How to Buy Cheap Traffic and Paid Advertising
If you're just getting started online your biggest challenge will be getting visitors to your Web site. After all, it can be weeks before your site starts to show up in the free search engine results like Google and Yahoo. In the meantime, nobody will know your site is out there - unless you advertise.
Advertising your site online is a great way to get instant traffic - whether your site is new or already established - and depending on the kind of ads you choose - you can be sending visitors to your site within minutes.
And while most people picture those outrageous sums that are always being quoted for advertising during sporting events or awards shows, the fact is that a lot of advertising for your Web site is very affordable - as long as you know what you're doing.
I’ll show you 10 of the best - and cheapest - ways to advertise your Web site and drive a steady stream of traffic to your site straight away.
If you're brand new to the Internet, then you might not know that there was a time when banner ads were considered to be the future of online advertising. At the height of the dot-com boom, companies were spending millions of dollars on banner advertising in hopes of capturing the online audience. Sites with lots of traffic were making a fortune selling their ad space.
Things have certainly changed! These days, banner ads don't get much respect, and many sites have to unload banner-advertising space for next to nothing.
However, while some online marketing "experts" will say that banner advertising is dead, I have to disagree. While it's true that it's easy to waste your money with banner advertising, there ARE ways you can make this form of advertising payoff - again, if you know what you're doing.
The first thing you'll need to know is that there are essentially two main types of banner ad promotions you can do:
Pay-per-impression banner campaigns
This is the most common way banner advertising is sold. Unfortunately, most people do not realize that it is also the riskiest type of banner advertising you can buy! Since you are paying for impressions (you are paying to have your banner displayed), you aren't paying for click-through or customers.
That means you can waste a lot of money on pay-per-impression advertising if you're not careful to target your market and. design ads that pull high click-throughs.
Many sites will quote you a “CPM" price for banner ads. This simply means -cost per thousand: For example, if a site tells you that they charge a $50 CPM for banner ads it simply means that 1,000 impressions win cost you $50.
Pay-per-click banner campaigns
With a pay-per-click campaign, you pay only for visitors who click through your banner.
Because this is obviously a more performance-based advertising, it can be considerably more expensive. But since you are paying only for visitors, you can create a banner ad that is designed to attract highly targeted visitors.
Getting the best results
If you are looking to generate the best possible results with your banner advertising campaign, you'll want to hand-pick the sites that you place your banner on. Spend some time visiting the sites that you think have captured your target market and approach them about advertising on their sites.
This ensures that your ad will be displayed only on sites that you know are catering to the kind of customers you want to attract. However, contacting sites one by one can be time consuming and these types of sites may charge a premium for advertising.
And while I highly recommend that you personally locate sites to advertise on and then negotiate the deals yourself, if you're short on time or short on funds, banner advertising exchanges and networks may be an alternative worth considering.
Banner exchanges and networks
Basically, a banner exchange or network is a third-party service provider that acts as a mediator between advertisers and Web sites. They bring thousands and thousands of Web sites together with advertisers who are interested in running a banner ad campaign.
You can advertise your banner on thousands of Web sites at absolutely no cost, as long as you agree to display their rotating banners on your Web site. (The banner exchange will give you some HTML to insert into your web page code so that your site will start displaying banners in a rotation sequence from their inventory).
Each time a visitor arrives at the page where you have included the code, the visitor's browser will link to the server of the exchange to pull up a random banner and display it on your site.
Of course, there are a couple of problems with this model:
Problem 1: If your Web site is receiving low traffic, your banner isn't going to get much exposure in the exchange's banner rotation.
Problem 2: In order for your banner to get the most exposure in the rotation, you'll need to display their banners in a high-traffic area of your site - which means these banners are literally funnelling traffic away from your Web site!
If your site is getting enough traffic to make banner exchange programmes work for you, then you could probably do even better by selling the ad space on your site and using the proceeds to purchase banner advertising on sites that you have personally handpicked.
You can also purchase banner ad space directly from the banner exchanges and networks rather than trading space on your site. If you decide to go down this route, remember that the pay-per-visitor campaigns will bring you the biggest profits and that the pay-per-impression campaigns are the riskiest.
I recommend that you use these exchanges and networks for testing purposes only, and then roll out the banners that pull the best response to targeted Web sites that you've personally negotiated advertising deals with.
This will be most profitable because you can quickly determine which of your banners pulls the highest response, then use the belt ones on targeted sites that will allow you to reach the right audience.
Be sure to shop around before signing up with any network or exchange. Prices and contracts can vary (they change depending on fluctuations in the market), and some networks may offer better deals than others when you read the fine print.
