Having successfully set up your Web store you are probably ready to take a long vacation and wait for the money to roll in! Unfortunately your real work has only just started; your Web store is lying empty and you need to entice customers to visit.
Promoting your web store involves several key components, starting with submitting your site to key search engines as well as getting links from other sites pointing to your site.
Here’s a “To Do” List to help get you started:
Search Engine Submission
Start with the major search engines and directories – Google, Yahoo, and MSN and then carefully research and submit to search services specific to your industry. Beyond this you may wish to submit to the many other search services currently available or pay someone to do this for you.
Successful search engine submission and placement is a huge topic in itself beyond the scope of this site – take a look at Search Engine Watch for more detailed information.
Negotiate Cross-Links with Other Sites
Identify sites that are likely to attract the same kind of customer that you are looking for and negotiate a cross-link with them. Sites relating to products or services that are complementary to your own are likely to prove the best source of visitors.
Links from Other Sites
Negotiating cross-links works well when both sites attract roughly the same amount of traffic. Clearly, you are going to have a hard time negotiating a cross-link with a site that has a much greater traffic level than your own (although its worth trying!) and in some instances it may be worthwhile paying for these links.
Set Up an Affiliate Program
Allow other Web sites to sell your products by setting up an affiliate program. You still fulfill all orders but pay your affiliates commission on each sale generated.
Researching and Posting to Relevant Newsgroups
Twelve months ago we would have had no hesitation in including this item at the top of the list in any Internet promotion strategy, but the level of Spam in newsgroups has reached such a high proportion – Deja News estimates about two thirds – that its worth is diminishing. Never the less, this is still a worthwhile exercise; choose your newsgroups carefully and post only when you have something of worth to add, letting your signature file act as an advertisement for your Web store.
Keep Refreshing Your Content
It is difficult enough to entice someone to visit your site once, so you need to ensure that they are encouraged to return by regularly updated, fresh content.
Online Advertising Via Banners
Budget permitting, you should consider placing targeted banners on sites whose products are complimentary to your own.
If your site has been designed well you should have a list of visitors and customers who have left their details and requested to be kept in touch with future developments and offers. This list of names is your most valuable resource and should be treated accordingly. You need to judge when you have something of importance to tell your customers; too many messages and they’ll get annoyed, too few and they’ll forget you exist.
You have probably come across the following sentence a hundred times but we make no apologies for repeating it here: never, never resort to spamming potential customers. There is no surer way of ruining the prospects for your new Web store.
Create a Signature File
Use an e-mail signature file (maximum 6 lines long and 65 characters wide) which includes the URL of your Web store and gives a good reason why the person reading your message should visit it.
Issue Press Releases
Although it is becoming more difficult to get journalists interested in new Web sites, a well crafted press release should still generate good results especially if your site has something new to offer.
Print Your URL Everywhere
Make sure your URL appears prominently on every piece of paper your business generates including adverts, letterheads, envelopes, flyers, shipping cartons and labels, invoices, compliment slips, brochures and catalogs. This is a great source of free publicity.