Community Hints & Tips - Promotion & Marketing

Greetings one and all.

Why don’t we start a thread listing our favourite and most successful promotional techniques, hints and tips. Everyone has them, so what are your proven methods for making your site’s counter spin?

We want to hear your ideas, your experiences, your successes and your failures. What worked for you? What didn’t? When it didn’t work, what did you do about it?

Let’s share our hints, tips and techniques with the rest of the community. The best tips will be included in the SitePoint Tipfeed, your name and URL could go out to millions!


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Depending on your site, I think offline promotion is very underrated. When I was finished working on my school districts site not many people came in and looked around. SO since my target audience filled a 20 mile radius I decieded some offline promotion was needed. I found a place that would make me 1000 pencils with our name and URL printed on them for a real cheap price. I also bought 500 buisness cards avertising the site and district. I handed them out to all the schools and placed them out during conferences. People gobbled them up like crazy and soon big things started to happen. We increased out hits from 300/d to 1500/d and got a few articles in the news. Thats all for now, maybe I’ll post more later.

Link exchanges through a 3rd-party site (where you sign up, other people sign up, then you exchange links) has not worked very well for me. The other sites that SAY they want linking so far have not reciprocated. That’s been a real disappointment.

However, I have had some good success with finding sites that are good matches, subject-wise, through the search engines, then linking to them and asking for a link back. For one of my sites I’ve had some nice, really helpful responses from other webmasters, with a significant proportion of traffic coming through those links. Of course, there are some webmasters who will just never write back, but the proportion is far less than with the 3rd-party link exchange I’ve tried to do.

Banner ads–of course, the trick is to find a really targeted site with high traffic that doesn’t charge a huge amount. I like sites that charge per month rather than CPM. Per month is less expensive. Currently I’m experimenting with text-only banners and getting a click-through rate of about 1%. I have just started that experiment, though.

Gotta go somewhere at the moment, will add more later…

Hi Fluffykins,

I would have to say that my signature has been stronger for business than anything else I’m using.


In the last three months it has generated one full design contract, two monthly maintenance contracts, plus several free lance quickies (CGI help, logo design, and a few others).

I take part in several Q&A message boards. I can answer a question and my next fifty hits come from the thread. It’s amazing. Most just poke around, but as mentioned, there is business out there also.

Hey fluffyskins and others,

In my opinion I think about every method can be a way to boost your traffic. There is no such thing as a magical method to increase your traffic : Of course search engines can be the largest source but nowadays it’s very hard to get in the top 10 of a SE ( although I have some sites that are performing very very well :smiley: ) .
Now suppose you are no SEO expert and you don’t get anything coming from the SE. Trough experience I have seen that viral marketing and affiliate marketing are the two best ways to get quick results :

Concerning affiliate marketing I don’t think I need to explain how this will increase your traffic : The trick is to set up an affiliate program that works and interests other sites. The big disadvantage to this method is that it isn’t free.

Viral marketing on the other side is a very powerful way to generate more traffic : There are just too many different methods to start your own viral marketing strategy and I won’t go into details here. Every site can work out a suited viral marketing strategy. The keyword is creativity : I have already developed some pretty strange viral marketing methods for companies but they were all very pleased with the results : It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as it generates results…

As for the “dont’s”, there’s only one method I strongly want to warn other webmasters for : Never ever submit your sites to FFA pages and never even consider to spend money on companies that will get your link in " 75000 search engines and link pages" ( Haven’t we all met such a service ? :wink: ) They are less than worthless.

I could write a book on this matter as about every promotional method works as long as you know how to do it right. Unfortunately I don’t have the time here and we all have to make a living right … Interested webmasters can always drop me an e-mail :wink:

Hey Bruno,

What exactly do you mean by Viral Marketing? Some examples as to what it is would be great!

Originally posted by Wilmot
[B]Hey Bruno,

What exactly do you mean by Viral Marketing? Some examples as to what it is would be great! [/B]

Bruno, may I cut in?

Viral marketing is basically word of mouth promotion. Lets say you have a website, someone visits your site, thinks it’s cool and tells one of their friends about it. That friend looks, also thinks its cool and tells a couple more friends about it and so forth. Viral marketing gets its name by the way the information is spread exponentially like a virus.

There are lots of ways to virally market a website. The simplest method being a Tell a Friend page that sends an e-mail to an address you enter. Affiliate programmes are also a form of viral marketing, where websites pay other site owners a percentage of their earnings to market their product or service for them.


What exactly do you mean by Viral Marketing? Some examples as to what it is would be great!

Hey wilmot,

I know viral marketing is a pretty vague description . However it’s pretty difficult to be concrete but let me give you some real life examples :

The tell a friend page is the most basic technique in viral marketing. There are more advanced ways like a reward program where you’d get more points if you’d refer others. Suppose sitepoint would offer you more sitepoints if you’d post a thread to a friend. You can invent variations on the theme yourself. In the past I have worked out an idea where the site organised a contest and people would get more entries if they got their friends to join.

Affiliate programmes are also a form of viral marketing

Hey fluffyskins,

You are right if you say that affiliate marketing is based upon the same method as viral marketing. However affiliate marketing requires an entirely different set of tools, knowledge and approaches ( eg. promotional techniques ) . I wouldn’t go this far to say that affiliate marketing is just a part of viral marketing.

This thread has given me an idea :idea: for my site(s).

If it turns out to be successful i’ll post the idea on these forums.

