Chapter 1 – Right into the Strategies

Right into the Strategies

The Internet is enormous. This is perhaps the most important concept you need to understand as an online marketer. No matter how original your idea, you are going to have competition online. The question then becomes: how are you going to stand out from the crowd and attract business?

The good news is there are many things you don’t need for online success. These things include:

  • A massive advertising budget
  • Expensive graphic designers
  • Making your company a household name
  • An elaborate base of operations
  • 80-hour work weeks

What do you need, then? You need to work smarter, not harder.

 

Running with the giants

There are top competitors in every industry. Microsoft dominates software, Google rules search engine technology, McDonalds is the emperor of fast food. However, the Internet is a level playing field, and your business can appear as big and established as you want it to. You only need a fraction of a percentage of the online pie to enjoy success.

Search engine placement is still the best way to gain exposure for your online business. In the beginning of the Internet, the practice of keyword stuffing—placing irrelevant or excessive keywords on web pages to achieve a higher search engine rank—was prevalent. Today, though, search engine technology is far more sophisticated, and there is no “magic” formula to ascend the ranks.

How can you place high on search engines and compete with the top Internet businesses in your industry? All you really need to do is keep it real. Make your website informative, interesting, and ever-changing, and you will score high with search engines.

Today’s “secrets” for top search engine ranking include:

  • Strive to provide visitors with real, useful, and interesting information that makes your website not only a great selling tool, but a great place to visit and spend some time.
  • Plant hooks on your pages for the search engines that are related to the information on each page.
  • Build buzz and word-of-mouth for your business using pay-per-click advertising and other relevant avenues for your target markets.

 

Getting Started

All you need is a computer and a dream

When you choose your online marketing business, there are several aspects you need to consider. The wrong business will lead to wasted efforts and a lack of profits—a discouraging prospect indeed.

The first consideration should be your own interests and passions. If you are not passionate about your products or services, your business will not succeed. It’s as simple as that. You must be convinced beyond doubt that your product or service is worthwhile, exciting, effective, and something other people will want or need.

Another reason you need enthusiasm in your corner is your own business stamina. You’ve probably worked at jobs you couldn’t care less about, if only so you could get a paycheck. You may even be working at a job like that now. How long do you intend to stay there? Are you putting your best efforts forth at work every day? If you are not, you’re not passionate about what you do—and you won’t get very far.

Once you’ve identified a business you can generate plenty of passion and enthusiasm for, further consider these important questions:

  • Does your product or service fill a need or a demand? Is there a high demand for this product or service, at least in niche markets?
  • Can you inexpensively attract high numbers of targeted traffic to your website? Are there popular forums, ezines, or websites dedicated to this type of product or service, or used by your target market?

If you cannot answer these questions with a resounding “yes,” you need to go back to the beginning and choose another product or service you’re passionate about.

The best thing you can do to facilitate success as an Internet marketer is to exercise patience and put in the research at the beginning. Don’t invest your time in finding a supplier, setting up a website, choosing affiliates, and putting your marketing machine into motion until you have the three key ingredients in place: Passion, Demand, and Marketing Avenues.

The good news is that there are thousands of niche markets out there, and each one presents an opportunity to begin a profitable online business!

 

Marketing Tips

Once you have settled on your business, it’s time to start your market research. Again, this step falls into the category of strategy and preparation. Keep in mind that strategy, not investment, is your ticket to success!

OTO (One Time Offer) Marketing

You’ve seen examples of this strategy if you’ve ever taken advantage of a freebie offer. The OTO theory is simple and straightforward: give away a great product for free, and immediately offer another valuable product along with the freebie for a deeply discounted price.

For example: say your online business is selling e-Book software. You can advertise for a free report on the secrets to creating e-books that sell, and then offer a discount on the software itself when customers take advantage of your giveaway.

