Second Star to the Right and Straight on into 2015

By John Eberhard

People who have followed my articles for a while know I often write an article at the end of the year or beginning of the New Year about what has been happening in Internet marketing in the past year, what to expect in the coming year, or both.

This article will be a little of both.

2014 was a turbulent year for internet marketing. In fact, the last two years have been pretty turbulent in internet marketing. Many things we knew and things we generally depended on, pretty much got thrown out the window.

Search Engine Optimization: Although I don’t see many SEO consultants willing to say so, Google has been conducting a war on the activity of search engine optimization for the past 3-4 years. I see other SEOs reacting to each change Google makes and saying, “OK, now we’ll have to do…” I don’t see too many others who see the big picture, i.e. what is Google doing? Why are they doing it? My thought is that they are predicting AdWords revenues falling and want to shut down SEO completely and force everyone over into AdWords. But AdWords is really not suitable for everyone as I will cover.

With that all said I am piloting some new SEO actions that may be effective in getting web sites and videos onto Google page one again. We’ll know by February.

Google AdWords: I see AdWords as still a very viable method of driving leads to a company, but it is suitable only for companies with high ticket products or services (let’s say $1,000 or more). Also, competition, year to year, is driving up bid costs and making the cost per lead more expensive each year, which is ultimately unsustainable in really competitive industries.

That said, I think remarketing is an important technology to be using. This is where when someone visits your site, a cookie is placed on their system and they will begin to see banner ads for your company all over the web for the next 30-60 days.

Also you can run AdWords video ads, which drive people to see your YouTube video, and these ads are much cheaper than regular AdWords ads, in the 12-18 cents per click range.

Yelp: I believe Yelp is now the go-to service for small businesses, especially local ones like dentists, restaurants, etc. You can set up a free account and some people get good results in terms of leads just from the free accounts. But you can also set up a paid advertising account, starting at $200 per month, and all the clients I have set up on this have been getting good results. You have to sign a contract for a year. There are occasionally problems with people writing bad reviews. See my earlier articles on how to deal with that.

Mobile Web: I think it is more important than ever to have a mobile version of your web site. There are currently 1.08 billion smart phone users worldwide, with 91.4 million in the US. 92% use them for sending text messages, 84% for Internet browsing, 76% to send emails, and 59% for going on social media sites.

There are two ways to go in getting a mobile friendly version of your site. One is to make a site responsive, which is a technology that resizes the window based on the size of the screen of the device you are using. Another way is to create a version of the site that is created just for mobiles, and so is sized just right for the mobile screen. Then code is placed on your site that detects what type of device the person has and serves up the desktop or mobile version appropriately.

Video: Videos which promote companies have been very popular and will continue to become more popular and more necessary over the next year. There are many ways to go in creating a promotional video, from simple Powerpoint style videos, with narration and music, to videos showing company principals speaking, testimonial videos with clients speaking, to high-end videos with lots of special effects. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a video, but it should be clean and well produced, and should have a “call to action” at the end, i.e. telling the person to call and giving your number and website address, and making an offer of some kind.

Social Media: There has been a tendency on the part of marketers to view social media as a free medium. Especially for Facebook that is no longer true. To run a successful Facebook campaign you will need to pay money to run ads, to boost your posts, in order to build the size of your fan list, and to actually reach that whole list with your message.

I think the challenge is also to make your message out to social media as personal and as human (not corporate) as possible. People go on social media to interact with people, not corporations really, so if you can connect with people on a human basis you will do well on social media.

On Twitter the challenge in the coming year will still be building a large follower list, and doing it organically, not buying followers (because when you buy them they are never your target public). In building your follower list you have to target people that are your correct potential buyer public. Then you need to post regularly (several times a day at least), and use hashtags, which increases your reach.

On LinkedIn, you of course need to build a large connections list, then send out regular communications. Make sure your communications are visual in nature. Also we have had really good luck with sending out LinkedIn emails to client connections, asking them to read a blog article or view a video.

Content Marketing: I have written disparaging articles in the past about content marketing, but specifically about the idea that ALL you need to do is content marketing. I am actually a firm believer that you should have good content on your web site, you should write regular new content for your blog and newsletter, and you should use the content to establish yourself as a credible expert source of information about your industry.

But once you write good content, it is also vital to actually distribute that content broadly, on your web site, on your blog, in your email newsletter, on social media. If you write press releases, put those on your blog and also distribute them to online PR sites, both free and paid. Create special reports or white papers and offer them broadly.

With great content must come great distribution.

I wish you the best and most prosperous New Year in 2015. Head for that second star to the right.

Using Statistics in Marketing Part 2

By John Eberhard

Last week I talked about how important it is to use statistics when managing a marketing activity or marketing campaign. This week I am going to talk about what statistics you should use for various things.

Web Site

With a web site, you should track:

  1. Total Web Visits. Some people think you should track unique visits, which means only one time per visitor. Total web visits counts someone multiple times if they come more than once. I like that because you want people to come more than once.
  2. Page Views: This is the total number of pages that were viewed during a given time period. Note this will always be higher than web visits, because people will usually view more than one page per visit.
  3. Total Web Conversions: This is the total number of people who filled out a form on the site and became a lead or joined your mailing list.

Google Analytics is the popular way to track web statistics and is a free service from Google.

