Once you have your website up and running often the next challenge for website owners is attracting visitor traffic. Search Engine Optimization is a must, but it takes time and there is often a lot of strong competition for the top spots with your favorite keywords. At this point you might want to consider what your other options are to get immediate customers to your site. The following is a run down on some of the popular options for marketing your site with a particular emphasis on web marketing in Japan.
Pay Per Click
By paying the search engine companies to run your pay per click ads whenever a web user enters some combination of keywords you can get immediate exposure for your website. Just remember that conversion rates are typically low for most keyword combinations. This means you need to do your homework on how much to pay for each “click”. The formula to work it out is this:
P = (EC x CR x GP)/EC
P = The break even price for PPC ads
EC = Expected number of clicks for any given period
CR = The conversion rate from clicks to sales
GP = Gross Profit from each sale
If the numbers are solid you should be incrementally better off for any
price at a level below P.
The two search engine companies you should consider for running pay per click campaigns are Google and Yahoo Japan (a different entity to Yahoo!)
Yahoo Japan – From anecdotal evidence, it seems that Yahoo Japan is the perferred search engine for the man/woman in the street. Most Japanese seem to like the portal style concept as opposed to Google’s spartan interface.
Once important thing to note; Yahoo Japan will only accept funds via transfer from a Japanese bank account or a Japanese issued credit card. This may throw sand in the wheels of companies based outside Japan wishing to market their goods and services here.
Google – Google Japan seems to have a stronger reputation among the Japanese professional classes. It’s Adwords campaign management interface also offers arguably better tools and is a convenient option for website owners based outside Japan.
Although it doesn’t have the user base of Mixi, it’s established Japanese rival, Facebook does have a growing foothold in Japan. Initially, critics argued that Facebook tried to simply recycle western (specifically North American) online culture into an environment operating on significantly different social norms. For one thing, Japanese users are fiercely protective of their privacy and anonymity. Compare this to Facebook’s Terms of Service which insist on users providing their real names. Nevertheless there are now over a million Facebook users in the country and it seems to be more popular with young urbanites who have a more “international” perspective or who work in foreign owned companies where many of their colleagues are also using the service.
Businesses looking to connect with Japanese customers should consider building a Facebook Page and place a link to it on their website. Facebook also has the opportunity to run Facebook Ads which can be geographically targeted to users in Japan.
Twitter has become an overnight smash hit in Japan. In a culture that is mobile phone crazy, the ability to stay in touch with your inner circle of friends via “tweets” is an essential convenience for many. It’s also worth remembering that Japanese kanji characters sometimes allow Twitter users to communicate a lot more information that western alphabet limited users.
Twitter directory sites such as WeFollow can be a quick way of making Twitter connections with a starting base of Japanese followers.
Also, worth considering is TwitPic, an automatically included Twitter service which easily allows you to link images your products to your tweets.
People sometimes forget that YouTube is the worlds’s second most popular search engine in it’s own right. Bigger than MicroSoft and Yahoo together. If you have a product or service that lends itself to some kind of promotional video (and with a bit of imagination what doesn’t?), all you need is a flip recorder and a YouTube account and you can open up another marketing channel for your business. YouTube has been expanding their revenue model recently, with the addition of Sponsored Videos and Display Ad Builder for YouTube Overlay Ads.
If you have a specifically Japanese audience in mind, YouTube has tools that make it relatively easy to create your own language specific sub-titles to accompany your promotion video.
Social bookmarking services similar to Stumble Upon are still relatively unknown in Japan but there are a few local services such as Hatena, Yahoo Japan Bookmarks and Livedoor Clip that have a niche user base. If you are running your website on a WordPress platform there is the Social Bookmarking JP plugin that automatically adds bookmarking icons for these Japanese services to your page.
To summarize, no matter what size business you are running, there are many online tools available to market your website. Which you choose depends on your resources and your target audience.