Thursday, 26 April 2012

What do You Need to be a Successful Internet Marketer?

To be a successful internet marketer you need three things:

1. a product

2. a website that tells people about your product, and that can accept orders

3. and a method of getting people to that website

And when we start out, that sounds fairly simple. Most of us find out, though, that it’s a lot harder than we thought. I was reading an interview the other day with a chap called Mike Geary. It took him two months to make his first sale and two years to start making a profit. However, within about five years his online business was bringing in about $4,000,000 a year. But for the first three years he was working something like 15 hours a day on the computer. So let’s add another couple of things to the list of what’s needed:

5. hard work

6. determination to achieve your goals

So is that everything? Well . . . no. Because, if your product’s no good, no one will buy it (or, if they do, they’ll ask for a refund). And if your website’s no good, no one will buy your product, even if it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. And if your method of getting people to your website is ineffective or expensive, you may be dead in the water before you’ve made your first sale.

So it’s vital to enure that your product is not only worth having but worth what you’re asking for it. And we need to remember that this is all about perceived value. Our sales blurb has got to stress the benefits of the product (not the features, because that’s not what makes people buy). It’s got to tell people why they can’t possibly do without whatever it is we’re selling. And it’s got to be not only at a price they’re prepared to pay but at a price that appears to be excellent value. If you give somebody more than they’re expecting and better value than they’re expecting then the chances are they’ll stay your customer for life. That’s how the top internet marketers build up a huge customer base . . . people trust them to deliver.

So your product has to be good and it has to be sensibly priced. But because this is about perceived value, it’s a good idea to trial it with different prices - and to do it early on. One very well known marketer was quite shocked to find that a product of his, which had been selling steadily for six months, sold much better when he raised the price by $50. Because, yes, sometimes people won’t buy because it looks too cheap - “how can it be any good if he’s only asking $xx?”

And in the sales blurb, too, we’ve got to get into the mind of the prospective customers. What is it that they’re looking for? Why do they need a product like ours? More important, why would they want a product like ours? Because wanting something can be a stronger urge than needing something. We’re always being told that people buy with their hearts and not their heads.

But, once again, it’s not just about the sales blurb. It’s also about the look of your website. And, since I’ve got quite a bit to say about that, I’ll leave it until the next post. See you later!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Cost of Building an Internet Business

One thing I've noticed about most, if not all, the top internet marketers that I've come across is that, when they're trying to sell a course  on how to build a successful internet business, they emphasise that one of the major benefits is that you'll be able to run your business from your laptop - anywhere in the world - and it'll only take a couple of hours a day.  And the key to this is not just knowledge of how to do it, but automation and outsourcing.  Which is great once you've got your business up and running, but if you're just starting, with a limited budget, you can find yourself working very long hours to begin with.

I also find it interesting that so few of these course-presenters actually tell you up front how much extra you're going to have to spend on software and so on.  Let's face it, some of these courses are pretty expensive and most people are going to have to budget for them.  But usually no mention is made of the fact that you will need an autoresponder, for example, until you've actually bought the course.

So to anyone just starting out, I would suggest that, before you buy a course, you ask whether you will need anything over and above the course itself - and how much it's likely to cost.

Having started on your course, sometimes software is recommended as a way of speeding up the process.  A few years ago I bought a dvd course from which I learned quite a lot.  I could see that the presenter knew what he was talking about.  So when he encouraged writing articles to promote one's business, I took notice.  He emphasised the importance of getting one's articles out to as many article directories as possible and heartily recommended a piece of software which would do this automatically.  It wasn't cheap but it seemed as though it would save so much time, I invested in it.  It was a disaster!  Yes, it had hundreds of article directories programmed in but, as I soon found out, quite a few of them were defunct or the software wouldn't connect with them and there was no way of weeding them out.  And it was only automated up to a point - you still had to connect to each site individually.  I stopped using it after a month or two and wished that I had taken advantage of its 30 day free trial.  But I hadn't, because it had been so highly recommended.

So to anyone starting up or further along the way, I'd say please learn by my mistake and be wary of buying expensive software just on a recommendation.  Look at reviews, take advantage of a free trial or make sure that there's a money back guarantee.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Are you on Pinterest yet?

Are you on Pinterest yet?  I must admit that I’m not . . . but I intend to be soon.  Because Pinterest just can’t be ignored.