Email Marketing

  1. Total email out in a given time period
  2. Total responses to the email promotion, whether that be leads in a lead generation campaign, or sales when you are selling an item directly online

Pay Per Click Advertising

  1. Total leads or total dollar sales, depending on whether you are doing lead generation or sales
  2. Total cost per lead or cost per sale. This is an average of how much you spend on pay per click advertising during a given time period divided by the number of leads or the number of sales.

There are a variety of other statistics to track for pay per click, but the above are the main ones to see how the campaign is running.

Search Engine Optimization

  1. Number of links to your web site coming from other sites
  2. Ranking of your group of target keywords, specifically how many you are in the #1 spot for on Google, Yahoo and MSN, how many keywords you have in the top 10, the top 20, and the top 100.
  3. Total web visits to your site. Since SEO is more of a long term action, track the total web visits per month and compare to the same period in the previous year.
  4. Referrals from Google, Yahoo and MSN. This the number of people that came to your site from each of the major search engines.

Social Media Marketing

  1. Number of friends, fans, followers and connections on social media accounts. You should be working on increasing these numbers every month.
  2. Amount of engagement on social media accounts. This is the number of times someone liked your post, commented on it, shared it, or retweeted a tweet on Twitter.
  3. Number of visits to your main web site coming from social media sites. This tells you that your posts to social media sites should include links back to your main site.

Video Marketing

  1. Your video’s ranking on the YouTube search engine for the primary keyword you are targeting.
  2. Your video’s ranking on the Google search engine for the primary keyword you are targeting.
  3. Number of subscribers to your YouTube channel.
  4. Number of people coming to your main web site from YouTube.

Good luck with tracking your marketing actions.

The Galactic Marketing Alliance and the Googlion Sector

by John Eberhard

Throughout the 2000s decade, brave members of the Galactic Marketing Alliance discovered free passages through the organic wormholes into the Googlion Sector, and were able to reach Googlion citizens with their marketing messages.

Passage through the organic wormholes was still long and arduous, as Alliance members had to largely guess the way, since Googlion officials carefully kept all maps of the region secret.

But since enough Alliance members, especially those from the SEO sect, made significant progress through the organic wormholes and were able to reach the Googlion masses, Googlion officials infected with significant amounts of anti-Marketing particles and exposed to the element greedium, decided that they had to do something about it.

Googlion Press Secretary Mattius Cuttsemoff lamented “It isn’t that we’re against marketing you understand. And of course we’re not biased against the Alliance or members of the SEO sect. We’re really not trying to destroy the SEO people. Really. It’s just that, you know, they’re, well they’re gaming the system! It should be obvious to all that gaming our system is just the ultimate crime that anyone can commit in this day and age. Don’t you see that? It’s a matter of ethics. And believe me, we know ethics. We are, and justly should be, the ultimate arbiters of ethics in all sectors.”

Googlion officials launched the ultra-secret “SEO Destruction Protocol” in 2010. Recently uncovered secret documents show that the true goal was eradication of the entire SEO sect by completely blocking their passage through any of the organic wormholes to reach Googlion citizens.

The initial steps of the protocol involved blocking so-called “reciprocal” links between Alliance members and like-minded Googlion citizens. Thus began a four year campaign to stop Alliance members from developing links to Googlion citizens, despite earlier statements from spokesman Cuttsemoff and others, stating that such links were OK and were totally sanctioned by the Googlion government.

Next on the protocol agenda was the attack on all “Article” satellites orbiting the Googlion home world. These satellites held thousands of high-value information articles that Googlion citizens could access 24/7, and which developed links to Alliance ships entering the sector through organic wormholes. Cuttsemoff stated that such article satellites allowed links from “bad sectors,” warning people to stay away from the satellites and not to link to them.

Over the next four years, Googlion laser weapons systems took down satellite after satellite, reducing the numbers of article satellites from over a thousand to less than 75.

Next on the protocol agenda was the destruction of pressium releasium satellites orbiting Googlion. At first spokesman Cuttsemoff simply stated that establishing links with pressium releasium satellites was bad. His initial hopes were that statements like these would scare off Googlion citizens and Alliance members who were cowed by and religiously believed anything he said.

Cuttsemoff publicly stated “We are trying to destroy SEO’s? Of course that’s a joke. Ha-ha. Ha-ha. You can tell I’m joking, right? But you know, those pressium releasium satellites, well, they’re just, you know, unethical. It’s all ‘black helmet,’ you know. They’re not as bad as ‘article’ satellites, but they’re still bad, bad, bad. And we’ll catch you if you use them, and you know, penalize you.”

The recently uncovered secret documents showed that Googlion officials planned to destroy access to Googlion citizens via the free organic wormholes, to force people into using the expensive Adwordsial gateway. This gateway was the primary source of revenue for the Googlion government, generating $30 bazillion per year. Of course, smaller ships couldn’t even use the Adwordsial gateway, and so smaller Alliance member companies were denied access to the Googlion sector.

Secret communications from Cuttsemoff to senior Googlion officials were uncovered recently, where Cuttsemoff stated “We figure that by destroying the free organic wormholes, and forcing everyone to use the Adwordsial gateway, we can increase our revenue from $30 gazillion to $60 gazillion per year. And the smaller Alliance members who can‘t afford it, well that’s just too, too, too bad.”

Cuttsemoff had no comment on his comments.

