Topic: enewsletter

eNewsletter – What not to do

I just got an eNewsletter from someone.  Probably a subscriber to mine or someone I have met – I am not accusing her of SPAM.

However, if you really want to make someone unhappy, just sign them up for your Volume 1 Issue 1 eNewsletter and blast it off to them.

Look, this is just common sense.  I am not going to be happy to be automatically subscribed to something.  Nor are most people.  However, I would welcome a personal email inviting me to join the eNewsletter list and giving me the choice.  I know it is more work, but guess what, I just had to do work unsubscribing from the unwelcome subscription.

Do invite people to subscribe to your new newsletter with an email you write – DO NOT just add them to the subscription.

Yes You Do Have a Content Marketing Strategy!

Eslite Bookstore in Taichung Chung-yo Departme...Image via WikipediaI just read an excellent post at Chris Brogan’s blog about Content Marketing.

If you think you do not have a content marketing strategy, you are wrong.  It is just that your content marketing strategy stinks.

Do any of these describe your stinky content strategy?

  • You have a website that never changes
  • You started a blog but it did not produce sales so you stopped
  • You write about things every once in a while but no one seems to care
  • Your enewsletter has a small audience and a low open rate
  • You write directly about your products that you are trying to sell all the time

The #1 reason I love Chris’ post is that he is discussing content marketing, not blogging.  When I talk to people about blogging, they think that setting up a blog and posting occasionally should do something for them. It may, but people usually give up before it kicks in.

If you instead understand that you are considering a content marketing strategy, then everything changes.  It is not about the technology (wordpress hosting) but about how you are going to build an audience and content that generates leads long term.

Now lets imagine that you are starting a TV show.  Is your TV show a success because you filmed 10 episodes?  Or is your TV show a success because you have built an audience and advertisers want to sponsor it?  Obviously the latter.

If you want to have a serious content marketing strategy, you are going to have to write about what people want to read, not what you want to tell them.  And you are going to need to learn how to write artilces for search engines as well as people, and how to build links and how to use social media to not be invisible.

Does it sound like a lot of work?  It is.

You’d think that all the great free martketing tools and low cost publishing solutions would benefit the small business owner.  It does not.  The constantly changing landscape and the skills that are needed to use them well mean that creating the audience and producing content is a bigger part of your job than running your business.  And lets face it, you probably do not have the time or the money to do it right.

That does not mean that you are not going to get results.  It does mean that you are very unlikely to get big results unless you make a big effort, which means all those “free” tools are not so free because you need people feeding them great, original and interesting content.

This is not something new

Years ago we went into business with a great eMagazine publishing system.  We got a fair number of clients and we were not a cheap hosting solution.  The problem we found was that our big clients (Universities and Magazine Publishers) were using the tools every week and getting fantastic results because they had people committed to publishing emagazines on a big scale to audiences that cared.

Our smaller clients, usually small businesses,  liked the idea of publishing emagazines and they were paying clients – but they were not getting a good ROI.  Why?  They liked the idea but they did not actually use the tools consistently.  I hated taking their money, even though we were providing them with a good solution that had the potential to create huge value.

Flash forward to now.  Web publishing solutions are everywhere for free or for a very low cost.  But you are still not getting it.  It is not about the tools, it is about having a solid content marketing strategy.

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Internet Mini Profit Centers

OK, if you remember from the last article, we have assumed you are now sophisticated marketers that are blogging, writing and using social media effectively.

One of the big mistakes that I see people make, and that I have made, is by focusing on the big picture too much.

Lets take a business example of this first.  You probably know certain metrics for your business. 

  • How many customers you have
  • How much money you spend
  • How much money you make
  • How many hours you work

Good, you can calculate your profitability divided by your hours and get a clear sense of what you are earning.

But what would happen if you broke down each client as a profit center?

Unless you are selling widgets at the same price to everyone, you will see that some customers are much more profitable and take up less time than others.  If your business model is designed around maximizing value AND profit while minimizing your time involved PER client, you will have a successful business.

Internet marketing is Exactly the Same

Instead of thinking of your Internet marketing, start thinking about various Internet profit centers.  This can get tricky, because one could generate the lead and the second can generate the revenue.

Let me take my email course as an example.  It costs roughly $20 per month.  Our main website and several blogs generate the people that sign up for it, and this email system actually generates sales for us when people are interested in our products or affiliate links.  It has a high profit margin but by itself does not pay enough to support me.

I have other websites that do not sell anything, but they do generate leads for the eNewsletter, so the better they produce email subscribers, the more profitable they are even if they do not directly generate a penny.

This can all get fairly complex, which is why you have to think of each individual web effort on its own merit and with its own goals.

