About ten years ago I wrote an article called “15 Ways to Advertise for Free.” At that time the advertising methods detailed in the article were very popular and quite effective. But because of the ever-changing internet and evolving technology, I thought it would be interesting to revisit these strategies and see how they have changed over the years and if they still produce results.
1. Message Boards – Message boards were a great way to network and make connections. Web-based message boards date as far back as the early nineties. Today, however, we have evolved into more advanced versions of message boards such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. A few message boards may still be around and could be mildly effective but they most certainly have seen a huge decline. Social media sites have taken over as the new internet forums.
2. eMail Discussion Groups – eMail discussion groups are another method of networking and connecting but it is done through email rather than a website. People subscribe to a group and participate in the discussions and offer advice, information and help. Such groups have evolved but are still very active and effective for internet business owners.
3. Ad Swaps – Ad swaps used to be one of my favorite marketing techniques. I would contact fellow ezine publishers and arrange to do an ad swap with them.&nb sp; This would very often lead to a lasting association. It is how I met many of my online business associates who also became friends. Although ad swapping can still be very effective, unfortunately it seems to have fallen in popularity.
4. Link Exchange – When exchanging links first became popular back in the nineties, everyone threw up a link directory and exchanged links with every site possible. Now, this is a very bad idea as irrelevant links can cause more harm to your ranking than good. It is now better to have a few quality relevant backlinks to your site rather than linking to every kind of site available. The search engines will actually penalize you for having too many unrelated links posted on your site. You also want to provide helpful links for your visitors so be selective in your linking choices.
5. eZine Publishing – In my opinion and experience, publishing and sending out a regular newsletter or ezine will always produce results. It forms relationships, builds trust and keeps you in touch with your potential customers. Although there are many forms of doing this, such as RSS feeds, email marketing and updates, it is all basically the same marketing method and is still one of the most effective.
6. Article Marketing – Although article marketing, now called content marketing, has also evolved over the years, it is still quite effective. Submitting your articles to countless article banks and directories used to be the thing to do but now you want to be careful where you submit your article. Select a few quality sites and as with many of the techniques today, quality is much more effective than quantity.
7. Guestbooks – Guestbooks were very popular about 15 years ago but these days I do not see any evidence that they still exist. I guess you could say it was a primitive form of blog commenting. You would visit a site and type in a comment in the webmaster’s guestbook and leave your name and site link. Ninety percent of sites visited would have one available but I don’t remember the last time I have actually seen one.
8. Sigtags – eMail signatures are still a very effective method of getting traffic and building your business. Keep your sigtag to about 4-6 lines with an attention grabbing message.
9. Signature Buddies – This is a technique similar to an ad swap but you exchange info in your email sigtag. I have seen this a few times but I don’t really think it ever took off. It could be a good idea and there is no reason why it could not still produce successful results.
10. Testimonials – Testimonials will always be a powerful and effective tool for building your customer base. They show that other people have been very satisfied with what you have to offer and help show that you can be trusted to do what you claim.
11. Newsgroups – To be honest, I have never really used newsgroups as a way to promote my business and have completely forgotten that they exist, if they still do. Newsgroups were similar to email discussion groups in that you post a message to a group and receive messages from other members. They appear to be almost no n-existent today with the social media sites taking over their effectiveness as well.
12. Welcome Letter – When someone subscribes to your ezine or mailing list and then confirms, it is time to send them a welcome letter. Make full use of this email. Tell them about any freebies or specials that you have to offer. Give them a quick background of your site and what you can do for them. Use your welcome letter to say much more than just welcome. This can and still is a great way to build your customer base.
13. Webrings – Webrings still exist today but their popularity and effectiveness is dying out. A webring is a group of websites that try to help promote each other by placing the “entrance” which is a navigation bar to the webring on their sites for people t o view all the member sites. Although they are a dying breed there might still be some quality rings that could bring you some traffic.
14. Group Subscription Page – A group subscription page is when several ezine publishers or mailing list owners promote each other on their thank you/welcome pages for their subscribers. I don’t know if this is as popular as it once was but it is still a good way to get free exposure to build your business.
15. Online Directories – Submitting your url to online directories can get you some quality traffic but be choosy as to which ones you use. Do not mass submit. Pick and choose the directories to which you want your link listed.
Keeping abreast of popular and effective marketing methods can seem like a full-time job in itself but you do need to always stay on top of innovation and state of the art marketing in these days when technology is evolving so fast!
by Terri Seymour
Terri Seymour has over 16 years of internet marketing experience and has helped many people start their own business. Visit her site for three free gifts including The
Big Book of Social Media Tips and How to Market Your Online Business for Free: http://www.SeymourProducts.com