Prominent Alliance member Nebula Fred stated “Googlion created the organic wormholes and initially told us that the number of links that you had through the wormholes would determine your access to Googlion citizens. Now we learn about the secret and vicious ‘SEO Destruction Protocol’ and that they have worked constantly to destroy access to the wormholes.”

“My thought is we should go around Googlion and their silly rules and protocols. We should use the Emailicus message protocol, use the Social Quadrant, the YouTubion sector, the Directial Maileron gateway, and any other method of going around Googlion. And we should even use the Adwordsial gateway for members where it is appropriate and workable. But Alliance members shouldn’t have to bow to Googlion. I won’t, and I pity the poor fools who do,” concluded Nebula Fred.

The Galactic Marketing Alliance and the Social Quadrant

by John Eberhard

The last two years have been hard times for members of the Galactic Marketing Alliance (GMA), in their efforts to travel to and trade in the Social Quadrant. But daring and innovative GMA members are now making progress in opening up gateways into the embattled region.

Twitterium: The government of the Twitterium planet became completely infected with anti-Marketing particles in late 2012, and decided to completely block all new members of the Galactic Marketing Alliance from approaching their planet. Only those who had previously developed thousands of connections to citizens of Twitterium could get any communications through.

The government issued numerous pronouncements regarding newer and increasingly onerous limitations on members of the Alliance. Some of the pronouncements stated that it was not “nice” for Galactic Marketers to try to enter their solar system at all or attempt to contact their citizens, and particularly forbid Alliance members from using the “Churn” frequency or using any evil software.

One daring Alliance member, Nebula Fred, refused to go into agreement with the pronouncements and blocks from the Twitterium government. Though he had several ships shot down on his early attempts, in the last two months Fred’s crew from their starship “Texas” have found a new combination of channels allowing them to gain new volume followers on the planet’s surface.  

FaceBorg: The entire FaceBorg system became highly infected with anti Marketing particles, as well as by another particle known as greedium. Galactic Marketers interested in passage through the FaceBorg system (which used to be free), now faced heavy fees entering the system, and for sending communications to the citizens of the planet FaceBorg IV.

Nebula Fred attempted at first to work around the new restrictions of the FaceBorg leaders, but finally concluded that the greedium presence was too strong. He agreed to pay the heavy fees for entering the system and using the FaceBorg communications network. “They betrayed the trust of the Alliance,” stated Fred, “But I still think their network is important and so GMA members need to pay the fees and get on with it.”

LinkedIno: The LinkedIno system offers excellent opportunities for Galactic Marketers to reach the citizens of that solar system. The government there seems to actually like people to come to their system, connect up and conduct trade. The officials there may have been affected by the nearby nebula, whose particles act as a natural deterrent to anti-Marketing particles.

Nebula Fred stated “We have had good success using the LinkedIno email frequencies with promotional message bursts once a month.”

YouTubion: The YouTubion sector is still very open to use by members of the Galactic Marketing Alliance. YouTubions developed the technology to send moving pictures and sound through the vast emptiness of space, and Alliance members are completely free to use this technology for reaching out to potential customers in the YouTubion sector. A slight hitch developed when the YouTubion sector came under control of the Googlion sector, and the Googlions took away some helpful information pathways that were helpful to members of the Alliance. Other than that, still smooth sailing through YouTubion space.

Nebula Fred has been producing the moving picture and sound pieces for several years, and recently got new training in how to use these to sell products to YouTubion sector citizens.

In summary, Nebula Fred stated “You can’t let these Social Quadrant anti-Marketing types get you down or let them stop you. Members of the Galactic Marketing Alliance are fighting the good fight in helping their clients prosper, by defeating the attempts of the anti-Marketing people to stop them.”

Social Media Marketing Formula in 2014

by John Eberhard

The only constant on the Internet is constant change. As you find out if you have an account with some web site, and haven’t logged in for a while. You are likely to find that they have completely changed the interface, and you have learn how to use it all over again.

So it is with social media marketing. Those engaged in marketing via social media have seen significant changes over the last year.

So here is what I think is the right formula for social media marketing today:

First of all, although there has been a lot of change in the social media universe over the last two years, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are still the top three sites you need to worry about. That hasn’t changed. Google+ is an upcoming challenger, though not many people use it yet. It has some die-hard fans though.

Facebook

Facebook is still arguably the top social media site. About a year and a half ago they made some major changes.

Companies had built up large numbers of fans for their Facebook fan pages, and were sending out regular posts to them. Then Facebook changed it so posts to fan page fans only went out to 15-20% of their fans. Companies then had to pay a fee to “boost” the post to go to the rest of the fans.

They instituted a policy that you had to know someone personally outside of Facebook to propose being their friend on a personal Facebook profile. This policy wasn’t totally enforceable, but for new personal profile accounts that did not already have thousands of friends, this pretty much killed using a personal profile for marketing purposes. Plus, Facebook changed it so only 15-20% of your friends would see your posts, the ones who most regularly interact with you on Facebook.

So here is the formula for marketing on Facebook today.

