Keeping Email Marketing in Perspective

In a previous post, “A Simple Way To Sell More,” I explored the importance of delivering value in every email you send.  Delivering value is a critical element in any sort of email marketing campaign.  Today I’ll look a little more into email list performance, tracking, and some other simple suggestions. 

Delivery Tracking
Make sure if you are sending emails you employ some type of delivery tracking.  Most people would be surprised how many companies DON’T utilize some sort of tracking for their email campaigns.  Many companies assume that just because they send an email that users open everything they receive.  It is critical from a marketing perspective to employ some sort of performance tracking on your emails

Email Open Rates
Recently I looked at open rates for all my clients who do email marketing and asked friends to submit their data.  Of almost 70 separate emails broadcasts sent to permission based opt-in lists the approximate average open rate was around 40%.  The data isn’t to discourage people from email marketing, but to give perspective.  One of the biggest shocks to clients is seeing how few people are opening emails. It is important to keep expectation grounded in the reality.  Nobody gets 100% of their subscriber list to open an email.

Home Grown
The best email list is the one you grow yourself.  There are lists that you can purchase, but you are better served building your own.  Always think in terms of the user’s perspective. Users won’t sign up to an email list that isn’t of at least some interest to them.  Focus on your target market and giving them a good reason to sign up.  Also make sure you properly advise your list subscribers on how to setup their SPAM filters.  You wouldn’t want them unintentionally blocking your email.

List Size - Quality Versus Quantity
You need to keep the highest quality list possible. Too many list owners focus on the size of their list compared to the quality of their list. You’re better off with a smaller list of interested readers who are excited to dive into your offers.

The Copy Factor
The more I read, learn, and experience, the more credence I give to good copy writing.  I would argue that the single most important factor to any email marketing campaign is the ability to create compelling copy.  Regardless of how nice the pictures, users need words to give perspective and incentive.  Headline, benefits, and a call to action are just a few things to keep in mine.  The importance of copy is a lesson few ad agencies and graphic designs truly understand.

Email Marketing is an important step for keeping in contact with customers and clients.  But it is only one facet of an overall marketing campaign.  Make sure you diversify your marketing both online and off.

A Simple Way To Sell More

Over the past few years I’ve been doing a decent number of electronic newsletters (ezines) for clients. One of the hardest things to get any client to understand and incorporate is the concept of delivering value before asking for a sale.  The concept isn’t just limited to electronic newsletters.  It can be anything from the sales process used by a company to a sales letter or email. 

A History Lesson
Last year I worked on an electronic newsletter project that was visually spectacular. The ezine contained a number of articles that were loosely related to their company’s areas of expertise. There were two offers displayed within the ezine for services the company provides.  Much to the client's dismay the ezine failed to provide any leads or sale.  The client sent the ezine once and has yet to send another almost a year later.  This is a typical scenario for many companies.

Those Who Win
At the same time there are people who generate thousands of dollars each month via their electronic newsletter or sending a sales letter via snail mail.  One of the big differences is that those who are successful with their newsletters place an emphasis on delivering value first and asking for a sale later.  In some cases the successful people ask for the sale much later.

An Abundance of Value
Dr. Joe “Mr. Fire” Vitale has a great standard that he uses when it comes to delivering value to your user base.  He suggests providing your user base with 95% information and 5% sales pitch.  I completely agree with his statement.  The concept of delivering value also plays into trust and credibility.  Regardless of how compelling the offer, perspective consumers buy from you if there isn’t a high level of trust and credibility.  When you provide value you raise the level of trust and credibility.

Whom to Buy From
Who would you rather buy from?  Someone who pushes an offer in front of you every opportunity they get, or someone who your trust and they go out of their way to provide you value first? Always provide the client with value several times over, before asking for the sale.  It can be a difficult concept to integrate, but eventually leads to a great return on investment.

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Looks Lousy, But Performs Like a Champ

I can’t help but come back to this conclusion time and time again: some of the most successful web sites are visual bombs.  These visually unappealing web sites usually follow a systematic method which includes a specific focus on proven direct marketing principles.  When you ask most companies what they'd look to improve with their web site, the most prevalent answer is: "We need to make it look better." Few web site owners or companies say "we need to find a better way to generate leads or increase our online conversion rate."  What is your online litmus test for success?

Flashy Air Show Web Sites
One industry that is very visually oriented when it comes to web sites is the air show industry. There are some extraordinary looking web sites produced by very talented artists. Yet, I honestly question weather most of the flash and dash air show web sites bring their owners an appreciable ROI. Yes you should look good, but at the cost of increased sales or marketing potential?

Stay Marketing Focused
Most web site owners are better vested in spending more time focusing on sound sales and marketing principles as opposed to focusing too much on the visuals. Dan Kennedy has some very interesting viewpoints as it applied advertising and marketing:  “Some of the most productive, profitable advertising and marketing in the history of the planet could never qualify for any of the awards.  Much of the best marketing gets its results in an ugly way.”