Read all documents before signing up, and avoid networks that include "exclusivity clauses" in their contracts. You should be able to freely participate in any network you please.
When I talk to successful online entrepreneurs about which advertising techniques consistently deliver the highest-quality traffic to them, they often tell us that targeted advertising in e-zines and newsletters is the way to go.
That's because people who read e-zines and newsletters about a particular subject are clearly very interested in the subject of those e-zines. And since the publisher bas already done all the hard work of attracting subscribers and building their trust, you can literally "piggyback" on their reputation.
Locating e-zines that have captured your target market should be easy, since you're probably already subscribed to a few of them yourself! If your site sells sailing equipment, chances are that you are interested in sailing and have probably signed up for a dozen or so sailing newsletters or e-zines. These are the ones you'll want to start with.
You can contact the publishers of these e-zines and newsletters via email or telephone.
Since you are looking to pay them for their advertising space, they'll be more than happy to speak with you. And - believe it or not - many of these people have NEVER had anyone approach them about advertising so you can often get an incredible deal! (Another big benefit of advertising in an e-zine that has never run advertising before is that yours will be the first commercial message that their audience has seen meaning that they haven't been bombarded with advertisements in the past. This almost always means an increased response rate).
Once you've located e-zines and newsletters to advertise in, you're going to need to actually write your advertisement. The publisher of the e-zine will likely have some guidelines as to how long your ad can be, the content of your ad etc; but you should have a fair bit of flexibility
You may want to ask the publisher to email you a few back issues so that you can get a feel for the style and tone of the e-zine. If the content is very subdued, you'll want to avoid placing an ad that is full of hype and excitement.
Paid directory listings
For those of you who aren't entirely sure what a directory is you should know that directories used to rule the Internet. Back when people didn't exactly understand how to navigate the Internet and find information online, they turned to big online directories that had categorized all the sites under different headings describing the kind of information you could find on those sites.
If you were looking for information about skiing for example, you would visit your favorite directory site, click on "Sports," then click on "'Skiing," and then browse all the skiing sites that the directory had indexed.
Of course the number of sites on the web has grown exponentially since then, which means that directories have a lot more sites listed under each of their categories - and it takes much more time to browse through them all to find what you're looking for! That's why so many directories have added search tools to their sites that allow you to search their contents without having to browse manually through everything.
Because directories have human editors sorting through the Web site submissions and organising them according to category, it can take months to get your site listed in a directory. It takes much less time to get your site listed with a computer-operated search engine, which means that search engines tend to have many more sites indexed more quickly than directories do. That's the main reason search engines have replaced directories as the number one "go-to" place for people seeking information.
However, it's still totally worthwhile for you to get your site listed with the 'Net's major directories. People still do use them, so they can provide your site with extra streams of traffic. And the links they provide to your site can boost your ranking with the major search engines.
Not only that, some of the bigger directories power the directory services for the 'Net's major search engines, which means that if you get listed with them your site will also appear in the directory portions of the search engines as well.
The 'Net’s top directories
Here are some of the directories you may want to consider submitting your site to:
The Open Directory Project
The ODP bills itself as the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory on the Web. No other directory even comes close to being as large. Its volunteer editors review and add roughly 2,000 new sites a day to its listings. And the great thing about ODP is that is submission process is free!
The ODP is the first directory you should submit your site to because it claims to have the widest reach on the Web. It powers the directory services of popular Web sites such as Google, Netscape, AOL, and Lycos, as well as hundreds of smaller directories. A site that's listed on the ODP will automatically be listed on all those other sites as well.
The only negative thing about the ODP is that it can take months to get your site listed there. The directory's human editors have a LOT of submissions to consider and it takes them a long time to get through them all. Some people have had to wait for up to a year to get their sites listed on the ODP. The best advice I can give you is to make sure your site is full of valuable content and would make a useful addition to the directory (from the searchers' point of view) before you submit it. Then, once you've submitted it, forget about it. There's nothing you can do but wait. Whatever you do, don't resubmit it! That will send your submission back to the end of the queue.
Back in the late 1990s, Yahoo had the biggest directory and was the most popular site on the Web. Since then Yahoo has been shifting emphasis away from the directory model and focused more of its efforts on becoming one of the "Net's top search engines.
Its directory is still one of the biggest on the 'Net. However, it's also one of the most expensive if you're running a commercial Web site (i.e. you're selling something), then you have to pay an annual fee to have your site listed on there.