  1. Create a fan page for your business
  2. Work to get lots of fans for the fan page. 100-200 are not enough to make it worth it to send out lots of messages. You need a minimum of say 500, and more likely, thousands.
  3. Set up a Facebook pay per click campaign to promote for people to “like” your page. Bear in mind when setting this up that you want to target people who are potential paying clients, not just anyone.
  4. One company whom I know, has a very successful Facebook fan page. They have run various promotions to get more likes. For instance, they have offered a giveaway, where in order to be in the running for the giveaway, you have a) like their fan page, and b) share the post about the giveaway on your news feed.
  5. Using the “boost” feature, you can offer some sort of giveaway like this, geared to getting more likes, and boost it even beyond all your fans.
  6. Set up “like us on Facebook” buttons throughout your web site.
  7. Study the Facebook fan pages of other successful businesses in your industry and make a list of the types of posts they are doing that make sense for your industry. Also note which ones are getting lots of engagement, i.e. likes and comments and shares. Figuring out what types of things to post is one of the hardest things, but if you find a couple other really good fan pages to study, it can make the process a lot easier.
  8. Start sending out messages at least 2-5 times per week. Work to get engagement from your fans.
  9. Review your fan page several times a week and interact with people who are engaging with your posts. Respond to their comments, answer questions and so on.

So as you can see, it is necessary today to plan a monthly budget for marketing on Facebook, for getting new fans and for boosting posts so they go out to all fans.

Twitter

Twitter has worked very hard over the last year to stop people from marketing on the site. They have been suspending accounts for “aggressive following,” and have tightened that net more and more over the last year.

My attitude is and has been to find ways around the stops that Twitter has been putting up, and to continue to add followers on client Twitter accounts. This has been difficult but we have made a breakthrough on this recently.

Formula for Twitter:

  1. Find ways to get your Twitter followers into the thousands, the higher the better.
  2. As much as possible, target followers that are the right public for your business. If yours is a local business, for instance, target only people in your area. If your business services people with certain interests, target them.
  3. I recommend using software to send out “auto tweets” several times a day. The way you do this is to write a list of 30-50 auto tweets, and then set the software so it sends out 10-20 per day, picking from the list at random. We use Tweet Adder for this.
  4. Your tweets should promote things on your website or blog, and include a link to an article, a video, a press release, to service pages on your site, etc. Use a link shortener for the URL, because you are only allowed 140 characters. The point is you want to include a link, so that your tweets will potentially generate traffic to your web site.
  5. Use hashtags in your tweets. These consist of the pound sign with some topic that people are tweeting about, like #onlinemarketing, #socialmediamarketing, and so on. People on Twitter can search in the search bar at the top for a hashtag, and then will see all the tweets that include that hashtag. This expands the potential reach of your tweets, from just the people following you, to those who are searching for various topics. If they like your tweet they may follow you or retweet it.
  6. Follow your web statistics using Google Analytics, and check each month to see how many people came to your site from Twitter. It will appear in the report of referring websites as “t.co / referral.”
  7. Engage with your Twitter followers by reviewing their tweets, retweeting stuff you like, answering direct emails from people (live emails, not all those auto emails that say thanks for following) and thank people for retweeting your stuff.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn tends to be a lot more friendly to marketing via their site, because the whole premise of the site is that it is for business networking.

Still, they will often try to block you from adding connections once you reach 2,000 or more. At that point they require you to enter in the person’s email address, which then tends to limit it to people you know personally.

LinkedIn recently changed their news feed so that it is more like Facebook, meaning you can “like” posts, share them, and post a comment on them.

LinkedIn formula:

  1. Add a minimum of 25 new connections to your LinkedIn account per month.
  2. Post something at least three times per week.
  3. We engage with your connections once per week, liking other people’s posts, answering questions from connections, etc.
  4. Send out a LinkedIn direct email to all your connections once per month, promoting whatever you want. This has to be done manually due to the way LinkedIn is set up. We have had excellent results with this with our clients, driving traffic to client websites and getting good engagement from connections.
  5. LinkedIn has a lot of groups and you can join them and take part in conversations.

Google+

Though Google+ is not that widely used yet, it does have its adherents. So I recommend starting an account, adding friends, and posting regularly.

General

I believe it is better to post things that include graphics, rather than just text. It has a much better impact with graphics and will be much more likely to get read.

We create accounts on www.bufferapp.com for clients, and use those to send out posts to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can select which of those sites you want to send to. I typically post something directly to Facebook, as I have more control that way, then use www.bufferapp.com to send to Twitter and LinkedIn.

Good luck with your social media marketing!

Marketing Attitude in 2014

by John Eberhard

I have been involved in marketing for 25 years. For a number of those years I worked as a Marketing Director or VP Marketing for a series of companies. For the past six years I’ve had my own company doing marketing services for clients all over the US.

You may have seen my recent two part articles series entitled “Anti-Marketing.” (Thank you to all who responded with positive feedback on those articles.) In that series I took a whimsical approach to a very real problem, which is the tendency in some in positions of power to try to stop marketing from happening.

So in this article I want to talk about what I think is the proper attitude that one should have as a business owner or marketing person.