Keep in mind, though, that you have to make the free product available even for those who don’t take advantage of your discount price. If you make it difficult or impossible to obtain your freebie, you will lose that all-important trust—the most valuable commodity in online marketing.

 

Effective OTO marketing tips:

  • One-time-offer marketing strategies are becoming increasingly popular in online businesses. As more companies take advantage of this technique, fewer consumers will be interested. You should strive to find ways to make your OTO offer unique or give it an original spin, to make it stand out from all the other offers out there.
  • Bear in mind that you will likely have to deal with an increase in customer support issues as you implement your OTO marketing campaign. Even if your website contains clear, precise instructions for obtaining your freebie, some of your visitors may still have trouble finding the right link or logo to click. If they don’t see it, they will assume you’re asking them to pay for something that was offered for free. Exercise patience and point them in the right direction, and you will earn their business.
  • Make sure you are able to accept a high volume of payments. With any Internet business, it is a good idea to have several payment options for your customers. This helps you by not overloading your payment processors with a sharp increase in sales due to an OTO program. Some third-party merchant account services, such as PayPal, will often red-flag accounts that have a sudden increase in incoming funds, and you may be frozen from your account while the merchant verifies that you aren’t running a scam. Having other payment options in place to cover this possibility will ensure you’re still able to do business. (Stripe / Square)
  • A subscriber list is one of the best ways to announce an OTO campaign. If you don’t already have a subscriber list, it is a good idea to build one before you bring out your OTO program. However, building a solid subscriber list for your newsletter or website takes time. If you don’t have the time to get a subscriber list, but you still want to offer your OTO, you could make the announcement about your program through other partners with the promise to reciprocate for one of their promotions at a later date.
  • An increase in traffic is good for your business—but it can be bad for your servers. If your product is downloadable, the available bandwidth for your website should also be a consideration. Check with your web service provider and make sure you determine how much bandwidth you’ll require ahead of time. If you’ll need more bandwidth than your server allows, look into an inexpensive hosting solution such as https://www.MyHostingPlus.com.

In summary, having an OTO strategy in place can be an extremely effective marketing technique. Offer your visitors something they would normally pay money for, and give it to them free—then immediately offer something of even greater value at a low price.

Be sure that your freebie and your discount product are directly related (such as the report on creating effective e-Books and the e-Book creation software). If your sale product is even better and more attractive to your target market than your freebie, your sales numbers will explode!

A Few Good Markets

There are truly thousands of markets you can choose from online, and many of them have millions of online users who fit the demographics you’re looking for. Whether the market is tapped or untapped, identifying a niche equates to more, faster profit for you.

Have you considered these niche markets?

  • Currently, there are more than 32 million moms online. If you have a mom-friendly product or service, you can tap this enormous market. Moms use the Internet to search for more than baby food recipes and parenting tips! However, you should be aware that most moms are web-savvy and will see through any condescending or intrusive marketing ploys. Make sure you keep it real—don’t misrepresent your products, and don’t let your marketing material sound preachy or highbrow.
  • More and more Internet users are booking travel reservations and researching travel-related material online. This year alone, online travel and travel-related leisure sales will reach $78 billion. The travel industry is one of the fastest growing sections of e-commerce, and there is plenty of profit to go around!
  • Baby boomers. Everyone knows there are millions of baby boomers in the United States alone. Products and services that appeal to this generation can enjoy enormous success. The baby boomer generation is fast approaching retirement age, so products and services that deal with investment, retirement options, and later lifestyle changes are hot topics online today.

Free publicity

Do you want exposure without spending a dime? An effectively written and distributed press release can generate quite a bit of attention for your products or services, and it costs you nothing but your time. Of course, there are ways to save time on press releases by spending money–it all depends on which you would rather invest.

When it comes to writing press releases, you can’t simply write what you would for your website. The people who read press releases are journalists and reporters. They are looking for stories that will sell newspapers or magazines, or get people to tune in to their radio or television show. You will want to make your product or service compelling to reporters and journalists.

