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Carole Dunn by Carole Dunn

First your website
Your web site is your signature. It says what kind of business person you are. Take time to design an attractive site ... one which offers content and value to your target market. Include interactive features like autoresponders, surveys or a form where people can register to receive notice of special events.

If you are selling products online, be sure to offer an online payment method, credit cards or checks. You do not have to have a merchant account to offer credit cards. There are many services which will handle instant online transactions for you (for example, Virtual Merchant for credit cards and Icheck for checks).

Submit, Monitor, Rewrite and Resubmit
Before submitting your site to the search engines and directories, spend some time reading about how to write your title, metatags and the first few paragraphs of each page to obtain better ranking. After submitting your web site, you should review your ranking in the search engine listings every month.
To improve or maintain your position, you may need to rewrite pages, add new content and additional web pages, and change your description and keywords. If you need to learn HTML to do this, do it because the reward is worth the effort.

To Blast or to Opt-in?
How else can you get visitors to your site? If you're tempted to do an email blast, don't! Do you like to receive unsolicited junk email? Do you think the company being touted is a professional, trustworthy, well-managed company with a great future? One you would like to visit and do business with? Email blasts damage the credibility of your business, inspire hate mail, and may cause you to lose your ISP.

There is one exception to this: opt-in email lists. These are targeted lists of people who have voluntarily subscribed to a mailing list on a specific topic. The cost of these leads is high -- about 15˘ per lead -- and the response rate low.

However, it is much cheaper than a direct mail campaign! Consider your advertising budget carefully because a one-shot email campaign even to a targeted list may not get the results you hope for. Like all other advertising, repetition is the key!

Better yet
Other methods of getting visitors to your site include: regularly posting helpful, informative messages to online forums, newsgroups and mailing lists.

Before you can prospect for your business or company, you must first establish that you are someone knowledgeable and trustworthy. Your frequent posts to a mailing list or message board will create awareness and respect if your postings contribute useful information. Talking about how wonderful your company is without making any real contribution to the topic will not endear you to the readers. The online community is very wary. Coming into a group, posting one message about your company, your product or yourself just doesn't cut it and you'll be written off. The Internet offers you an infinitely large network gathering of potential prospects. It is up to you to network effectively.

  • signing your posts and email with a signature file.

    After a few postings, people will recognize your name and company and some will visit your site. "Sig files" are free advertising and should be used wherever they are permitted. Sig files should always be used in email to prospects.

  • participating in reciprocal link and banner arrangements with other sites.
  • paying for link or banner "clickthroughs" on someone else's site.
  • establishing affiliate agreements where you pay a commission on sales resulting from clickthroughs.
  • offering "freebies" on your site, and inviting people to register on your site for future events such as sales, new products or services.
  • posting 10 ads/day on highly trafficked free classifieds sites.
  • writing a newsletter.

    Whatever promotional activities you choose, be consistent! Do them frequently and don't stop. Soon you will generate good traffic to your web site. Your next task will be converting your leads to sales and then to repeat buyers!

Article by Carole Dunn of USANA. Carole has built her international USANA business exclusively on the Net. She is a member of the HTML Writer's Guild and will soon launch a web site design and promotion business. She is also writing a book about Inter-Networking and Marketing.

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