Monthly Archives: June 2011

5 Top Lies Told about Internet Marketing

Pinnochio -- lies Internet marketers tellThere are lies, damn lies and lies told about Internet marketing. Okay, so I’m taking liberties with the old saying about statistics, however the reality is that no one seems to lie like Internet marketers lie. Sometimes, the lies are outright lies which have absolutely no basis in reality. Other times, the lies are more like half truths or things that could be true but probably aren’t true.

Now I should say from the get go that I am an Internet marketer. I make my entire living on the Internet, mostly from writing for various websites, however also occasionally from selling other products. That said, because I don’t work directly in the make money online niche, I’m less likely to be the sort who feels the need to deceive my customers and give them a false sense of hope.

So, here are five lies that many Internet marketers tell, especially in the field of “make money online,” though there are other fields which are rife with lies as well.

I Made X Amount of Money Using This Product/Method, etc.

By far the most common lie ever told about Internet marketing is the line about how someone made gobs of money using this that or the other method or product.

I cannot tell you how many times I see people on Warrior Forum who are asking for basic advice on how to make their first dollar online, but they have in their signatures “this is the exact method I used to make $5,872.12.” The number is always an odd number, never something in round numbers, probably because they think that will be more believable.

I’ve also seen thousands of ads all over the Internet where people scream about the fact that they are making gobs of money and it’s so easy to do it. I still get a chuckle when I think of one guy who created a whole video talking about he has girls and fancy cars and everything else and how he was giving away his secrets for just $47 because he wants it to be affordable for everyone. Then, he says “and if you can’t afford even that, then you’re more pathetic than I even thought at first.”

The Reality:

Yes, there are some people who genuinely have made that much money using their methods or products or whatever. Rich Schefren for example comes to mind as someone who is well known for having made money. Ditto for John Chow and also Kim Roach and a few others that I actually have a certain amount of respect for.

For the large majority of these people however, one of three things is going on:

  1. They didn’t make a penny with this thing and they are lying and or using a photoshopped version of their bank account statement or Clickbank results page.
  2. They made some money and are exaggerating what they made.
  3. They made the money they say they did, but the method or product is now saturated and has run its course.

Bottom line, take anything you hear in the make money online niche with a huge grain of salt. Speaking of which, here’s lie number 2:

This Secret Method Will Bring You Gobs of Traffic

I’ve been working in the world of SEO for quite a while now and I will be the first to admit, I don’t know everything about it. I doubt there is anyone alive who can claim to know every possible method for attracting traffic to your website.

However, that said, I do know a great deal about this subject and I have looked at dozens of reports and hundreds of articles claiming to provide some secret method for building backlinks or otherwise getting traffic to your website. I put the word secret in italics because of the fact that about 90% of the time, these so called secret methods aren’t worth anything. Here’s the truth:

The Reality

As I said, I’ve looked at lots of these so called secret methods. In the vast, vast majority of cases, they are either worthless or they aren’t so secret after all (or both). One of my favorite examples was a WSO where a guy was promoting an offer to use a “secret, new method” help you build thousands of new targeted Twitter followers overnight for free.

The report was just $5. I bought it was and was shocked when he had the nerve to be selling the fact that you can use Twiends to do this. Not only is Twiends well known (Google “Get Twitter followers” and it comes up in the adwords ad as the first entry) but I also found that the hype was just that.

The reality was that Twiends allows you to follow people and in exchange get points for being followed by others. In theory, it should allow you to get targeted followers since it shows you a list of people you may be interested in following.

However, it also shows you a list of random people to follow, most of whom are offering more points for following them. Whom do you think will get followed first? When I tried it, I added a few new followers, none of whom were worth anything and in exchange, I was stuck following people I didn’t care about either.

Okay, enough about Twiends. Bottom line, I have found very, very few methods that are truly “secret” or even not well known. In most cases, you can find all this information with some good Google searches. These methods may be “secrets” to newbs, but for seasoned people, we know what to do to find them and if we don’t, the odds are good that it’s because they don’t work very well.

This is So Easy – Just a Few Clicks to Make Money/Get Traffic

The only reason this isn’t first on my list of Internet marketing lies is that I hope that most of my readers know about this by now as being an obvious lie. However, it is by far the most prevalent lie told today in the world of Internet marketing and making money online.