Kennedy also points out some of the challenges faced by most web sites. “Most web sites are designed by techno-geeks and/or graphic artists who are not sales people. They do not know how to sell. They do not know when they are disrupting or destroying the selling process with their technological bells and whistles.”

It isn’t about what a web site looks like, it’s what the site can accomplish.  Is your web site generating good leads for your business and helping sell your products or services? That should be the ultimate question for any business oriented web site.

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Radio versus Pay Per Click: Snapshot

This is a follow up to last week’s radio advertising post.  That post revolved around a buzz marketing web site, Because of the short run of the project the following information should be considered more of a casual observation as opposed to any type of definitive and tested evidence.  One of the most intriguing findings was the difference of radio impact versus the performance of a simple PPC campaign.

To My Surprise
I thought that having the web site pushed on a local FM radio station with tens of thousands of listeners would result in more web traffic.  The premise and content were an ideal match for the station’s demographic.  It was mentioned on the radio at least three times during the morning hours and then numerous other times during the day. The associated graph shows the start of radio coverage and resulting traffic.  The highlighted numbers represent web site visitor counts.Radio_ppc

PPC Numbers
The PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign was run with a budget of $5.00 per day and bidding on two keywords, sanjaya and pony-hawk, in Google Adwords.  A number one position could be bought for 4-5 cents per click.  $4.80 delivered an average click through rate of approximately 2% on 6300 impressions and approximately 113 visitors. The PPC campaign was started after the noon hour.

One thing to keep in mind is that the site had not been indexed by search engines.  This made organic search engine optimization extremely difficult and an Adwords PPC campaign the first choice.

The entire process gets me interested in comparing and contrasting a well implemented radio advertising campaign with a pay per click campaign.  Every web site owner should understand the importance and usage of basic web analytics to track and measure advertising impact.

Additional Resource:

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Radio Advertising: What You Ought To Know

Last week I started an interesting project with a friend revolving around buzz marketing. We decided to setup a niche web site for American Idol’s Sanjaya Malakar. The web site focused on Sanjaya’s “Pony-Hawk.” You can visit for more information.  One of the marketing channels that we had at our disposal was FM radio. We were able to secure a number of “plugs” from a local radio show.  The station we selected was an ideal demographic match for the web site. 

Our project didn’t involve actually buying advertising.  The station agreed to feature the web site a number of times during the morning as part of a cross promotion.  Each time the web site was mentioned the listener was prompted to visit the site. led to some interesting observations when it comes to radio advertising.

Compare Ad Run Times with Web Traffic
If you are advertising on a radio station make sure you can get a report of when your ad is broadcast. To my understanding this is something the radio industry will provide clients as part of their advertising package or upon request. Use your web statistics and compare the advertising times with when people are visiting your web site.  Use the correlation to determine a rough return on investment.  It might take a few weeks of advertising to get accurate and good data.

Try To Advertise When People Are Using Their Computers
It’s so easy to forget a domain name by the time you get in front of a computer.  There are also times when you can’t even search for the company or service because the web site isn’t indexed properly.
Try to run radio spots when people are at work or in front of their computers and listening to the radio.  Companies try to dissuade personal internet use during work, but people check the web all the time.  If someone hears an ad and is interested in the product or service, they might be apt to visit the web site.

Some Other Radio Advertising Points To Remember

  • Is the domain name easy to remember?
  • Is the domain name repeated at least three times during the ad?
  • Does the radio add have a USP and call to action?

Our radio results for web site mentions that translated into web site traffic were fairly low.  This isn’t to suggest that radio advertising doesn’t work.  I’m a big believer in consistent messaging across multiple channels.  You can’t just advertise for short period of time expecting big results.  At the same time I don’t believe you should advertise on a medium with no ROI.  You statistical data can help determine if you’re missing the mark.  Dan Kennedy has great advice when it comes to marketing: “get the right message to the right people via the right media and methods.”

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The Myth of the Magical Online Bullet

Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a perspective client. They are looking into the possibility of redesigning their web site.  As with almost any web site conversation, the myth of the “magical online bullet” was brought up.  The magic bullet myth goes like this: “If you build a great web site the flood gates of traffic and sales immediately open up to your company.” Too many companies and web site owners think this way.  In order for your web site to be successful you need to approach marketing in a holistic manner and beyond just your web site.  Business success involves both online and offline marketing.

Diversify Your Marketing Investment
A web site represents one important aspect of a company’s overall marketing and sales strategy.  Yes, web sites have amazing versatility and capability. But you can’t place all your eggs into one basket.  Too many companies hedge their marketing bets entirely on their web site.  Look at traditional investing as an analogy.  Any financial planner is going to tell you to diversify your portfolio. The same should be done with your marketing strategy. Spread your marketing strategy across both online and offline marketing.