The outcome can be one of three things:

  • Actual Revenue
  • Links and Traffic
  • Audience

Actual revenue might be a micro-site that is a one page website that sells something.  Since it probably costs less than $5 a month to host, you should be able to turn any website into at least a minor profit center with a solid product and good copywriting.

Links and Traffic are the currency of sites that you host, hopefully with minimal effort, that point to your higher value sites and drive traffic to them, as well as help them rank better.  These are “profitable” based on the total value of each visitor and link minus the cost to maintain.

Lastly, audience.  Also called the list and referred to as the most important asset a business has.  Have you given some thought to setting up a website that does nothing but offer a free white paper to build your list?  The long term value of your list, if used well should make your one page website & white paper download a big profit center, although not via direct sales.

Buzz marketing is most effective with simple things that are easy to pass along.  If you keep focusing on the big picture, you are building bigger and more complex things and you may not know which parts are working.  If you create targeted efforts with clear potential for eventual profit, you will get more referrals and buzz.  It is just an easier message to communicate.

The Uncomfortable Truth about your BUZZ

ronmcThe uncomfortable truth about the buzz you have tonight is that it could lead to a headache in the morning.

I was just reviewing projects on a freelance job site and I was shocked at how many people are "Buying" unethical buzz.  You know, I will pay you one dollar per review to write great reviews about my restaurant on – Not cool, man.

So if we cannot really trust these sites, what can we do to build trust?  People are only going to refer you if they understand you, appreciate what you are doing and have some trust that you will do what you say you will do.

The uncomfortable truth is that you have to invest in building solid visibility with a great foundation that cannot be faked.  Sure, you can get a lot of quick traffic from quick things, but if the traffic does not trust you, they will probably not do much in the end for you.

So how do you build a solid foundation that will help people trust you?

1. Blog – I know, I know….I am always suggesting a blog.  Look, if I told you to build a website, it would seem silly.  Everyone already has a website, right?  Blogs will be that common, and we are already seeing that many new businesses just start out with a blog and skip the whole website thing.

So how does a blog build trust?  Look at mine – 900+ articles.  All but a couple written by me.  (We have had some guest posts)  Sure, I could pay a writer to do it for me, and that would be fine as long as I am truly committed to putting out great information on my topic.  Trust me, at times I wish I could blame someone else for the writing.  The point is, even with my flaws I have built a trusted resource.

Does a blog work for a restaurant?  Sure.  There are all kinds of ways to create a real community around a blog/restaurant combo.

2. eNewsletter – When I started doing eNewsletters years ago we were blinded by the term Newsletter.  Don’t send people your news.  Send them special announcements that might be of value to them and send them great information they can use.  My autoresponder course runs with no effort on my part via aWeber and continues to generate clients every month.

3. Speak – Love it or hate it, even if you are speaking to a small local group, the very act of speaking puts gives you expert status (and trust) with the audience.

4. Social Networks – One way to participate in these communities is to set up an account, SPAM it and forget it.  The better (and harder but of higher value) way is to create an account, be clear and honest about who you are and use it actively to help people and occasionally promote yourself in a useful way.  You can become a trusted member of the community, but it takes time.

5. Blog commenting – by commenting on a blog with a quality, interesting comment you become a trusted member of the bloggers readership.  This can win you special recognition when they mention you or when other people click on your link and visit your site via the comment.  Just tell the truth about who you are and link back to a great resource for building additional trust (probably your blog.)

There are of course more ways to build and destroy trust.  These are fiv e that work well for me. 

Use the comments and let me know how you build trust with your audience.

What are your Relationship Tools?

I toss around the term “relationships” a lot on this blog.  I am thinking that some readers may thing I mean a two way communication between you and the people you want relationships with.  There are a lot of ways that you can have a “two-way” relationship and never actually communicate with the other person directly.  Here are some examples.

Blogging – You push out your information (one-way) and the response you get is your website traffic, comments, etc.

Speaker – You speak – people listen.  (one-way) – The response you get is people talking to you after the talk, emailing you later, hiring you, etc.

eNewsletter – You publish your valuable information (one-way) and you get feedback,list subscriptions, unsubscribes, forwards to friends, etc.

Publish a Book -  You publish and market your book (one-way) and you get sales, speaking opportunities, hired as a consultant, PR, etc.

Social Networks -  You put up your profile (one way) and then people request to connect with you.  (This one is better if it is actively two way, but can be one way)

These are just some of the ways you can create relationships without having to get to know each person personally.  I like to get to know people, but realistically, there is only so much time in the day.  Using all of the tools above, I have created lots of relationships – many I am not even aware of.

What are you doing to create mass relationships?

Cool Experts Wanted

Our number one service that clients purchase from us is our online advocacy.