How do you do this? First, stick to the accepted style for press releases. Ideally, your entire press release should fit on a single page. The components of a standard press release are:

  • Headline
  • Date of release
  • Summary paragraph
  • Body text
  • Company information
  • Contact information

Second, make sure that the information you include is compelling and newsworthy, particularly your headline and summary paragraph. Develop a hook or an angle for your products or services that ties in to current events, or to subjects with universal appeal. If you don’t feel comfortable writing a press release or do not have time to spare, you may want to consider hiring a professional copywriter to write one for you.

Once you have written your press release, the next step is distribution. There are several ways to go about distributing your press release:

  • Use the Internet or the Yellow Pages to research media outlets in your area (newspapers, magazine, radio, and television stations). Identify the appropriate person to direct press releases to, and either fax or e-mail your releases to them. Be sure to allow plenty of lead time for seasonal story ideas and holiday promotions.
  • Make your press release campaign even more targeted by identifying individual reporters or journalists and contacting them directly with your press release. For local newspapers, you can scan articles to collect the names of the reporters and then find their contact information on the newspaper’s website.
  • Sign up with a press release distribution service and gain the advantage of reaching a large number of media outlets with one submission. You can use a free wide-range distribution service such as PR Web (www.prweb.com) or invest a small amount in a paid service (usually $10 to $20) to reach a more targeted media base.
  • Call up local radio stations and pitch your topic verbally, using your press release as a guideline for your speech. Radio stations constantly need guests to fill their time slots, and many will be happy to have you on if you can talk about something that will interest their listeners.

Not quite free publicity

If you are not getting the response you want from your free advertising efforts, you may want to start adding some low-cost paid methods into the mix.

Every successful entrepreneur knows that part of an effective business strategy includes re-investing profits. You don’t need a fortune to get started, but you do need to be prepared to turn around some of your profits and plug them back into the business. Even a small advertising budget can go a long way toward making a big difference in the amount of money your business brings in.

Fortunately, there are plenty of inexpensive but effective advertising methods available to you as an online marketer. Here are just a few examples:

Ezine advertising

Ezines, or online magazines, are a popular commodity on the Internet. There are hundreds of thousands of ezines in circulation today, concerning almost any subject imaginable. Advertising in ezines can be highly effective (and cheap!) if you take the time to do your homework.

In order to effectively advertise in an ezine, you need to target your audience and track your responses. This means you must have some way to keep track of where your website visitors come from, so you can concentrate your advertising dollars on those publications that bring you the best results.

Choosing the ezines to advertise in is another important factor. Here are some things to consider when researching ezines:

  • Subscribe to the ezine yourself and read several issues to get a feel for the type of material they include
  • Know your target audience so you can readily identify ezines that might interest them
  • Don’t discount ezines with smaller circulations. Often, ezines with fewer subscribers are more thoroughly read, which results in a higher response rate for your advertisement
  • Target ezines that feature a limited number of ads per issue so yours does not get lost in the crowd, and ensure the ezine employs a policy of not running similar ads in the same issue (so you don’t end up directly vying with your competition)

How do you find these ezines? Enter “ezine” or “ezine directory” in your favorite search engine along with your topic, and you will turn up thousands (or millions) of hits. You can also subscribe to a paid ezine database for access to an enormous listing of ezines with constantly updated information about subscription bases, advertising rates, and distribution demographics.

You can also bid on advertising space in targeted ezines on various websites, which may prove more cost-effective and time-saving than traditional ad space purchases.

Pay-per-click programs

Inexpensive and effective, pay-per-click programs allow you to pay for advertising only when people actually visit your website. Programs such as Google AdWords and Yahoo! Overture list links to your website along with brief descriptions on search engines, usually on the first, second, or third page of results depending on the amount you “bid” for each keyword, and the maximum amount per click you set. To learn more about pay-per-click programs, visit www.payperclicksearchengines.com.

