Tactics for Online Marketing
Online marketing may be broken down into several distinct areas, each with a variety of tactics for you to explore:
Consumer Promotion (New Audience Recruitment)
Consumer promotion is the promotion of your Web site to the broad Internet audience. Take some time to refine your understanding of your organization's specific target audiences, and customize your messages to these targets. Generally, once you have determined who your audiences are, these promotional tactics can help you reach them:
Links on other Web sites broaden the reach of your own Web site, while providing credibility with Web users. Having links to your site from other sites can also boost your search engine rankings on those search engines that rate by site "popularity" (i.e. the number of external links to your Web site).
There are several prominent Web awards that can bring recognition to your Web site, and thus your organization. Awards like the Webbies can generate some measure of media attention, and can stimulate interest in your organization. Several smaller, more frequently awarded distinctions, such as USA Today Hot Sites or Yahoo!'s Pick of the Day can also help attract new users to your site.
Viral marketing is the online version of "word of mouth" (think: "word of mouse"). If your site or a particular campaign is interesting, different, in-depth, or particularly useful to users, chances are they will share news about it with their friends and family. You can help spur this activity by encouraging viral marketing. Provide e-cards on your site, or place prominent "send a friend" links on pages throughout your site. You will find that as more people go to your site and like what they see, that they can be great "ambassadors" to others online.
The Web does not exist in a vacuum. In fact, the bulk of Web traffic is generated via other media, from e-mail, print, and broadcast. Be sure to promote your Web site in all media you use. Include your site URL in all of your collateral from letterhead and business cards, to voicemail ("sold on hold") and direct mail. Try promoting your Web site in donor appeals, or to offer incentives to "offline" users who donate online. Remind people of your Web site at any chance you get.
Much like acquiring reciprocal links, sharing your content is a proven way to broaden awareness of your site and organization. You can work with other similarly themed sites that may want to carry news about your work, or you can work with media sites who may want to keep their own content fresh and credible. To do this, make sure your site is up to date, and that you regularly communicate with your partners when you update or enhance your content.
In recent years, the effectiveness of online advertising in the form of banners has decreased, however, banners can still be a worthwhile online marketing tactic. Banners can generate new traffic to your site if they are well designed, with compelling copy and imagery, and well-placed on relevant sites that appeal to your target audiences. Before embarking on an expensive advertising campaign, be sure to test your banners. If funds are short (or non-existent), you may try to explore a PSA (public service announcement) campaign. Many commercial sites have formal PSA programs. Contact the Web sites you think appeal most to your target audiences, or Web sites that would be most inclined to promote you (perhaps a local news site), and contact them with your request. You may want to offer them reciprocal promotion or acknowledgement in a newsletter, or in an annual report as an incentive for their involvement.
Search Engine Listings
We all know how valuable search engines can be in helping us locate information we want and need. For this same reason, your organization's Web site should also be included in the major search engines. Be sure to register with these search engines and to research how each one works. Ensure your site adheres to the search engine's standards so that you can maximize the likelihood that your site will appear high in the rankings and be found by Web searchers. You may also consider paying for a higher listing, by testing programs such as Google's Ad Words, or other advertising vehicles developed by search engines.
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