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Difficulties Marketing My Website

 
 
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robertb
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:09 pm    Post subject: Difficulties Marketing My Website Reply with quote

While I'm quite active on the travel forums, I think I've only posted once here, so I'll try and change that now!

Note, however: this is all about my website. I don't think I have a signature here yet, but you can find the link on the travel forums if you're interested. I did run this by Paul before posting, but if there's any concerns about self-promotion, let me know or delete the post.

I came up with the concept for my website about 2 years ago, and I started to do some research on what is out there already to see if the concept didn't already exist. I then did searches to see how I can market the site and the travel forum was an option I discovered. While I enjoy sharing my travel knowledge and I've answered quite a few travel queries, my main aim for joining was to get some extra exposure.

However, as far as I am aware, I haven't had a single sign up to my website via the travel forums. Similarly, I've only had a handful of signups via twitter, direct mail shoots, etc.

My original idea was to approach getting members in a bottom up fashion, i.e. trying to get a few 100 members so that the site looks active enough to attract more members.

Unfortunately, this isn't working.

So, I decided to do the opposite and start at the top. In the past few weeks I've spoken to the national tourist boards of 5 countries with my concept. The response has been pretty good over the phone, and I've sent off a proposal via email. But things are happening very slowly.

But, last week I heard about the ITB in Berlin, and when I realised that virtually everyone in travel will be there I decided I had to go.

So, I've just spent the weekend talking to about 50 national tourist boards, travel companies and hotel organisations. The response was really positive with people promising to help me promote the website to their contacts. They all loved the concept. Clearly, all I've got is verbal promises and there are no guarantees, but still.

So the question is, why is it that when I speak to people face to face I get a fantastic response, but when I try to communicate online or via email / telephone the response is only lukewarm.

As some of you have read a fair few of my posts and may have even clicked through to the website, and there are a fair few members here who are my target market, I'd love to get some feedback on what your thoughts are about my website - i.e. what has prevented you from signing up?

If you've read all that, thanks for your time, and I look forward to your feedback!


Last edited by robertb on Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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Kay
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Robert

Welcome to Aardvark Business. Very Happy

It's a bit difficult to discuss a site when we don't know what the site is, so I nashed over to the Aardvark Travel forum to find out.

I think you mean this one?

http://kiribu.com/
(If Paul has OKed the question, I expect it's OK for me to link to the site.)

Quote:
So the question is, why is it that when I speak to people face to face I get a fantastic response, but when I try to communicate online or via email / telephone the response is only lukewarm.


People are very suspicious of internet communications, especially if they're unsolicited. You have to hand craft these very carefully. I'm in the process of trying to organise such a campaign for my new site. It ain't easy. I'll share what I learn.

Did you know that even if people do sign up for something, then even getting a 25% open rate is considered to be good? It's quite easy to ignore an email. A friendly, interesting person is more likely to get attention. That's pretty tough for those of us with online businesses but that's how it is.

Quote:
As some of you have read a fair few of my posts and may have even clicked through to the website, and there are a fair few members here who are my target market, I'd love to get some feedback on what your thoughts are about my website - i.e. what has prevented you from signing up?


Are you wanting a critique? I know I don't like it if I ask a question about building traffic, or whatever, and some people take it into their heads to critique the website design.

I would have something to say about it - but only if you're sure you want it. Very Happy
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robertb
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Kay,

Thanks for the comments. I know what you mean about taking criticism, it's tough, but I'll just have to man up and deal with it!

So, fire away and hopefully there's things I can resolve (within my budget!).

-Rob
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paul
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Difficulties Marketing My Website Reply with quote

robertb wrote:
Clearly, all I've got is verbal promises and there are no guarantees, but still.


Without meaning to sound pessimistic, I'll be interested to hear how they pan out. I think when people are faced with 'face to face' communications, they are almost compelled to be polite (in saying this, I'm not saying your idea isn't great, by the way... in all honesty, I haven't really looked).

When you email someone, I think they can sometimes choose to ignore because they are 'hiding' behind the internet and not having to face you. You can't do that so easily - without being very rude - on a face to face basis!

Also, people are inundated with online communications. I know I am, and I have to sometimes pick and choose what I respond to, and even sometimes don't get around to responding to those that I want to (sorry, Kay! Embarassed ), for quite a while.

For me (and I only had a very quick look), I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting by joining on your site. I got the distinct impression that I had to register to get anything further. There are lots of sites like that and, often when you register on them, you get little more when you do. I'd be wary of registering on a site like yours, only to find that it wasn't what I'd hoped for - I'd want to see what I was getting first.