The Holistic Approach
Recently I listened to an interview with marketing guru Dan Kennedy and the late Corey Rudl.  Savvy marketers combine a variety of techniques with both online and offline marketing.  There is no magic bullet or perfect web strategy. Successful marketing requires constant analysis and time appropriate changes.  It’s also important to recognize you aren’t going to get it right the first time around.

Online Leads – Offline Follow Up
One of the examples from the interview touched upon lead generation. Web sites are great for lead generation via permission based marketing.  At the same time email marketing is becoming so saturated that people are starting to ignore it.  You take the leads you acquire online and apply them to the offline word.  What takes months or weeks to get old online could take years and decades to get old offline.

How Many Times do you Follow Up?
How many times do you follow up with current clients and perspective clients?  Most people follow up once or twice.  There are some marketers that have a follow up process that is over 50 steps and they’re extremely successful. Those 50 steps are 49 more than most marketers are willing to take.

Ultimately, the most successful online strategy is carefully married to smart offline strategy.  Learn how to leverage both and get the most out of your marketing. There are no “magical online bullets” that will guarantee you success.

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Money Back Guarantee

Money back guarantees are nothing new.  They have been around for decades if not hundreds of years. Guarantees help to alleviate the risk of buying.  I’ve seen guarantees for products and services priced from $9.97 to $4,997.00 and higher. Many business people are averse to offering any guarantee.  The biggest fear is that too many customers will try to use the guarantee and a company will “lose their shirt.”  In reality this rarely happens. Some people I know say their return rate for their money back guarantee is in the low single digits, less than 5%.

A Real World Example
It takes a little daring to offer a guarantee. One of my business mentors, Ray Justice, was the first to offer a 24 hour “clean car” guarantee in the car wash industry.  If you car became dirty within 24 hours you could get it washed for free.  At that time people thought he was dooming his business with such an audacious idea.  Today most car washes offer at least a 24 hour “clean car” guarantee.  Some car washes offer a week or longer clean car guarantee.

Money back guarantees aren’t for every business person or service offered. But if you take some time to implement a guarantee you can make the potential purchase of your product or service even more attractive.  Think through the process carefully.  Below are some points and suggestions.

Some People Will Abuse the Guarantee
There are some people who will take you up on your guarantee.  They’re going to purchase your product or service knowing that they’ll make use of the guarantee.  This happens in every industry regardless of how good the product or service.  Remember most guarantees are measured in single digit percentages.  You’re going to need to accept a little risk with the opportunity for greater reward.

Set a time limit on the Guarantee
Depending on the product or service the length of guarantee can vary.  I’ve seen guarantees as short as a week to an entire lifetime.  Make the time frame long enough to properly evaluate the service or product, plus additional time to evaluate the benefits.  Again, take some time to find the right length of time.  Look towards your competition and see what they are offering.

Well Defined Return/Refund Process
Let your customers know what is required to properly process a guarantee. Be very specific and clear on the return process. Leave nothing to chance.

Use a Guarantee to Improve Your Product or Service
If a customer is unhappy and request a refund use the opportunity to collect feedback. Use the customer feedback to improve your product or service.  This will lead to a better product and fewer returns in the future. 

Does Your Web Site Stick?

Do you have a sticky web site?  To some people this notion conjures up thoughts of your fingers after handful of cotton candy.  When it comes to the Internet a sticky web site is desired.  Some companies spend years trying to create a sticky web site.

Why is a Sticky Web Site Beneficial?
If a web site is sticky users not only stay on web site longer, but also visit more often.  The benefits speak for themselves.  You get more traffic, more often, and they’re interested in what you have to say.  The easiest way to make a web site sticky is by asking yourself: “what can I do to attract users to my web site and get them to stay longer.”

What Makes A Web Site Sticky?
Sticky web sites are usually updated often and deliver high quality content. Content and regular updates are craved by users.  Jakob Nielsen’s HOME RUN Acronym is an excellent base for creating a sticky web site. Web sites aren't aesthetically driven, they're content driven. It's an old cliche on the Internet: "Content is King!"  Web usability also plays its role in web site stickiness.  The easier it is for a user to get around a web site, the easier it is from them to stick around.

Examples of Sticky Web Sites

News web sites and Blogs are inherently sticky.  They always have something new to offer.  Humor web sites are another great example. How many times have you received a link to a funny video or picture?  When you click on the link you usually end up at a humor site. Niche marketing is also very important.  Blogs are a great example of niche marketing.  Many Blogs serve a very narrow audience. 

A Virtue and a Vice

Content and often updates are a virtuous part of any web site.  Regular updates can create user loyalty and trust. The vice comes when a web site that has built the user base’s expectations.  In today’s blistering world of trying to get information users expect information immediately. Would you continue to visit a news web site, Blog, or sports web site that stops posting regular updates?

