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BizExcellerated Internet Marketing: Achieve mastery in blogging, affiliate marketing, social traffic generation at Andrew Wee
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    I’ve got feedback from newer bloggers who are having difficulties generating consistent income from their blogging efforts.

    Blogging can be a profitable and fulfiling venture. If you have a strategy in place, you’ll not only see your pool of regular readers grow in time, but you’ll build a community of readers and learn from them in the process.
    Blogging newbie

    Given that blogging is an established traffic generation method and compliments many income monetization business models, here’re some points for consideration as you’re building up your blogging proficiency.

    • Positioning/Branding

    It’s important to establish the positioning of your blog.

    I’m seeing that “Internet Marketing” is too big an umbrella to blog under, or at least to provide the amount of depth of coverage that would be useful for blog readers like yourselves.

    In the last couple of weeks, you might’ve detected that this blog is moving more along the lines of

    • Blogging
    • Affiliate Marketing
    • Traffic Generation (especially social traffic)

    If you’re blogging within a broad category (such as golf, internet marketing, the legal profession), choose one or two niches and focus on those.

    However, if you’re picking a niche such as “pet geckos”, you might want to go horizontal in your focus, ranging from gecko grooming, nutrition, exercise (a cradle-to-grave approach if you will).

    • Content Building

    I realize there’s a great temptation to load a blog up with adsense the moment it’s created.

    Resist the urge.

    If you have 10 visitors a day, your CPM rate will not be very high.

    It’ll serve your long term interest better if you focus on building quality content for at least 1-2 weeks, establishing yourself as a content creator before looking at the monetization aspect.

    Quality content should help your readers in the following ways:

    • It helps them solve a problem they’re currently facing (the more painful the problem, the more valuable the solution)
    • It helps them do something they’re already doing faster,more effectively,at a lower cost. Maybe all of the above.
    • It’s something unique and you’re the only person they can get it from.

    You’ve probably already heard my refrain that Content is King, Queen and the Crown Prince too.

    • List Building

    Building a list helps you maintain contact with your visitors/readers. If you create a compelling reason, they’ll opt-in to your list. This gives you the opportunity to follow up with them, build a relationship and if you recommend useful products or services, you stand to benefit from the relationship.

    I’d suggest going with Aweber or GetResponse for your list building solution.

    • Blog Monetization

    Although blog monetization is important, I suggest that it should factor into your plans, but be the last aspect you look into. That’s because if your blog degenerates into a daily updated sales page, you’ll ultimately turn off your readers.

    When choosing to participate in a marketing promotion, ask yourself the following questions and answer them truthfully:

    • Does this product/service provide value to my readers?
    • Have I invested my own money and time into this product?
    • Did it work? Was it effective?
    • Would I promote the product, even if I didn’t benefit from it?

    If your answer is “yes” to all the questions, by all means go ahead. Your readers will know you stand behind your recommendation.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen affiliate marketers whose blogs consist of one promotion after another.

    I don’t think they’re in tune with their readers at all. (And their traffic numbers tell the story).

    Whatever you might consider doing, think this through:

    Would you watch a TV program if it consisted entirely of ads? Would you read a book or magazine if every page asked you to buy something?

    Have mercy on your readers (and ultimately yourself) by sparing them the neverending sales pitch.

    They’ll thank you for it too.


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    During the recent Affiliate Summit West, I met Justin Premick who’s Education Marketing Manager at email marketing solutions company Aweber.

    I think I’m doing more than 90% of the affiliates out there when it comes to incorporating email marketing as part of my SEO-based marketing campaigns, but some of the tips that Justin shared with me during the few minutes we talked before the Blue Man Group performance at the Affiliate Bash at Tao gave me a couple of ideas to test out in my campaign.

    So I was looking forward to chatting with Justin when he agreed to come on as a guest on this week’s Friday Podcast. Some of the ideas and behind-the-scene stuff that goes on at your autoresponder operator will surprise you, and I uncovered some killer tips to use autoresponders to enhance conversions in your affiliate AND CPA marketing campaigns.

