[sc:MainTutorial]There are a vast number of ways to generate interest in your website. Here are just a few that may be helpful to you in driving traffic and sustaining your online business efforts.
Your website should ideally allow people to subscribe to an email newsletter. Many newsletter email sites offer widgets, plugins and html-code to place on your website home page.
You can also collect and organize your email with customers, clients, commenters and readers into your own mailing list service or software.
I useMailgun.com’smore rudimentary email list service. You can also use Google Groups to set up a marketing list.
Alternately, you can encourage visitors to follow you on Twitter. I recommend using Twitter Intent links to make it easier for people to follow you. e.g. https://twitter.com/intent/user?screen_name=reifman
Constant Contact and Mailchimp are two well-known email newsletter services. Not only do they help you manage their lists but they also can build aesthetically appealing html newsletters. They’ll also provide embeddable HTML forms for collecting email addresses from your website.
Web developer Darin Reid recommends Campaign Monitor: no subscription or minimum, and sending campaigns costs $5 + $0.01 per subscriber.
The MailPoet Plugin is very popular and makes it easy to send newsletters with your WordPress content.
Social Media Tools
With the proliferation of social media tools e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc., it’s sometimes helpful to use a tool such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social to publish content simply and easily from one place.
For most individuals and small businesses, it may be simpler to publish directly to one or two services without paying for one of these tools.
Twitter is growing and it’s worthwhile having a Twitter presence. However, your level of audience interest may vary widely depending on the focus of your business.
You can choose to use Twitter as a publishing medium … just publish your website and blog updates for people to discover and read … or you can engage with your Twitter audience socially. Twitter can be a great medium to grow your audience allowing people to ask you questions and engage in a bit of conversation.
Unlike Facebook, building an audience on Twitter is self-sustaining. You don’t need to invest money to reach your audience as Facebook has required with pages.
As Facebook has grown, I think it’s less valuable a space for small to medium sized businesses to promote themselves. Primarily, Facebook betrayed its customers by first encouraging businesses to build up their fan audience on Facebook pages and then limiting the exposure of posts in audience newsfeeds unless the Page owner paid Facebook.
So, for every dollar you spend attracting Facebook fans to your Page, you’ll spend more trying to post messages to them. This seems wasteful and inefficient to me.
Facebook news feeds are so noisy at this point, it’s questionable whether a page offers any value at all – it takes attention away from your website. But, I don’t think there’s much harm in creating a page and continuing to publish updates to it using a tool such as HootSuite. Just don’t invest your marketing dollars in building the Facebook page audience.
If you do advertise on Facebook, link people to your website or a custom Facebook application where you can collect their email address.
Readers & RSS Feeds
RSS readers aren’t commonly used but it’s important to make the feed for your blog available to everyone. Your content management system should offer a feed of your latest posts.
Facebook’s advertising program allows you to target ad placement to specific groups or geographic locations. Google’s Adwords can allow you to target as well but with slightly less granularity.
Unless you have a very large budget, I prefer online advertising over offline (print, radio, etc.) because when people click through, they actually make it to your website. Whereas I’ve found that offline mentions or promotions aren’t generally as reliable at driving traffic to your site.
I recommend tracking all of your business contacts and their email addresses. A contact management system (CRM) for small business such as Highrise by 37 Signals can be a great help.
Business cards are still a great way to market your web presence to people who meet you in person. I like Moo Cards and continue to get comments on their small, novel shapes and their custom photos.