Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Creative Commons - Getting Leverage For Your Articles

I've just added a new article to the Archives of my Marketing Magic website.

"Creative Commons" is a way of marking your articles to indicate whether or not other people can use your material, and under what circumstances. The website that gives you the appropriate code to add to your article pages has been around for a while.

What is new - and it's of importance to anyone who uses articles for marketing - is that Yahoo! has just added a way of searching for articles which carry the Creative Commons license code.

It's by Robin Nobles, and it gives a clear explanation of the benefits for anyone who uses articles for marketing. It also has step-by-step instructions on how to implement a Creative Commons campaign.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Payment Processors - New Developments?

ClickBank ("CB"), one of the leading payment processing companies and with a great affiliate payment system, have just announced that in July, PayPal ("PP") will be added as one of their payment options (in addition to the various credit card options).

This is interesting. I've been giving my customers the option of choosing either CB or PP to buy my products. This means that I have to set up, for each product, two payment links and two download pages. On the face of it, CB's announcement should be good news for me.

But is it? Yes and no!

Yes - it will save me time and, when I set up my affiliate scheme (coming soon), it will help me to avoid the complications of paying my affiliates when a customer pays through PP.

But there's two "no's":

  • I prefer people paying me through PP; their charges are lower than CB's
  • I get paid instantly through PP. The new CB scheme will mean that CB get paid instantly through PP. I still have to wait for my 15-day check from CB.
Hey ho - it's swings and roundabouts time again!

I've got some thinking to do :-)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

AdWords - Time To Get Serious!

I have to admit I've just been playing with AdWords as a way of driving traffic to my websites.

I set my AdWords account about 18 months ago, mainly as an experiment, and so that I could learn more about AdWords to advise my clients.

I selected just one of my products to promote, and set my spend as the minimum of £0.05 per click, and a maximum spend of £1 per day. Not exactly bank-breaking figures!

Just to show how little importance I've been placing on AdWords, it's been about 6 weeks since I went into my account to look at the stats. Then I did a few sums. Now I'm not going to reveal commercially sensitive figures here. All I'll say is:

AdWords Spend = x
Total Sales Value = 13 times x

.. and the sales for this product is into 4 figures over the past 17 months.

So, what have I been doing wrong? Here's a few things:

  • I haven't been tracking the conversion rate from the AdWords clicks. I think that most of the sales have come from this route, but I have done a few other things to promote this product.
  • I haven't experimented enough with different wording with the ads. OK, I've got a variety of ads for this product, but I haven't seriously tweaked the ads continuously to keep on improving the click-through rate.
  • I haven't seriously been using AdWords to promote the raft of other products I have for sale. OK, I tried AdWords advertising on one other product, but dropped the campaign after the sales barely covered the ad costs. Yes, it was in a highly competitive keyword market, but there's plenty of other products where the competition is lower. Heck, if I can achieve a 13:1 sales to ad cost ratio on just five other products, this will have a serious and positive impact on my bottom line.

So now I need to spend some time on using AdWords for at least three other products. I've got some great tools I can use, the main one being Adwords Analyzer You really ought to have a look at this, not just for AdWords campaigns, but as a powerful tool for finding just the right keywords to use.

And I need to be prepare to commit more cash (both a higher daily limit, and a higher cost per click) in the short term.

I also need to use AdWord's conversion tracking script, so that I really know where my sales are coming from.

OK, that's confession time over! Now it's time to get to work.

Oh yes, and if you want to know which product I've been promoting with AdWords, it's a superb headline generator tool. And the headline is the most important part of any communication message!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Missed Opportunities?

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a neat utility called "Search Automator". It's like a browser on steroids - enabling the user to carry out a huge range of search tasks. I won't try to describe them - visit the site, and watch the video.

Anyway, when I first found the site, they were in the process of selling the product to another company. As a consequence, you couldn't buy Search Automator - you could only download a trial version, which I did.

There were no signs, when using the software, that it was a trial version.. no nag screens, no indication as to the length of the trial period.

So I kept on using it, and was very pleased with it. Then, today, it suddenly stopped working. Fair enough, although I would have appreciated some warning. All that popped up when I tried to open the program was an "alert box", which said "Thank you for trying Search Automator".

Now, here's the marketing error - there was nothing to indicate where or how I could buy the product. What a missed opportunity!

I revisited the site (guessing at the URL), and the new owners had obviously taken control. Now you can buy Search Automator ($50) as well as downloading a trial version. And here was error number 2..

I clicked on the "Free Trial" button. It led straight to the download file. Again a missed opportunity. What the owners should have done was to set up a page to capture the user's name and email address before they could download the trial version. Then they could have followed up after a period, reminding the user just before the trial period expired where they could buy the product.

A final error, another missed opportunity, is the lack of an affiliate program. Search Automator is an ideal product to sell via the affiliate channel.

So I won't make any money by sending you to the site :-(

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Scrollers And Affiliate Classrooms..

Two marketing aids have caught my eye over the past few days..

You've seen many of these around the web - little boxes that scroll text across or down a small window. Often, they are used as news tickers and the like. I've actually got one that gives fresh marketing tips every day: Marketing Tipster.

But a new scroller device has recently come to my attention: Scroller Controller. This allows you to include images as well as text. And you can even incorporate an RSS feed. I shall definitely be looking at this in more detail over the next few weeks or so.