Is it worth it? That depends. If you can sell $150 worth of products to customers who find you through Yahoo's directory then you're at least breaking even. By keeping an eye on your server logs, you can tell which sites have referred visitors to you and know exactly how many of your customers found you through Yahoo's directory. If you find that the numbers coming from the directory aren't sufficient to justify the listing you can always cancel after the first year
Bing’s Small Business Directory
You're also given access to Bing’s "Submit It!" service, which includes Web site optimisation and search engine submission took.
Check the free directories through a search:
You might also want to look into advertising your site in local directories, if your business is marketing to a particular geographic location. For example, a real estate agent from Chicago might want her listing to appear in local Chicago-based web directories.
If you are just getting started and running on a shoestring budget, then paid directory "listings should definitely NOT be a high priority. You can do a lot more with your money in the early stages of your business than pay for a directory listing with Yahoo, for example. Testing the effectiveness of a paid Yahoo listing is usually a good idea only for more established businesses.
Shopping bots are a great way for you to promote your products and attract cheap, qualified traffic to your site. A shopping bot works like a search engine, except instead of just finding information - it helps shoppers find the best deal by scouring the Internet for the products or services they are searching for.
The shopping bot then lists them in a search results page showing prices and brief product descriptions, with a direct link to the merchant's Web site.
From your point of view, you have the chance to attract qualified traffic to your site - people who are in a buying frame of mind and who are actively searching for YOUR products or services. From a shopper's point of view, they get to find the best deal by easily comparing the prices of the item they're looking for among a number of merchants.
A listing in some shopping bots is free, while others work on a pay-per-click or commission basis. And if you can achieve a high ranking and are able to beat your competitors' prices shopping bots can be a lucrative opportunity for your online business.
For example, let's suppose that you are able to offer the XJ2000 widget for 10% less than your nearest competitor. When someone who is looking to purchase this product types "XJ2000 widget" into the search box at their favorite shopping comparison site, that site will display results that include the price that each Web site is charging for that item.
Potential customers will see that you are 10% cheaper than your competitors and you stand an excellent chance of making a sale.
Having your listing at the top of the page on shopping comparison sites can be an advantage even if your prices are not as low as your competition's. People have a tendency to assume that the more important or reputable site will be listed at the top of the page.
You should definitely test out different bidding strategies on these sites.
The biggest shopping comparison site of all is eBay and this ISN'T just a place to sell old "garage sale" type items. In fact, many businesses generate a significant portion of their online sales through online auction sites like eBay.
Email promotions to third-party lists
Renting email addresses from third-party list providers is a route than many e-business owners choose because they offer quick access to a list of hundreds, if not thousands of people who have "opted" to receive email on topics that interest them. You can usually expect to be charged 2 to 20 cents per deliverable message and you should expect any email addresses that are "bad" or that "bounce" to be replaced by addresses that are current.
If you decide to use a service like this, it's absolutely imperative that you find out how the e-mall addresses were obtained. You want email addresses that have been collected ethically and responsibly, which means that you want the targeted addresses of people who have given their permission and opted into the list.
This tells you how suitable they are for your product or service and allows you to be sure that they haven't been harvested from newsgroups or similar areas on the 'Net.
Buying or renting email addresses this way can get very expensive, so you need to be sure that your sales process has been tested and tweaked before you roll out your entire campaign. Do some tests using a small sampling of the list that you are interested in and you should get a fairly accurate picture of how successful your campaign is going to be.
Any reputable list broker will have no problem letting you send a test mailing to a portion of their list.
Ultimately, your goal should be to develop a relationship with these people before you push a hard sale on them. Give them quality information that they can use, recommend
a free resource, offer a free subscription to your newsletter or provide them with a free chapter from your eBook. Do whatever it takes to establish your credibility and develop a rapport with them.
Remember that the true value lies in the relationship that you develop with the person who owns an email address ... not in the email address itself. It will be the relationship that you develop with these people that will result in big sales both now and in the future ... so keep this in mind if you decide to rent email addresses.
Google AdWords and AdSense
Another great way to drive extra traffic to your site - and make extra money on the side - is to participate in Google's AdWords and AdSense programs.
AdWords, as you'll probably remember, is Google's pay-per-click service.
The reason you should consider advertising with AdWords is simple: the Google network is the largest advertising network on the Internet. AdWords ads appear on popular sites as well as on all the search engines whose results are powered by Google.
In addition, AdWords ads appear on hundreds of thousands of other sites across the Web -thanks to AdSense, another Google program. AdSense allows you to earn money by displaying AdWords ads on your own Web site. The AdWords ads that appear on pages of your site are related to the content of your pages, much in the same way as AdWords ads appear next to relevant search results on Google.