    It was definitely worth waking up at 3am this morning (3pm EST Tuesday) to chat with Justin and the interview will be posted this Friday.

    If you aren’t already using email marketing in conjunction with a PPC or SEO marketing campaign, you could be leaving quite a bit of cash on the table…

    Here’re some tips which will help you get started:

    • Content is and should be packaged differently across multiple platforms

    Seems obvious, but you need to tailor your content to suit the medium you’re publishing the content on.

    On a website you have the benefit of space and the ability to use multimedia generously (audio, video, graphics), while in the context of email marketing, people are used to seeing bite-sized chunks of info.

    So unless it’s very compelling, it’s generally not a good idea to send out a 5-page email. Even if it does get read, you can expect to see a dropoff if you consistently send out long emails.

    • Permission-based marketing

    This was one of the major points during our discussion – email marketing is very much “relationship marketing” which plays by a different set of rules when compared to pricing/bidding strategies of PPC or the search engine algorithmn trustrank/pagerank strategies of SEO.

    “Permission Marketing” by Seth Godin is a great primer. To check out 4 free chapters, visit Seth’s blog.

    The reality is that even if your prospects opt-in to your list, go through a double confirmation process, and you start sending them junk and unrelated offers, they will hit the “Report As Spam” button faster than you can say “It’s about the relationship, Stupid!”

    -

    One useful resource you might want to check out prior to Friday’s session are the tips  that Aweber offers to enhance your email delivery rate.

    Among the topics covered:

    • blocklists and spamlists
    • email authentication
    • email marketing resources
    • whitelisting
    • test emails in different environments

    I’ve been an active email marketer for 2 years and got a number of useful tips from the short guide.

    You can check it out at:

    –> Aweber free email deliverability guide


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    For most marketers out there, autoresponder services like Aweber are a blackbox…most people will have a vague notion that email autoresponders are accessed via your web browser, you get some HTML code and place an opt-in form on your website or blog, people submit their name and email address, it appears in the autoresponder database, and you send them email, and sales comes flooding in…simple right?

    Oh and they help negotiate with ISPs to ensure your email is delivered, and rotate IPs on their email servers, so it doesn’t get tagged as a “bad” IP.

    Actually there’s much more than that, and Aweber’s education marketing manager Justin Premick gave an insiders view of the inner workings of Aweber.

    More importantly, we discussed:

    • The relationship marketing principles involved in maintaining a successful email marketing list
    • Companies which are already successfully using email in their marketing efforts
    • Resources to help you bring your email campaigns to the next level
    • Tips for affiliate marketers incorporating email into their existing PPC and SEO campaigns
    • And we also unearthed a tip which could help you massively increase your results from promoting CPA affiliate offers…

    It all happens here at the Friday Podcast.

    Check out the audio interview below:

    References:

    Aweber autoresponder service

    Brian Clark CopyBlogger blog

    Spam Resource

    Google Sender Reputation white paper


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    One of my friends mentioned that he’s built a list of 10,000 opt-in members into his mailing list within a period of 7 days…so what’s he supposed to do now, he asks.

    I don’t think any responsible email marketer will give advice before finding out more information.

    For example, how was the list built? Using PPC? Expired domain traffic? Co-reg traffic? Via opt-ins through Squidoo or HubPages? Via an article directory? As a result of a follow up/update list after buying a product (either an affiliate product or your own product).

    Each of these channels comes with it’s own level of permission – and if you’re a permission-based marketer, you’ll realized that someone who’s just bought something from you has a higher level of loyalty and stickiness, compared to someone who’s just downloaded a free report off your site.

    So back to the 10,000 mailing list – determine the source of list/lead generation is important. Are they emotionally invested in you? Have they spent money purchasing something you offer? Called into one of your teleseminars and stayed the full duration because they found the information compelling? Are they merely curious strangers? Or evangelists for your brand (also known as “raving fans”).

