Online marketing tips… that are free!


It’s a classic Catch 22 situation – you’re desperate to improve your online marketing efforts, but there is precious little money left in this year’s marketing budget.



Don’t despair. Here are 22 things you can do to improve your online marketing right now – and all they will cost you is time.


1. Practice a purchase


Get one of your friends and go on to your website and show them how a customer can go through the process of buying an item or getting in contact with you.


Write down all of the things you both notice during the process; the results might surprise you. Usually there will be one change you can make that will increase your conversion, by at least 10%.


2. Ask for feedback


Add a button that says: “Can’t find what you are looking for? Email us your question.” You are not your customer, and there is no way you can know what they are experiencing. Let them tell you what they want.


3. Add more keywords to a web page


Some of your pages may be lacking in keyword density. Log in to your content management system, or ask you web developer to, and just add a paragraph of text to the pages that are looking a little empty on keywords. Remember; Google can’t see images but it can see text, so tell Google what your page is about.


Even Google changes its logo on its homepage.


4. Change your home page main image


Make the image that users see when they first hit your site something a little fresher. If they are coming back for a second time, nothing is more persuasive than seeing a website that is changing and evolving. It’s a signal that the website is alive, and that the company is reputable. (See also yesterday’s SmartCompany blog Fresh websites yield fresh sales inquiries.)


5. Offer an incentive to your affiliates


Offering an incentive to your affiliate businesses might just give them that extra 10% motivation to spend more time promoting your program. And more promotion means more sales.


6. Add a page of content


Write an article and add it as another page to your site. The more pages Google can see on your website, the more chances you have of ranking for any particular keyword. I call this “Buying more tickets to the Google Lottery”!


7. Change the colour of your “buy now” button to green


This might also be your main call to action button, like “Apply now”. But remember, red equals “stop”, and green equals “go”. Are your buttons telling users to stop or go?


8. Invite your staff for a website feedback day


Sure it’s going to be a little political, but you are going to get at least two ideas that will be brilliant and easily actionable to increase sales.


9. Update your “about us” page with your latest info


Most people ignore this page, although users want to know who they are dealing with. If your “about us” page still has the 2005 press release you added, remove it and update it with something new. Sell yourself.


10. Call every phone number listed on your website


If one doesn’t work. Update it.


11. Convert PDFs into HTML pages


This is an easy win to get new content on your site, and give you a few more tickets to in the Google Lottery. This will work especially well if your PDFs are behind a secure area that Google cannot index.


12. Update your news section


Add your latest news. If you have no news, make some up!


13. Add a second picture to your product pages


Two images are more persuasive than one. Potential customers want to see what they are buying, and if you were to show the back of the product as well as the front, it may overcome some of the objections that have held some of your potential buyers back from taking immediate action.


Tip: If you can only do one image, make pne image half the front and half the back. The images will be slightly smaller, but you will communicate more information this way. NewEgg does an amazing job with its product imagery.


14. “Oh by the way…”


Add a little upsell to your “thank you” page. Think of this like the confectionary at your supermarket. Right next to the cash register before you are about to pay, you can just throw in a pack of gum. It’s not sold in a big way, it’s just “Oh by the way, if you want a pack of gum I’m $1.”


Add gift wrapping, upgrade, upsell or promote an affiliated offer. Their credit card is out for the checkout page, it’s time to get them to throw in that “pack of gum”. You can be really creative here! One of the best in the business at this is VistaPrint, which up-sell you with free business cards to a DVD subscription.


15. Update your 404 page


This page always gets traffic. Does your page look horrible and nasty, or is it helpful and informative? Here are some good ones to model.


16. Add misspellings to your paid search campaign

There is a huge amount of misspelt keyword traffic out there. The extra hits from common misspelt words may be worth the extra work to search out the best misspellings, creating and submitting a page to the search engine, and watching a little bit more traffic come through your site. It’s time you cashed in on it.


17. Protect your brand name


Type in your brand name into Google. See who comes up – if competitors are camping on your brand, politely email them and ask them to take it down.


18. Review your sitemap


Your sitemap is used by both Google to help index your website and by some users to browse your site. Check to see what Google can see on your site and navigate to your sitemap to see if it’s usable or not.


19. Fix the top 404 pages


Ask your web master or web hosting company to send you your top 20 visited 404 pages on your website. Fix them. You might get more traffic.


20. Ask a friend in another industry to shadow shop on your site


Give them five things to do on your site and get them to just send you their feedback on their experience.


Ask them if they would go back to the site without you asking them to. If they would, you are in the money. If not, you have some work to do. The ultimate test of your website is: “If you didn’t own it, would you go to it?”


21. Read the last 100 “contact us” forms


Read what users are sending you. You will find one core insight to your customer, that just might help you improve the site dramatically.


22. Ask a taxi driver their top five websites


Taxi drivers meet a lot of people everyday and learn about a lot of websites. They are generally quite basic in their use of the internet. (Ouch, that is a big generalisation!) Whatever sites they are visiting right now are ones that you need to review and strategise about.

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