consumer marketers have a better chance of success with careful testing of e-mail marketing, because consumer lists are more reasonably priced than business-to-business names.


7. Online ads. While sending a solo e-mail to a company's e-list can run $100 to $400 per thousand, a cheaper option is to run a small online ad in its e-zine. Cost can be as little as $20 to $40 per thousand. The e-zine publisher specifies the format and length of your ad, which are typically 100 words of text with one URL link. The higher up (earlier) your ad appears in the e-zine, the higher the response.


8. Viral marketing. At its simplest, viral marketing entails adding a line to your outgoing e-mail marketing messages that says, "Please feel free to forward this e-mail to your friends so they can enjoy this special offer." To work, the e-mail you want the recipient to forward must contain a special offer, either a free offer (typically free content) or a discount on merchandise. According to Bryan Heathman of 24/7 Media, 81 percent of viral e-mail recipients will pass the e-mail on to at least one other person. n


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