Traffic exchanges, also known as hit exchanges and start exchanges, are a very simple means of driving traffic to a website.

Being in a traffic exchange is like being in a club. You surf, using a specially designed “surf bar” unique to the traffic exchange in question, and view the other club member’s websites. Every time you view a website you get a credit, or a point, and these are exchanged for visitors who view your website. Normally there is a “ratio” involved and – for free members – it is often one return visitor for every two websites that you view.

Most exchanges are free to join but many have a “pro upgrade” option where you can get a better view/return view ratio (say 1:1) for a monthly fee, typically a few dollars a month. The large majority of members in the typical exchange are free members.

Traffic exchanges are much maligned – there are many who will tell you that they don’t work. One of the main reasons cited for this is the fact that most of the traffic exchange members are members of the exchange primarily because they are already promoting a business opportunity or product of their own.

Whilst this is almost certainly true it does not necessarily mean that they will not be interested in what you are promoting. If you are offering either an informational product or any kind of tool which could be used to enhance an already existing business then the members of traffic exchanges could very well be an excellent target market for you.

For example, if you have an e-zine newsletter aimed at online marketers, then traffic exchanges could offer you very rich pickings indeed.

One of the most common mistakes is to sign up for an affiliate scheme and then use the standard website that comes with the program on traffic exchanges. This is a waste of time as the exchange members will not have enough time to view the typical information rich affiliate website. It is also likely that there will be several others promoting the exact same website on any given exchange – so your site will blend in to the background and will have little, if any, impact.

However, just by following the guidelines below you can use traffic exchanges to build your opt-in list and then follow up later with your affiliate offerings.

1. Don’t use the standard page that came with your affiliate programme.

It has too much information and will confuse viewers.

There are probably many other people advertising this page.

2. Use a specially designed gateway page unique to you.

Keep it clean and uncluttered

Focus on benefits.

Five or six bullet points only.

Stand out from the crowd.

3. Use a pop-up or pop-in for emphasis.

4. Give away a free bonus for signing up.

A free e-book.

A free report.

A free newsletter.

5. Collect e-mail addresses for follow up.

Feed them into an autoresponder.

Put them into your newsletter list.

6. Customise your gateway page for the exchange you’re using.

Have a special message for your visitor –

“Traffic Swarm user bonus….”

“Webmaster Quest bonus…”

7.Monitor your results and don’t waste time with exchanges that don’t deliver.

8. Don’t persevere with an unproductive campaign for too long. Let your campaign run for 4 weeks max and then experiment if you aren’t seeing results.

9. Advertise on a number of different exchanges to ensure a wide range of visitors.

Don’t waste hours every day clicking on traffic exchanges – they are only one method for growing your list and you should be using a number of different techniques. However, using the above rules, it should be possible to achieve double digit signups to your opt-in list or newsletter on a daily basis.

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