The bottom line is you need to give users a reason to come back to your web site.  Are you offering your users incentives to return to your web site?

Below are links to articles on creating a sticky web site.

Off site Links:

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The Future of Online Retail = Trust

As we move toward the future more Internet user are going to make purchases online. Smart companies are positioning themselves for the future starting now.  Consider the following information offered by Jupiter Research …

By 2010, 71% of online users will use the Internet to shop compared to 65% in 2005, however, online retailers will find it difficult to find new non-buyers to convert. Online retailers will rely heavily on existing online shoppers to spend more than compared with previous years.

"Retailers can expect to be dealing with an increasingly experienced population of online shoppers," said Jupiter Research Analyst Patti Freeman Evans. "The online retail environment is maturing, and online buyers have become more savvy about finding free shipping and deeper discounts," added Freeman Evans.

Source: Jupitermedia Corporation

Not About Getting Found
One of the biggest fallacies that most novice web site owners make is assuming people will buy because they find you online. This sound advice is given by Internet experts all the time: “Most people visit a web site and never return.” Are you doing something to capture their information?

Permission Marketing
If you can capture a potential consumer’s information through permission marketing, you’re one step ahead of most people.  Users require a very good reason to give up any type of personal information.  The most successful online entrepreneurs have a process in place for soft selling users.  Instead of one chance to make a sale to a user they create several selling opportunities.  It is a matter of establishing trust and credibility.

Friends Buy From Friends
One of my business mentors always reminds me of an important business lesson.  It is true to both the online and offline consumers.  It goes like this, “when all things are equal friends buy from friends.  When things are unequal, friends still buy from friends.”  When it comes to products and services, price doesn’t always matter.  For the consumer, it’s about who can you trust.

Are you doing what it takes to build trust and credibility with your user over the long run?

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Master of Your Domain

Recently, I ran into some challenges with a prospective client and domain registration.  The experience reemphasizes the importance of vigilance with one’s domain name.  You always need to make sure you know exactly what is going with your domain.  When it comes to domain names there are some issues everyone should take into consideration.  First and most important is ownership.  Do you own your domain?  Other factors include branding and search engine optimization.

Who Owns The Domain?
Make sure your domain name is registered in your name or your company’s name.  One perspective client invested thousands of dollars into a domain they didn’t even own.  It was registered to the web site developer building their site. This can create a number of headaches, especially if you’re the one who should own the domain. 

Branding and Identity
In regards to branding and identity, your domain name is the leading edge of your online marketing efforts.  Users are going to have an affinity for the domain you have been marketing. If you are going to change your domain name keep the old domain up and running. There have been instances when companies have deactivated their old domains prematurely.  People who tried to find their web site through search engines were met with an error page.  If you’re registering a new domain name use a redirect to send the traffic from your old domain to your new domain.

Search Engine Optimization
Make sure that your web site stays visible to search engines. Frequently it is a time-consuming and uphill battle to get a proper search engine listing.  Some search engines give credence to the age of your domain.  Over the years you would have built up links to your web site.  Make sure all that hard work doesn’t go to waste.  Also give consideration to any links that have been built up over time.  Sometimes it's easier to buy an existing domain than it is to start a new one.

Whatever you decide, make sure you think through the process.

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How to Quickly Orient Users

Are you quickly orienting users to the purpose of your web site?

There are a number of web sites that suffer from poor user orientation.  A user loads up the web site and has no idea what the site is about.  Regardless of all the text and pictures found on the page being loaded, users can quickly become lost.  Business sites need an effective way to quickly pass along their purpose and service or product benefits.  In many cases users can be oriented with a web site’s purpose through a tagline.  A short and well crafted tagline can orient users and draw them into your web site.

In Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, he offers some tagline suggestions:

  • Taglines are located above the fold usually next to a company’s logo or identity.  Most users know to look near the logo for some hint regarding the purpose of the web site. Take a look online for tagline ideas, almost every major site has one.  Some companies don’t really need a tagline.  Amazon is a good example.  So many people are familiar with what Amazon does that their reputation alone orients users.
  • Taglines should be clear and concise. There is little benefit to being overly wordy. Try to keep your tagline less than ten words.
  • It is important that the tagline pass along a clear benefit regarding the company, service, or product.

Don’t confuse a tagline with a motto, like “We bring good things to life,” “You’re in good hands,” or “To protect and to serve.” A motto expresses a guiding principle, a goal , or an ideal, but a tagline conveys a value proposition.
Source: Krug, Don’t Make Me Think

If you don't already have one, spend a little time coming up with a good tagline.  Don’t assume you will be able to create something in a few minutes.  Some companies take weeks to create a compelling tagline.  When a good tagline is in place you will quickly convey a powerful message that connects with your target market.