Weekly, we do searches and research to identify really cool people that are producing content in targeted industries.  We then contact them and if they are interested, we facilitate a relationship between them and our clients.

We strickly look at building 2-way valuable relationships.  I’d rather make 3 good contacts instead of 500 poor contacts.

ExpertWith that in mind, we are launching a new Expert Directory.  This is where people let us know if they are interested in particular topics.  If we have a client that is a good match, we first go to our directory to help the parties meet.

Why would you want to join our Expert Directory?

We always encourage clients to have something they can give away.  It may be their new book, or a sample of their product, or a chance to interview the CEO. 

The key for us is that you are producing information regularly.  Bloggers, Podcasters, eNewsletter writers, etc.  We can help you with some interesting content and you can help our clients with a tiny bit of buzz.  We never try to control what you say, by the way.

Sign up here is you are an expert or working at becoming an expert.

If you like this directory application, I will tell you a cool secret.  We are using Zoho Creator.  Currently it is free and makes doing this kind of thing super easy.  I know how to program databases, but why would I when I can toss this together in minutes and change it in seconds whenever I want. – I love these guys.

Do You Shock and Amaze?

Do you?  How often? 

There are three possible reasons I continue to read a blog or eNewsletter.

1) I have built up a great rapport with the person, even if just virtually.

2) They shock, amaze and delight me. (Or piss me off in a good way)

3) Information I care about and cannot get anywhere else

If you want to have an effective eNewsletter or blog, I think you have to do one of these things really well, and strive to have a decent level of all three.

Let me explain with examples of three blogs I read.

#1  Phil Gerbyshak – Make It Great

I read Phil regularly because I know him.  1,000s of people feel like they know Phil.  He does a great job with relationships and I know exactly who he is.  I want him to succeed and he earns my fandom because of his hard work, his willingness to give and just being himself.

#2 Tim Ferriss – 4 Hour Work Week

Tim strives to post less frequently, but shockingly good stuff that makes me rethink my life.  I read his weight loss post (and no, it is not a health blog, it is a lifestyle blog) and implemented the ideas.  I have adjusted it to my life as I have gone along, but I have lost 27 lb. and have 7 more to go to get back to my weight when I was young.  No crazy diet and I only exercise 30 minutes per day.

His posts shock and amaze me.  He has other posts on outsourcing his dating, never getting paper mail again and more.  I sit by the computer hoping for something new from him.

#3  Mashable

This category is harder to do by yourself.  If you can pull a team together and provide a great information resource, you can hit a home run like this site.  I don’t know why anyone would want to read a print magazine when a great resource like this is out there and updated daily.  This is where I go to keep up to date on new web technologies and sites.

Do you really shock and amaze?

Before you say, “Yes, those are me…”, consider carefully.  Very few of us do a great job at any of these.  We are all in love with our blog, our writing, our topic, but is anyone else in love with them?

I am committing to improving all three of these in 2008.  It is not enough to be informative.  You want to be the center ring of the Internet circus big top. 

Anatomy of your Online Presence – Part 4: The Mouth

This is part 4 of a 13 part series on anatomy of your online presence.

The anatomy of your online presence, the mouth, represents communication.  Not just answering email and phone calls type communication, but creating systems that make your communication more consistent and inclusive.

Talk to anyone that is an expert on sales and they will tell you that following up and following through is where most sales are lost.  Creating a buzz and having people talk about you, link to you and increase your online presence is the same. 

Take this example:  If you got an email from someone and they said how much they enjoy your blog and they ask you a question, you could answer it several ways.

1) Yes (or no)

2) Why would I answer them, I do not have time for that….

3) Thank you so much.  [Answer question] If there is ever anything you would like to see us do…..

Number three is the obvious choice, but are you doing it?  If you have developed your website beyond the basic brochure, and you are adding to it regularly, you will begin to develop a real following.  It will start with a person or two, and depending on how well you feed that flame, it will grow.

Example:  Seth Godin – Seth Godin is a marketing Guru and author of many great books.  His blog is one of the top marketing blogs and he is always working on a variety of projects, such as  You would think that he would be too busy to respond to the emails he gets (his email is right there on his blog) but I have emailed him at least 10 times and have always gotten a polite and sometimes funny response. – Not long, but personal.  It made me a much bigger fan.

So how do you Be The Mouth and do a better job online?

  1. Respond to people every time you get a chance.  If they comment on your blog, if they buy an eBook from you, if they email you a question, take a few extra seconds to send them a personal response.
  2. Be prepared with stock materials – I have PDF’s that I can attach with my personal message if someone needs some bio information.  I frequently get those requests when I am going to speak.
  3. Reply again a month later – If you have some time, follow up a month or two down the road again.  This always impresses those people that contacted you and then went on with their lives.
  4. Take a moment to return a compliment – If someone emails me, before I respond I frequently look at the domain of the email (the part after the @) and if it is their blog or a website they are actively involved with, I will comment on it if I have something to say.  (If it is terrible, I will just not mention it.)  This shows them you have taken the time to get to know them as well.