First of all I think it is important to realize a couple of things:

  1. As a person sending out marketing communications, you are cause.
  2. As cause, you are senior in importance to someone trying to stop you from communicating.
  3. There is nothing wrong with marketing a product or service. Marketing is not only OK to do, it is vital not only for the survival and prosperity of your company, but for the economy as a whole. You should not in any way feel like you have to apologize, or ask for permission to communicate.
  4. Be bold and remember that you have every right to communicate your marketing message via whatever channels exist.
  5. When large and powerful companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook take steps to stop you from delivering your marketing message, I think it is right and proper for you, not to get intimidated and feel guilty or that you have to apologize, but to be persistent and find ways to deliver your marketing communication anyway. This may take the form of finding ways to continue to deliver your marketing communication via the medium that tried to stop you, or it may take the form of moving to another medium.
  6. In the near term on planet earth, whenever you communicate, there will always be people who will try to stop you from communicating.
  7. Right now my perception is that the economy is not going well, despite pronouncements by the government that the recession ended several years ago and things are looking up. My sense is that many people today are still reluctant to spend money, both individuals and in businesses. The government isn’t helping, with laws and regulations that place a greater burden on the public. As marketers we can do our part to help this situation by delivering our marketing communications and creating want for our products or services, thus making people more interested and willing to spend money.
  8. Is part of the anti-Marketing sentiment due to over-saturation of the public with marketing communication? Definitely. The solution to this for marketers is not to be intimidated and apologize and back off, but to continue to communicate your message, and to make that message more effective. You make it more effective by knowing the needs and wants and buttons of your target public, usually by surveying them.
  9. Be persistent, continue to find ways to get your message out there, and be a howling, marketing success!

Anti-Marketing Part 2

by John Eberhard

Greetings hearty galactic marketing traveler! In my article last week I introduced the idea of “anti-Marketing,” and told the story of how anti-Marketing particles have leaked into this universe from an alternate universe, where no one is ever permitted to market anything and everyone is poor.

I was very pleased to find that I got more response to this article than any other article I have ever written in 10 years.

So this article is going to continue the story, and specifically outline where the anti-Marketing particles have infected various areas of the Internet, and outline other areas where members of the Galactic Marketing Alliance can still get through and reach customers.

Blocked Gateways

Twitterium: The government of the Twitterium planet became completely infected with anti-Marketing particles in late 2012, and decided to completely block all new members of the Galactic Marketing Alliance from approaching their planet. Only those who had previously developed thousands of connections to citizens of Twitterium could get any communications through.

Prior to a year and a half ago, it was possible to develop thousands of Twitter followers, and send those people marketing messages, usually with a link to other content such as an article or video. Using this method it was possible to generate traffic to a website from Twitter. But about a year and a half ago, Twitter started cracking down on anyone following numbers of new people per day. It has gone from the point where you could follow over 200 people per day, down to now, where they will suspend your account if you follow more than 5 people per day. As a result it is nearly impossible to get a new account past a couple hundred followers. You can still market to your followers now though, if you already have thousands of followers. If not, forget it.

Googlion Sector: The leaders of the Googlion sector became completely infected with anti Marketing particles 3-4 years ago, and have been hard at work blocking any free passage to their sector by members of the Galactic Marketing Alliance. They introduced software that would detect anyone trying to improve their availability or visibility to citizens in the Googlion sector, and would take their ships and deposit them on the remote and inhospitable moon known as “Sandbox.” They also demonized any efforts by marketers to make themselves more available or better known to sector citizens, labeling their actions as unethical or characterized as wearing a “black helmet.”

Google has been working for over 3 years to inhibit the actions of all search engine optimization (SEO) consultants, by making repeated changes to their algorithm that basically target what the SEOs are doing. As a result this whole area is in flux right now. Google’s actions have not been completely effective and some of the actions that SEOs have been doing are still effective. But it is getting impossible to guarantee a result in this area. Many SEOs are saying “OK, then we’ll change over to this action.” But I think they don’t get that Google is actually targeting them and will keep at it until they destroy the ability of anyone to be cause over their organic rankings.

Open Gateways

AdWordsia: Members of the Galactic Marketing Alliance have complete access to the AdWordsia solar system, and can market their products to citizens of the fourth planet. But there are fairly steep tariffs, and so only the largest ships will make the voyage. For those that can afford the fees, they can do good business on AdWordsia.

Google AdWords is a great way to market products or services on the Internet, but due to the large amount of companies using AdWords and the fact that the cost of clicks is driven by competition, you can only use AdWords to market fairly high ticket items. Don‘t try to sell books or CDs here, because you would lose money on every sale. But home improvement and health care services, and other relatively expensive products or services do very well.

LinkedIno: The LinkedIno system offers excellent opportunities for Galactic Marketers to reach the citizens of that solar system. The government there seems to actually like people to come to their system, connect up and conduct trade. The officials there may have been affected by the nearby nebula, whose particles act as a natural deterrent to anti-Marketing particles.

LinkedIn doesn’t seem to mind people connecting up for business purposes. They have a pay per click program which unfortunately is not very good. But you can develop thousands of connections, post messages promoting your products, and even send emails to your connections within the LinkedIn system promoting your products.

YouTubion: The YouTubion sector is still very open to use by members of the Galactic Marketing Alliance. YouTubions developed the technology to send moving pictures and sound through the vast emptiness of space, and Alliance members are completely free to use this technology for reaching out to potential customers in the YouTubion sector. A slight hitch developed when the YouTubion sector came under control of the Googlion sector, and the Googlions took away some helpful information pathways that were helpful to members of the Alliance. Other than that, still smooth sailing through YouTubion space.

YouTube is a great way to market products and services today. There used to be keyword info on each video and that was taken away recently. But starting a channel and putting regular video content on it is a great way to tell your story.

