Web marketing frog

Monday, November 28, 2005

Acquire Online Customers Without Search Engines

Search engines are undoubtedly the preferred place for acquiring customers online. However, many other types of referrals are just as necessary for securing your place in consumers' decision-making processes. In fact, while nearly 39% of Web site visitors originate from search engines, 33% are referred by external links and 27% access the site directly.(1) These stats clearly show that close to 60% of Web site traffic actually originates from sources other than search engines.

Where is the traffic coming from?

External links are incoming links from other sites. As for direct access traffic, it originates from people who click on a link in their toolbar favourites or in e-mails, or who type a URL directly in their browser's address bar.

External links can usually be placed on your business partners' sites. We strongly advise you to develop an affiliate program with these partners because in addition to the likelihood that these links will send clients your way, they will also improve your site's search engine positioning. Search engines view incoming links as a vote of confidence for your site and, consequently, they tend to have a positive effect on your site's positioning. Qualified customers who are interested in your products/services can also find their way to your site via many non-partner sites. What kind of non-partner sites am I referring to? The answer to that question will vary tremendously depending on the type of company you operate and on the particularities of your economic sector.

That said, all companies have the opportunity to be publicized in the electronic media.
You can register your site on a vast number of economic portals in your sector. For example, get listed on the sites of your local chamber of commerce, trade associations, local development associations and various governmental databases. Lastly and most importantly, you should register your site on any portals dedicated specifically to your product or service.

How to identify key portals in your industry?

Put yourself in your customers' shoes and try to find your product/service on the Internet. Don't type your company's name in a search engine; instead, enter a generic name for the product/service you offer. Look at the first five pages of results (in both English and French) and take note of any trade portals, intermediaries, specialized directories and targeted media sites listed in those results. This will give you a good idea of who the key players in your sector are.

Once you have done this, repeat the same procedure, only this time instead of typing the generic name of your product/service, enter the problem that your product/service solves. Internet users usually want to solve a problem rather than purchase a solution! Furthermore, this exercise will enable you to identify the blogs, forums, portals and product comparison sites that specifically discuss the products/services you offer. These specialized discussion sites are all places where you can talk about your products and services, post hyperlinks to your site and boost your visibility.

How to generate direct access traffic ?

Many opportunities arise on a daily basis for you to generate direct access traffic to your site. Each time you come into contact with your clientele is a privileged moment to inform them of your site. Promote your URL everywhere: in your e-mail signature, on your telephone waiting message, letterhead, business cards, uniforms and anywhere else you can think of. We also recommend that you display it when sending newsletters, giving interviews, sponsoring an event and each time that your company is mentioned, regardless of the medium used. Having a URL that is easy to memorize and that effectively represents your company is a sure-fire way to boost traffic to your site. To conclude, consider your URL equally as important as your phone number and remember that your business partners are your primary allies in building an efficient e-business strategy.



(1)- La revue du référencement : http://www.revue-referencement.com/CHIFFRESCLES/panorama_dec04.htm

This article was originally written in French and has been translated by Wendy Wolbert

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