But wait, we are not done!

We still have a big problem.  You  cannot possibly communicate with 100’s of people every day using this technique.  And the only realistic way to achieve a big online presence is to have more than a handful of people care about you.

Here are a list of tools that can give you a bigger mouth by helping you communicate to lots of people WITHOUT spamming them.

  • Set up a blog – It is like having your own, text radio station.  This company makes it very easy and is affordable.
  • eNewsletter – Easy eNewsletter and auto-responder tool.  Build a list of people that can and also consider using it to create your own personal list of friends, like I did – click here to see – This smaller list is very powerful because these people have chosen to be my virtual friend.
  • Join online groups – There are too many online group options to list here, but join a targeted group that interests you and PARTICIPATE in the online conversations.  Make sure people know from your comment how to find out more about you.

These are just some of the ways to increase your online presence and increase the volume and reach of your voice.

FoR – Friends of Ron

I launched a new email list I am calling FoR – Friends of Ron (I am not the first person with a list like that.)

You can sign up at:

That is not for people interested in Buzz marketing.  That eNewsletter is here and includes a 20 part series of lessons on Buzz marketing free.

The FoR list is going to be an interesting experiment.  Networking events, parties, updates about kids… all the stuff you really do not care about unless you really know me….. but a lot of people know me.  How many do you think will sign up?

Anatomy of your Web Presence – Part 2: The Eyes

OK, Part two of our 13 part blog extravaganza: The Anatomy of your Online Presence.

The eyes represent watching. In part one, you used your brain and set your goals. Now you have to watch and see if your strategy works.

The great thing about the web is the level that you can measure results and maintain an accurate history of trends. I am going to discuss some of the different things you can use to watch your strategy unfold.

To begin with, do not just watch your results – react to them. If something gets great results, do it again. If something seems to be under performing, make some slight changes and see if it improves the performance.

Don’t just watch traffic

Don’t just watch your basic traffic trends. Sure these are important, but unless your website traffic is converting to buyers or subscribing to something, more traffic has very little value.

Here is a list of key things to measure.

  • Purchases – What percentage of visitors visit the purchase page? What percentage of visitors complete the transaction?
  • Subscribers – How many people subscribe to your eNewsletter? How about to the RSS feed of your blog?
  • Inbound links – How many other sites are linking to your site? Which are generating the most website traffic?
  • Comments – How many people are interacting with your website or blog?
  • Contacts – How many leads (Email or phone) are generated from the web?
  • Search engine ranking – Are you on the first page of major search engines for your target keywords?
  • General traffic trends – How many pages on average do visitors read?

Important stats facts

It is easy to get caught up in your own website or blog and forget the diversity of people that are arriving. If someone finds you via a search engine they may have one expectation for the site and after arriving, see that it is not what they are looking for a click away. A certain percentage of visitors to your website will always click away quickly and pull your stats down. If your average page reads is 1.5 per visitor, see if you can increase it to 2.0 by cross referencing your pages better. This does not sound like a lot, but it is a big improvements.

Some of the tools for measurement will depend on what technology you are using. For example, you eCommerce should have good reporting in it. The system should have the ability to measure every step of the purchase process and tell you how many people abandon the purchase part way through.

If you use an eNewsletter system like the eNewsletter system AWeber you will be able look at the performance of your eNewsletter sign ups and even do split tests – splitting the visibility of different forms automatically to see which one performs better. I think of it as a fun game as I try different things to see what works.

You can also measure your RSS subscriptions with Feedburner. – This site not only has the metrics advantage. It also gives you an advantage of being able to move your blog and migrate your readers with you.

Google Analytics – is the best free service I have seen. It gives you great stats on your site and gives accurate stats on things like page reads, referrals, etc. If you have an eCommerce site, look around on the Google Analytics settings. You can request secure stats which enable it to run even on secure pages.

There are other specialty services like that will help you identify and improve your results from organic search engines.  Services like Handshake HQ help you graphically track how many new contacts you make each month, which can drive you your traffic very well.

Once your systems are doing the majority of the tracking, figure out what other things you would like to keep track of. Inbound links, Technorati authority number, comments, etc. can all be recorded in an Excel spreadsheet once a month so that you can review your results and see if you are making progress.  Sure, there is SEO software out there too, but unless you are going to actively look at improving SEO, you do not need to purchase these.

By keeping your eye on the stats, you are going to understand how your web presence works and be able to improve it on an ongoing basis.

Part 3: The Nose >>

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