I have alternatively seen people make claims that they could help you make thousands of dollars in just one week or that they could help you build your traffic up to millions of hits per day with just a few easy steps. It’s truly sad, but the fact is that newbs in this business keep believing this pathetic garbage.

The Reality

There are no quick fixes and there are no “easy” methods to strike it rich or get boatloads of traffic to your website. I’m sorry – they just don’t exist and anyone who tells you otherwise is a bald faced liar. Now, that’s not to say money can’t be made online or that it can’t be “easy” in the sense that you don’t need to be a genius to do it. However, that does mean that you can’t expect to simply click your mouse a few times and just rake in the cash.

Case in point: I once attended a webinar where there were two presenters and one guy kind of dropped out after introducing himself saying he was busy doing something he wanted to show us later in the webinar.

He came back about 45 minutes in and showed us that he had found a product on Clickbank to promote and that he had created a website to promote it in that time. He implied that it was that easy to make gobs of money online – just find a product, set up a website and watch the cash roll in.

What this guy didn’t bother to mention is the thousands of backlinks he’d have to build, the additional content he’d need to add or all the work that would be involved in promoting this website to the general public so that they’d get there, find out about this miracle product and buy it through his link.

Again, it’s not particularly difficult to do these things and there are automation tools as well as companies (such as this one) who will help you with most or all of that work. However, it is still work and it will still take a lot of time to make the steady income he claimed could be had for 45 minutes worth of work.

This Webinar Will Tell You Everything You Need to Know About XXXX

I will say this much: I am a huge fan of John Chow and one of the big reasons why I’m such a fan is because he really does provide webinars with serious amounts of content and without lots of fake hype. Most such webinars however are anything but actual content.

The Reality

I have found that the vast, vast, vast majority of webinars where I was told to have a pen and paper ready because I’d want to take notes on all these wonderful pieces of information they were going to share were a waste of time.

Case in point was a webinar where I was told I’d learn everything I need to know about making money selling PLR ebooks on the Kindle.

In reality, the guy spent around 45 minutes building up how wonderful the Kindle is and how it’s such an amazing way to make gobs of money. Then, he made a big show of showing us how to sign up for a Kindle publisher account and how to buy a PLR ebook. That was pretty much the extent of what he shared.

Everything else, such as formatting the book, picking titles, prices, marketing, creating covers, etc. were part of his $997 course, which was of course heavily discounted if you act right now, since it’s ordinarily $5,000. That by the way, brings me to the final lie.

This is a $XXX Value, Yours Free (or for a steep discount)

I really have to wonder why a report that is supposedly worth $97 is being given away for free. Who said it’s worth $97? Do they sell it elsewhere for that amount of money?

The Reality

Some of these reports really will have some value to them. Most in fact have some value to them. However, I hate these guys who claim to put a dollar figure on their reports, usually a vastly inflated figure which has no bearing in reality.

My personal favorite was one guy who claimed to be offering a report worth $1997 for just $5. Now I ask you, if your report really is worth two grand, are you really interested in promoting it to someone looking for a $5 product? I think not.

The fact is that while some of these reports may be worth something to you, you shouldn’t be suckered by the ridiculous inflated prices they claim these things are worth. Just get your free report and accept it for what it is – a free report.

Bottom Line

As I said earlier, the bottom line is this: there are lies, damn lies and Internet marketers. Not all of us are dishonest and many of us really do make a living working full time online. However, there are also many people who are looking for a get rich quick scheme and think that just one more report or method or program will do the job for them. These people are regularly taken advantage of by charlatans who make their money selling false dreams.

The reality is that being an Internet marketer is a business like any other – it requires hard work and dedication (and a deep ability to ask yourself, do I really need to buy another program or report or is this another lie told by unscrupulous Internet marketers to part me from my money?)

Building Relationships with Your Customers

Handshake -- building a relationship with your customersBuilding a relationship with your customers is probably the single most important thing that you can do as the owner of an online business. However, too often, we tend to focus on SEO work, trying to gather ever more traffic rather than retaining the traffic we already have coming in.