Partially Open Gateways

FaceBorg: The entire FaceBorg system became highly infected with anti Marketing particles, as well as by another particle known as greedium. Galactic Marketers interested in passage through the FaceBorg system (which used to be free), now faced heavy fees entering the system, and for sending communications to the citizens of the planet FaceBorg IV.

You used to be able to market yourself on Facebook either via a personal profile or a fan page, and you could send out marketing messages to your friends or fans. About a year and a half ago Facebook made changes so that only 15-20% of your fan page fans would see any of your posts, unless you paid a fee each time to boost your post to the other 80-85%. Plus Facebook now has a pay per click program to help you get fans. So you pay coming and going.

Emailicus: The Emailicus message protocol was intercepted and decoded by hostile anti-Marketing fighters a decade and a half ago. They put up blocks to this protocol. These blocks and excessive use of the Emailicus gateways threatened to destroy this protocol for good. In recent years, however, intrepid members of the Alliance have revised this gateway and found ways to get their message out.

Excessive use of email, combined with what I call the rise of spam Nazis, threatened to destroy the use of email for any marketing purposes. But now, there are two ways I think are still effective: 1) Develop an in-house list of customers and prospects and email them a newsletter and/or regular marketing info, and 2) Find email lists for sale (not for rent) and market to them. Always follow the laws and offer a working opt-out system of course.

Stay tuned travelers, for more on the Galactic Marketing Alliance in my next article.

Anti-Marketing

by John Eberhard

In the Star Trek universe, our universe is filled with matter. But there is also anti-matter, and supposedly the controlled combination of the two produces energy powering ships traveling about the galaxy.

But of course you have to be careful in how you combine the two. If you don’t know what you are doing, or if that anti-matter containment field gets ruptured, it’s gonna blow. And you don’t want to be within a couple of light years when that happens.

What you may not be aware of, is that there is another “anti” substance existing right now in our very midst, unsuspected, in this universe, right now. Can you keep a secret? Because I’m not sure the world is ready for this revelation. OK, I’m sure I can count on you.

This substance is called “anti-Marketing.” You may have already seen the signs of these anti-Marketing particles, without even knowing it. I don’t want to alarm you, but I think you have a right to know.

The anti-Marketing particles began leaking into our universe in the early 1990s, and they began attaching themselves to the brains of IT managers, first in the United States, then spreading throughout the world. There is some evidence supporting the idea that these early anti-Marketing particles were able to transmit themselves via the early Internet.

One of the earliest outbreaks of the plague of anti-Marketing particles began in the late 1990s with sites that were formed to keep people from marketing via email, and through a prominent author who wrote a book proposing the idea that you had to have permission before communicating. So addled was his brain by the anti-Marketing particles that he didn’t the see the flaw in his reasoning, that you would need to communicate to get permission, before you could be allowed to communicate. So basically no one could communicate.

Of course, a number of marketers around that time became infected with another disease, namely “overuse the $#@% out of your email lists.” Some observers felt this disease caused the initial leakage of anti-Marketing particles into our universe and they’re probably right.

One of the largest Internet companies became heavily infected with anti-Marketing particles in the mid-2000s. One of their spokesman became entirely infected, proclaiming a set of rules that website owners had to follow, and standing up in front of audiences at tech trade shows and demonstrating to the crowds how his company would find them and penalize them if they didn’t follow the rules. Later the company tried to soften that spokesman’s image, showing how he was a “nice, regular guy,” but savvy observers had already noticed the total infection.

One of the rules put forth by this big company was that whenever you wrote any articles or other content, you could only put that on one web site, otherwise that was called “duplicate content,” which was heavily demonized and eventually considered by most people as low as being a Congressman.

Soon this company began working on its algorithm, and the algorithm became heavily infected with anti-Marketing particles. The algorithm became basically an automated robotic entity, searching out anyone successfully marketing their website via free means on the Internet and penalizing them.

Then the big company started taking useful information away from marketers, though never giving any reason why. Of course we know the real reason – the infection of anti-Marketing particles. You know what I’m talking about.

Companies that were putting out marketing found their campaigns surrounded, rejected and made inert by the now ever-present web of anti-Marketing particles laced throughout the web. The collision of marketing with anti-Marketing particles caused explosions of frustration and flared tempers throughout the online marketing universe.

Some marketers became infected with the anti-Marketing particles themselves, and began spouting ideas like “inbound marketing only,” where you don’t send anything out to promote anything but only wait for people to look for it, and “outbound marketing is dead,” and the latest nonsensical idea, “content marketing,” where you just put up great content and people will automatically find you (though how that happens is never quite explained).

Then in the early 2010s, we saw the full infection of the social Internet web sites with anti-Marketing particles, severely limiting the number of new friends and followers, and charging money to send out communications that used to be free. The infections caused some sites to just cost a lot more to use for marketing, while others became so filled up with anti-Marketing particles (140 particles at a time) that they became impossible to use for marketing.

Some of the Internet philosophers wondered whether the changes made by the big websites were based just on money-motivation, i.e. forcing people to pay the company money to do things they used to be able to do for free. Others said it was just the spread of the anti-Marketing particles throughout the known universe. Others became infected themselves and simply accepted the blocks put up by the big companies, or even parroted the press releases of the big companies themselves. Some said the combining of marketing with anti-Marketing particles produced people resembling sheep.

