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Monday, October 6, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
An interested visitor who has been strolling through your site has finally come to just what she is looking for and is about to make a purchase. It's a sunny afternoon, and her cat, who happens to be sitting on the moss under the visitor's large fifty-year-old snow-rose bonsai tree, suddenly jumps down, and the priceless tree topples over.
In the blink of an eye, your visitor exits your site, and your sale is dust - unless you have had the foresight to utilize an autoresponder that has captured her email
address. If you have installed an autoresponder, you can then follow-up with her, and in all probability, make the sale when the poor woman has finished repotting her
Autoresponders are remarkable, versatile programs that do so much more than just automatically answer your email. Here are a few ideas that will help you to creatively and productively use your autoresponder to transform the casual
visitor into a profitable customer. Use your autoresponder to:
1. Publish a newsletter. Certain quality autoresponders will manage subscriptions and follow-up with interested prospects. Your newsletter can keep your visitors informed
about your services or products, while building your reputation as a credible expert in your particular business.
2. Publish a newsletter only for your affiliates. Inform them of current sales you are running and of promotional material that your affiliates can use themselves to
increase their commissions. Include tips, advice, and techniques that your affiliates can use to successfully go out and promote your business.
3. Write reviews. Cover books, software, music, e-books, movies, etc., and put each review in an autoresponder.Review your affiliate programs, using a link to your
affiliate's page in your autoresponder.
4. Distribute your articles. Writing and distributing targeted articles is a powerful tool to build your business credibility, bring traffic to your site, and increase your sales potential. If your articles contain valuable information, many editors will print what is known as a resource box for you. A resource box contains your bio and a brief description of your service or product. It can also contain your autoresponder address. Let's say you've written fifty articles. Put them on separate autoresponder accounts and create a master list that contains the titles of each article, the autoresponder address, and a brief abstract. Then promote your master list. Additionally, include your publishing guidelines so your affiliates can
add their articles to your list, increasing the number of writers who are represented in your article list.
5. Create mailing lists. Inform subscribers to your articles when you've written new ones that they may want to publish in their own newsletter or website.
6. Automate your sales process. Use an ad to insure repeated exposure of your message, which has been proven to effectively increase sales. In your ad, put your
autoresponder address where a visitor will be exposed to numerous marketing materials. This multiplies the chances of converting visitors into customers. For example, if you're selling a particular product, put testimonials about
how spectacular it is on your autoresponder, and add a detailed, enticing description of your product.
7. Distribute advertising. Let's say you sell advertising on your website or in your newsletter or e-zine. Set your autoresponder to send the information about rates and how to place an ad automatically to all prospects' email addresses. Then have your autoresponder follow-up. It can also send notification of any special deals you are
8. Distribute an email course. Each day, have your autoresponder send out another lesson. Just be sure that each lesson has quality content - not a sales pitch. Your
content will do the selling for you, and will do it much more effectively. You can include tips centered on a different topic for each lesson, illustrating how your
product will benefit the reader. Include the tangible benefits the visitor will reap by purchasing your product. Make sure to include a paragraph or two at the end of each lesson enticing your prospect to consider making a purchase.
9. Automate a reminder about your service or product after a visitor has completed your course. This will increase the possibility of sales from visitors who have taken your course but are dragging their feet about actually making a purchase. You can also use these reminders to promote new products or services, and the products and services of your affiliate programs.
10. Distribute free reports. This gives your visitor an idea of the type of information you can provide and the quality of your product or service. Make sure these reports are not sales letters or you will more than likely lose a potential customer than gain a sale.
11. Create trivia quizzes on your site and place the answers in an autoresponder. Your visitor will then be motivated to request your autoresponder, and you will have
a record of the visitors' email addresses who took your quiz. Or create a contest and have any visitors that enter send their responses to your autoresponder. Your
autoresponder can be set-up to send them a confirmation of their entry.
12. Offer a trial version of your product. Give your prospects a sample of your ebook, course, software,membership, etc. People who are exposed to a little taste
often end up wanting the whole pie. You can also capture their email addresses when you offer them a free trial from your website. Set up your autoresponder to give
instructions on how to obtain their free trial, and then make sure to follow-up to try and close the sale.
13. Link to hidden pages on your autoresponder. For example, a hidden page could be your affiliate page that contains graphics, promotional articles, and text links
that interested affiliates can make use of. Inform visitors that they may have free access to your affiliate page by simply requesting your autoresponder. You will then gather a list of visitors who may be interested in becoming your affiliates.
14. Use an autoresponder on your order page. Post a request form for visitors to be notified of special offers or discounts in the future. This creates a very effective
mailing list that contains the names of people who are already your customers.
