Mistakes in internet marketing: conversion rate

One of the biggest mistakes in internet marketing is failing to understand the true nature of your conversion rate.

Conversion rate is such a lousy term, but for many business owners it has come to mean profit.

Unfortunately, businesses that want to provide you with internet marketing services will use the term conversion rate to get your attention and sell you services. But that’s precisely what you don’t want to hear.

Don’t Write an E-Book

No matter what I told you, or you heard from John Saddington at Savvy, or you read online somewhere. . . take “write an e-book” for your email optin off your list of things to do.

The truth is no one has e-book on their Christmas List. No one.

Are you sure?

But don’t think that means you shouldn’t be list building. Driving traffic to a list you own is very important. Imagine the few months before Facebook became big. . . there were people who had amassed quite a following on MySpace. Thousands of friends who commented on their posts and followed their advice. And then –poof– they were all gone.

When MySpace effectively died, a lot of people learned a lesson. If you don’t move your fans to your list, they’ll one day disappear.

dont-write-an-ebookNow Facebook’s value is starting to falter and fewer are using Twitter as a resource. With the advent of TheFancy.com and CraftGawker, even Pinterest is facing competition. Don’t get me wrong, all of these places are great except they’re not yours. That community belongs to someone else.

So you need to move them to a property you own, and the most effective way yet it so move them to an email list.

Then how do you get them on your email list?

That was your next question I bet. People don’t just randomly sign up for an email lists They need a reason and it’s not a reason to just get on the list. No one has “email subscription” on their Christmas Wishlist either.

People like getting something of value. They’re willing to opt-in to an email list if it has value to them. And most of the time people want immediate value. That’s why people say “write an e-book”. But that’s just wrong.

The e-book is not the answer

If you march into this task trying to write an e-book, you start with “you” in mind and not your customer. And that’s just bass ackwards.

Instead, think through what your audience wants and needs. If they want and need a coupon calculator, have them opt-in to get that. Don’t try to turn a coupon calculator into an e-book. If you think your audience would love some inspirational quotes to hang on their wall, make a printable .pdf poster and have them opt-in to get that. Don’t force them to read the quotes in an e-book.

If your audience wants a saving money checklist, have them opt-in to get that. Don’t make it a 13 chapter read if they just want the checklist.

BUT if you think they could use 7 concrete reasons why they shouldn’t do x, y or z . . . then by all means create an e-book. But don’t make the e-book the goal, just be happy if that’s the solution.

Just to get you thinking, here’s a bunch of things you could create for your customers (other than an e-book):

  • create an ecourse. . .
  • use Kunaki to send an audio cd. . .
  • host a teleseminar. . .
  • write a manual. . .
  • offer a downloadable mp3. . .
  • design a nice pdf. . .
  • create a printable. . .
  • do a giveaway. . .
  • jot down some eNotes. . .
  • offer 1 on 1 consulting. . .
  • provide a homestudy course. . .
  • proctor a membership site. . .
  • invite personal mentoring. . .
  • pack and send a thumbdrive. . .
  • design a poster . . .
  • mail them a dvd. . .
  • show them it’s easy with a mini guide. . .
  • compile technical information in a special report . . .
  • update them with a bulletin. . .
  • tease with an informational pamphlet . . .
  • help them organize with a checklist or comparison chart. . .
  • wow them with a handy excel calculator. . . .

That’s not your job

It’s not your job to cram a square peg into a round hole. It’s your job to find the shape of your customers’ void and fill that with the perfect solution.

Dan R Morris

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obamaI was told this week that “Hey” was the most successful subject line used in the Obama campaign.

The one that always gets me to open is “Got time for dinner this week?” As long as the guy is seriously saying let’s go to dinner, I’m totally fine opening those. I’d be upset if a marketer used that to get me to open an email about autoresponders.

Are you testing your subject lines? Did you know that in most email clients you can send a second email to the people who didn’t open the first? That means you could test your subject line.

I know in MyEmma (an email service like Constant Contact), they rolled our subject line testing this week. I love that!