The fact is however that it’s much easier to keep someone coming back for more than it is to get new people to come by, especially when you want those new people to purchase something. So, with that in mind, here are five strategies for building relationships with your customers so that they’ll continue to come back and buy more things from you.

Follow Up

This is one of those “duh” things that most of us just don’t do when we create a relationship with a customer. No, follow up doesn’t mean you bombard a new customer with another spam e-mail every single day, offering the latest junk that you’re trying to sell them. It does however mean that you make a genuine effort to stay in touch.

Take the time for example to send out a survey a day or two later asking your customers what they thought of your website.

Write as well e-mails which have helpful information which they genuinely may want to know and without a hint of marketing. These e-mails should be pure information and offer your customers something genuinely useful, kind of like a newsletter, but a newsletter which actually provides real information rather than tooting your own horn.

If you do these things, then you can also send out occasional marketing e-mails. The key however is to provide genuine value which doesn’t sound like marketing in most cases. This way, your customers will actually look forward to hearing from you.

Consider Occasion Postcards

If you’ve got your customer’s physical address, because you had to mail them something (or because they were billed for something), consider sending out physical postcards to your customers for special occasions, such as the holidays. These should be generic enough to look innocuous to anyone, so that no matter who your customers are, they won’t be offended. Something like “Happy Holidays” is appropriate here.

Another idea with postcards which I always loved were the “random occasion” postcards. This is a clever idea I saw years ago which someone had put into place to build relationships with customers and they worked wonders.

This marketer would have generic postcards made up which said “congratulations on your happy occasion.” She would then send out randomly to her customers throughout the year. The idea of these postcards was that almost everyone has some happy occasion going on at one time or another – a birthday, an anniversary, a promotion at work, etc. She reported that she would regularly get pleasant calls from customers saying “thank you so much –how did you know?”

Depending on the kind of business you run, you may also want to take a page from Ben and Jerry’s and Baskin Robins. Both of those companies offer to put people onto a registrar for a free scoop of ice cream on their birthday.

The idea is that most people will come in with their friends, all of whom will then buy ice cream while they give away a free scoop to this one person. Of course, this doesn’t work for every online business, but it can work for many of them to build customer relationships.

This is all about brand building, which is an important part of building up your relationship with your customers and as such is an important way to get them excited about your company.

Run Customer Only Specials

Another great way to build up a relationship with your customers is to have specials offered only to previous customers. These would involve providing them with a coupon which is redeemable only by them so that they can use it to make another purchase from you. These kinds of coupons make your customers feel special and generally are well received by them.

The reason they work so well is that most companies offer specials to reel in new customers rather than build relationships with existing customers.

I’m reminded of a Sprint commercial from a few years ago, which flopped because it was trying to get new customers by showing that they offered great service to existing customers. They had a kindergarten teacher offering the new kid in the class the giant box of crayons while all the other kids go the broken leftovers and she justified it by explaining that “she’s new.”

This commercial brings me to another point regarding building relationships with your customers – don’t advertise it, just do it. Customers don’t want to be preached to about how you are so much better than the competition because you treat them with respect even after they are customers.

Instead, when you show them that they are special, they tend to respond that much more readily to your overtures and they will be that much more likely to stay your customers and to recommend you to their friends. It’s a kind of a conspiratorial thing almost, where they like to feel as if they’ve “discovered” one of the few decent companies left in the world, which actually cares for its customers and they can share the “secret” with their friends.

Don’t Forget the One Time Offer

This one is something that many Internet Marketers quickly figure out, but I thought I’d throw it in there anyway for those who are new to the business or who aren’t so savvy on internet marketing. The idea is that when someone has made an initial purchase from you and already has their credit card out, they are more likely to make another purchase if you make a special offer to them.

The way it works is that once they check out, you have a splash screen with a special offer which is offered to them “this one time only.” Then, you allow them to purchase the product only from that special link, which expires once they close the page. The key here is to genuinely make it a one time offer and not an offer you throw around for just anyone. If it’s truly a deal, then they’re more likely to make a purchase.

Don’t Lie

This isn’t actually one of the five strategies – another one is coming up after this. Rather, this is an extension of the one-time offer thing and is also useful for general marketing as well. Nothing ticks customers off more than when they see that you are making the same “special” offer now that you made before.

