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Increasing Traffic With Cross Promotion
By Stephen
As pay-per-click costs increase, companies need to find new ways to save money to get visitors on their landing pages. In addition, companies need to have a plan to not only drive traffic to a website, but to gain customer loyalty for repeat visits.

Too often companies only focus on increasing website traffic as their method of strategic Internet marketing. While it is good to increase website traffic, the ultimate goal should be to make sales and generate leads. Just having traffic is not enough to make a website successful.

Collect E-Mail Addresses
In the off-line world, the rule of thumb is that it takes at least seven touches or interactions with your potential customer before the sale will occur. What most people don't realize is that this same situation occurs on the Internet. Generally, a person that comes to your website is not going to buy the first time, that's why it's so important that you get their e-mail address. Have a form on your homepage that entices people to opt in to your e-mail database.

Give people a reason for them to give you their e-mail address before they leave your website. One of my clients sells women's designer clothing on the Internet, and they needed to increase their visibility through strategic Internet marketing. We came up with a plan to create an online members only club for the women who shopped on this site. In order to join the club, visitors simply filled out a form with their name and e-mail address.

Create a Community
In two short months, this company was able to add 5,000 names to its database. But rather than using the database as only a way to solicit more business, we decided to create more value for the company's customers. We used their online club to create a community of women who were more than just customers who bought clothing. For example, as part of the club's benefits, each month, we interview famous hair stylists, writers, psychologists, make-up artists, and then make these audio recordings available to their online club members. Since the choice of the clothes you wear determines your attitude and identity, we pick topics that complement and enhance their members fashion statement.

Cross Promotion
The people we interview are happy to do these

recordings, because it gives them an opportunity to get in front of their target audience and get free publicity. Quite often the people we interview also have a database, so we asked them if they would introduce our site to their list. This afforded us another opportunity to build my client's database and create more viral marketing buzz for the site. This technique is known as cross promotion.

In 2006, Disney and Pixar Studios came out with the animated movie Cars. As part of a cross promotion deal with Disney, McDonald's featured a toy car in all of its Happy Meals. We are all familiar with this technique, as it's been going on for years. But now we are seeing this technique also being used on the Internet.

Another example of cross promotion on the Internet is what AOL is doing with an online reality game called Gold Rush. The site has enjoyed 10.7 million unique visitors since September 2006. Participants play a game similar to a scavenger hunt, where they answer questions and solve puzzles, but they look for clues in "other AOL-owned sites like MapQuest; in the pages of some of the site's magazine partners such as Star, People, TV Guide, Entertainment weekly, and also on some of the CBS shows like Survivor and Heroes."

This successful site was the inspiration of reality TV guru Mark Burnett, who was the brains behind the hit show "Survivor." It cost $10 million to make the site, and it's already taken in $25 million in advertising. According to a Newsweek article, "Gold Rush has also taken product placement to new extremes: let's call it "advertainment," in which the products from advertisers like Chevrolet, Coke zero, and Best Buy are entertainment, integrated into the action no differently than say, pop songs belted out by the kids on American Idol."

Fresh ideas are what businesses need to be successful on the Internet. The big companies are spending millions to attract visitors to their websites, but it doesn't take millions of dollars to fund strategic Internet marketing that works for your website. All it takes is a creative idea that works to attract your target audience.

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