15. Put your links page on your autoresponder. It should contain up to fifty links that would be of particular interest to your visitors. Make sure to add your own
promotional copy at the top or bottom of this page.
Now that you have proof that autoresponders can be used creatively, see if you can come up with some brilliant
ideas of your own!
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
If you've reached the point of exhaustion trying to keep up with answering the mountain of emails that threatens to bury you alive every single day, you're ready to learn about autoresponders.
The bad news is that people expect prompt replies to their email inquiries. However, unless you can figure out how to work continual twenty-four hour shifts, or hire enough people to constantly monitor incoming emails (while they're eating up your revenue), you have a problem. The good news is an autoresponder is an inexpensive - or even free -method of quickly responding to emails. What these programs do is automatically respond to incoming emails as soon as they are received.
Emails are essential to your business for many different reasons. Most importantly, these invisible email voices give you their feedback about your website - for free! However, if you spend all your working hours answering these emails, how are you supposed to run your business? The answer is simple: use autoresponders. Autoresponders are programs that automatically respond to your emails without you so much as having to click on your mouse.
There are a number of good reasons why you need an autoresponder besides just answering your email. For example, autoresponders can be used if you need a way to send information about your services or products, price lists, or if there are repeated questions asked across large numbers of emails. Maybe you want to offer your site visitors a special bonus of some kind, such as advice or relevant articles. All of this can be handled by an autoresponder. Additionally, you can advertise your business and then build stable relationships with your customers by using autoresponders.
Autoresponder programs vary from software that runs with your email program to a specialized script that runs on your web hosting company's server. This kind of script may use a web page form or simply operate with your email account. This kind of script is programmed to send out a
standardized message whenever an email is received. The message is sent to a particular script or email address.
Some autoresponders can do more than simply send out standardized messages. They can send out an unlimited number of follow-up messages sent at predetermined interval
of time. For example, you can set your autoresponder to send out a new message every day for as long a period as you desire.
There are numerous companies who offer autoresponders free of charge. Your website hosting company often provides autoresponders as a free service. If this is not the case with your web hosting company, there are numerous companies who offer this service for a small fee, or free of charge, providing you attach an advertisement for their company to your emails.
To personalize your autoresponder messages, you can attach a signature. Signatures in this case are much like business cards. You can include your name, company, all your contact numbers and addresses, and a brief message.
It's a good idea to attach a signature to every email that is sent out. This works as a repeated reminder of your business identity every time a customer sees it. The more they look at your signature, the more likely your company will spring to mind when your particular service or product is needed.
You can create a standardized signature that every employee in your business uses, or you can go wild, and let every staff member create their own personal signature. Of course, like everything in life, there are some rules and guidelines to creating a personal signature.
Keep the length of your signature between four to six lines of text, with no more than 70 characters in a single line. Make sure that your email program does not cut off your text! The content should include your name, your company name, your email address, fax number, and any other contact details, such as 800 numbers. Lastly, always include a short personal message about your company. It should be a subtle sell of your services or your products, and possibly
your company's reliability and longevity.
Another specialized use of autoresponders is to create courses that you can then offer your site visitors for free. You must choose a topic in which you are an expert and that precisely targets your potential customers.
Once you have carefully chosen your subject, divide it into a number of different sub-topics. Then offer your site visitor a free 10 or 15 day course, each day offering a different sub-topic. The first topic should always be a welcome message to your site visitor and an explanation
about what is to follow. Your explanation should be enticing, getting the point across that you are offering free, quality information that your target audience will find of great value.
With every lesson, include the number of the lesson, the topic title, information about your company and its services or products. At the end, include a few blurbs about the next lesson to entice the subscriber to continue on.
Make sure each topic is packed with essential and valuable information, and leaves the visitor lusting to know more. Otherwise, you may lose them in the very beginning.
Of course, you have to write up your course before you can offer it. Once you have done this, and gone over the material carefully, employing a professional writer or editor if necessary, you must transfer your text to your autoresponder.
There are a number of free autoresponders you can use. Try
http:/www.getresponse.com, or http://www.fastfacts.net.
Or go onto Google and you will find a long list of free autoresponder companies. Then sign-up for your chosen autoresponder. Once you do, you will receive instructions as to how to set it up and transfer your text.
Email is an excellent marketing tool; it is inexpensive and it is fast. Use it to advertise your business by choosing your email address carefully. Your website should contain different email addresses for different contact requests. For example, use firstname.lastname@example.org for information requests, or email@example.com for questions about sales. It's a good idea to set up one for the owner, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. This presents your company in
a personal, approachable light and insures that direct contact is provided.