Programs similar to pay-per-click advertising include:

  • Pay-per-lead: These programs list your website on other sites your potential customers may visit. If your products or services interest them, they can fill out a voluntary registration form, download a free product, or enter a contest that will bring them to your website.
  • Pay-per-sales: This type of program is also referred to as an affiliate program (you will find more information on affiliate programs further in this chapter). Other websites advertise your products or services for you in exchange for a small commission, according to the predetermined terms you set. Find out more about affiliates at www.clickaffiliate.com
  • Banner ads: Banner ads are those flashy, eye-catching square or rectangular graphics you have probably seen on several websites. Banner ads usually operate on a pay-per-click basis: you pay a preset amount to the hosting website each time a visitor clicks on your banner.

Opt-in email marketing

This is one of the most expensive forms of online marketing available. However, it’s also one of the most effective.

What is opt-in email marketing? Simply put, you purchase a targeted list of email addresses and start sending them advertisements. Sounds like spam, right? Actually, the addresses you receive with an opt-in list purchase are people who have expressed interest in the types of products or service you provide, and have agreed to receive advertising. With an opt-in list, you are already a step ahead of the marketing game.

Before you purchase an opt-in list, there are two steps you should take. The first is to investigate the list provider and make sure their company is legitimate. If you purchase a list from a company that doesn’t use opt-in confirmation, you will end up spamming thousands of potential customers and probably turning them away from your business forever.

Second, you need to road-test your marketing message and ensure that it is effective before you purchase a list. You will end up wasting money if you obtain a list of targeted customers and fail to impress them with your material. Make sure that your advertisement has already produced results for you, and then invest in an opt-in list.

Autoresponders

When it comes to online marketing, autoresponders are your best friends.

Autoresponder systems do just what their name implies: they automatically respond to incoming messages. In your online business, you can use autoresponders for a variety of purposes. You can set an autoresponder to:

  • Reply to requests for more information
  • Acknowledge receipt of messages
  • Auto-send invoices when customers place orders
  • Let people know when you’re away on vacation
  • Send out an initial message and several follow-up messages on a timed, preset basis

There are many more uses for autoresponders, and you may discover some of them as you move ahead with your online business.

Basically, there are two types of autoresponders:

Single follow-up autoresponders automatically reply to every e-mail sent to a particular address with the same message. If you have multiple e-mail accounts, you can program single follow-up autoresponders with different messages for each one. For example, you may have an info@mycompany.com address that replies with a general sales information package; a sales@mycompany.com address that replies with specific product information; and an invoice@mycompany.com address that sends receipts when customers have completed sales.

Multiple follow-up autoresponders are often referred to as sequential autoresponders. These programs are a bit more complicated, and can be set to send out several messages in preset time intervals, such as once a day, week, or month, or with varying intervals according to the type of messages you’re sending.

Some of the features of sequential autoresponders include:

  • Message personalization
  • The ability to send a copy of each incoming message to your e-mail account
  • Online form creation
  • Support for HTML and plain text messages
  • “Full list” e-mail update capabilities for sending messages to everyone signed up to your autoresponder simultaneously
  • Support for attachments such as documents or images
  • URL tracking for following click-throughs
  • Ad-free messages (some free single follow-up autoresponder programs are ad-supported)
  • Automatic “Unsubscribe” link added to every outgoing message

There are many web companies that offer autoresponder software, usually for a low monthly fee similar to web hosting services. You can also get a total package with a web host and an autoresponder program for one monthly price.

