March 27, 2007

What's New in Internet Marketing - Part 3: Email Marketing



Of course, email marketing isn't new; we've been doing it for over 10 years now. But according to some of the latest research into email marketing, over 70 percent of email marketers say the impact of it is increasing, not decreasing.

Anyone who uses email marketing techniques can tell you, getting through spam filters is part of the battle. While text-only emails received the poorest return-on-investment numbers, some ISPs are now blocking HTML emails and only allowing text emails to get through (notably BellSouth).

It's a quandary: produce newsletters that will get through filters, or produce newsletters that get results? I wish I could tell you otherwise, but truly, there are no easy answers to this question. However, here are some tips that might help you to think differently about your campaigns:

  • Instead of a full newsletter or a long email, consider the "postcard" format for an email; email postcards received 75% higher click rates.
  • Higher ROI tweaks include testing your email campaign with an A/B split, altering your subject line, having a specific landing page for your campaign (instead of merely sending them to your normal home page); and re-sending the same email message two weeks after sending the first one (especially if your email software can send it to only those people who did not open the first email)
  • Consider putting your call to action in your subject line (register for the class, sign up for the discount coupon, call for a free quote)
  • While 65 percent of emails now come with suppressed images, a large majority of users will manually turn those images on. This means that you should include images in your email campaigns.
  • According to MarketingSherpa.com survey results, once-a-month mailings actually have less impact than shorter, weekly mailings.
  • Consider segmenting your email mailing campaigns between customers and prospects, tailoring the message to them based on whether they've purchased from you before or not.

 

March 19, 2007

93% of Cyber Attacks Are on Home Computers

For the self-employed, keeping our own (and our customer's) data secure is a necessary requirement to doing business.

Accoring to this article on MSNBC, "...during the last half of 2006, 93 percent of all targeted attacks were aimed at home machines. ID thieves know many of us store sensitive data, such as banking information, on our computers. They also know we often get careless when it comes to security."

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you store bank or credit card information on your PC (either your own or your clients')?
  2. Do you store login IDs and passwords on your PC?
  3. Do you have any software in place to help prevent identity theft?
  4. Are you aware of the common identity theft scams?
  5. If you store bank or credit card information, or login IDs and passwords, on paper, do you have this paper locked up? How do you dispose of this paper?

 

March 16, 2007

Cingular, Others, Blocking Free Conference Calls


In early March, according to this blog post by Paul Kapustka, and this blog post by Seth Godin, several phone companies are blocking cell phone and landline calls to conference calls through FreeConference.com and FreeConferenceCall.com. These companies include AT&T/Cingular, Sprint and Qwest.

This is a huge, big deal for many small business owners, who use these free conference call services to set up team meeting, group phone calls, mastermind groups, and teleclasses. I know many of my colleagues in the Coaching industry use these services for their teleclasses and group coaching calls.

If you use one of these free conference call services for your conference calls, be aware that some of your participants may not be able to access your conference call.

Note that Passion For Business does not use these free services for our teleconference lines, so this should not affect any of you calling in for our teleclasses or mastermind groups.

March 14, 2007

A New Edition of "Think and Grow Rich!!"


As many of you know, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is one of my all-time favorite books. I can remember reading it back in the 1980s and I always re-read it every five years or so.


Written in the 1930s, this book is both a classic AND very modern. But the older version had some dated references to culture, politics, business and life during the Great Depression. Now the best thing has happened: They've given the book a face-lift, updating it for today's reader without losing all the wisdom held within.


If you haven't read Think and Grow Rich, now is your time! And if you've read an older version, I think this updated version will be a welcome addition to your self-development library.

March 6, 2007

Do 50 Percent of Small Businesses Really Fail?

Legend has it that 50 percent of all small businesses fail.

According to an article on MSNBC, two-thirds of small businesses make it past the two-year anniversary. However, only 44% reach their four-year anniversary. Ouch.

The news isn't all bad. Built into this model are 10 industries that seem to have the highest risk. Failure rates are not consistent across all industries. (See article for this list of 10 industries.)

According to most sources, it seems like the same things bring down a business: lack of business and marketing skill (both planning and implementation of plans), poor cash flow, and heavy debt. Factoring in the risky industries, it may be that some industries are way above that 44% survival rating, while others are drastically below it.

March 2, 2007

Are Ebooks and Downloadable MP3s a Good Strategy for Information Product Marketing?



The other day I bought an e-book (a book in PDF format) for $28. It's a great book full of the information I was seeking. I could tell that the author really put a lot of thought and research into the writing of the book. I was so impressed, I told a friend about the e-book. He said, "Why don't you email it to me?"

According to a study conducted by Digital Life America, "Only 40% believe downloading copyrighted movies off the Internet [without paying for them] is a 'very serious offense' – compared to the 78% who believe taking a DVD from a store without paying is a 'very serious offense'."

Somehow we've begun to believe that stealing a physical product is wrong, but downloading or sharing an electronic file without paying is okay.

People's reasoning usually goes something like this: "The person who created the book/DVD/CD didn't lose out on anything because the file didn't cost them anything to produce and package." People understand that printing a book, or duplicating and packaging CDs and DVDs cost money, but have the idea that making an electronic file doesn't cost the author anything.

Let me tell you about my wholly-biased point of view: I just spent 20 hours editing a five-hour audio program on Internet Marketing, and another 12 hours writing the student guide that will accompany it. But that's not all. It took me over 20 hours to design the class, 5 hours to teach and record the class, and another 8 hours to prep for each class session and help the students with their homework assignments. I have no idea how long it took me to research all the material for the class, as I've been studying the topic for over 10 years now. At a minimum, it took me 65 hours to create this audio product.

I typically charge $165 per hour for my coaching and consulting time. Since I had to spend 65 hours of my time to create the audio program, that $10,725 in billable consulting time that I could not give to my clients.

My mastermind group and I have been debating the pros and cons of selling this audio program as a downloadable file versus creating a physical product (5 CDs plus a 56-page printed book):


  • The cost to duplicate the CDs, print the book, package the set, and ship them out to customers is quite high per set.

  • Some people seem to enjoy being able to have instant access to self-study material they purchase on the Internet (though, according to MarketingSherpa, a surprising number of people never do open or read e-books they purchase).

  • Taking the risk of someone purchasing my downloadable MP3 audio and PDF book, then sharing those files with others, creates the possibility of my losing an extreme amount of money.

Lest you think I'm paranoid, let me offer you this statistic from my own website:

In 2006, I offered a free e-book and audio to people, but only if they registered for it. Over 700 people registered for it. But the files were downloaded a whopping 3,682 times. This is only for the number of people who went to my site to download the files; there's no telling how many people emailed the files to their friends as an attachment.

Eventually I took the free offer off my site, completely disheartened and disillusioned by the number of people who would happily give the direct file-downloading URL to a friend, instead of the URL asking them to register.

Now I'm trying to decide whether to make my upcoming products downloadable, or go the physical products route. I'd love to know which one you'd prefer and what your thoughts are on file sharing.