Be sure to be honest with your customers and allow them to feel as if they are genuinely going to be made a special offer. Otherwise, no amount of marketing will actually allow you to retain customers since they’ll always assume you’re lying to them.

Unfortunately, I find that too many Internet marketers tend to think that their customers are stupid and they therefore try to deliberately pull a fast one. This may work sometimes to bring in short term profits, but it will never work for the long term when you are trying to build a real relationship with your customers.

Have Real Customer Service

Finally, one more strategy for building relationships with your customers: have real customer service available for them. This means that when they take the time to send you an e-mail with a question you don’t wait three weeks to answer them. You try to answer within 24 hours and sooner if at all possible.

Consider as well offering a toll free phone number for customers to be in touch with you as well as a real, live human being to speak to them. Most people hate voice mail services and will really appreciate the old style thing where you are willing to talk them, person to person when they call.

Just make sure to keep the cranks off the phone. I still remember when I ran a business of my own many years ago, I had one customer call me and chatter on for fifteen minutes about nonsense, without actually making a purchase. Today, if the same thing happened, I’d flat out ask the customer if there was something related to the company that I could help them with. If they said no, then I’d say “thank you for your call. Have a nice day” and hang up on them.

This idea, providing real customer service, more than anything else will build a loyal brand following for you because customers are used to crappy customer service and by offering them a quality experience, you already stand head and shoulders over the competition.

Bottom Line

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to think about what you would want from a company if you were a customer of yours. Then go out of your way to do the same for your customers. Trust me, it will work wonders for developing real relationships with your customers and keeping them coming back for more.

Creating a Web TV Series to Generate Traffic

film strip -- Creating a web TV series for building trafficSo I’ve been thinking about this idea for a while and it’s still one which is percolating for me, but I thought I’d share it here because I love the concept. The idea is to create a web TV show which highlights your website and which can then drive traffic for you. In essence, my thought was to do my own version of the Invested Life, which is a web series put out by MSN Money to encourage people to visit that site. Here’s how it works:

The Invested Life

Let me start by briefly explaining how the Invested Life works and then I’ll cover how you could do this in a simpler way. First, the Invested Life is a professionally produced web series from MSN Money. It includes a number of episodes where you have actors playing out various roles which teach people about smart investing and money advice.

The series has been a hit for MSN Money and they have been continuing the series, adding new episodes periodically.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

Now I’m not suggesting that the model you follow needs to be the model of the Invested Life. That series is cheap by the standards of Microsoft to produce, but ungodly expensive by the standards of a small time business owner (I think they spend around $50,000-$100,000 per episode). Obviously, most of us don’t have that kind of a budget to spend. However, there are ways to create web video series which won’t cost an arm a leg. That’s what I want to suggest here.

Start With an Idea

The idea I came up with was to do “news reports” about issues in personal finance (since I own a personal finance blog in addition to writing for Quantum SEO Labs). Basically, it would involve me standing in front of a green screen (I’ll explain what that is shortly) and explaining a concept in personal finance.

I’d splice in stock footage from various locations around the world to create a professional image for the series and basically it would be the equivalent of watching the TV news with a report on a subject in personal finance.

Obviously, you need to come up with something interesting which would fit within your own niche to allow your customers to enjoy your own web series. This does require being somewhat creative and writing a script, so if you’re not comfortable with that, consider hiring a professional to do the job for you.

You can usually find someone on a place like Elance for a few dollars per script, depending on how long of a script you are looking for (Personal plug: I’m also occasionally available for hire, though I tend to be fairly booked up and am not the cheapest writer around).

Figure Out Who Stars

The next issue is who will be reading for your script. Note that it’s generally much easier to do a one person series than to do a scripted show like the Invested Life. That’s because when you have two people, they need to be able to act and play off of each other in a show.

If the two people you have acting don’t know what they’re doing, your web series could easily be a huge flop, so it’s better to simply stick with the news style show (again, in my opinion).

If You Stiffen In Front of the Camera

Now, if you tend to stiffen up on camera, then there are two ways to get around this problem. The first is to hire someone else to do the job for you (you can often find someone on sites like Fiverr who will be happy to do these kinds of jobs).The second option is to practice.