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A Web Centric Marketing Example

West_herrA Web Centric Marketing Example
On my way home from the air show conference I decided to stop in Buffalo, New York.  During a stop at the Walden Galleria shopping mall I noticed the pictured advertisement.  It is a large indoor banner advertisement hanging in the middle of the mall.  The banner ad is a decent example of web centric marketing.

It has a few elements that help it stand out from most of the other advertisements I viewed.  It was the largest advertisement in the mall.  Because of its size it was difficult not to notice. Regardless of size it was positioned in a good location, right in the middle of a high traffic area.  Your almost forced to look at it because of size and position.  I doubt anyone goes to the mall with the intent of purchasing a new or used car.  But, shoppers might have the notion of needing to make a car purchase before or after visiting the mall.

Other elements that stand out on the pictured advertisement:

  1. The headline, which is arguably the most important element of any advertisement, is at the top.

  2. The person who I believe is the owner of the auto dealership is the person pictured. The individual pictured is also the dominate element of the advertisement.  This draws attention.  Around the person are a series of various car company logos.
  3. Below the picture and logos is the company's logo and associated tag line. This component establishes brand awareness.
  4. If you are interested in learning more about what West Herr has to offer they give you a web address.  The address is the smallest sized font on the advertisement, but it does stand out.  If someone is interested in more information, they can visit the web site.

The key to web centric marketing is getting people to come to your web site to find out additional information.

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“The Secret” Marketing Method

Have you heard of “The Secret”?
For those not familiar with “The Secret” it is a feature movie and book focusing on the law of attraction for creating a better life.  Learn more about the Secret.

During my visit to a local bookstore I overheard a discussion regarding “The Secret.” There was a woman at the customer service desk asking for information regarding “The Secret.”  The customer service person responded with “we don’t have anything left, no books, no audio, nothing.  It’s all sold out!”  The Secret was recently featured on Oprah. If you go to “The Secret” is a best seller. There have been a few conversations where I’ve overheard people discussing the secret.  Two bookstore employees were baffled by The Secret’s sudden success.

The creators of The Secret smartly leveraged the Internet. They use the Internet to position their product and create a tremendous amount of buzz. Anyone can utilize the marketing process that made The Secret a tremendous success.

When I First Discovered The Secret
Back in late 2005, I stumbled across a web site and trailer advertising “What is The Secret.” In typical internet marketing fashion they asked for your email address to get more information. To satiate my curiosity I entered my email.  Every once in a while I would receive another clue or morsel of information.  When ever an email came through it was always something interested.  You were never spammed.

The Secret was originally suppose to air on network television, but was deemed unmarketable.  The television station was so convinced that The Secret wasn’t going to be successful that they gave up their rights.  With no network to broadcast, The Secret debuted online in 2006 and was available on DVD. Since its release last year the program has generated over $22 million USD in revenue. (Source: Not a Secret for long, The Age.) This is more than four times the cost to produce the movie.  This doesn’t include any of the ancillary products.  What was suppose to have been a bust turned into a bang.

Use The Secret’s Marketing Methodology
Whoever created the marketing plan for the Secret deserves a great deal of credit.  They used curiosity and a high quality product to create a fire storm of interest. If you check out the Alexa rankings for the site it shot up vertically from nowhere after the Secret debuted online. You can use a similar methodology for your own purposes of marketing a product via the Internet.  Focus on building product anticipation and delivering a high quality product.

Build Product Anticipation

Anticipation is probably one of the biggest reasons the Secret enjoyed so much success. The creators utilized an email marketing to build a tremendous amount of buzz.  Not only did I get emails directly from the Secret site, but also from some of the experts who contributed and endorsed The Secret.  If you have a product you are looking to launch use the web to build anticipation. The Secret’s hook was curiosity. Can you think of a way to build curiosity for your product?

Create a High Quality Product
The production cost of “the Secret” was millions of dollars.  Obviously we all don’t have that type of investment capital.  But that shouldn’t stop us from creating a high quality product. Use your web site to test your product before it’s released.  Surveys and user feedback are great ways to get people excited about what you have coming and allow you to make product improvements. The Secret was segmented into books, audio, and video. If you have an information product how many different ways can it be delivered?  Are there opportunities for ancillary products?

The Internet is a great way to build product anticipation and make improvements.  There are a number of successful models you can emulate.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Go online and find one today.

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Traditional Advertising and Your Web Site

Greetings from Mont-Tremblant, Quebec.  The views here are majestic. But I don’t believe I’ve ever been this cold in my entire life.  This is honestly the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced, -29 Degrees Celsius or -20 Degrees Fahrenheit. All in good fun.

Limits of Traditional Advertising
Traditional Advertising is highly competitive.  As additional advertisers enter the game more advertising pollution is created.  When your user opens a newspaper or turns on the television they are bombarded with advertisements.  Most consumers don’t even know where to start.  How many times has your advertising been lost amongst other advertising? Everybody is jockeying for attention.