Paul
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robertb
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Paul

Thanks for the feedback. I'll be sure to let you know what happens regarding those leads.

Quote:
For me (and I only had a very quick look), I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting by joining on your site. I got the distinct impression that I had to register to get anything further. There are lots of sites like that and, often when you register on them, you get little more when you do. I'd be wary of registering on a site like yours, only to find that it wasn't what I'd hoped for - I'd want to see what I was getting first.

Yeah, that's a really good point, as I do the same. I shall have a think about how I can address that. If you don't mind me asking, what would work for you?
Screenshots? or a list of features?
I guess I could set up a dummy account and post the username and password so visitors can try it out - would that work?

- Robert
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paul
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose the vital thing for me would be how many members there are (and how active they are). Without registering, I don't know if that figure is 100 or 100,000.

I suppose I'd be more tempted on to a site where I could see everything at the onset. Is there any reason why you couldn't do this and just allow people to register if they wanted to get further involved? I imagine there are arguments for and against that but, as a user, I think I'd want to be confident that what I was getting was worth registering for.
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robertb
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, your comments are very interesting, as most of what you're asking for is all available. The only benefit you get by signing on is to add your own stuff and interact (I don't want non-members adding comments or posting articles for example). You can see about 90% of what you can do on the site without logging on. I guess you're not finding it, and there must be a reason for that which would be useful to know so I can try to address it as it is my responsibility to make sure you find what you are looking for.

I think you can guess why I don't display the number of members at the moment Wink

Most of the links on the front page will take you into the site. E.g. clicking a word in the tag cloud, or an image.

Once in the site, you can click Activity, Members or Groups on the top right which will show you what's going on.
Also, clicking the icon of a business member will give you an idea of all the stuff you can add and how you can interact with other users.

I really appreciate these comments, as when it's your own site you know it inside out and it's quite difficult to step back and see it from someone else's perspective.
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paul
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK... well my apologies first off... as I said, I did only take a quick look.

I clicked on a few things and all I got was a series of pictures. I made the assumption that these were merely a 'taster' and that I'd have got editorial, etc. and possibly more by being registered. Now I realise that that was it. There wasn't any (significant) text to accompany the items I happened to have clicked upon.

I see that's true of quite a few but, having now delved a bit deeper, I see there are some pages with editorial as well.

So, at this stage, now I'm just not sure what sets your site apart from other travel sites. Now that there are so many travel sites out there, I think it helps you have some kind of USP or niche to help you stand out.

I've had a bit more of a delve and entered 'lake district' as a search term. It hasn't returned anything that relates to what I meant (the National Park in Cumbria) but does offer a handful of results. I've then tried entering 'edinburgh' - where I was at the weekend - and this returns one link labelled 'United Kingdom'. I've clicked on that and it brings up a discussion where the word 'edinburgh' doesn't appear to have been mentioned.

I know it's difficult when you're starting out but I think you need to somehow get as much content in there as you possibly can to make it a more attractive place for being to get involved. Even then, I think it can be a struggle as there are so many competing sites out there nowadays and people may have a tendency to gravitate to those that are the most popular, those that focus on a niche, or those that approach things in a completely different way.

What do you think? Smile
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robertb
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, great, thanks for that feedback, this is really useful as I'm getting some ideas of how the website is perceived. I am struggling to work out how to get the message across of what my website does, and so it's interesting to read your comments.

The idea is not for me to blog, but to get travel businesses to blog. It might be easier if I try to explain my concept.

When someone uses a travel business they can usually get lots of local recommendations, e.g. a B&B might recommend a local restaurant or a local museum. Sometimes they have information in a folder they have written themselves about what to see and do locally.

I would like to convince them to put it on my site!

So, if the B&B, restaurant and museum were on my site, the B&B could write an article suggesting a nice day out is to visit the museum and eat at the restaurant. The article would then link to those businesses profiles.
A feature that will be added shortly is the ability for businesses to directly recommend others, so a visitor can quickly see who the B&B recommends for example.

The ultimate idea being that if a whole bunch of businesses from the Lake District, say, are on the site, with not too much individual effort (say an article each) you've got quite a large amount of local information. This should then push the site up the rankings when someone searches for Lake District. As a result people will be able to find and get in contact with good local businesses more easily and access accurate local information.

In summary it's a site where people get ideas of where to go, get information from local businesses about what there is to see and do, and if they like it, follow links from the business' profile page to book.

That's kind of the idea.

Actually, just thinking about it, my home page is trying to attract everyone. Maybe I would be better off with a separate home page only targeting businesses.