Autoresponders are an effective and powerful marketing tool, allowing you to make contact with thousands of potential customers. This is an invaluable asset considering how many potential customers you usually have contact with before you make an actual sale. Essentially,
an autoresponser allows you to automate part of your marketing campaign.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
interpret the data.
Most web hosting companies will provide you with basic web traffic information that you then have to interpret and make pertinent use of. However, the data you receive from your host company can be overwhelming if you don't understand how to apply it to your particular business and website. Let's start by examining the most basic data - the average visitors to your site on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
These figures are the most accurate measure of your website's activity. It would appear on the surface that the more traffic you see recorded, the better you can assume your website is doing, but this is an inaccurate perception. You must also look at the behavior of your visitors once they come to your website to accurately gauge the effectiveness of your site.
There is often a great misconception about what is commonly known as "hits" and what is really effective, quality traffic to your site. Hits simply means the number of information requests received by the server. If you think about the fact that a hit can simply equate to the number
of graphics per page, you will get an idea of how overblown the concept of hits can be. For example, if your homepage has 15 graphics on it, the server records this as 15 hits, when in reality we are talking about a single visitor checking out a single page on your site. As you can see, hits are not useful in analyzing your website traffic.
The more visitors that come to your website, the more accurate your interpretation will become. The greater the traffic is to your website, the more precise your analysis will be of overall trends in visitor behavior. The smaller the number of visitors, the more a few anomalous visitors
can distort the analysis.
The aim is to use the web traffic statistics to figure out how well or how poorly your site is working for your visitors. One way to determine this is to find out how long on average your visitors spend on your site. If the time spent is relatively brief, it usually indicates an underlying problem. Then the challenge is to figure out what that problem is.
It could be that your keywords are directing the wrong type of visitors to your website, or that your graphics are confusing or intimidating, causing the visitor to exit rapidly. Use the knowledge of how much time visitors are spending on your site to pinpoint specific problems, and
after you fix those problems, continue to use time spent as a gauge of how effective your fix has been.
Additionally, web traffic stats can help you determine effective and ineffective areas of your website. If you have a page that you believe is important, but visitors are exiting it rapidly, that page needs attention. You could, for example, consider improving the link to this page by
making the link more noticeable and enticing, or you could improve the look of the page or the ease that your visitors can access the necessary information on that page.
If, on the other hand, you notice that visitors are spending a lot of time on pages that you think are less important, you might consider moving some of your sales copy and marketing focus to that particular page.
As you can see, these statistics will reveal vital information about the effectiveness of individual pages, and visitor habits and motivation. This is essential information to any successful Internet marketing campaign.
Your website undoubtedly has exit pages, such as a final order or contact form. This is a page you can expect your visitor to exit rapidly. However, not every visitor to your site is going to find exactly what he or she is looking for, so statistics may show you a number of different exit
pages. This is normal unless you notice a exit trend on a particular page that is not intended as an exit page. In the case that a significant percentage of visitors are exiting your website on a page not designed for that purpose, you must closely examine that particular page to discern what the problem is. Once you pinpoint potential weaknesses on that page, minor modifications in content or graphic may have a significant impact on the keeping visitors moving through your site instead of exiting at the wrong page.
After you have analyzed your visitor statistics, it's time to turn to your keywords and phrases. Notice if particular keywords are directing a specific type of visitor to your site. The more targeted the visitor - meaning that they find what they are looking for on your site, and even
better, fill out your contact form or make a purchase - the more valuable that keyword is.
However, if you find a large number of visitors are being directed - or should I say misdirected - to your site by a particular keyword or phrase, that keyword demands adjustment. Keywords are vital to bringing quality visitors to your site who are ready to do business with you. Close
analysis of the keywords your visitors are using to find your site will give you a vital understanding of your visitor's needs and motivations.
Finally, if you notice that users are finding your website by typing in your company name, break open the champagne! It means you have achieved a significant level of brand recognition, and this is a sure sign of burgeoning success.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Unfortunately, the Internet is populated by bands of dishonest webmasters seeking to improve their link popularity by faking out search engines.
The good news is that search engines have figured this out, and are now on guard for "spam" pages and sites that have increased their rankings by artificial methods. When a search engines tracks down such a site, that site is demoted in ranking or completely removed from the search
The bad news is that some high quality, completely above-board sites are being mistaken for these web page criminals. Your page may be in danger of being caught up in the "spam" net and tossed from a search engine's index, even though you have done nothing to deserve such harsh
treatment. But there are things you can do - and things you should be sure NOT to do - which will prevent this kind of misperception.