The beauty of AdSense is that whenever a visitor to your site clicks on one of the ads, Google pays you a percentage of the pay-per-click bid price the advertiser pays them to display that particular ad. And those clicks can really start to add up!
Unfortunately, Google prohibits AdSense members from divulging how much money they are malting from the program. However, there are people earning thousands of dollars a month simply by adding the AdSense code to their sites.
Of course, the sites that are making the most money are those that attract the most traffic since they're the ones that generate the highest number of clicks on their ads. (Remember, sites displaying AdSense ads are paid on a per-click basis. not per sale).
HOWEVER - You probably do NOT want to display AdSense ads on your site if you sell a common product that many other businesses offer as well. Let's suppose you sell DVD players and have built a site that gives tons of information about DVD players, such as reviews, maintenance tips, and how to get the best price.
Because AdSense targets the ads it will display on your site based on your site's content, the only ads that will get displayed on your pages will be ads from other companies selling
DVD players - your competition!
This could be damaging to your business if your competition is offering a better price than you are for the same products! Just imagine a customer coming to your site, and then seeing that your competition is offering the EXACT same DVD player for 10% less than you ... Ouch!
Because of this, and a number of other potential drawbacks to using AdSense on your Web site, you should evaluate very carefully whether or not the programme is right for you. However, used effectively, AdSense can certainly generate some very useful extra revenue for your business.
Buying traffic in bulk
One of the most common complaints that we hear from businesses that are struggling to make it online is that they just CANNOT seem to drive traffic to their site. They are convinced that if only people would visit their site, they would have no problem making sales. In fact, many business owners ask us, "Isn't there some way I can just buy traffic from another site?'"
Well, it turns out, you CAN buy traffic - as much of it as you want. You've probably received spam from at least a few of these companies promising you 10,000 hits to your Web site for only $19.99. And while this sounds pretty appealing, it can be easy to waste your money on these kinds of programs.
This is not to suggest that all traffic purchase programs are scams, but I do encourage you to do your research before you commit to purchasing traffic in bulk. In order to help you decide if purchasing traffic is right for your business, there are some important points to consider ...
Businesses that sell traffic in bulk generally drive that traffic to you using one of two methods:
Pop-up and pop-under traffic
The first - and least effective - method is that they launch your site as a pop-up or pop-under when another site is loaded. Here's how this works:
You agree to purchase 100,000 hits to your site from a Traffic Broker who owns or controls thousands of Web sites. They add snippets of code to some of these sites that will launch YOUR site in a new browser window whenever one of their sites is loaded.
For example, suppose that one of the sites that Traffic Broker A owns is www.Mega-lnfo-World.com. Whenever a visitor visits that site, a pop-up will be launched that contains your site. This counts as a visitor to your site. If you've paid for 100,000 visitors, this will happen 100,000 times.
There are a few problems with this model. First of all, the quality of the sites that Traffic Broker A controls is probably not that great to begin with. Many of them are simply bogus directory pages that fool search engines into sending them general traffic. In many cases, visitors to these sites have been "tricked" into visiting them, thinking that they contained more targeted content.
The second problem with this model is that they use pop-ups. Now, pop-ups and pop-unders can still be effective in certain instances - collecting opt-in names for your newsletter, for example. However, people are sick to death of pop-ups that have nothing to do with the content they are looking for, and will generally close them as soon as they see them.
Also, keep in mind that more and more people have started using pop-up blockers to stop exactly this kind of advertising. And a blocked pop-up of your site will still count as a "visitor," as far as the company that has sold you the traffic is concerned.
This is because most pop-up blockers work by quickly closing down new browser windows that are automatically launched by pop-ups. They don't actually stop them from popping up, but rather they shut them down so quickly that you don't even notice them.
However, since the company that sold you the traffic is only measuring the number of times your page was loaded, and not taking into account how long a visitor stayed at your site, they will still count these as visits.
Not surprisingly, many of the people we've talked to have had terrible results using these kinds of programs - while they often report that they noticed a dramatic increase in the traffic to their sites, we haven't heard many examples of people who made enough money back in sales to justify the cost of the traffic. In fact, most people who buy these kinds of programmes report not making a single sale!
Our recommendation is that you NOT purchase pop-up or pop-under traffic for your site. The quality of the traffic is extremely low, and much of it never even gets to see your site!
Expired domain name traffic
This is the other common tool that traffic sellers use to drive visitors to your site. They wait for domain names to expire, purchase those expired domains, and redirect the visitors that meant to visit the expired site to your site instead.
