So, you have optimized your META tags, polished your site content and copy and submitted your web site to the search engines. Now you can just sit back and wait for the orders to roll in, right?
Not exactly. While a large percentage of traffic can come from your search engine listings, there are many other means of promotion available to the enterprising web entrepreneur. Among these are several low cost, or even free, avenues of web site promotion. There are banner exchange programs, reciprocal links, Free For All (FFA) Links Pages, On-line Classified Ad and direct e-mail. Each of these major categories of promotional tools come in both free and paid flavors. In this article, I will explore some of the features of banner exchange programs.
Before we begin talking about the actual exchange programs, we need to discuss banners. With any banner program, free or paid, it takes a good banner to get the traffic. My research indicates that if a banner does not catch the viewers attention within three seconds, it never will. It is clear then, that your banners must have punch. Now if you are a professional graphic designer and a professional copy writer, you have it made. But if your are like the rest of us, who couldn't draw a straight line if our lives depended on it and write prose as interesting as a grocery list, you are going to need some help. There are many affordable designers out there who can design inexpensive, high quality banners for your promotional campaigns.
Research your designer carefully before spending any money. Ask for references, look at samples of their work. Don't make the deal by e-mail, talk to your designer, in person if possible. Make sure they are someone you can communicate with. Lack of communication is the most common cause of customer dissatisfaction in the service industry. As with most things, a little time and effort spent up front will yield much better results in the end.
The next issue related to banners is the hardest to swallow. It is a sad fact, but advertising banners have a very short shelf life. On average, banners will start to lose their drawing power after about thirty days. A truly exceptional banner may live as long as ninety days. After that, they just fizzle out. They don't get the clicks that they used to. Now it is time to go back to your friendly neighborhood designer and get that next great crowd magnet. But rest assured, this one will only be the second in a long string of banners. Banner advertising is for the long haul. See why it is important to be able to work with your graphic designer?
Okay, the banner is getting clicked, but is that translating into sales? Are the people clicking on your banner because it is flashy or are they genuinely interested in your product? Different types of products demand different types of banners. If you are marketing a product sold mostly to impulse buyers, then you want to go for the flash. Your sales are a pure numbers game, more visitors = more sales. If, however; your product is one that involves a more deliberate buying decision, you would probably prefer that your visitor be pre-qualified before they click to visit your site. Consider your product and your market demographics carefully before you design or accept a banner.