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Publicity-Producing Posts Pull People

Search engines change all the time, and many of them now charge for the privilege of including your website. So, people often ask me HOW TO GAIN TRAFFIC, beyond search engines and with little to no cost. There are two methods that I've used consistently to ATTRACT THOUSANDS OF HITS to my website at virtually no cost.

Granted, everyone's different. And these techniques may not be appropriate or appreciated by all people. But let me share with you what works for me and what I do. My two favorite methods are: 1) posting on message boards, forums and discussion lists, and 2) writing, syndicating and submitting articles to ezine publishers.


Posts As Conversation (and Conversion) Pieces

Discussion groups are either threaded web-based forums or email discussion lists in which you participate in conversation. One technique I use is to publish (or better said, post) full-length articles on discussion boards or in discussion lists. It is an effective technique -- but it is also a tricky one.

You have to monitor the board to see what kind of posts there are to ensure that your article is acceptable. Better yet, review the guidelines before you submit. Usually, there is a charter or a set of rules that the board will have published somewhere on the website (or even in the forum itself). Read them first before you do anything. (If not, email the moderator just to be sure.)

Often, discussion boards are conversational in tone and, as such, are not good places for posting whole articles. But it is safe to say that, while many of them do accept articles, a better way is to use them as a means of SUPPORTING YOUR IDEAS and arguments.

You can do this BY ADDING LINKS BACK to your articles within your posts. If you maintain an online archive of articles that you've written, your posts can certainly include links to specific ones as a way to back up some of your posts. In fact, most moderators I know prefer this since you KEEP POSTS BRIEF and to the point.

The obvious benefit is the fact that you don't appear as overtly promotional, and you also get people to visit your website in the same breath. (At times, I've had more traffic from links within my posts than with SIGNATURE FILES.) It is also important to note that signature files (the brief byline at the end of your posts) is also a great way to get board participants to visit your site.

Here's what I wrote as an answer to a question about signature files in the I-Copywriting Discussion List, Issue 45, "Nobody Reads My Signature File" (by the way, I- Copywriting is part of a larger family of discussion lists published by Adventive, which I highly recommend you join by visiting http://adventive.com/ ):
"As far as signature files go, I have to agree that a lot of these taglines are a bunch of platitudes or 'bigger than thou' statements. Who cares if you're 'better than,' 'expert in' or 'known for.' It's just a bunch B.S., if you ask me."

"A tagline that really hits home is one that doesn't just 'brand' the poster but one that also supports her USP (or unique selling proposition) -- i.e., not just *how* she is better, different, of quality or whatever, but also *why*). Another is one that offers something of value -- one that the reader can really take advantage of and get something from."

"What I mean is, the bestselling word in the English language is the word 'FREE.' If you offer something for free in your signature file or tagline, your chances of increasing traffic are significantly higher. For example, in my case I offer a freely downloadable ebook on my website. Without question, it's one of the best viral marketing tools I've used."

"When I incorporate this freebie into my tagline, or even an invitation to subscribe to my free newsletter or to obtain a free quote for my copywriting services, my traffic goes up. Sure, a 'tire-kicking' freebie-seeker is not going to give me immediate business. But many of them have bought my services after reading my book or being subscribed to my ezine for a while. It's all about building trust and credibility, right?"

"Essentially, the tagline is not meant to get people to visit but meant to get people to do something: subscribe, download, join, read, reprint, you name it. I call this 'DIRECTIONAL MARKETING', since it directs people to do something, and not just 'here's my link, read it.' (I mean, if that's all there is, then why should I click it? Who cares, in other words?)"
A caveat, though: keep in mind that most discussion boards and list moderators will not accept blatant advertisements -- your post should therefore avoid being too engrossed in your company or product, or being copiously filled with links to your site.

This goes for your signature file, too -- it should be no more than seven lines long (three to five are the norm). The bottom-line is this: Check the board's guidelines or, better yet, lurk for a while to get a flavor of what's being posted before you dive in. You want to build your credibility, not destroy it.


