Make sure your come-ons and your message are attractive, really communicate, and respond to customers' needs
It's way too easy to slide into the sand trap of Internet marketing and get stuck there with little or no results. I don't profess to be an online marketing guru, but I am learning from some of the more clever folks out there and putting their suggestions to use in my company's marketing endeavors. It's a trial-and-error process, but here are five strategies that have provided consistent results for me.
1. Offer an irresistible free gift. This is one of the best ways to build your potential customer list. You'll educate people about your value, provide them with helpful information, and begin to build a relationship. I prefer digital freebies such as PDFs, audio clips, and newsletters for an obvious reason: easy, timely fulfillment. However, sometimes I like to offer a physical gift, too, to mix it up. This also gives me a reason to collect the visitor's mailing address.
To receive digital gifts, your Web site visitor should be required to join your e-mail list. Be sure to make the process as easy as possible, and provide something of value. I once went to a site of a time management guru. He had all sorts of cool-looking free resources. So I clicked through, only to be asked to fill in a super-long form prior to receiving my goodies. I dutifully filled in the form but when I downloaded my "gift" it was one measly page of bulleted items. Yuck! Not high value. Needless to say, he damaged his brand and my opinion of him by requiring me to jump through hoops for a minuscule reward.
2. Craft e-mail messages that spark emotions and action. Emotion moves people to action—and action is exactly what you want. When you read good copy, it stirs you up. Reread your own Web copy and ask: Have I clearly articulated ideas that will spark desire, passion, and craving for the outcome I promised? You have to make your potential customers feel it. Keep in mind that you have two places to convince potential customers in an e-mail: subject line and body copy. Take the time to persuade readers to click through to your company's sales page.
3. Create an online sales page that moves people to action. First you need to know your target market and speak to their pain, as I suggested above. Make sure your sales page includes the following 10 components:
a. Introduction. Explain why you created this product.
b. Problem. State what problem your product solves.
c. Agitate the problem. What is the pain of not solving this problem? Why would the prospect want a solution right now? Why can't they wait? Remember your biggest obstacle to closing a sales is inertia.
d. Solution. Provide a basic introduction to the product and provide a glimpse of the glorious future it will help the potential customer achieve.
e. Reasons you created this product. Spell out what you suffered from. Make the prospect feel it, and then he or she'll understand why you just had to create this product.
f. Bullet points. This is simply a list of product details. Make them compelling, of course, and after every 7 to 10 bullet points offer the prospect the opportunity to buy the product immediately.
g. Features and benefits. Be sure to include an in-depth explanation of the benefits provided by the features of your product. There should be no fewer than nine features and benefits.
h. Bonus items. Give the prospect a reason to buy today instead of waiting. Make sure the bonus complements your product. Just because something is free doesn't mean it will help your sales.
i. Guarantee. Guarantees tell your prospective customer that you are confident enough in your product to stand behind it. Studies have shown that the longer the guarantee, the less likely a person will ask for a refund. Be realistic. Be fair.
j. Order area. Make the prospect feel comfortable placing an order on your Web site. Some Internet marketers insist on avoiding the words "no risk". The word "risk" makes people uncomfortable whether there is a "no" in front of it or not. I have mixed feelings on this.
4. Use auto-responders to build relationships and extend offers. Auto-responders are pre-written e-mails triggered by a specific event, such as an order being placed. They are a way to build relationships with your customers, follow up on orders, and encourage them to use the product they bought from you.
Consistency and tone are key to the success of any auto-responder message. If you set up a auto-responder, make sure the messages go out in a reasonable time frame. And make sure your tone matches the rest of your messaging (BusinessWeek.com, 6/9/08).
5. Build your potential customer list with joint ventures, affiliates, and social media. Joint ventures are partners where the exchange is equal (or close to it). The way such a relationship typically works in terms of a mailing list is that you present the other party's offers to your list, and the joint venture partner will extend your offer to their list. You can pay them a revenue share on sales generated from their list or decide not to.
Affiliates are more of an extended sales force. Some solo entrepreneurs make a decent living simply building lists and promoting third-party products to them. The goal with either approach of joint ventures or affiliates is to get your product in front of an audience you haven't had contact with before. Standard revenue shares for affiliates range, but I often see 30% for products, 20% for training, and 10% for consulting services.
The two social media platforms that have helped me build my list are Facebook and LinkedIn. I am all for social networking tools that I can monetize (BusinessWeek.com, 8/6/08), but I don't have enough time in the day to waste my time on ones I can't. Granted, I still need to get around to trying the rest.
Those are the most effective Internet marketing strategies I've tried so far, but I'll certainly share whatever I learn next.