Evaluating Advertising Methods

How to decide the ways you want to advertise - what works and what doesn't? You need to evaluate your different advertising options and see what works best for you. Don't throw money away by goign the wrong advertising route. We'll keep adding to this once we see how more advertising options pan out.

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Evaluating Advertising Methods

Advertising - are you throwing you money away or are there certain methods that work better than other types? Certainly - some types of methods are more productive than others, and this is not the same formula for all. How to tell what's right for you?

First things first - if you are running a business online, you need to get your website in order. If your website isn't a good one, no amount of advertising will help. Your site needs to load up fast, be interesting with information, compel people to look at it and buy into it, and have fresh appeal. If your site can't sell, or get people to believe in what you have to offer, you will waste all of your advertising dollars. Tell people why your offering is good for them - for the visitor asking "what's in it for me?" Make all this very clear at the very first glance people take at your site. If all they see is wild graphics, useless text, site on hold - they will click off of it.

Once your site is in good shape, make sure you ask other people to look at it and critique it. It's tough to see it yourself, the way others see it. There are forums and discussion groups on the Internet - you can ask for feedback from those Internet-savvy people. Ask your friends, your family members, or anyone else you can think of. If they seem confused or laugh, re-think your site.

Once your site is ready, you'll need to experiment with different advertising avenues. Some work better for certain types of sites and offers, others work better for other types. As for writing your ads, the most important part is having a great, call to action headline. Then add a bit of supporting text, and then your contact information, as much as you can give out - site URL, toll free or regular phone number, email, fax, or other way to contact you. Of course, don't skimp on the content - tell people what they need to know about your offer.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising or Google Adsense works well for many, but not for all. You have to be prepared to potentially spend quite a bit of money to keep your site up at the 1-3 positions (depending on which PPC you are using) - partner sites often list the top 3 only. You need to figure out which PPCs are best (in terms of immediate visibility, in terms of cost, and to know which partner sites the top 3 are listed at). Monitor your site statistics at any PPC - there is also a large amount of fraudulent clicking going on, designed to run down your funds in order to boost up competitor sites. See how well the fraud controls work before investing funds. If your funds run down fast, but you aren't making sales, pause the PPC until you can figure out why - look at the competitor sites (but don't click on them from the PPC listing) to get an idea, or suspect your site. Some people never click on the sponsored sites, thinking they are artificially paid to be there. The main advantage of being listed on a PPC is that your site usually receives immediate exposure (but may be delayed by a day or two with approval processing). One thing you need to be careful and aware of is to follow rules about bidding on certain keywords of your affiliate sites.

Search Engines & Directories are, of course, everyone's main goal of where to be listed. The algorithms change so often that search engine optimization is always a changing animal, a moving target. Don't spend all your time trying to please all search engines - you might get up high on any one, but not appear in another. Your site may appear high one week, and nowhere the next. Just make your site as easy to navigate as possible, with plenty of content, using your keywords effectively, and then rely on other advertising methods. It can take months for your site to show up on a search engine - and some are faster than others to index. Keep working on your site and add fresh content and changes.

Advertising in Ezines remains a good option for where to place your ads. You need to make sure you have a good headline to draw attention. You need to check the ezines you plan to advertise it - not all are created equal or have the same readership. Look for the niche in which your offering will be best received. Make sure the ezine isn't some sub-standard document. Evaluate whether to place a sponsored ad, which is best, or run a solo ad, which is best option for certain ezines (but not all), or some other type of ad. Top sponsor is the best placement within the ezine - other ads may be skipped over. Solo ads work well only in certain ezine readership groups - not all (many people recognize a solo ad and delete it immediately). Contact previous advertisers and solicit their experience with advertising in an ezine to determine how you will advertise in it.

Write your own Ezine or Blog - to give information and updates on your site, new products or services or offers, and to start building up a loyalty of readers. Ask visitors to sign up for your ezine, or to regularly visit and bookmark your blog. You can promote something occasionally to your readers, but don't write blatant ads within your articles. Only certain types of ezines or blogs do well when they blatantly advertise. You need to build up the trust of your readers - and then perhaps they will follow your recommendations. Once you build up a reader base, you can email them with your updates, but make sure to send information, not ads - you can incorporate advertising within areas of an ezine, or use your blog or article to evaluate aspects of your product.