Caving In To The Content Craze

Electronic newsletters, and specifically ezine publishers and editors, are similar to discussion boards and board moderators -- in other words, the same rules apply when submitting an article for publication. You must check with the publisher or the site on which the ezine appears for submission guidelines -- they will tell you what is acceptable or for what they are looking.

Most often, it is best to actually subscribe to the newsletter directly, one in which you have an interest, in order to get a flavor of what articles are being published before you do submit one of your own. This is also important especially to find out if the ezine and your topic both target your specific market as well (you want your article to appear in front of qualified eyeballs).

By subscribing, you will also get the email address of the editor or publisher, in many cases. Most of them are constantly seeking fresh content, and as a result will publish an email address in the ezine issue -- an address to which you can send article topic ideas or actual submissions, such as: "articles@someezine.com."

Above all, an effective and safe method is to HIRE A PUBLICIST to distribute your articles for you. That person may not only have a large number of contacts (some in the thousands), but also they have developed solid relationships and credibility with editors. One I strongly recommend, and the one I use for all of my article submissions, is Anne Marie Baugh of http://write-promotion.com/.

Never send your article as an attachment. Beyond the fact that it's annoying, most editors file their article submissions in a specific folder in their email programs. And when they conduct a search to retrieve articles of a certain topic or theme for their next publication, attached articles will simply be overlooked.

Most editors and publishers prefer wrapped articles, particularly at 65 to 70 characters wide. I highly recommend TextPad, which can be downloaded from http://www.textpad.com/. Textpad is like notepad but on steroids. It's loaded with functions, such as an integrated character map, a multi-document table and more. It's also effective for hard-breaking word wraps at 65 characters.

As far as actual ezines go, one I recommend for writers and ezine builders is http://www.ezine-tips.com/. It's part of a family of ezines for ezine publishers, editors and writers -- all available at http://list-universe.com/. Another is Article Announce, which comprises of several announcement lists providing free content to thousands of ezines, newsletters, magazines and websites. To join or submit content, see http://www.web-source.net/articlesub.htm.

One technique I found to be very successful is THE SOLO MAILING, where your article is delivered alone to a targeted, opt-in list of subscribers. (They're also called "advertorials," which means articles or editorials that are advertising-oriented.)

Of course, these types of solo mailings are not cheap. But keep in mind that the attention level is much greater than a typical article embedded within an ezine. Also, an advertorial appears more as an educational piece than an overtly commercial message.

If you choose this route, advertise only in ezines whose readers logically fit into your TARGET MARKET -- whether or not they are the same is not important. For example, if people who like, say, New Age music also like topics related to spirituality, then try to get in ezines whose topics revolve around spirituality, too.

There are tons of ezines focusing on pretty much every subject imaginable. Finding a topic-specific ezine is good, but also find one whose subscribership consists of people who enjoy, say, New Age Music -- while not targeting that specific niche directly. In other words, fish where the fish swim. Hang out where they do.

In addition, some ezine publishers outright offer solo, exclusive mailings to their newsletter subscribers for a fee. In this case, your articles are distributed by themselves to the readers of an existing ezine, which offers several advantages. For example, you are able to join the ezine, get a flavor of the topics discussed and define the quality of the readership, in advance.


A Final Note

In the final analysis, realize that getting "out and about" by submitting content, whether it's to ezines, discussion lists, message boards, content-driven websites and even newsgroups, is an effective and often overlooked strategy. If you're tired of relying on (and paying) search engines for your traffic, and you also want targeted, qualified traffic, too, try this tactic.

Don't just create content ... SPREAD IT AROUND!


About The Author
Michel Fortin is a copywriter, author and consultant dedicated to turning businesses into powerful magnets. His specialty are long copy, email and web sales letters. Get a FREE copy of his ebook and subscribe to his FREE monthly email newsletter, "The Profit Pill," by visiting http://SuccessDoctor.com right now!




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