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Seriously though, we have a client who regularly take out 1/2 page ads in major national newspapers. The most recent was in a major UK broadsheet on a Saturday and Sunday. The web site was not the whole purpose of the advert, but the URL was clearly displayed in large letters. The total number of visitors on each day was only just in to 4 figures.
I've been toying with an idea for free advertising: Sending out a 'press release'.
I think if you can come up with something that is 'new and outrageous', a press release might be some free advertsing.
For example, I live in ND, where farming is big. How about a press release along the lines of, "Website sells DIRT! or "Website sells SNOW."
Something that is odd and newsworthy. Again it could be a 'loss-leader', but it's still free advertising.
"New website sells software" will go into to the trash bin. Even if that's what you sell. It's just not newsworthy.
Think newsworthy. Humorous, outrageous. Think 'tabloid' outrageous. How about an 'auction' to sell "REAL alligator poop" with proceeds going to charity?
I realize my example leaves much to be desired, but I think you get the point.
National media attention is hard to get.
I got very lucky with a practical joke that went nationwide...and culminated with a visit from Dave Barry, the humor columnist.
Beat me to the punch on that one, 1lit - glad I checked before posting my own version of that suggestion.
www . fuzzy-widgets . com
(a subsidiary of www . yourdomain . com)
One thing to keep in mind is not every method will work for every site. The trick is to keep trying new ideas and use what works.
Here is one other: Surveys and feed back forms. This one is an annoyance or very "ignorable" if presented blandly but can be very effective if done right, i.e. entertain or inflame!
I have a S*X in Music Survey that I have been running for over a year now. It is targeted to the Urban Music crowd and never fails to bring in repsonses AND additional traffic. Of course, good placement in the SERPS never hurts either. ;)
I can see the "viral" nature in action when I receive responses in obvious "blocks" or groupings.
You know the viral tactic is working when I get multiple responses all from the same .edu domain within a period of a half-hour.
Is there any evidence to support that claim?
As for "viral marketing," it's certainly useful, but my own experience over the past six years has convinced me that reciprocal links, media publicity, etc. provide modest incremental gains at best. Here are some anecdotal examples:
1) A few weeks ago, I was prominently featured (with my "dot.com" site name) in the lead article of the Washington Post's travel section. If the article had any effect on traffic, I couldn't discern it.
2) On another occasion, a major Boston radio station interviewed me about renting castle accommodations in Europe. My site name and URL were mentioned during the interview, and I later calculated that I got 5 extra page views on my "Castles of Europe" article as a result of the interview.
3) When Bill Machrone featured my site in his PC Magazine column (which appeared in both the magazine and online), I think I got about 20,000 extra page views for a week, and nothing at all after the second week. Sure, the extra PVs were nice, and the PC Magazine quote makes a nice testimonial, but the lasting effects of the plug have been minimal.
Ditto for mentions in USA Today, Time, the Montreal Gazette, travel guidebooks(including my own), and other media. I'm sure I've picked up some traffic as a result of such publicity, but I doubt if all those media plugs put together are as useful as a prominent Google listing for "Venice" or "Rome airport hotels" or having a URL attached to a database entry is Ask Jeeves.
I've never found directory referrals to be a significant source of traffic, either, except to the extent that Yahoo search pulls up my site's URL. A couple of my sites date back to early 1996 (and have been listed in Yahoo ever since), but I've had very few Yahoo directory referrals over the years. Nearly all of my traffic comes from search.
As for reciprocal links, I suspect they're more useful as a way to increase Google pagerank than as a source of traffic. If I were to add up all the traffic that I receive each day from reciprocal links (even from major sites on my topic), the total would be a fraction of the referrals that I receive from Google and Ask Jeeves.
Downside, I am going to have to take WMW off my resource lists for my clients. One trip to WMW and I'll have no clients left!!! They don't need me <sniff> they have you and the rest of WMW !</sniff>
Gawd.. now I am going to have to compete with former clients.. oh the humanity!!
(Now I am off to the Unemployment and Training center to learn how to say "paper or plastic" and "want fries with that")
We were picked a as site of the day by a large website in our category, which brought us, on that day, about 5000 extra page views. After the link to our site was placed in the archives of their site, the page views dropped over the next week eventually to nothing discernible.
But, on the day we got the 5000 referrals, we also got an extra 1200 bookmarks. So there was some lasting benefit for us, but difficult to calculate.
I was fortunate to get a small Blurb from MSNBC, in Turkey! No idea how they found me, and no idea what the review says as I don't read Turkish, but I still get 60-80 hits a month from that one writeup.
Sometimes a writeup or SOTD is a spike that dies, and then sometimes it seems to have a life of its own. Never can tell.
I have just hired two trainees to do nothing else but build pages that are very usefull for scientists in our field, i.e. for example easy on-line calculating of frequently occuring problems (I guess the linkchecker would be your equivalent).
Lets exchange "No Referrer" percentages.
Interestingly enough, mine dropped from 32% last summer to 25% in march this year (I have also doubled my number of pages from 160 to 320 in the same period).
I guess an important factor to check besides focussing on the percentages of "search engine referrals continue to fall" is if the absolute number of search engine referals go up.
i say never use email for press releases. it will be dealt with as nothing more than spam because in reality, that's all it is.
press releases should be done on paper and addressed to a specific individual at the newspaper / tv station / radio station / magazine etc. choose the right person first time to make sure they see it. don't bother sending anything to "The Editor" as it won't go any further. the right person will have written or produced something about the subject of your press release within the previous couple of weeks.
the press release should have something to interest the journalist / tv producer / DJ / whoever gets it. as someone else said, "website sells software" simply isn't interesting. a new "miracle cure" health product might be interesting. demographics that "buck the trend" might also be interesting. check surveys from NUA and other organisations to find something that might be interesting. maybe run your own surveys. whatever you do, find one angle that is interesting.
if you're lucky, one organisation will run a story based on your press release. even if it's only a small local newspaper that picks up your press release, go with it, work with them to get the story out. if you're really lucky, other organisations will pick up on that and run their own stories. things could rumble on for months.