Writing Articles is a good way to expose your website, if you can actually write well. Your articles won't likely be picked up if they are badly written. If a badly written article is published, the readers will self-critique the article and subsequently have a bad feeling about you. Don't ever send a lousy article out. Always make sure to write it onto a Word or other processor document, and run a spell-check, and grammar check if you have the option. Get someone to personally check it for you, as well - you will not read it the same way as others do. In fact, put it away for a day or two and re-read it - it might get you to see something that needs to be changed or added. When reading, pretend someone else wrote it - and perhaps you'll read it differently. Search for article banks as places to submit your articles to.

Write press releases for new events or aspects or uses of your product. Make sure the press release is written well, with legitimate points. If you get your press release submitted to online PR services, it can be picked up by search engines if it's worthwhile.

Write an ebook - an online book. If you have written previous articles of like subject, combine them together into an ebook. Or write what you know about and produce a book. You can sell the book, or give it away freely. You can offer it for ezine publishers to distribute to their reader base. Within each ebook - make sure to credit your web site and you can enjoy more exposure this way.

Classified Advertising online is a tricky thing - people regularly register at online classifieds, but most do not go there to search for something. It's not easy to figure out which ones work better than others, but since there are many free online classifieds, it's no risk to get your ad listed - and perhaps you'll get some business from it. You can pay for higher exposure - evaluate if it's worthwhile - if there are only 5 ads in a category, it might not be worthwhile to pay for top placement, for example. Being listed at classified sites may or may not bring a lot of traffic to your site, but it has the potential - make sure your ad headline is very compelling and interesting, and perhaps you will bring in more business.

There is now a Pay-Per-Call option which directs calls to you via a redirect toll-free number. Your ad is seen, but rather than people clicking on a site, they are given a phone number to go directly to your number. This is good for ads that can immediately tell a person exactly what it is offering, or for those people without a website.

Pop-Up Ads - don't use them, or be very careful of how you use them. They aggravate more people than not - and you'll immediately lose a large number of your visitors. These do work for some people, but it's largely looked at as spam by visitors.

Click for Hits programs - meaning people surf sites and get credits to be used to get their sites shown more. These programs aren't really used to "find" what other sites have to offer, but more to get your site out there to be clicked on. People tend to skip the content of most of these sites - it's really hit or miss that your site will get the interest of someone who is targeted to your niche. This traffic is not usually targeted, and as such, not as valuable. There may be some people who click on your site and purchase from you - but is it worth surfing for an hour or more a day to keep your site in the rotation? For some, perhaps - you need to evaluate this. If you do surf a lot, be sure to clear out your Internet file cache regularly or your computer will bog down. You can also pay to get more exposures - and forget about the non-stop surfing. Just remember - most of these are non-targeted as to who will see your site.

Links and Banners can work well, if used effectively. You must be careful of where your links are, and what links you add to your sites. Don't use so many banners or links that people get confused over the choices (and banners tend to slow down your site loading time). Use only links and banners that relate in some way to your site - not a direct competitor, but an added value offering. Don't put a lot of links on any of your pages - keep it reasonable. If you can exchange links with a high traffic site, all the better for you, if your link appears in a good placement without being buried in a pile of links.

Sending Mass Emails may or may not work - it depends on which service you use. Some are absolute spamming programs, and as such, may get your site pulled down. Most are not well targeted, and many recipients will report the emails as spam, even if they perhaps inadvertently agreed to receive them. If you choose to send mass emails, check the service carefully, and try to get them to send to targeted groups. Most of the time you won't know it's a bad idea until after you've used the service and sent out your emails - then you have to deal with the spam and complaints (or even threats) that come to you. If you choose to send out emails, make sure your ad is in no way written to offend anyone. Perhaps it might be safer to put your phone number as the contact, rather than your website URL or email address - until you can evaluate the validity of the email blast service.

Ad Swaps can be an effective advertising method, if done well. Again, your ad must be written well, with a great headline, and a call to purchase from you. The only places you should swap ads with are sites and ezines of the same targeted audience you are trying to cater to. After all, you won't sell many, if any, ferrets on a site or in a publication about fitness.

Offline Advertising should be used in addition to the online types. Not all people have access to a computer or the Internet, and not all people care to look at ads or offers while online - they prefer to do their business and get off the computer. Without some amount of offline advertising, you are losing a whole group of people.

Pauliina Roe has been working on the Internet since 1996, and has learned first-hand which types of advertising works better, and which ones are a waste of time. Much has changed in those years, and then again, much is still the same. More information and links of places to advertise at is at http://www.doubleii.com/advertising.html
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