According to a report recently produced by Experian Hitwise, Pinterest has risen - rapidly - to become the third most popular social network in the United States, behind Facebook and Twitter.  Although Facebook, which had 7 billion visits in March, might appear uncatchable, Pinterest, at 104 million, has increased its visitors by 3000 per cent in the past six months.

There is also no doubt that Pinterest appeals to women.  Mashable claims that 60 per cent of users are women, while Inside Network’s AppData claims that, in the USA, 97.9% of those who like Pinterest are female.

And AdWeek reports that a study by BlogHer showed 81 percent of women sampled in the USA said they trusted Pinterest, 73 percent said they trusted Twitter and only 67 percent said they trusted Facebook.

Melissa Pitts, writing on the Forbes website believes that there are four reasons why Pinterest is becoming so popular with women: it’s simple (which makes browsing easy and enjoyable), it’s relaxing, marketers have ‘an open window into consumers’ interests, and brands have found new and interesting ways to use it.  Pinterest, she says, “has brought women together online in a way never seen before and tapped into an extremely influential consumer market without even trying.”

So I wonder what this means for the development of Pinterest.  Will it turn into a site specialising entirely in things that women are interested in?  Or will it develop into a “universal site” (such as Amazon) but one which appeals primarily to women.  Whichever it is, I have no doubt that it will continue to grow steadily as more and more people discover its appeal.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Do you use Google analytics?

 We all know how important it is to keep track of our website stats - how many people visit, where do they live, how did they get to the site (through a keyword search, a link on another site, an advertisement?), how long did they spend on the site, which pages are most popular and so on.  And I've been told on several occasions that the best way to do this is with Google analytics.  Well, I beg to disagree.

Some time ago, I tried Google analytics together with another piece of software - StatCounter - which I had used before, to see whether Google really was superior.  And I found, to my surprise, that not only did it not seem better, but it wasn't accurate.

Google was showing my site as having far fewer visitors than StatCounter.  But since StatCounter gives the ISP and IP address of each visitor (along with their country and referring link) I had to assume that Google was failing to record some visitors rather than that StatCounter was adding in non-existent ones.

I've not heard of anyone else having this problem - but, then, I wonder how many other people have checked Google analytics' stats.  I dont use it any more but have continued to use StatCounter and I'm still very pleased with it.  Not only does it provide a huge amount of information about my site visitors, but it's clear, easy to use, reliable and - best of all - it's free!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

More changes in Google - good or bad?

It seems that Google is really cracking down on what it refers to as 'unnatural linking', to the extent that some offending websites have actually been de-indexed.  One of these, BuildMyRank, in responding to the news states "It had always been BMR’s philosophy that if we did things a bit different from other networks, we would not only have a better quality service to offer our users, but a longer life in this fickle industry."  BMR is described as a blog-network but, as I understand it, its system was not all that different from a number of article submission sites except for the fact that it charged a fee and worked somewhat more vigorously on behalf of its authors.

I imagine that Google will also be searching out those links where the sites involved are totally unconnected - where someone has managed to get in a link for his used car business by posting a comment on a gardening blog.  I have heard some internet teachers maintain that it is vital to get your links onto .edu and .gov sites.  But if your website has nothing to do with education or government, that surely must be an unnatural link.  I wonder whether the rooting out of these links will make .edu and .gov links more or less valuable than before.

Overall, my feeling is that these changes could be good for those of us who try to do things the 'proper' way, working hard to achieve appropriate links and not spamming unconnected blogs or websites.  But it all depends on what Google decides to count as 'unnatural'.  I have a website about the treatment of insomnia.  I am also an active member of a forum that has nothing to do with insomnia.  But on my profile page I have listed that website.  And a few people from the forum who suffer from insomnia have found my website and (I hope) found it useful.  But would Google say that was an 'unnatural' link?

The problem is that, as far as I'm aware, Google hasn't actually put down in black and white what is 'unnatural' and what isn't.  Remembering my friend Peter's experience with the interpretation of the Google adwords rules, I'm just a little apprehensive.

Google Evolves - Are You Ready?

Friday, 6 April 2012

Oh to have a printer now that April's here!

