by Travis King
Upon first thinking about it, the idea of selling advertising on a website or blog with limited traffic seems a bit daft. After all, aren’t most advertisers interested in putting their product in front of the highest number of eyeballs possible? Approaching them with piddly visitor numbers seems like a surefire way to end up in the deleted folder.
But though it may feel like putting the cart before the horse, there are many good reasons and ways to sell ad space on low-traffic websites. What you need to always keep in mind is that, while advertisers are drawn to high traffic numbers, they desire something else even more: high conversion rates.
There are plenty of success stories of websites that have limited traffic but sell a ton of advertising. These websites succeed because they do one thing well: they deliver the right type of customer to the right type of business.
What Do You Have To Offer?
Now, before you rush off and draft your first advertising offer, take a page from the Greeks and “know thyself.” This means you have to research your website first so that you can pitch it effectively to potential advertisers.
Here are some good ways to research your website and its audience.
Clicky is one tool that has the advantage of providing real-time analytics, unlike Google Analytics.
Areas to look out for are:
• What do people look at when they visit my website?
• What are my most popular pages?
• What pages do people stay on the longest?
• What keywords do they use to find my website?
With this knowledge, you can develop a picture of what interests your visitors and what kinds of advertisers would pay for access to people with those types of interests.
Here are some other analytical tools:
• Piwik: Open-source analytics that you install on your server.
• Woopra: Real-time analytics. The free plan is limited to 30,000 page views per month.
• W3Counter: Free hosted website analytics.
Poll Your Traffic
To delve even further into your visitors’ interests, put together a quick poll to find out what makes them tick. With a polling service, you can quickly put together a questionnaire that sheds further light on where your advertising focus should be. To get the best results from your survey, make it short, and perhaps even give away a gift to make it worth the respondents’ time. People rarely fill out surveys without an incentive.
Polling services include the following:
• Survey Monkey
• StrawPoll (Twitter polling)
If you would rather not go this route, a simple request for feedback might work. Just put the word out that you are looking for input and then ask for comments.
Keep Your Ear to the Ground
Another great way to find out what interests your audience is to track what people say about you on social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Twitter lets you track mentions of your website or a particular phrase in tweets. See which of your posts gets a lot of retweets or what people are saying about your website.
Also, watch for articles that get bookmarked on Delicious and other social bookmarking websites. Searching for your domain name reveals articles that have been the most interesting to your visitors.
Now that you have a good understanding of your website’s traffic, it’s time to get out there and find advertisers. Is there a minimum number of visitors you should have before approaching advertisers?
While nothing is set in stone, 500 to 1000 unique daily visitors is probably a good starting point. However, numbers below these can still be workable, especially if your audience is highly targeted.
Here are some places to find advertisers:
• What websites link to yours?
One place to look for advertisers is in your own analytics. Look for websites that currently link to yours and that offer a service or product you could advertise.
• Who’s commenting?
Visit your commenters’ websites to find any advertising or promotional opportunities.
• Let Google AdWords lead the way.
If you run Google AdWords, make note of which advertisements come up. After all, they are already spending money with Google, and Google is saying that your website is a good match for theirs. Approach them with an advertising opportunity that would give them greater visibility than what Google AdWords can deliver.
• Research websites with similar content.
Who is advertising on those websites? They would probably be interested in your website, too.
• What names jump out?
After compiling your visitor’s interests, some businesses may immediately spring to mind. These businesses will likely gel with your content. Make a list of them and contact them directly.
To be continued.
About the Author
When Travis King is not using all of his energy to survive the frozen Canadian tundra, he spends his time as a freelance Web designer and writer for FreelanceSwitch. In an attempt to control his obsession with Japan, he also runs one of Canada’s premier Japan travel websites: I Heart Japan.
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