Surveying Your Customers

544853_question_markHow many of you have thought about surveying your audience? I’m betting all of you have thought about it, but do you know how? Asking questions is great, but do you really know what you need to know?

Here are the top survey marketing mistakes people make when putting one together:

Have you asked?

surveyIs this you?

You know what I’ve found to be common among my clients? They all want people to attend, watch or participate in the things they do.

Sounds normal, doesn’t it?

Well, it occurred to me while working with the local Chamber of Commerce that having that goal is not right. There’s something wrong with it and it took me a while to figure it out. You see, the Chamber is doing seminars and picnics and golf outings . . . . and they can’t figure out why the only people who come are the same core group.

And so they try better newsletters and e-mail marketing and “bring a buddy” campaigns. All to no avail.

But the one thing none of them do is surveys. In person, on the phone, at registration time, by e-mail, on the website, in the newsletter – it doesn’t matter.

Engagement on Facebook

I recently met with a Realtor and spoke to them about their internet traffic. The conversation always comes back to Facebook for some reason.

I don’t know if you know this, but  I’m not a fan of Facebook Fan Pages because they require the owners to be diligent, sociable and engaging. I’ve found few able to do it well 6 months down the line.

So the question was asked, should they link their YouTube account, where they post all their real estate videos, to their Facebook account so that it automatically alerts their Facebook fans that a new video was uploaded. Here were my thoughts:

What Klout interviewed me about

klout-interviewRecently the folks at Klout asked me some questions about doing business online. Thought I’d turn it into a blog post. . . because that’s what I preach. :)

Klout: What common marketing mistakes should one avoid when forming an Internet marketing strategy? Why?

Focusing on “Likes” “pins” “retweets” “+1′s” – - – - should not be the goal. Revenue should always be the goal. If “likes” “pins” and the rest are part of the strategy to achieve revenue growth, then by all means employ these tactics. But don’t make “likes” the goal or that’s what you’ll get.

Bounce Rate Failure is a Myth

I was over at Kyle Nelson’s blog reading about bounce rate today.

I agreed with his clinical definition of bounce rate. But our opinions diverged there.

I don’t agree that a high bounce rate is something that needs to be fixed. That’s painting with a broad brush and contributes to the myth of “bounce rate” that plagues so many. Let me start by saying:

  • A high bounce rate by itself does not indicate anything.
  • A high bounce rate does not signal website problems
  • A high bounce rate should make you think, not take action.
  • A high bounce rate just may be an indicator of great profitability

Community Building Mistakes: Don’t make them ever.

I got asked today if I’d made any mistakes in building my  FreeWeeklyMastermind community. The answer to that is yes.  Darren and I have definitely made mistakes.  I wouldn’t even say their obscure mistakes – but probably common marketing mistakes many people make.

The first mistake we made was altering the schedule. I made the mistake of switching nights for the weekly webinars.

Some of our audience was also pretty active in another community that met Wednesday nights. It never bothered me that some of ourcalls would be lightly attended because they attended the other call that night. It didn’t bother me because not everyone needs what we’re talking about right now. Maybe the other subject was more appropriate for them. Besides ours are recorded.

In all fairness, how can you expect to maintain a community if you are commanding them to be present? Their presence and attendance should be because they really, really wanted to be there, right?

Anyway,  I got asked by the other community’s leader if I’d switch to another night (because it bothered him that sometimes the audience was on my calls that night). I decided to be neighborly and do that.
Well that was a mistake.
Sticking to one schedule that fit into the lives of my community members was the best. Their having a choice was good for them as well.
But more importantly I couldn’t make any other night a regular occurrence.  Without my 100% dedication and sticking the schedule, how can I expect the same from others?
So I’ve moved back to the original night and am rebuilding that momentum.
That was clearly a mistake. I need to focus on the needs of my community, my ability to dedicate time to it and not worry about others. I thought I was. . . but I wasn’t.
Lesson learned.  Can you think of any other community building mistakes? I know I can. Feel free to share here or at http://FreeWeeklyMastermind.com

Should You Start Another Site?