Once you have obtained an autoresponder program, follow these steps to set it up on your website:

  1. Create a website form to capture visitors’ contact information.
  2. Write compelling, personalized follow-up messages regarding your offer. You should create three to seven different messages that either promote your sale or cover different aspects and/or bonuses associated with it.
  3. Load the messages into your autoresponder program and specify the intervals you want them sent out at. You can have them sent every few days, once a week, or whenever you would like.
  4. Set up a confirmation page that your visitors arrive at after they have successfully subscribed to your autoresponder.
  5. Set up an error page for anyone who makes a mistake on the form, and place an e-mail link on the page so the visitors can still send requests to your autoresponder address.
  6. Upload or make active your main order page, confirmation page, and error page to your web host.
  7. Inspect your live web pages and test all the links. View the sites at different resolutions and in different browsers to ensure they are consistently readable and clean.
  8. Launch your marketing campaign!

Setting up an autoresponder is not a fast and easy process, but with a little research and work, you can create a successful autoresponder series that let your products or services sell themselves.

For more information about autoresponders, check out:

www.MailerLite.com

Pay-per-click strategies

As briefly touched on earlier, pay-per-click marketing is a method of advertising that allows you to pay only for those customers that actually visit your website. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is highly effective, because it sends carefully targeted traffic to your site—in other words, people who are actually looking for the products and services you offer, and not just browsing the ‘Net.

Here’s how PPC marketing works: most programs require you to put a certain amount of money into an “account.” You then bid on certain keywords associated with your product or service. For example, if you were selling eBook creation software, you might choose eBook creator, eBook compiler, eBook software, eBook maker, and simply eBook as some of your keywords. Keep in mind, though, that other PPC advertisers are bidding on the same keywords.

Once you have set your keyword bids, they are not permanent—you can raise or lower them after you discover which ones yield the best results. The PPC program places your website into the top search results, along with the other bidders in order of highest to lowest bidder. When an online user clicks on your ad, the bid amount (usually 2 to 25 cents) is deducted from your account.

Many PPC programs will allow you to view a list of real search terms that have been used to find products or services similar to yours. This feature may be called a keyword generator or keyword engine. Take advantage of this as you assemble your list of search terms—the more keywords you list in your bidding, the more traffic you’ll get to your website.

After you have come up with a list of targeted keywords, experiment with them. Visit various search engines and enter your keywords to see what kind of results they generate. Through experimental searches, you can also learn what your competitors are bidding on their keywords and adjust your bids accordingly.

You don’t have to place on the first page of search results to get website traffic. Even if your PPC ads end up on the second or third page, they can still be effective. However, most search engine users don’t get beyond the first three pages or so, which means you have to adjust your bids to ensure you end up somewhere in the top three pages.

Your goal should not be to become the highest bidder on the most popular search terms. With a general term like “eBook” you could easily end up paying a few dollars a click to get on the first three pages, and not all of those clicks will translate to sales. Instead, you should aim to find lesser-used keywords that are highly relevant to your offerings, and turn over a higher clicks-to-sales ratio.

Experiment with your PPC bids and keyword lists until you discover the best balance between traffic and cost per visitor. Once you have determined which keywords generate the greatest results for you, you’ll find yourself much closer to online marketing success.

Writing your pay-per-click ad copy: Determining your bidding and keyword strategy is only part of a successful PPC advertising campaign. You may be able to get your ad in front of millions, but if it is not worded compellingly, no one will click through to your website.

The wording of your ad is critical to your PPC marketing strategy. You have an extremely limited number of words to convey your message, and you have to make each one count. Most PPC ads will consist of a headline, a brief sentence of body text, and your hotlink or URL. The headline must be attention-grabbing, clever, and honest—if search engine users click to your site and don’t find what was expected, your reputation will be damaged.

Which headline would you be more likely to click on?

eBook Software for Sale

or…

Create Great-Looking eBooks in Just Minutes

Most people would choose the second headline over the first.

After your headline is your body text, which is limited to just a few words or sentences. Once again, your text should be brief, succinct, and to the point. Don’t offer freebies here; some search engine users are simply searching for free offers, and won’t be interested in buying your product or service no matter how compelling it is. Again, make sure that your text demands attention.

Rather than:

Use our software to make your own eBooks. We have a wide selection of cover graphics built in to our program. Enjoy our sale prices and special features that are just a click away.

