Your Web site is finally live — now the real work begins. If you don’t spread the word, your fabulous new site will be like the proverbial tree in the forest, falling with no one to hear. Luckily, Internet advertising can help you reach millions of people at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing techniques.
Before you begin seeking out advertising avenues, develop an advertising budget. If you don’t have the funds to wage a large-scale campaign, don’t panic. There are many online advertising options that are inexpensive and effective.
Next, give serious thought to where you want to place your ads. If you sell a particular type of product, do some research and buy ads on sites that offer complementary products or services that tie in with what you sell. If you need to reach a wide variety of people, a popular general interest Web site would be the best place to start.
Here are three of the most popular online advertising strategies.
Link exchanges can be great, especially if your advertising budget is limited (or nonexistent). Find merchants that sell complementary products, and offer to trade text links or ads with them. If you’re just starting out and your site doesn’t get a lot of traffic, you may not get a one-to-one trade; be prepared to make concessions, at least until you have a track record — and traffic — to point to. That said, most companies won’t turn down an opportunity for more exposure, so you’ll probably find a few willing to exchange links with you.
Newsletter advertising is a great way to reach select groups of consumers. For example, if you sell health products, you could advertise in a newsletter that offers health tips and advice. Because newsletter advertising is targeted, it can be expensive. If your budget is tight, you can always start your own newsletter campaign.
Budgeted advertising, such as GoogleAdWords, allows you to purchase a set of keywords, set a limit on how much you want to spend, and have your ad display until that limit is reached. This is a particularly useful way to track your campaign success, and has been a boon to small business owners.
Once you’ve graduated from these techniques, or if your budget allows it, try approaching popular news services, Web-based email providers, and other sites that reach a large segment of the population. While this can prove very expensive, in return, you have the potential of reaching millions of new customers.
No matter which avenue you decide to take, give serious thought to your “creative” — the actual ad itself. Whether it’s just a text link, or whether it’s a complete banner-ad campaign, the creative can make or break your advertising initiative. Try several variations, track them, and see which ones perform best.