That’s what I meant I think. It uses the same techniques if you look at it from a wider perspective but I guess if you give it some deep thought affiliate programmes aren’t really are they? Perhaps I should say that affiliate programmes are a variant form of viral marketing. Perhaps not the best example but I try :smiley:

Keith: We’re always glad to be of help.

Let’s keep those tips coming!


Tip for increasing ezine list subscriptions: On one of my sites I recently instituted a popup like the one used here at SitePoint to offer newsletter subscriptions. Subscriptions have increased probably 500% since then.

Originally posted by SLeon
Tip for increasing ezine list subscriptions: On one of my sites I recently instituted a popup like the one used here at SitePoint to offer newsletter subscriptions. Subscriptions have increased probably 500% since then.

Pop ups to advertise e-zines and other pertinent site features are a very good idea. I’ve had similar success using them. One thing to remember though is that people don’t like pop-ups they’ve seen before. They tend to get annoying after seeing them once or twice. Try using a ‘pop up only once’ type Javascript which pops up the window then sets a cookie so a person never sees it again.

You can learn how to create such a script here:


I don’t have any great tips, just experience, one of my sites is now No1 on AOL Search for the term: visual basic

I’m not quite sure how it happened but it has done so recently, the thing about the site is that it hasn’t been updated in years now and has slowly risen to the top of quite a few search engines, so much so that I am re-launching it soon as long as I can find some people to contribute articles to it.

Other then that, I would say be as nice and helpful to as many people as possible as they will remember it and you in the future when they need something in your area of expertise.

Well, Ady’s tip of virul wossits helped get my hits up, and more subs to my newsletter, and if you do a newsletter, do a Joint one - as this also helps.

What I have found tho, is that, after contacting a fair few other Division 3 fansites - linking and getting linked too has also bumped my hits up. I have this all to do again now, with another set of clubs, division 2! :smiley:

But also getting onto your site’s subject specific search engines gets more hits too - as anyone lookin for my site, is more likely to search at say, rather than say altavista.

Also, such is the subject of my site, that I belong to a BHAFC mailing list, and participate with that, and so have my address on emails, then also participate in a BHAFC forums, and put my address on that when I post, and cos Im a regular, it isnt spam. So those 2 ideas also help.

And, possibly, such offline promotion such as buying an advert in the club’s official matchday programme, and getting the site into the fanzines is good too.

Also, as mine is about a team, sponsorship can work too - I may sponsor one of the players next season, which guarantee’s my web address in all 23 home programmes during the season. So thats a good investment too.


I totally forgot to add that pay-for-placement search engines (such as GoTo and FindWhat) have been very successful for me. What I like about them is the quick turnaround–your site can be listed and start getting traffic in a week vs. possibly months in the regular search engines. And generally if one plays it right, a good amount of very targetted traffic can be gained for a very small cost.

Hello All

I wrote a tutorial about Promotion for Web Hosting companies.

You may find it here:

This tutorial is useful if you own any ebusiness.

I would have to agree with that offline ads being under-rated! I have received great results with busniness cards, classified ads, etc… But here we go again, it is getting to be football season again and now I must get users to come back for this season!

Hi everyone,
Re. viral marketing - here in the U.K the deputy editor of .Net mag. wanted to make a point about how big budgets weren’t necessary; he created the (hoax) site , purportedly to post your cheating lover’s pics. on.
He spent an afternoon in London with a sandwhich board; collected e-mail addresses of reporters ; wrote a fake press release. Capital Radio, The Mirror and others picked it up (not one reporter did any research into the facts, mind). Got 10,000 hits in the first week.
All based on visitors referring the site on to a friend.
And of course there was the Blair Witch project, and now Spielberg’s A1.
These are ‘sexy’, intriguing sites, but what I get from this is that a quality site will get referrals, and that a UNIQUE quality site will get even more. IMHO.

I don’t know if this tip falls into the distinct catagory of promotion but it should improve your search engine listings which in turn will improve your traffic and besides, I want that prize so here it is anyway :smiley:

The only time my web stats show requests for the 404page is when a spider has been visiting. This is because I don’t use a robots.txt file which is the first thing the spider wants. I don’t have any members only areas etc so I don’t have a need for the file. This got me thinking :idea: if the spider gets the 404 error page because the robots.txt file is missing would it be possible to use this to an advantage? I created my own 404 page and placed a short message and a link to my homepage for any 2 legged critters that happen along but I also placed discreet direct links to my hallway pages. If this works (and I don’t know yet because I only did it this morning) you could place links to “deep” pages that never seem to get crawled or any other pages the spider never seems to visit.
I don’t know why this wouldn’t work and if it does it should mean a better chance of getting the spider to index the pages you want it to.
If anyone knows why this would NOT work please do NOT tell me as I am feeling pretty damn pleased with myself at the mo :lol:

LOL, good one ady!

Anyways, I’ve got one.

Partnerships, partnerships, and did I say partnerships? If you’re a new site, link exchanges, etc. won’t be good because bigger sites won’t exchange links with you.

Let me tell you one thing. Partnerships aren’t just link exchanges and banner exchanges, nor full-fledged putting the sites together. I found this out the other day.

I offer this one site content on a weekly basis, and in return, I am getting roughly 250 subscribers a day just from them. Provide content regularly for ad placements, or anything unique you can think of that fits with the description of your site. Once you have at least 1,000 subscribers, you can send out newsletters on a regular basis and expect a good return. Of course, you still need to send out newsletters even if you have 1 subscriber. Who know, it could be a big guy with lots of friends who will give you tons more subscribers!