Link popularity is mostly based on the quality of sites you are linked to. Google pioneered this criteria for assigning website ranking, and virtually all search engines on the Internet now use it. There are legitimate ways to go about increasing your link popularity, but at the same time, you
must be scrupulously careful about which sites you choose to link to. Google frequently imposes penalties on sites that have linked to other sites solely for the purpose of artificially boosting their link popularity. They have actually labeled these links "bad neighborhoods."
You can raise a toast to the fact that you cannot be penalized when a bad neighborhood links to your site; penalty happens only when you are the one sending out the link to a bad neighborhood. But you must check, and double-check, all the links that are active on your links
page to make sure you haven't linked to a bad neighborhood.
The first thing to check out is whether or not the pages you have linked to have been penalized. The most direct way to do this is to download the Google toolbar at http://toolbar.google.com. You will then see that most pages are given a "Pagerank" which is represented by a sliding green scale on the Google toolbar.
Do not link to any site that shows no green at all on the scale. This is especially important when the scale is completely gray. It is more than likely that these pages have been penalized. If you are linked to these pages, you may catch their penalty, and like the flu, it may be difficult to recover from the infection.
There is no need to be afraid of linking to sites whose scale shows only a tiny sliver of green on their scale. These sites have not been penalized, and their links may grow in value and popularity. However, do make sure that you closely monitor these kind of links to ascertain that
at some point they do not sustain a penalty once you have linked up to them from your links page.
Another evil trick that illicit webmasters use to artificially boost their link popularity is the use of
hidden text. Search engines usually use the words on web pages as a factor in forming their rankings, which means that if the text on your page contains your keywords, you have more of an opportunity to increase your search engine ranking than a page that does not contain text inclusive of keywords.
Some webmasters have gotten around this formula by hiding their keywords in such a way so that they are invisible to any visitors to their site. For example, they have used the keywords but made them the same color as the background color of the page, such as a plethora of white keywords on a white background. You cannot see these words with the human eye - but the eye of search engine spider can spot them easily! A spider is the program search engines use to index web pages, and when it sees these invisible words, it goes back and boosts that page's link ranking.
Webmasters may be brilliant and sometimes devious, but search engines have figured these tricks out. As soon as a search engine perceive the use of hidden text - splat! the page is penalized.
The downside of this is that sometimes the spider is a bit overzealous and will penalize a page by mistake. For example, if the background color of your page is gray, and you have placed gray text inside a black box, the spider will only take note of the gray text and assume you are employing hidden text. To avoid any risk of false penalty, simply direct your webmaster not to assign the same color to text as the background color of the page - ever!
Another potential problem that can result in a penalty is called "keyword stuffing." It is important to have your keywords appear in the text on your page, but sometimes you can go a little overboard in your enthusiasm to please those spiders. A search engine uses what is called
"Keyphrase Density" to determine if a site is trying to artificially boost their ranking. This is the ratio of keywords to the rest of the words on the page. Search engines assign a limit to the number of times you can use a keyword before it decides you have overdone it and penalizes your site.
This ratio is quite high, so it is difficult to surpass without sounding as if you are stuttering - unless your keyword is part of your company name. If this is the case, it is easy for keyword density to soar. So, if your keyword is "renters insurance," be sure you don't use this phrase
in every sentence. Carefully edit the text on your site so that the copy flows naturally and the keyword is not repeated incessantly. A good rule of thumb is your keyword should never appear in more than half the sentences on the page.
The final potential risk factor is known as "cloaking." To those of you who are diligent Trekkies, this concept should be easy to understand. For the rest of you?cloaking is when the server directs a visitor to one page and a search engine spider to a different page. The page the spider sees is "cloaked" because it is invisible to regular traffic, and deliberately set-up to raise the site's search engine ranking. A cloaked page tries to feed the spider everything it needs to rocket that page's ranking to the top of the list.
It is natural that search engines have responded to this act of deception with extreme enmity, imposing steep penalties on these sites. The problem on your end is that sometimes pages are cloaked for legitimate reasons, such as prevention against the theft of code, often referred to as
"pagejacking." This kind of shielding is unnecessary these days due to the use of "off page" elements, such as link popularity, that cannot be stolen.
To be on the safe side, be sure that your webmaster is aware that absolutely no cloaking is acceptable. Make sure the webmaster understands that cloaking of any kind will put your website at great risk.
Just as you must be diligent in increasing your link popularity and your ranking, you must be equally diligent to avoid being unfairly penalized. So be sure to monitor your site closely and avoid any appearance of artificially boosting your rankings.