The web is distinctly different. Each web site represents a different channel of very specific programming. The catch is ensuring users can find and remember your domain name.  You can build awareness through traditional marketing channels by consistently repeating your domain name.  The best part is when users load your site you command your prospect’s undivided attention.  Users who aren’t interested in air aren’t going to visit your web site.  This is unlike other advertising where the consumer is almost forced to watch or listen to something of little or no interest.

Your domain name should be a marketing focal point.  This is the premise behind web centric marketing. It is the single most important piece of marketing information that you want your perspective customers to remember.  If they can remember your domain name, they don’t need to remember other specific details.

Advertising Suggestions
Every advertising channel has it’s own unique way of delivering your message. It’s up to you to determine the best way to position your brand. 

If you have print advertising make sure your domain name is a prominent element. Just listing the domain name isn’t enough.  Entice user with unique information only available on your web site.

Use your web site statistical data to analyze which forms of marketing were most effective.  If you know when a certain marketing campaign started go back to your web stats and correlate the data.  You might find one marketing channel worked better than the other and adjust future campaigns.

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Sound Pay Per Click Advertising Tips

Today more companies are using pay per click advertising for their web site.  Unfortunately too many of these companies waste money on PPC advertising.  They falsely assume that your PPC is directly tied into return on investment (ROI).  The more you spend the higher the ROI. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are a number of nuances at work. Before you start a PPC campaign for your web site make sure you do some homework.

Wasting Your Advertising Dollars
Perry Marshall illustrates a wasteful PPC spending example on this web site.  You are spending $1.00 per click for a certain keyword.  Instead of using a landing page with a compelling offer most companies send visitors directly to their home page.  With nothing compelling to draw users into the web site users go elsewhere and never return.  All of this happens in about 15 seconds.  In terms of cost this translates into $4 USD a minute or $240 USD an hour.  Would you pay someone $240/hour to unsuccessfully sell your product or serves?  A number of companies are happy to spend the money.

Here are some quick Pay Per Click suggestions/tips:

  • Take baby steps with PPC spending.
  • Target the right market and keywords.
  • Carefully craft your Pay Per Click ads.
  • Try rotating ads and measuring performance.
  • Setup conversion tracking for all of your ads.
  • Set measurable goals.
  • Create a specific landing pages for various keywords.
  • Create incentive or a compelling offer on landing pages.
  • Balance your PPC campaign with other advertising.

I current manage three campaigns across Google, Yahoo, and MSN.  Google is the most expensive service. Yet it also out performs both Yahoo and MSN ten fold for the same keywords.  Yahoo PPC seems to be more conducive to product sales, but it takes a little while to get your campaign rolling.  I’ve had little success with MSN.  You need to explore all the options.

There are companies that smartly spend on PPC advertising and find success. There was someone who once spent $14 USD on a monthly PPC and generated over $20K in revenue.  This is a rare exception, but still interesting.

Spend some time learning about PPC before diving in head first.  My recommendation is go to a firm with a proven track record.  Have them show you their results and pay them for your expertise.  Consider starting your own campaign to just learn.  You won’t become an expert, but you can at least have some exposure to the various services.  Most places let you sign up for $5.00 or less. Always do your homework before spending on PPC!   

Your Domain Name and Radio Advertising

Are you getting the most from your radio advertising?

One traditional media channel I notice a number of companies not leveraging is radio advertising.  Some companies spent top dollar to promote their brand but never mention their web site.  There have been some recent improvements in this area, but we still have a way to go.  Make sure you mention your domain name in all your radio advertising!

With radio advertising you are typically limited to a 30 second spot or shorter.  How many times have you heard a radio commercial that crams too much information? It becomes information overload.

Use the radio advertisement to inform people about your product or service and direct people to your web site.  Directing people to your site is the really important part.  If you mention your web site, listeners only have to remember a few short words.   Here is an example of advertising for an airshow radio commercial. Which of the following is easier to remember? The domain name: or “The ESL International Airshow taking place at the Greater Rochester International Airport, June 5 and 6th, featuring the USAF Thunderbirds …” People aren’t going to remember all those details. It is much easier to remember just your domain name.

In order for users to remember your domain name, it should be short and easy to spell. Recently I heard a commercial for an online service that caught my attention. Their domain wasn’t easy to spell or remember.  It gets even better when you cannot locate the company using any of the search engines.  I had to wait until I heard the radio spot again to get the domain name correct and finally visit their web site.

You should repeat your domain at least three times in a 30 second spot
, once near the beginning and twice at the end.  To some people this might be a little much, but repetition is an important step in building brand awareness.