    Once you’ve sorted that out, you need to figure out the demographics of your list too. What’s their geo-origin? US/Canada? Europe? Asia?

    Obviously some forms of monetization will work better than others.

    Pay-Per-Click Content Publishing: You probably would know that adsense publishing and CPC publishing is probably my least favorite source of monetization (mainly because you’re sending visitors AWAY from your site for $0.10 to $0.50 per click). So unless you’re generating a couple of hundred thousand uniques a month who come back repeatedly, it’s not going to be very viable.

    -

    CPA Marketing: despite what you might hear, the bulk of revenue is still based in US/Canada for CPA/lead generation type monetization strategies. So you might have 30-50 offers that are “international” (even then a number of countries will be excluded), and there’s only so much you can do from Europe and Asia.

    -

    Affiliate marketing/product sales: to do either of these well requires that you understand your list. This might include getting them to take a survey and compiling the demographic data. A good way to increase responsiveness for this is to offer some type of incentive. Maybe a $20 or $50 coupon in a mini-sweepstakes, valid at Amazon, iTunes, home depot or some site which is relevant to your list.

    -

    The most important element I would suggest is to segregate your list into smaller sublists, especially if there’re multiple demographics in there – teens and babyboomers will have different interests and breaking the list into at least 2 different lists will have a huge impact on your conversions (just imagine having 10,000 keyphrases in a single adgroup…it doesn’t work does it? It’s a similar principle for email marketing too).

    -

    Once you’ve got your lists broken up, work on your sales funnel and go beyond just promotion one ebook or service to that list. Ideally you’d want a funnel of multiple related and relevant products and services that you’d market to the list over the course of your relationship with them.

    It’s all about the permission thing and if you’re speaking to their needs, there’s no reason why your list wouldn’t continue to generate the big bucks for you.

    So think long term and the list will do well for you.

    -

    On the choice of autoresponders: Aweber and GetResponse are the big ones. I personally prefer Aweber, and I know marketers who’re happy with GetResponse too.


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    I signed up with Aweber for my email marketing solution when I started out 2 years ago and have been generally happy with their deliverability rates.

    In a recent Friday Podcast, Aweber education marketing manager Justin Premick alluded to some forthcoming enhancements to their services and it looks like they made the announcement today.

    Here are some of the enhanced email analystics tools:

    • See exactly when subscribers open your message so you can focus on the right time to send your message.
    • Send a broadcast to only subscribers who didn’t open or click on your previous broadcast.
    • Send a broadcast to only subscribers who did click on your order page, but didn’t order.
    • See which subscribers are responding to your campaigns — which messages they’re opening, which links they’re visiting, and where on your website they’re going after clicking through.
    • Target subscribers by sending broadcasts to only those who responded (or didn’t respond) by clicking or opening a specific message or link.
    • Track revenue generated by campaigns and subscribers to see which subscribers and campaigns are making you money.

    Together with click tracking, campaign reporting, email tracking, email ROI reporting and other features.

    The old package cost $179.40 for 10,000 list members for a year. The analytics-enhanced service costs $69 per month for 10,000 list members.

    With about a 362% increase in their prices, email marketers will have to decide if they need the enhanced analytics functions.

    In an exchange between marketer Kevin Riley and Aweber founder/CEO Tom Kulzer, Kevin mentioned in a twitter update that existing customers can choose to remain on their existing plan.

    Are the enhanced analytics going to be worth the upgrade?

    I’m keen to hear some feedback from other marketers before making a decision.

     


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    Email solutions provider Aweber has been adding a slew of new features to their autoresponder service, including email analytics and stats, and more recently, a widget-like chicklet to display the number of members on your list.

    The question is: What effect does it have on your email list opt-in rates and is it significant?

    email deliverability

    Displaying your number of subscribers would make sense if you have achieved critical mass in your niche market. For a celebrity/entertainment Perez Hilton-type blog, I’d think at least 10,000 is a good number. For a specialized niche like Dog Training, a list size of 1,000 qualified customers (not leads! Or mere readers) might be the sweet spot.