My printer has packed up.  I can't complain - it's done valiant service.  It wasn't an expensive model - an hp deskjet actually - and I must have had it at least ten years.  I've ordered a new one but, what with Easter being this weekend, it won't be arriving until Tuesday.  So, meanwhile, I'm without a printer.  And I've had quite a lot that needs printing.

I suppose the sensible thing would have been to stick the files onto a memory stick and then load them onto my husband's computer and print from there.  But it seemed easier just to email the files to him.  Hmm . . .

He (for reasons best known to himself) uses rocketmail.  I've tried a Yahoo mail account before now and discovered that it often took days for something to arrive, if it arrived at all.  So when half an hour had passed and my emails to husband still hadn't arrived, I looked for other ways of getting them there.  (As to why I didn't use a memory stick at this juncture, your guess is as good as mine . . . but I didn't.)

So at this point it turned into a major operation.  I emailed the files to a hotmail account that I use occasionally.  Then I shut down microsoft outlook on my computer and sent the files from the hotmail account to my own email account.  Husband then logged into my email account via mail2web and - glory hallelujah - downloaded the files onto his machine.  What a palaver!

Meanwhile I have a memory stick sitting on my desk, looking at me reproachfully!

I shall miss my old printer - it was so simple to use, had good print quality, was fast and would print double-sided (although this was something I didn't discover until I'd had it quite a while).  I hope the new printer will be as good - although I doubt it.  I read numerous reviews of a wide variety of printers and this was the one that had the fewest negative reviews.   Although, come to think of it, there was one that had 100% positive reviews but it's no longer available - go figure!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Big Brother is Watching You . . . the protest begins!

There has been, as you might expect, an outcry against the UK Government's proposals to monitor our 'phone calls and emails and the websites we visit.  Yesterday, the campaigning online community Avaaz started a petition addressed to the Prime Minister, deputy Prime Minister and Home Secretary, in which it says:
As concerned citizens we urge you to immediately drop plans for an Internet big brother bill (Communications Capabilities Development Programme). Our democracy and civil liberties are under threat from the excessive and unnecessary internet surveillance provisions without any judicial oversight in this bill. We hope you will protect our privacy and keep your election promise to "reverse the rise of the surveillance state"
When I looked a few moments ago, over 38,500 people had signed it.  Interestingly, not all of these are from the UK.  People in other countries are clearly concerned that, if the UK Government gets away with this, their own Governments may start to get ideas.  I have a feeling that this petition may raise many more than the 50,000 signatures that Avaaz is looking for.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Big Brother is Watching You . . . if the Government has anything to do with it!

There was a story today on the one o'clock news that the UK Government wants to give security officials the power to monitor telephone, email and internet use.  The idea is that it will help combat terrorism.  My immediate question is . . . how?  Is it really likely that terrorists will allow their location or identity to be discovered online when there are easily available - and perfectly legal - ways of masking one's IP address?  Is it likely that it will be possible to monitor who is calling whom when one can buy a mobile 'phone for under £15, buy £10 worth of calls, pay for it all with cash and chuck the 'phone away when one has finished with it?

Maybe I'm missing the finer points of the proposed legislation - although Heather Blake, from Reporters Without Borders, is quoted as saying "Those who commit these crimes, will find other ways. They always do."  She has called on the government to release any data it has which shows that increased web monitoring will help in the fight against terrorism and has pointed out that, if the legislation goes through, countries such as Syria and Iran, will make what we do in the UK and excuse for the surveillance that they use.

Trefor Davies, a member UK's Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) board, doesn't seem too enthusiastic about it either, pointing out that more people are likely to use free proxies, many of which are infected with malware.  And the icing on the cake is that the monitoring is likely to cost around £2 billion pounds to run for 10 years.

Over and above all this, though, my main concern is for people who have a legitimate reason for keeping private who it is that they are 'phoning or emailing.  As a doctor and counsellor, I'm thinking particularly of those people who contact crisis helplines or specialist counselling agencies.  Making that first contact is hard enough without the thought that somebody, somewhere might just happen onto the fact that you have been ringing the Samaritans or an agency that offers rape counselling.

 I have a feeling that this 'brilliant idea' is going to go the way of that other 'brilliant idea' which was also going to cost the taxpayer a small fortune - the ID card.  As I remember, it was proposed by the last Government as a sure way of combatting terrorism and illegal immigration, was vigorously opposed by large sections of the public   . . . and was then quietly dropped.  I hope I'm right.