Other Internet philosophers realized that they needed to thoroughly map the Internet universe and find which gateways offered unrestricted flow of marketing particles, and which gateways blocked marketing and combined it with anti-Marketing particles, rendering the marketing effort inert. These forward thinkers found that by utilizing the remaining unrestricted gateways, and by routing some of their marketing strikes completely outside of the Internet marketing universe, that victory could still be had.

Tune in next week for specifics on which gateways are blocked and which are still unrestricted.

Marketing on Facebook 2014

by John Eberhard

Social media marketing has changed dramatically over the past two years, especially over the last year. Marketing on Facebook has changed almost completely during that time.

Prior to the last year, you could market your product or service on Facebook in a couple of different ways. For example, you could develop a personal profile for yourself, get lots of Facebook friends, then send out messages on your profile that marketed your business. This was effective especially for small businesses with a person at the helm who was an expert or opinion leader in their area.

Or you could build a Facebook fan page, build up lots of fans, then put out regular marketing messages to those people.

The idea with either of these approaches was to put out interesting material and build engagement with your group of friends or fans.

Facebook didn’t really want people to market themselves with a personal profile, for reasons that will become apparent in a minute. I preferred this approach with my clients up until recently because it was much easier to get lots of Facebook friends on a personal profile, than to get thousands of “likes” for a fan page. But you could still market via a personal profile successfully up to the last year, and in some limited cases you can still do it today.

Note that both of these approaches above were essentially free, i.e. you did not have to pay anything to Facebook.

The Changes

A couple of significant changes by Facebook have completely changed how you can market on the site.

  1. They created a new policy that you cannot propose being a Facebook friend to anyone unless you know them personally. To the degree that they can enforce this, it completely eliminates the possibility of using a personal profile to market on Facebook, unless you happen to already have thousands of friends (their limit is 5,000 friends for a personal profile). You may say “So what, Facebook doesn’t want you to use personal profiles to market anyway?” But patience little one, the plot thickens.
  2. A little over a year ago, Facebook made several significant changes:
  3. With a fan page, whenever you posted something to the fan page, it would no longer go out to all of your fans, but only to around 20%. Facebook worked out an algorithm to decide which people would see it, based on who had been responding to your previous posts, i.e. liking the posts, commenting or sharing, etc. They justified this at the time by saying they wanted to make it easier for people by just putting up content in the news feed that they were interested in.
  4. Facebook created a capability within the interface for the owner of a fan page to “boost” their post, i.e. making it visible to more or all of their fans, by paying a fee, which varied depending on how many fans you had. It could be as little as $20 or as high as $1,000, depending on how many fans you had. You would have to pay that for every single post that you wanted to “boost.”
  5. Facebook also changed the way the news feed worked in relation to personal profiles. Now whenever you posted something from a profile, it would only be seen by around 20% of your friends, those who interact with you the most on Facebook. Once again this was justified as only giving people the content they are most interested in.

So I think from the above you can see that these changes have dramatically altered what you can and can’t do on Facebook.

  1. Unless you already have thousands of friends on a Facebook personal profile, you won’t be able to build one up to that level. If you try to add lots of friends with people you don’t know personally, Facebook could find out and suspend your account for up to several weeks.
  2. If you already have thousands of friends on a personal profile, you can still market using that – theoretically. But the problem is that according to Facebook, now only 20% of your friends will see those posts.
  3. Facebook has now clearly pushed everyone over to using a fan page to market. But even here, you will now pay money every time you post something, in order to “boost” it so every one of your fans receives it.

For several years Facebook has had a pay per click ad program, where you could set up ads to display in the right hand column, with a tiny picture and some text. I have used this program and it works well. But now when you go to set up a new pay per click ad campaign on Facebook, the default type of campaign is one that is designed just to get people to like your fan page. You may have seen these in the right hand column, showing a little picture and promoting a fan page with a “like” button.

Now What?

So now, from Facebook’s perspective, you will pay money to get people to like your fan page and then you will pay money to send them messages.

You are probably thinking that I am pushing that we should all feel resentful and stop using Facebook. And yes these changes do rub me the wrong way because they are clearly money motivated and they haven’t seen completely honest about it.

But no, I am proposing we all get over it and accept that Facebook marketing does cost money now and see it for what it is worth and use it if it makes sense for your businesses. I am not one of those Polyanna-ish types who think that everything on the Internet should be free, and I do understand that after the venture capital phase, every business does have to make money.

So here is the program for marketing on Facebook today.

  1. Create a fan page for your business
  2. Work to get lots of fans for the fan page. 100-200 are not enough to make it worth it to send out lots of messages. You need a minimum of say 500 and more likely, thousands.
  3. Set up a Facebook pay per click campaign to promote for people to “like” your page. Bear in mind when setting this up that you want to target people who are potential paying clients, not just anyone.
  4. One company for whom I manage Google AdWords, has a very successful Facebook fan page. They have run various promotions to get more likes. For instance, they have offered a giveaway, where in order to be in the running for the giveaway, you have a) like their fan page, and b) share the post about the giveaway on their news feed.
  5. Using the “boost” feature, you can offer some sort of giveaway like this, geared to getting more likes, and boost it even beyond all your fans.
  6. Set up “like us on Facebook” buttons throughout your web site.
  7. Study the Facebook fan pages of other successful businesses in your industry and make a list of the types of posts they are doing that make sense for your industry. Also note which ones are getting lots of engagement, i.e. likes and comments and shares. Figuring out what types of things to post is one of the hardest things, but if you find a couple other really good fan pages to study, it can make the process a lot easier.
  8. Start sending out messages at least 2-5 times per week. Work to get engagement from your fans.