    I think displaying the raw number of subscribers is a good idea for mass consumer type blogs, because there’s a groupthink (or “sheep” mentality) that says “if 100,000 people are on the Britney Spears list, then it must be good to join in…”).

    As an astute marketer, I’d think the power of 3-5 high authority testimonials like:

    “After listening to John for less than an hour, my mind caught fire and everything fell into place.  I immediately produced my first sales letter ever… and it brought in $287,000 the first week! You can bet I seek out his advice every time I make a major business decision.”  Rich Schefren, Strategic Profits, author of “Marketing Manifesto”

    AND

    “Just before the famous StomperNet launch, everything was in doubt. We cornered John for advice, and in just a few minutes he provided such clarity that the fog melted away… and I was finally able to write the pitch that brought in over $10 million in one day. – Frank Kern”

    for copywriting expert John Carlton over at MarketingRebel.com will do incredible things for your opt-in rates.

    Whichever path you choose – displaying subscriber counts and/or high power testiominals – the most important consideration is to see how what you do at the tactical marketing level fits in with your overall plan.

    The best solution might be to combine both approaches and get the maximum leverage from your marketing efforts. After all, quality AND quantity is the best form of social proof.

    Check out

    -> Aweber email autoresponder services


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  • 11/04/08--00:48: How To Fail At List Building
  • With more marketers who’ve traditionally relied on Pay Per Click, Social MEdia and Search Engine Optmization jumping on the listbuilding bandwagon, trying to start up a newsletter and get readers and visitors to opt-in to a mailing list, it’s a positive, yet at the same time negative trend for the industry.

    listbuilding

    The benefits of a list are easy to see, zero acquisition cost and the ability to build an ongoing relationship with your list members.

    Treat them right and a healthy list will generate a comfortable income for you.

    Conservative estimates put the value of a list at $1 per list member per month.

    In simple terms, each member is worth $1 per month or $12 a year. Multiply that by the number of members in your list, with some list owners having lists of upwards of 100,000 members and you get the idea of the potential and lucrative possibility of having a great list.

    The relationship building element is where a number of marketers can experience pitfalls however.

    I recently joined a self-improvement giveaway with a few hundred products to be given away free.

    So I opted in to a mailing list and was sent to the download page.

    This is when the problems began…

    To receive each product, I needed to opt-in to that particular author’s mailing list.

    With the giveaway touting itself to give away more than a hundred “gifts”, this potentially meant having to opt in to more than 100 mailing lists, just to get a free MP3 recording or PDF report.

    After the 2nd opt-in, I gave up. So much for that “giveaway”.

    Here is why I think the opt-in failed:

    • Failure to follow the “Pay It Forward” concept: Have you eaten at a restaurant where you are asked to pay before the food arrives? It happens in fast food restaurants, but I think you will be taken aback at a 5 star restaurant which asks for your credit card before you’re even shown to your seat. Likewise, if you ask for an email even before you’ve shown your product, it’s the online equivalent of the restaurant example.
    • Overestimating Your Brand power: Depending on your preferences, you will likely follow a leader or role model in your market, it might be someone like Warren Buffett for stock investing, Donald Trump for real estate, or Gene Simmons if you’re looking to start a music business. If one of my role models had an offer, I’d probably give up my name and email address to get the report. If Joe Blow “guru” asked for it, the trust and credibility is nowhere near what I’d expect.
    • Misconception that Quantity Trumps Quality: Again, the unsophisticated will have the idea that “more is better”. Does getting more food at a buffet mean that you will have better quality food? Not really. Handmade Swiss watches are limited in quantity because there’s no way a human craftsman can compete with a machine punching out 100 watches per hour. Likewise, getting 200 reports will likely not be as beneficial as getting one quality product. If there’s 1 takeaway from list building, it’s always to deliver quality, quality and quality.

    So what’s the solution, having deconstructed, destroyed and annhilated the giveaway campaign, what’s a good mechanism to build a list?