How many times have you gotten an idea and thought you should take what knowledge you’ve gained and start another site? If you’re like me and you continually renew domain names just because you have a good idea for them, you know what I’m talking about. So many ideas, so little time.

The question is should you start a second site?  I believe the answer can be derived quite easily.  So let’s talk about the pro’s and con’s as it pertains to branching out and starting anew.

Another Fork in the Road

Work Load

It’s not easy building a website that makes money and is profitable. It’s not hard to drive traffic to one coupon, one affiliate deal, one promotion or even a monetized lead capture page.  In fact there have been cases where people made money on their very first tweet.  But that’s not a business.

A profitable website is one where you’re making more money than if you were to have spent your time working elsewhere. If you would make more money as a clerk at Walgreens,  I would submit that  you’re losing money working online.

But that’s not necessarily bad.

The question is how long must you be “building” your business before you reach the profitable point? And what amount of content, links, pins, videos and tweets will get you there the quickest?

Let’s use some math as an example (oh no! not Math!!!):

For the purpose of this example, let’s say it takes 500 hours of work to make a profitable website from scratch. If you have 20 hours/week to work on your site it would take approximately 25 weeks of work to get there. Make sense?

What happens to that time if you add a second site? Even if it is in the same general niche, you become less efficient. If you divide your time up evenly, it now takes at least 50 hours of work to get there. But being less efficient, I would say that it will take a bit longer.

Can you afford to not be profitable for that period of time? Do you have the stamina to continually be encouraged throughout the duration? And will you get burnt out without seeing the joys of good income sooner?

Family Sacrifices

Do you consider your family’s sacrifice when you’re spending time on your business? Every moment you toil away is a moment away from helping your kids with flash cards, spending time with your spouse, or making your home a more wonderful place. And every moment they spend without you, they are agreeing to the sacrifice and are equally dependent on its rewards.

Think of them when you’re considering starting a second site. Will you and your family’s sacrifice be better spent on a new idea or diligently working to make your current site profitable?

Expert Status

Much of what you bring to the table is bound up in your expert status. Some would call it your brand, others your reputation. But it all boils down to whether people perceive you as the expert or not.

Once your expert status is known around the world, doors open up. Rarely do large organizations hire non-experts to speak. Rarely does CNN interview generalists on a topic. And rarely do the big brands ask weekend hobbyists to be their spokespersons.

Are you that expert now? If not, can you afford to divert your attention to something else while you become that?

If your new idea doesn’t directly tie to your current site, enhance your brand or reputation in your field, should you really take on the burden? Think of Bob Villa, the home repair expert. If Bob Villa were to start something new, should he take on the role of Dancing with the Stars host? Or do you think his empire would benefit by becoming the host of Extreme Home Makeover?

Empire Building

That leads me to the overall empire. If you currently run a wedding site and are thinking about starting a Bahamas Travel site, will you be building an empire?  Will you be able to cross sell the two sites? If you develop a good relationship in the wedding niche, will you be able to email that to your Bahamas list?

This idea you have should both support and be supported by your current site. In building your list, your relationships and your cheerleaders do you really want to start from scratch on idea #2?

Remember Grey’s Anatomy and the TV spinoff Private Practice? Can you sense the synergy that came from moving one audience to the next?  Do you think they would have received funding if they had proposed a car racing spinoff show? Probably not – the built in synergistic empire is not there.

Some people suggest that once your site has become profitable that you first clone yourself in that niche before branching out. That idea makes a lot of sense but for me doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. However there is definitely rewards to be reaped when you rank #1 and #2  for your keywords with two different sites.  You truly do have an empire then.

If you’re at the  point where you really just want to start something new, write a book. There’s a ton of credibility provided by a book. Your audience will love you. You’ll have a new product from which to derive income and you’ll have reached a new rung on your Empire ladder.

Podcasters will tell you differently as I learned at BlogWorldExpo. If you’re interested in their opinion, read this post.

Dan R Morris

(Photo Credit: Ali Shevlin)

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