Here are some Facebook fan pages which I think are managed very well:

https://www.facebook.com/Beautologie
https://www.facebook.com/Pentatonix?ref=profile
https://www.facebook.com/dianakrall?ref=profile
https://www.facebook.com/KingsFamilyDental?ref=br_rs

Note they post a lot of things, use a lot of pictures, and get a lot of engagement.

Why an Offer is Important

by John Eberhard

Bob Stone is the author of “Successful Direct Marketing Methods,” considered one of the bibles of marketing.

“Direct marketing” means to market to someone specifically to get them to respond right now and become a lead or sale, rather than just increasing awareness or branding. Direct marketing includes areas such as direct mail, pay per click advertising, and email marketing, where you can keep exact track of the results you are getting.

Stone says “Maximizing direct mail success depends first upon the lists you use, second upon the offers you make, and third upon the copy and graphics you create.”

So let’s break that down. The order of importance here is:

  • The lists you use
  • The offer you make
  • The copy and graphics you use

We can see that the list is the first consideration in direct mail and email. In other words, the selection of the list will be the largest factor in determining your response rate.

The second consideration in determining your success with any type of marketing or promotion is the offer. So what does he mean by the “offer”? What is an offer?

An offer is what you are offering to the public at the end of a promotional piece to get them to respond. It is part of your call to action. The simplest offer you can make to the public would be “call us and buy our product or service.” But that may not be the best offer you can make. There are other ways of approaching the lead or sale that may work better in terms of numbers of responses. 

Discounts: Offering a discount on a product or service can be a very effective type of offer. Often a discount is offered on a specific product, on a first purchase, and often with a time limit. Obviously your product or service has to be priced in such a way to support a discount and still make money.

A Consultation: Companies will often offer a free consultation, usually for high ticket items. This is a thinly veiled term for the prospect to enter a sales interview, which many people understand. But a consultation is often a very important part of the process for the buyer, especially with complicated products or services where he will have lots of questions. So in cases like that the buyer will want to have a consultation and that will overcome his fear of a sales cycle. In home improvement industries this would be called a “free inspection,” where the sales person would go out and inspect the person’s home and then give them a quote and a sales pitch.

Free Item with Purchase: This is similar to a discount, where the person gets some item for free with a specific purchase or a purchase over a certain dollar amount. Usually the free item is not very expensive or is inexpensive but with a higher perceived value.

Loss Leader Discount: Some companies will offer such a deep discount on the person’s first purchase that the company actually loses money on it. This is only effective on products or services where there is a high percentage of continuing sales. So the company will be willing to lose money on the first sale and make money on the continuing sales.

Hard and Soft Offers

In an earlier article I talked about hard and soft offers. In marketing technology, there is a scale of offers, from “hard” to “soft.” A “hard offer” is defined as an offer that is basically to buy the product or service right now, a discount on the price of the item, or something that leads directly to a sale, such as an appointment with a salesperson.

A “soft offer” is any kind of offer that gets the person to respond right now, but does not lead directly to a sale right now. About the softest offer you can get is for the person to be entered in some kind of sweepstakes. Some other types of soft offers could include:

  • An email newsletter subscription
  • An information product, such as a special report or “white paper” on some specific topic
  • Case histories of your clients and the results they got from your product or service
  • A free software demo (for software sales)
  • A free software utility that does something useful
  • Attending a free webinar or teleseminar
  • Attending a free in-person seminar
  • Some inexpensive gift, like a free T-shirt, pen, hat, etc.

Soft offers are necessary in some fields, especially with high ticket (expensive) items. The idea is that you are attracting people who would be a prospect for your product or service but who are not ready to buy right now. Soft offers are an excellent way to build up your in-house email list, so you can then market directly and regular to those people for nominal cost. I’ll discuss some of those examples above.

Information Products: These are especially important in highly technical fields, where people will seek out detailed information before buying a product or service. You basically put together a “special report” or “white paper” on a specific subject directly related to your product or service. You then require the person to give you his email address and/or other contact info to get the item. The report contains helpful information and is not a blatant sales pitch. Since the report is specifically about the topic of your product or service, people requesting it will theoretically be the right public.

Email Newsletter: This is a must for many types of companies, and it allows you to send out helpful information but also include a sales pitch as well, on a regular basis. Of course it is a time commitment to continue to make the newsletters and send them out regularly.

Webinars and Teleseminars: This is becoming a very effective method for many types of businesses, once again usually for businesses selling expensive items. People will expect there to be a sales pitch at the end.

Free Giveaways: These can be effective as a way to build a list, and have been used especially at trade shows to attract people into a booth.

One caution with soft offers is that you can tend to attract people who aren’t really a prospect but only want the free item. This is why I usually stay away from free giveaways (except at trade shows) and tend more towards free information products, as anyone requesting those will at least have interest in the topic.

Some business owners shy away from any kind of offer other than “set an appointment” or “buy the product now,” feeling that discounts or other types of offers attract the wrong type of client. I understand the need to get the right kind of client. But it is also important to consider the offer you are making, notice what types of offers your competitors are making, and to get creative and try different offers. The whole idea is you are working to get better response. Surveys or testing will tell you which offers will work the best.