    I’d suggest having a simple download page to give away your product. If you feel so include, you can include an opt-in box to provide updates and revisions to website visitors who’re interested.

    Further, and this is the important step, include at the end of your report, an option to opt-in to your list. Chances are that someone who has made it to the end of your report and takes the effort to opt-in to your list, will be more qualified and more positive than someone who had been forced to opt-in to your list in order to get your report of unknown quality.

    For more emailing and list building tips, take a look at “Permission Marketing” by Seth Godin.

    For a quality autoresponder service, check out Aweber.

    Also check out Friday Podcast with Aweber’s Education Marketing Manager Justin Premick “Email Marketing Tips“.


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  • 02/23/09--05:13: My WordPress 2.x Wishlist
  • Since it’s been almost a year since I set up my last blog, it’s been a somewhat nostalgic experience looking at how the platform has changed since I started using it in 2006 with it’s 1.x incarnation.

    Having played with a WP 2.7.1 install, it seems to chug along slower compared to it’s 2.5.1 predecessor, and hopefully this doesn’t signal a path down the bloatware route, even if it comes with lots of shiny bells and whistles, compared to before.

    WordPress has become much easier to use now for the most part, with several functions accessible behind the browse-based point-and-click interface. In the past you had to FTP files down, edit them with a text editor and upload them, or use the clunky “theme editor” function and edit the text from there.

    I started out in 1997 writing HTML on a text editor and created tables writing raw table, tr,td,/td,/tr, /table tags. I later progressed on to using WYSIWYG text editors and software like XSite Pro. These days I do almost everything exclusively with WordPress only or in tandem with other software like vBulletin forum software, Aweber email autoresponder software, Joomla or some of the new CMSes I’ve been working with recently.

    HTML editors have gone to the scrapheap for me. That’s not to say that WordPress is the final word in creating new niche affiliate sites though.

    Here is my wishlist:

    wishlist

    Here are a couple of things that WordPress has done well:

    • Spam control: Akismet works hard to keep trackback spam, comment spam out of the woodwork. I use a couple more for good measure so very little spam is sitting in the moderation basket each day.
    • Tagging: Keywords and tags help readers find relevant content, especially with the millions of blogs floating in the blogosphere. They’re one step further towards relevant and have made older plugins like Tag Warrior float into lesser prominence.
    • Native embedding of video and other embed code: While you had to jump through hoops to place a YouTube video in a blog post, the process is a pretty seamless copy-and-paste job now.

    Here are a couple of things that would help WordPress become a more complete solution:

    • Higher SEO intelligence: Er, who in their right mind would use a permalink structure like domainname.com/?p=284 ? To have to toggle it to a date is a slightly better with your postname showing. But I think more could be done. Recommendation: the All-In-One SEO pack plugin. Another, XML sitemaps (shouldn’t this be built into WordPress?).
    • Caching to HTML or static files: WordPress is a set of PHP (a programming language) scripts and these use more computing power than most HTML pages or static pages. Shouldn’t something like Super Cache be part of the standard plugins? Lowering your server overhead is a good practise, rather than wait till you encounter server slowdowns.
    • More Multimedia: With audio and video content becoming more prevalent (there was only one audio blog listed in many blog directories when I started, now there are thousands), shouldn’t the functions provided by plugins like PodPress become part of the standard issue plugins?
    • More Talk: This is a weird one. With spambots actively harvest email from sites, it’s weird that blogs don’t come with a contact form or email mailto: form. Are you only supposed to talk to readers in your comments?

    It’ll be interesting to see what the new versions of WordPress bring (hopefully they make it run more speedily.

    I doubt that Twitter will be driving blogging out of business any day soon, and with the trend towards WordPress as a landing page, or as the building block for niche sites, its popularity looks set only to increase.

    Maybe someone can take a snapshot of the proportion of WordPress sites compared to total websites today and see how much it increases a year from today.

    If you’re serious about using WordPress for branding yourself, or creating affiliate/niche sites, you should also check out the Thesis WP theme (see my product review) and also the Secret Blog Weapon training.



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