I often advise people that their Web address should be treated like their second business name. I also tell them that their URL should be short, memorable, and easy to spell. Ideally, it is the shortest possible variation of your actual business name. This advice is based upon the fact that there are many ways to drive traffic to your website.
Many people think that they build a website, then just sit back and wait for a flood of new business to be magically generated by Google. Well, it doesn’t quite work that way. If you look at the Google Analytics for the average website, you will quickly learn that there are three basic sources of incoming traffic. One is search engines (where Google and Bing are, for all practical purposes, the only games in town), another is referring sites (like Go Camping America, your state campground association, and your local tourism office or chamber of commerce), and the last is what is referred to as “direct traffic”. In many instances, those three broad sources of traffic break down into equal thirds. In this installment, I would like to concentrate on that last segment: Direct traffic.
You can have one of the world’s best websites but, without traffic, it is nothing more than a business with its lights out. People need to find your business, and whatever it might be, every single potential customer counts. If direct traffic represents a third of your potential with respect to new business, you cannot afford to turn a blind eye to that traffic. To start, it helps to know direct traffic’s sources of origin.
Some direct traffic is what is referred to as “type-in” traffic. These are people who, although they already know your business, are probably not familiar with your website. They simply presume that entering your business name, followed by .com will take them to your website. (Hopefully for you, that is the case!) This is the argument in favor of choosing a short, memorable, and intuitive domain name.
Other sources of direct traffic include advertising and listings in printed directories and publications that reach your clientele. If you are a campground owner, you simply cannot afford NOT to be found in your state association directory. These are professionally designed publications that are printed in large quantities, are organized in a manner that makes it easy for people to zero in on specific regions, and are distributed in markets that reach out to both active and potential campers.
In most instances today, the primary purpose of any print advertising is to send prospects to your website, where they can find more information and immediately respond to your “call to action” … which is almost always going to be either a reservation inquiry or a real-time reservation. For this reason, your Web address should be one of the three primary elements of your message, along with your business name and telephone number. With a little imagination, there are so many ways of reaching out to people with your URL. Do you have signage on your vehicles? If so, does it include your Web address? Vinyl signage is very inexpensive these days, and a message on the rear window, tailgate, or rear bumpers on your vehicles will be absorbed by far more people than a message that is seen fleetingly on a side door.
Everything else aside, the single most important way to promote your website is through the use of printed literature. Like your directory advertising, your brochures, rack cards, or other printed literature need to get to the point of sending people to your website. As somebody who started in the advertising industry producing four-color brochures for the outdoor industry, I can tell you that people are printing smaller brochures (or more often rack cards) in lower quantities and with less frequency. The key is to insure that the quality of your literature stands out from the crowd and that it gets distributed. Just like a terrific website that is relatively unseen, the best brochures that sit in a box are failing to generate a penny in new revenues for your business.
Many state campground associations have very inexpensive distribution programs that allow your brochure to “piggyback” with directories that are mailed in fulfillment of consumer requests. Saving the postage will easily cut your costs of reaching those new customers in half. Your state association can also help you to reach campers at major RV shows. You cannot possibly afford the time or the expense to exhibit at every major camping show, typically held during the winter months, when Northern campers are itching for the snow to melt and when Sunbirds are anxious to migrate back to the Northern woods; however, “piggybacking” once again with your state association can be the next best thing.
Although you should certainly consider exhibiting directly at the major shows within your key markets, because there is no substitute for the one-on-one ability of being able to speak directly with your key prospects, rely on the experts to cost-effectively get your literature into the hands of the people who you cannot afford to meet yourself. In addition to the state campground associations, there are at least two companies that provide a similar service that is tailored to the family camping and RV markets. Those two companies are:
I apologize if there are others that I may have unintentionally omitted. If they exist, they are probably not doing an efficient job of promoting their own businesses. Other companies maintain literature racks that display campground brochures at RV dealerships from state to state. One of these, serving the state of California, is RV Travlin.
Incorporate these ideas and services, then watch the direct traffic to your website increase substantially by people who are campers, are interested in your state or region, and who would otherwise not know that your business exists.
This post was written by Peter Pelland