As with other advertising mediums, make sure you are taking a Web Centric approach to your marketing.  When you get people to your web site you can provide them with significantly more information about your product or service.  I cannot think of any other form of traditional advertising that offers you the flexibility found on the Internet.

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Getting Users Involved with Involvement Devices

Involvement devices are methods of getting your prospects involved with your web site or your offer.  They also assist you in converting your prospects.

Getting Involved With An English Accent
UK_flag In Epcot’s United Kingdom showcase, I observed a great involvement device.  One of the English “cast members” (Disney’s name for employees) was behind a shoppe sales counter.  On the sales counter was a small chalk board listing ten questions about the United Kingdom with the heading “Can You Answer These Questions?” It could have been pure coincidence, but a few moments after I noticed the chalk board a family inquired about the questions.  They spent the next five minutes talking with the pleasant young lady from the United Kingdom, complete with an English accent.  (Disney brings people in from each individual nation to work at their World Showcase.) I’m not sure if the interaction resulted in a sale, but I know that the people spend a significant amount of time at the sales counter.  After five minutes of conversation with the lovely young lady from England I’m sure they were quite charmed.  That simple interaction also increased the probability that someone from the inquiring family would make a purchase.

Integrating Involvement

The previous example shows a simple disarming process to get users involved in your message or web site.  You should think of ways to integrate something similar on your web site.  You can use online surveys, checklists, or interactive media presentations.  High quality content is the simplest form of an involvement device.  It allows you to capture people’s attention.  At the same time don’t confuse involvement devices for hype or trickery.  Your efforts and information need to be sincere and truthful.  Users are already skeptical of anything they see online. They’ll see right through any trickery.

Communicating Involvement
Use communication as an involvement device.  Encourage people to contact you beyond just online forms and email.  Too many people hold the false assumption that because you have a web site that everything should be automated or computer driven.  Email and online forms are a one way communication channels.  Think of other ways to get people involved.  What takes a few emails and a half hour of time to accomplish via email could probably be resolved in a 5 minute telephone call. There are any number of ways to engage people online and offline. 

Involvement devices are a great low pressure ways to keep people on your site or deliver your message. Think of what you can do to keep people on your site and open lines of communication.  There are multiple approaches to create a trust building process.  It’s up to you to figure out a creative hook.  Don’t forget to be sincere.  Focus on getting people great information or honestly answering their questions, not on making another sale.

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Internet Marketing Like Walt Disney

Epcot Recently I was fortunate enough to visit a number of different nations during a whirl wind tour.  The day long journey included Canada, Norway, Japan, and Mexico. The evening finally culminated back at the United States for a spectacular fireworks show.  The best part of my journey was that it all occurred within an area of about a half mile. My adventure came courtesy of the Walt Disney people. By the end of the day I had plenty of new ideas and lessons learned.  It was a unique way of observing extraordinary marketing in motion.

I believe that any business person can learn a lot from the simple process that Disney uses at their theme parks. They excel at creating Lifetime Value Customers and generating additional revenue after each ticket purchased. Most adults are paying around $65 USD for the park entrance fee.  I haven't been able to find any statistics, but based on my observations while visiting Epcot I would safely estimate that each adult probably spends an additional 50% - 75% past their ticket fee.  They spend it on food, beverages, and any number of novelties. All of this occurs in a low pressure environment.  They don't manipulate the customer to buy and deliver value all day long.   

Being Passively Unique

Epcot and the World Showcase is great example of passively unique marketing. When you enter the park you are free to choose which attractions you'd like to experience.  Their target market is pre-qualifying themselves for additional purchases upon entering the park. When you finish almost every ride or attraction you exit into a conveniently placed gift shop or other areas with tantalizing offers. The staff is extremely pleasant and happy to answer additional questions about the ride or offered products. This sort of process and environment makes it much easier for people to buy. P.T. Barnum would be envious.

Targeted Markets
What does Epcot and Disney have to do with my web site?  You can use a similar sales process to promote online revenue generation.  Just like Disney, you can create individual attractions via different web sites that target certain markets.  People visit the attractions that interest them, the same hold true for web sites.  How many times have you returned to a web site that didn't hold your interest?  When your target market shows up, shower them with high quality content. Lead them through an "edutainment" process of what you have to offer.  This helps you get your prospects involved in what you can do for them.  You need to build trust with people before you can expect them to make a purchase.

Use Lures to Keep People at Your Site
Disney theme parks make use of sales lures throughout the day. Some of their lures include live music, street entertainers, and fireworks at closing. There are no sneaky sales techniques here or need to pressure people into buying something.  Their objective is to keep people in the park.  Successful online business people know they need to keep users at their site for more than just a quick look. Give your users a reason to stay at your site.  This can be through ancillary information that supports your product or service.  These include simple things like testimonials and product reviews.  Stay user focused in everything you do.

