A Whole Lot About Nothing
How To Avoid Internet Marketing Scams
Most web evangelists today remind me of a project my kindergarten teacher presented to my class decades ago. The challenge was to write the step-by-step process of how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Like many of my fellow students, I forgot the most important step: To remove the lids from the jars of peanut butter and jelly.
Web authors do the same thing. Book after book tells you what do once you have followers on Facebook or already have a little momentum with web traffic, but not a lot of them really dig in from the beginning.
Do you want to know why? It’s because its real work to start with nothing and build a web campaign from the ground up. It’s so much easier to start with a theoretical basis of already having an established body of customers to spread the word about a business.
So the web evangelists stories begin about managing an established reputation rather than building one and optimizing sales rather than generating traffic from ground zero. It’s simply non-sexy, non-slick, real work and struggles that occur in the infancy of a business. Like other realities of the web, this doesn’t sell very well.
As I am writing this book and doing some additional research, I am returning an audio book by an author that offers 100 free ways to market on the web. Within his first few chapters, his plans include printing and giving away tee-shirts, creating dozens of videos, writing valuable information, giving away products/services that cost thousands to generate, and he calls this free because these vehicle for delivery on the web is technically “free”. You get the point? His hype was marketing for free, his reality is to get to “free” you need to spend money and time. That’s hardly free from my point of view. But “free” marketing strategies sell the book.
Let’s get real and take a topical look at how difficult just one aspect of the web is to harness: Email marketing. Email marketing is simply the process of getting people to sign up for your regular email releases so you can sell products & services in your email newsletters and build your reptutation. Let’s assume you’ve done the hard work described in this book and are ready to expand into email marketing.
To get people to subscribe, our recipe would look something like this:
- Explore why we want people to sign up for our newsletter
- Create a strategy, with goals, and a means of tracking the success rate
- Have a plan in place to consistently create VALUABLE information.
- Create a branded email newsletter
- Determine what call-to-action(s) that is believed will entice a visitor to sign up
- Create content and visual aids to encourage readership
- Create several squeeze pages to experiment with the most effective call-to-actions
- Figure out how to get people to the web page with the sign up information. (Marketing strategy and budget)
- Track visitor activity and make adjustments to optimize conversions, which in this case, are sign ups
Now once people have signed up, the goal is to keep them enticed to hopefully grow the readership and actually sell something. This business should track the sales cycle, what type of content generates the most interest, and be ready to change based upon trending. This business also needs to monitor open rates, forwards, click throughs, etc. As you can see, compared to the “sign up form” thrown on a home page of a website that has little traffic, this is a daunting task even looking at it from this crude topical view.
Everything on the web requires time, planning, trial & error, and investment. It’s easy to buy an email newsletter management tool and feel you are “doing email newsletter marketing”. Your challenge is to create a campaign that will actually drive traffic, entice prospects, and sell products/services.
I read a book by an author years ago and he equated the typical shopper to an big, overweight lazy guy that is resting in his favorite chair. He has his remote control, a cool drink and his favorite snacks in front of his big screen. Your call-to-action needs to be strong enough to make him want to get up from his comfortable state to take advantage of what you have to offer. That’s an intimidating challenge, but one nested in reality.
To encourage this person “to get up” may require a different strategy depending on your marketing outlet. Obviously a little “sign up for our newsletter” isn’t going to get the job done. Oh sure, have it on the home page for any potential REAL low-hanging fruit, but for the casual surfer, signing up for a “vanilla ice cream”, SPAMmy looking email newsletter offer is hardly enticing. I sign up for a newsletter only when I feel it contains information that will either save me money, time, or help in some way. Most people have my mentality.
From this scenario, you can already tell the most important quality of your web developer: It’s marketing. Design & programming does you no good if no one ever sees your website or if your message is weak or convoluted. The common terminology for sites with no marketing legs is a “billboard in the desert”. It doesn’t matter how pretty or well-built your website is if no one sees it. This is also coincidently a major reason you can’t just buy a website builder or hire an unqualified person.