I remember when I was learning public speaking many years ago that I read somewhere that if you really need practice, just take your speech, stand on a soap box on a public street and start reading your speech out loud. Most people will ignore you completely, but it’s a great way to relieve the stress of stage fright.

Personally, I got over it by taking a class in public speaking and forcing myself to volunteer every chance I got to speak. These days, I can easily stand in front of a crowded auditorium and give a speech, though I still get a bit of the butterflies when I have to do so. It used to be however that I literally couldn’t speak (I was valedictorian in my high school and basically squeaked out that I wanted to thank the principal for everything he’d done for us and then got off the stage in under 5 seconds).

What is a Green Screen?

Okay, let’s get back to making our web series. I mentioned earlier that my idea involved me standing in front of a green screen. In essence, a green screen is a screen which is colored green.

If you’ve ever watched the weatherman on the TV news, then you’ve seen a green screen in action. Basically, they stand in front of a screen or wall painted green (or blue) and they point to things which aren’t actually there. The graphics you see are actually computer generated and entered in at the same time the person is speaking.

Green screens are also commonly used in movies, especially science fiction movies, since they need to show a set which may not actually exist.

The reason that they are green (or blue – in which case it’s a blue screen) is that those colors do not appear in natural human pigment so that you show up cleanly and the computer can cut away the green (theoretically – I saw a fan produced Star Trek show which had a horrible green screen job where you could see the green outline around everyone who was speaking).

How Does a Green Screen Work?

Basically, what you would do for a green screen is to set up a sheet of green or blue material for you stand in front of. Then, you would use software such as Adobe Premier to remove the green screen and to impose a different background (a news room for example).

Note that you can buy professional green screens for hundreds of dollars, however a simple piece of fabric from a fabric store which is kept smooth and pinned to the wall will do the job for a fraction of the price.

Or Do Without a Green Screen

If you prefer not to go to all that trouble, you could also construct a physical set which is reasonably simple. Basically, you’ll need a blank bit of wall and a piece of clear plastic which has your website logo on it to hang behind you. You could also craft a “news desk” from some plywood and fabric, or you could stand, as needed. I did both of those things years ago when I worked on a public access TV show in New York City.

Some people also simply set up a desk to stand in front of and speak. The choice is really yours as to how you want to handle it and how professional you want your web series to look.

Get a Camera and Tripod

This should be obvious – the video capture function on your still camera or smart phone is likely not a good choice for this. You can purchase an inexpensive video camera for around $100-$150 which will record in HD and does a decent job. You should also mount it on a tripod (even if you have someone to run the camera, the tripod will give you a more professional look since it means there is no camera shake which happens when you handhold a camera).

Lighting

Finally, let’s talk lighting. If you want to do this in a completely professional way, you could invest in studio lighting. However it’s not really necessary for our purposes. You can also create your web TV series either outdoors where you have good sunlight and quiet, or indoors where you have very good regular lighting (put in at least a 200W bulb and ideally have a few lamps on either side as well to make sure you are well lit when recording).

Editing

Once you’ve recorded your raw material, use a program such as Adobe Premier to edit the result. For our purposes, you may be able to get away with Premier Elements, which is much cheaper and which includes many of the features that premier includes.

Basically, you’ll want to take your recording and splice in stock footage of various other things (for example, if you were doing a report on retail stores and where the cheapest prices can be had on groceries, you might splice in some footage of people shopping with you speaking over the video).

Stock Footage

Finally, a word on stock footage. I found several websites which offer to sell you all the stock footage you need for reasonable prices. The one that seems to have the best selection however is VideoBlocks. They also include a subscription plan which means that you don’t have to pay a per download fee.

Another which seems to have a good selection, though they’re more expensive is Shutterstock. I have seen a few places offering free material for download, though they don’t have the same selection. Just make sure that when you do sign up with any of these places that you only choose “royalty free” footage. Otherwise, you would be required to pay a fee every time someone watches your video rather than simply when you download.

Bottom Line

Is this for everyone? Probably not. I admit I haven’t had the time to do it myself, but it is something I plan to do in the near future and I do believe that a web TV series can potentially be a great way to attract new people to your website.

by EricHammer, on       6 comments