Are You Creating Lifetime Value Customer?
Disney also creates Lifetime Value Customers.  They're much like Amazon and Ebay in this regard.  The Disney people keep their customers so happy that they keep coming back and interested in trying new things.  If you have a new offer or product, test it with your existing customer base.  Your customer base has already demonstrated some level trust and credibility in your business.  Disney can port their movies and theme parks across a wide customer base.  They get people to think to themselves "If I had fun there, I'm sure their other offerings are going to be worth my time." The same thing happens online. Many people who buy from Ebay or Amazon don't just purchase or sell once.  Many people come back to buy their products. If you want to generate consistent revenue online you need to keep your customers coming back.  It is much easier to sell to an existing customer as opposed to paying to market and acquire a new one.

I hope that some of the simple examples described assist you in creating a better sales experience and Lifetime Value Customers.

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Watch Out: People Are Googling You!

I’m sure most people have heard of Googling someone. For those that haven’t here is a quick overview.  If you’re curious about someone you can go to Google and enter their name in the Google search box. Make sure you use quotes around “their name.” This helps Google narrow down its search to only the name entered. You can probably Google most of your friends and find some reference to them online. There are very few people I know who cannot be Googled.

Googled for Jobs
Many people ask, "can find out who is Googling you?" More employers are starting to use Google and other search engines to find out additional information about their interview candidates. For some people this can be both a virtue and a vice. You should consider any content you have online to be open to public view. That includes your MySpace and Facebook accounts. 

Be careful of the type of content or information that you post. Pictures of drunken debauchery probably aren’t something you want anyone in the public to view. Remember that a picture can be worth a thousand words.  Your pictures might be interpreted differently than your actual experience.

The Web Site Factor
If you have a Blog or Web Site be very cognizant of your articles and pages.  One famous Blogger was fired from her job because she was writing about some of her coworkers.  One of my friends accidentally posted a work performance review of some of his coworkers.  He forgot about the file for a few days and it was eventually index into Google. Even after the file was deleted the references showed up in Google for a while.

Being Googled For Your Advantage
You can use the knowledge of people seeking more information about you to your advantage. First, start by Googling your own name.  If you want to get really technical use different variables such as middle name and initials.  You should also search on other common search engines: Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and Ask. For people with common names you might find someone else showing up in search results.  Go through the first few pages of results.  Make sure there aren’t any links or information that might represent you in a poor light.  If there is information that someone might misinterpret take it down. Check out the 'Leveraging People Googling You to Your Advantage' article for additional information.

Self Marketing
After you have ensured that there isn’t any negative information that can be Googled, start to concentrate on positive information. One of the most important things you can do is position yourself for your career.  This can be accomplished by having your own personal web site.  Web sites are a great way for job seekers to create their own extended resume or business card.  If you aren’t ready for a web site you can still secure your online real estate.  Visit one of the registration companies and register your name today.

Your site doesn’t necessarily need to be related to your future field of employment, but it should be captivating.  It can show more information about you and what you are passionate about.  Many people have a web site to display their personal photo albums. Other people maintain their own personal Blog. Blogs are a great way for you to flex your writing talents.  Personal web sites and Blogs are also a great way to self market yourself.  Whatever you do online make sure it accentuates your positive site.

Googling has even found its place in the dating scene.  Don’t be surprised if your date knows more about you than you might have disclosed.

Whatever you do online always remember someone else is watching!

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Conversions and Making the Right Impression

Today’s post refocuses on some of the finer details of web centric marketing. We’ll take a look at the interaction of impressions and conversions. Both topics have been discussed separately in earlier posts.  I thought it beneficial to bring both topics together in one post.

To get caught up on web centric marketing feel free to read the following posts:

Here is what I believe to be one of the biggest misconceptions in the business sector as it applies to marketing. Too many organizations concentrate in getting the maximum number of impressions. “Which media outlet or form of advertising is going to give us the most coverage?”  Companies should concentrate on getting the most effective coverage, not the most coverage.

What do you perceive to be more valuable?

  • 10,000,000 general impressions.
  • 1,000,000 impressions with people who have an affinity for what you are offering.

Businesses waste money all the time advertising with people who don’t care about what they have to offer. The end result is hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in wasted advertising.

Quick primer on Conversions:

When looking at impressions you need to bring conversions into play. Conversions allow you to value your impressions via the rate of conversion. If you get a 2% conversion rate on a million impressions that’s 20,000 people who would take action on your offer.  You need to target  niche markets.  If you target outside of your demographic the conversion rates drop significantly.  Who’s going to act upon an offer that is of no interest to them? 10,000,000 impressions might fetch you a 1/2% conversion rate or roughly 50,000 people.

Consider doing something to increase your conversion rate.
Small changes can bring big results.  Even on a million impressions if you can increase your conversion rate by a percentage point or two, you can double your effectiveness.

Those companies that know how to get the most effective impressions and create compelling offers that convert, win!

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