Try something like this:

Create professional-looking, fully featured eBooks in minutes instead of hours with our simple user interface and thousands of graphics to choose from. Prices slashed for a limited time!

For more ideas regarding compelling ad copy, do some research! Run searches for products or services similar to yours and read through the pay-per-click ads (typically found in shaded boxes or separate sections at the top and bottom or along the sides of the main search results) to see which ones make you want to click. You may find some ideas to model your own ads after.

Of course, you can also take advantage of multiple pay-per-click advertising programs in order to maximize your exposure. A good strategy is to sign up for PPC programs through several search engines and monitor your results. When you have determined which programs are netting the most visitors and sales conversions, simply discontinue the ones that aren’t working.

Visit www.payperclicksearchengines.com for a list of PPC programs along with reviews and ratings. You might also want to browse the pay-per-click program on http://adwords.google.com

Affiliate Strategies

If you have ever read anything about online marketing, you’ve probably heard a little about affiliate programs. With an affiliate program, you host a banner or text ad from another website on your site. When your visitors click on the affiliate link, you get paid. Sometimes affiliates pay per click (a few cents). Other affiliate programs offer a commission (percentage of sales) if visitors from your website purchase something on theirs.

Many online marketers enroll in a number of affiliate programs, because in most cases they only earn a few cents per click for each program. Enrolling in carefully selected affiliate programs that complement but do not compete with your business can be a good way to make money online.

However, an even better way to make serious money is to start your own affiliate program, and enlist other websites to advertise your products and services for you. It’s like hiring a sales force that works cheap, but effectively.

As long as you offer a decent commission for your affiliate program, you will attract several people interested in becoming affiliates. Of course, the higher the commission you offer, the bigger “sales force” you will amass. It’s a good idea to look at other affiliate programs that are related to your business area and find out what their commissions or per-click pay rates are, then offer a higher payout if you can.

You’ll need to write an affiliate sales letter that outlines your program. This letter should be just as compelling and persuasive as your sales letter for your products or services. As you create your affiliate program, try to think of things from the potential affiliates’ point of view. What are the benefits to them when they enroll in your program—outside of profit, of course? Are you offering quality products or services their customers will enjoy? Do you have bonuses for top performing affiliates?

If you create an affiliate program, you will also have to design your own banners and text ads for your affiliates to place. Not only is this more convenient for your affiliates, it is also more effective for sales. You know your products or services better than your affiliates will, and so you are the best person to craft compelling ads that will draw visitors from your affiliates’ sites to yours.

When you are ready to set up your affiliate program, there are a few options available to you. If you have a decent level of computer skill, you can purchase affiliate software program that will allow you to design and track your program yourself. Another option is to “hire” a third-party affiliate tracking company.

There are benefits and drawbacks to each program. With affiliate software, you have complete control over the design of your program, and you keep all the profits. However, you must be prepared to invest more time in the program, as you will be handling all of the tracking, enrollment, and issuing of commission checks yourself.

If you use a third-party company, you must pay them a commission (normally this fee is subtracted from your affiliate profits, and the balance is forwarded to you). However, you won’t have to worry about sign-ups, tracking, and commission payout, so you will have more time to devote to other areas of your business.

Remember: Do your homework before signing on with any affiliate marketing program! Each program is different, and the commission and payment structures vary from program to program. Make sure you read the agreement carefully and look for the following information:

  • How is a “click” counted?
  • How is a “lead” factored?
  • How will you be paid (check, PayPal, electronic transfer), and how often?
  • Does the company have a good reputation (are other affiliates satisfied with the results)?
  • Are there any reviews about the company? Good or bad?

Whether you enroll as an affiliate in several different programs or start your own affiliate program, there are profits to be made from affiliates. Once again, when it comes to affiliate programs, strategy is key. Take the time to determine which programs or methods will work best for your products or services, and you will see a sharp increase in traffic to your website!