By Guest Bloggers: Rachel Hoeing and Katie Moosbrugger, Co-founders of TriadMomsOnMain.com
When it comes to most things in life, each circumstance is completely different. Different strategies work for different people. Same goes for businesses. Different approaches create different results. Today, we are going to share with you what worked for us. After 5 1/2 years in the website business I can say that I feel we have been pretty successful. We hope that some of these strategies can work for your business as well.
Five and a half years ago, we started a local website for moms in the Triad area. We had a partner site in Charlotte, which was terrific, but that didn’t help when it came to marketing our site in our own area. We used grassroots marketing from day one and when we branched off on our own to create our current site, Triad Moms on Main, we used some of these same grassroots marketing efforts. After three and a half years, our website has an average of 25,000 unique visitors per month, over 55,000 pageviews per month, 8,200+ newsletter subscribers, over 6,300 Facebook Fans, and over 1,800 Twitter followers. Considering neither business partners had any experience in the world of technology, and considering our website is based on mostly local readers, we are genuinely proud of these numbers.
It is so satisfying to be out and about in town and overhear someone say, “Yeah, I read about that on Triad Moms on Main.” Our main goal is to make a mom’s life easier, whether that be by providing a list of local events to attend, or providing referrals for schools, we truly want readers to find our website helpful, entertaining and supportive.
So how did we get the word out to locals to let them know about our site?
We began with friends, groups of friends and Facebook contacts. We emailed and messaged everyone we knew to tell them about our website. We asked them to please “like” our Facebook page, subscribe to our newsletter, and to share with others. We even involved them in the process of helping us choose a name for the new website. Once people are connected to something, they are usually more inclined to share the idea with others.
We even held a contest where we asked people to share our website with their groups of friends through email and Facebook. Once they shared the site, they were to email us telling us they did so. For each FB shout out they gave us and each person they emailed, their name went into a drawing for a $200 VISA gift card. We had amazing results. Slowly but surely our FB numbers rose, our newsletter subscribers grew, and people were becoming repeat readers!
After we felt like we had a good base of readers, we decided to reach out local non-profit organizations. We approached them with the simple idea of in-kind trades where we would both promote each other. It was a win-win where we both gained exposure. We used this same approach with local PR agencies and met with them in person to discuss how we could be mutually beneficial.
We then developed partnerships with local media. We appeared on the local news numerous times as we shared tips and information for local moms. We met with the local newspaper and print magazines. We shared our goals so that we could eliminate any misconceptions of competition. We are all in this together and can benefit each other!
One of the greatest things that put us on the map in the Triad was the launch of our Choice Awards. Four years ago, there were several “best of” contests in the Triad, but none that focused solely on businesses and services that cater specifically to moms. We kicked off the contest just a few months after our site went live, and it was a huge success. A big reason it took off – and helped our site grow – was the fact that we designed the contest in two stages. Stage One focused on nominations. We allowed only TMoM newsletter subscribers nominate their favorite businesses and services. Therefore, everyone wanted to subscribe to our newsletter in order to nominate. Then Stage Two focused on voting. We opened up the vote to the general public and encouraged nominees to promote their vote via social media and other outlets. We just wrapped up our fourth annual Choice Awards, and this year nearly 7,000 Triad residents voted.
Yet everyone knows the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” It happened in our case, but making sure we kept them coming back was going to be our greatest challenge. And it’s still our greatest challenge every day. It’s not enough (although it’s important) to post every day. If you’re not consistent, then readers will forget about your site – or get frustrated with lack of updates. But once you engage a reader, you want to keep them coming back. Knowing this, we constantly strive to put content above everything else. To us, anyone can market their site – and have the coolest bells and whistles – but if you don’t have good content, then no one will keep visiting. As moms, we keep our ears to the ground to find out what moms – and women – are talking about. Fun contests and giveaway are a constant on our site. Surrounding ourselves with good guest bloggers is paramount. We also work with our advertisers who purchase content to make sure their posts are relevant, useful and timely to our readers. Triad Moms on Main has become more than just an online magazine for local moms – it’s now a trusted source – almost like a friend – to local moms looking for entertainment, news, advice or just assurance that they’re a “normal” mom.
As “regular” moms ourselves we continue to keep the site real and relevant with our readers by inviting new guest bloggers on to our site and introducing new topics and ideas. We continually ask our readers for feedback on things they want to learn and read about. And moving forward, we have plans to make our site more accessible and easier to navigate for busy moms on the go.
As you can see, when it comes to best marketing practices, ours are constantly evolving. Like we stated above, different approaches create different results. We don’t have a standard practice or a standard strategy for growing our site other than staying current with readers and the technology we surround ourselves with. If one thing is for certain, life is ever changing and so is the way we conduct our business. What’s worked for us to date may not work for us in the future. It’s all about adapting and readapting. We hope our ideas have sparked new ways you can reach your readers, or at the least, have given you reason to try something new – at least for the time being.