Practical Ecommerce

7 marketing avenues that have been a waste of time and money, and 4 that haven’t

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in running my website business, and spending money on certain marketing vehicles is one of them.

1. People ignore banner ads online

When was the last time you clicked on a banner ad online? And bought anything from it? I certainly haven’t and I know from my affiliate program I belong to that many people click on one of the array of banners ads I have and don’t buy from them – at least not immediately, if at all. These cookies last up to 30 days, by which time their buying timeframe would have passed.

2. People ignore print ads in magazines

I’ve paid to be in wedding and baby magazines with a trackable advertisement code. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Apparently you’re supposed to advertise consistently to make a difference but I just don’t have the cash for that.

3. People ignore leaflets in paid-inclusion gift bags

I’ve paid (quite a few thousand dollars actually – wince) to have my promotional postcards inserted in the gift bags given to pregnant women at maternity hospitals, obstetrician clinics and antenatal centres a few years ago and worked out my conversion rate was 0.046%. That’s worse than even my worst-ever online conversion rate. But at least that’s better than the women’s tea party event at a major hotel which netted me precisely zero sales.

4. They ignore leaflets in free gift bags

Unless they’re immediately in the market for your product say, that week, most people throw these promotional vouchers away. At least you’re not paying to be in the gift bags.

5. People who join competitions for freebies rarely become paying customers

I’ve run a few competitions over the years my business has been running, and I’ve managed to convert just 8.1% of those who won one of my products into paying customers which is pretty dismal.

6. Competition winners are less likely to become ongoing subscribers

Many people are inveterate competition entrants, trying their luck with a number of businesses to win prizes. They may not have any interest in the products, nor in hearing from you on an ongoing basis. Of those who have won a prize in a competition, about 36% have subscribed or continued to subscribe to my newsletters.

7. Freebie trials rarely work either

I’ve also spent money with gift-of-the-month businesses and free trial opportunities where you pay to have your product included for the customer to review it. This is what tends to happen: you have a small number of people who actually bother to give it an online review and of those, most provide such useless comments (“it was great”) that you have pretty much just thrown your money away.

What HAS worked for my business is a much shorter list!

1. Leaflets to existing customers

Customers who have already bought from my business are much more likely to buy again. I get an amazing response to my handwritten birthday cards containing a promotional leaflet with customers contacting me with a few weeks to buy another product.

2. Well-written publicity

A well-written press release, combined with a targeted audience, can help propel your product tremendously as editorial is viewed with far greater credibility than advertising.

3. Radio interviews

People can tell a lot by a person’s voice and in an interview, you can lightly mention something which has great relevance to the listener. Plus, so that the radio station switchboard isn’t bombarded, they usually back-announce your website address at the end of the segment.

4. LinkedIn

This free (on the basic level) networking service allows me to connect with people in my industry individually and via relevant groups. You can become better-known by providing responses in the Answers section and have definitely tracked sales from that.

What marketing avenues work for you?


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