Here's an example: Suppose the owner of www.Discount-Office-Supplies-Limited.com has decided to fold his business due to low sales and opts not to renew his domain name at the end of the year. One of the traffic brokering sites will buy this domain name, and use it to direct traffic to its clients.
Even though this business no longer exists, the site will still get some traffic, as it is still indexed by the search engines, people will have it book marked in their "Favorites" folder, etc.
If you approach the traffic broker who has purchased this site they will set it up so that all traffic that is attempting to visit www.Discount-Office-Supplies-Limited.com will be redirected to your site.
Now, if you are selling office supplies, this is some pretty good traffic! These people were looking for office supplies, and that's what they'll find at your site. However, if you sell roofing materials then office supply customers probably aren't going to do you much good!
Most of the sites that sell traffic will tell you that they can target the traffic they send you. However, it will not be nearly as targeted as traffic that you would get from search engine or pay-¬per-click listings. Of course, 100,000 visitors will cost you a lot more using pay-per-click than it will buying them from a traffic broker!
Our experience shows that only certain types of sites are able to convert this kind of traffic. It may be suitable for you if you're selling a product that appeals to a very general audience ¬things like TV de-scramblers, loan refinancing packages, credit card offers, etc. Since these products have the potential to appeal to just about anyone, they stand the best chance of converting the kind of general traffic that you'll be buying from traffic brokers.
If you are targeting a niche, you probably aren't going to be able to make these traffic buys pay off for you. If you are selling badger traps, you probably aren't going to find even one person out of a random sampling of 100,000 who is interested in your product.
You'd be better off spending your money on pay-per-click search listings under the term "badger traps."
If you are going test any of these traffic-generation programmes I would highly recommend that you start with a SMALL purchase, and see if you get any results. If you can't make a single sale from 100,000 visitors, then you probably won't have much luck with 1,000,000 visitors, either. Remember: Test, test, test ... and then test some more!
So to sum up - you can spend a lot of money advertising your site online, but you can also turn that advertising into a lucrative stream of customers that will give you a fantastic return on your investment IF you know what you're doing! It is also very easy to waste your money on online advertising.
Banner advertising used to be about the only way that people advertised anything online. Over the past couple of years, many of the so-called "experts'" have decided that banner advertising is no longer an effective way to advertise. But as long as you are placing well-designed banners on sites that are laser-targeted to your audience, you can easily make a good return on banner advertising. Just make sure you handpick the sites where your ad appears and you should be able to make banners work for your business.
Advertising in relevant e-zines and newsletters is one of the most effective advertising strategies around. The publisher of the e-zine or newsletter has already done all the hard work for you by attracting subscribers, gaining their trust with great information and providing them with a free resource. All YOU have to do is write a short ad that grabs their attention.
Paid directory listings - particularly on Yahoo - can drive a healthy amount of traffic to your site. However, since a Yahoo directory listing will cost you a hefty annual fee, you will definitely want to hold off on this if you are just getting started and money is tight. And remember that you DON'T need to pay for a directory listing to appear on Yahoo. Sooner or later Yahoo's search engine spider will find your site and get it listed. Or you can submit to Yahoo directly.
If you sell a tangible product - clothing, electronics etc. - then you may want to take a look at the shopping bot sites. Most will require you to pay-per-click or per-sale fee for your listing. These are especially effective if you are consistency less expensive than your competitors.
You can also send email promotions to third-party lists that you've rented or purchased. Much like e-zine advertising, the advantage here is that someone else has already done the work of attracting the subscribers. But beware! Some of these lists may be using cheap gimmicks (like contests) to attract subscribers, which generally means that the people on their list are more interested in winning things than buying them.
If you are going to buy or rent a list of opt-in email addresses, make sure that you run a test on a small portion of that list before you commit to a larger purchase. If you can't make back the money you spent on the test email campaign, then you probably don't want to bother wasting even more of your money.
One of the most popular trends in online advertising right now is Google AdWords. This allows you to position small text ads along the side Google's search results. You are able to specify the keywords you want to target, making this one of the best ways to attract quality traffic. However, you can also spend a LOT of money with AdWords. Make sure that you aren't paying for keywords that are TOO popular!
If you are selling a product that appeals to a very general audience you may be able to make bulk traffic buys work for you. These are the companies that will send thousands - or millions - of Internet users to your site for a fee. Since the companies that sell this traffic aren't able to target it very well products with a general appeal are just about the only ones that can turn a profit on this kind of programme.