Affiliate Classroom:
Many, many people struggle to earn pitifully small amounts of money by acting as an affiliate for another business. Yes, the rewards can be substantial if you (a) work hard at it and (b) know how to work it.

No-one can teach you how to work hard! But affiliate marketing skills can be acquired.

There's no shortage of eBooks and the like which claim to show you how to make a fortune as an affiliate. They often don't deliver!

But I've been having a look at a new resource: Affiliate Classroom. This is a members-only website, and the material in the "classroom" is the highest quality I've ever seen.

You can test drive it for $1 and at the same time, get their members-only newsletter. Have a look at it here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

How To Make Voice Mail Sell For You

With most people having voice mail systems installed at their desks, there's a chance that when you try to get through to a prospect, you'll get through to an answering machine instead. Here's how to turn this sales curse into a sales blessing.

Judging by the messages that most sales people leave on my voice mail system, it's clear that many sales people regard this as a 'dead call'. All they do is leave their name and number, and expect me to call them.. without there being any incentive for me to do so.

What a missed chance! Here's a chance for you to get over a clear, concise sales message, without being interrupted! Always have one ready scripted, so you're just waiting for that voice mail announcement. Here's a few hints for a script:

  • Make sure that it's got some clear benefits with which the prospect can identify.
  • Give the prospect some evidence of other people enjoying the benefits - if you can mention a well-known name as your customer, so much the better.
  • Make your message a little mysterious. Give enough information to want to call you - but not too much.
  • Give your telephone number clearly, at least twice in your message (no-one likes replaying voice mail).
  • Give them a date and time when "I'll be waiting for your call" Sound enthusiastic, without going over the top - and speak clearly at all time.
  • Don't forget to mention the prospect's name clearly, at least once.
So, get your script ready, and wait eagerly for that first voice mail response!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A New Angle On Blogging..

"In the middle 1990’s everyone started talking about needing a website. Now, the new 'must have' is a web log or blog", says this week's guest writer, Kevin Eikenberry.

Yes, "blogs" - "weblogs" - are certainly fashionable (they're like an online diary, if you didn't know). But Kevin puts a new (to me) spin on the subject. What he homes in on (and it's almost a footnote to his article) is the networking power that blogs bring by the fact that other people can comment on your blog entries.

"By writing regularly", says Kevin "(my goal is 4 entries or “posts” per week), seldom does a week go by that I don’t add someone to my network or use what I am writing to make a new connection with an existing or potential Client."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Call Me Paranoid But..

I've been a professional Webmaster for 10 years now. And you won't believe the mistakes that I've made in the past. I've been preyed upon by:

  • Spammers: I put numerous 'open' email addresses on my websites. And I've been spammed to hell since then. Just 10 of these email addresses have had 250,000 sp.am emails in the past 12 months.
  • Affiliate Commission Thieves: I've been promoting other people's products as an affiliate for many years. And my commission levels were so low that I thought I'd been poor in my prom.otion. Wrong! 'Commission Hijack Thieves' had been stripping out my affiliate links and substituting their own.
  • Website Content Thieves: I've been very fre.e and open putting articles and advice on my Marketing Magic website, and some villains have been 'framing' my pages and making it look as though my content was their content. And there's been even worse content theft.
  • Product Download Thieves: I've been making some very good value sales offers, only to find that thieves have been by-passing my payment system and stealing the products that I've been selling.

Hey, don't get me wrong.. I'm not accusing you of any of these crimes! I'm just having a general moan about these rogues.

But I've done more than just moan. As H.G.Wells (or was it Richard Burton?) said in "War Of The Worlds":

Slowly, surely, I've drawn my plans against them

I've fought back. And I'm winning. I'm using a range of tools which enable me to take control of my online security. Now I have:

  • Put a contact email address on any web page, without it ever being harvested by the spam bots.
  • Set up special affiliate links to any of my affiliate programs - in seconds - which prevent affiliate hijack thieves from stealing the commission which is rightfully mine.
  • Implemented various devices which reduce (note: just reduce, not eliminate) content thieves stealing text and images from my many websites. You can never prevent content theft 100%, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
  • Stopped the download thieves dead in their tracks. No longer can villains get their hands on my products without paying for them.

Yes, full-strength paranoia! But do you blame me? Now you can share my paranoia! Introducing..

Web Protect Pro
I've now developed tools to enable any webmaster (or webmistress) to get the same level of online security that I enjoy. They're being sold as a package: "Web Protect Pro", and I've tried to keep the package at an affordable level.

It's likely that I will be adding to this package over the coming months, and existing customers will get free upgrades.

You can view all the details of Web Protect Pro here

My usual satisfaction guarantee of course applies!

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles...

"A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Starts With The First Step" - ancient Chinese wisdom!

Thus starts the first posting to the new Marketing Sparks blog. I've been half-heartedy running a blog for a couple of years now, hosting it on one of my own servers, using "Grey Matter" as the blog engine.

But I never really had the enthusiasm to post frequently. Maybe with its new host at Blogger.com I'll be a little more diligent.

So, what's Marketing Sparks going to contain? Quite a variety of marketing and sales support material, I hope. There's going to be the latest editions of my "Marketing Update" newsletter, some product recommendations, maybe, and certainly some marketing tips and tricks.

Most importantly, it's going to be spontaneous!

To receive the Marketing Update newsletter by email, just visit any page on my Marketing Magic site