I feel that I'm monopolising your time a bit here - which has just made me think of a website idea - the online pint voucher. People can buy someone a drink who has been helpful to them online and trade in the voucher for a drink at their local pub!
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paul
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL... funny you should mention that Robert... http://www.paul-johnson.co.uk/pint/ (I got bored and haven't updated it for 5 years now)

OK, now I understand your site a bit more... I think it's a good idea but I can foresee a few possible problems.

1) assuming this is a business venture, where does your revenue come from - AdSense, affiliate links, other ads... something else?

2) is this not already being done? I don't see any reason why that necessarily should stop you, but it can make it a more difficult proposition

3) how easy do you think it will be to get people to submit content? Assuming you want unique content (better for the search engines), this could be a bit of a battle. I do something not too dissimilar on my luxury travel blog, trying to attract guest bloggers... it's starting to come along now but it's taken a while to get sufficiently established that people in the industry see it as a site that they want to be part of.

4) how do you keep it all current? A restaurant that someone recommends might go dramatically downhill in as little as 12 months, or might even close altogether.
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robertb
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent, I shall send over a pint shortly!

1. Affiliate links - I'm affiliated with expedia, hostelworld and am just adding booking.com. If a user enters their ID it'll automatically add a 'check availability' button to their profile. There's also an empty field where a user can add a url if they aren't listed on the above, and it'll add a button.
Premium account - I intend to add premium features that users can pay for.
adsense.
The search is fairly basic at the moment, but I've got an improved version in the pipeline which would include sponsored search results.

2. I'm not sure I've found a site that offers all the features and interaction that my one does. Having said that, there's so many travel sites out there it's not going to be easy.

3. Well, I'm hoping that some businesses will already have some form of article on their own website that they can just copy paste to start with.

4. I have a number of things in place or in the pipeline which will help encourage users to keep data current but it relies on me having enough content to attract traffic in the first place, which in turn will make it worthwhile for businesses to put in the effort.

I'm pretty confident that my website will be of value to businesses and travellers once I have a reasonable number of members and content, but at the moment I need goodwill from businesses to get started, which is obviously very tricky as people are busy enough as it is. So, I'm trying to work out what to offer businesses in return to make them think it's a worthwhile punt, and also how to communicate that to them.

And as I say, quite a few organisations were genuinely willing to send a mail to their business contacts, and I'm just trying to sort out my promo material to increase the chances of a sign-up when businesses receive that email.

Out of interest, if you received an email from VisitBritain or from cumbriatourism.org telling you about my site, how would you respond to that?
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paul
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If it came from either of those two, I'd probably just bin it and not even open the message. Wink

Seriously... (actually, I was kind of being serious there)... I do get a lot of tourism-related newsletters, on top of all my other mail. And, because I have various different email accounts (3 serious, 3 not quite as important, and 1 or 2 for junk), then in all probability I might not see it, and if I did, at best I'd probably just end up having a quick glance.

The more I understand what you're up to, the more I think you could be offering something quite worthwhile. I think your biggest struggle will be to achieve some kind of 'critical mass' of contributors and users, etc. - a problem that I suppose is common to many websites.

It's hard at first. You get a handful on board, they like what you're doing, but they gradually drift off because they see only slow growth. Only a few tend to stick around for the long term and therefore you can find it takes quite a while before your site has a really healthy userbase.

I suppose it's a bit like the difference between this place (Aardvark Business, where it ticks over but isn't all that active) and Aardvark Travel where it pretty much runs itself with a healthy number of members, moderators, (and spammers!), etc. all getting involved. How you cross the threshold can be a bit of mystery sometimes. Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:58 am    Post subject: Building trust Reply with quote

We understand your pain and take great care to build confidence in our contacts. Using correct grammar is incredibly important- especially in an age where "phising" scams are entirely too prevalent.

And while we spend a great amount of time and effort to build credibility visually, there is nothing more valuable than a real phone call with native language speakers who can solve real problems.

By connecting a need with a solution, past and potential clients will begin to build trust in your brand. It takes time and focus, but is very valuable once momentum starts to build.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:32 pm    Post subject: I think you could be onto a winner Reply with quote

Had a look at your site, very professional and really interesting. Some general comments

1. Your Title tag needs work. The words are not what people search for, limit the total amount to 69 characters. Could not find a description or meta tags.

2. Could not find any type of sitemap, html or xml

These 2 items should ba actioned asap.

Descriptions would help in your RSS feed.

Have you consider creating a Blog and YouTube videos to boost your ranking?

Hope it helps

Drachsi
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