Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Marketing Your Business With Case Studies

Marketing is all about credibility, the more your customer believes in your advertising the more likely he is to purchase your service or product.

A great way to increase the credibility of your marketing is to let satisfied customers sell your service or product for you. Case studies are a wonderful way to do this.

Case studies can be used as stand alone advertising or they can be embedded into longer manuscripts to increase their lead generating power.

Stand alone uses are as short articles and press releases. You can indicate in the text that a longer version, with more detail, is on your website and generate additional traffic.

Where case studies really display their benefits is when they are used to enhance marketing pieces like white papers, booklets, CDROMs, and websites.

You’ve created a great white paper defining your customer’s problem and educating them on how to solve it, then you start to tell them how your product meets their need better then anybody else’s product. Sounds like the perfect white paper, doesn’t it?

But is it? Wouldn’t it be better to show them instead of just telling them? Showing increases “buy in” from your readers. Case studies do just that. They show your customer how others used your product to solve their problems. They make your product claims believable.

Nothing your copywriter puts on paper is as powerful as the honest expression of a satisfied customer.

So how do you create a case study? First you need to talk to your customers and find out what they liked about your product. Interview them and get plenty quotes.

Don’t forget to get a signed release so you can use their comments in your case study. This is important. To get the maximum benefit you need to give full attribution in your case study.

For example, R. P. in Texas doesn’t cut it. Rick Parrott, Parrott Writing Services, San Antonio, Texas is much better because it puts a face behind the words. People can identify with Rick Parrott, who can identify with R. P. in Texas?

The structure of a case study is really simple and straight forward.

Case Study Structure

Step One: Tell your readers about your customer. Make them see her as a real person.

Step Two: Define the problem in terms that your reader can understand.

Step Three: Show the process your customer went through as she tried to find a solution. Make your reader identity with your customer. If your reader says, “Hey that’s happening to me!” you’re dead on target!

Finish step three with your customer selecting your product.

Step Four: In this step you will need to show your reader the process required to implement the solution selected by your customer.

This step is also a good place to discuss the results and benefits your customer received because she selected your product.

Step Five: Finally, have your customer tell how well your product solved her problem and if she would recommend it to others.

Most case studies seem to run between 600 and 1500 words. You want to use enough space to get the message across that your product does what you claim it does.

Let the document into which you embed the case study supply most of the details, use just enough in your case study to help the reader identify with the problem and solution.

One final thing, I find keeping the tone of your case study conversational is better. Who wants to read long boring text? Use your customers own words when ever possible.

Parrott Writing Services, a San Antonio Texas company specializing in white papers, case studies, ghostwriting, and technical writing for small businesses.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Rick_Parrott

MSE Marketing Systems
Your Small Business Partners
Michael Epstein

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How To Keep Your Website Fresh With RSS

One of the biggest reasons people visit websites is to get information. If you can regularly provide fresh, quality content on your website you can expect to be rewarded by visitors and return visitors. What's more, you will be rewarded by the search engines. I recommended that you add new and original content to your site as often as possible, ideally once a day.
Regularly adding fresh and original content:
- Keeps your site visitors coming back
- Continually adds value to your website
- Makes people more comfortable buying from your site
- Establishes yourself as an authority in your industry
- Greatly helps your site rank higher in search engines
All of the above factors translate into revenue.
We all know how hard adding original and fresh content is, especially if you're the business owner. You have to be original, creative, organized, thoughtful and motivated, and above all, able to write. So what's a website owner or business owner supposed to do? RSS may be the answer.
What Is RSS?
Here's the Wikipedia definition of RSS: RSS is a family of web feed formats specified in XML (a generic specification for data formats) and used for Web syndication. RSS delivers its information as an XML file called an "RSS feed", "webfeed", "RSS stream", or "RSS channel". These RSS feeds provide a way for users to passively receive newly released content (such as text, web pages, sound files, or other media); this might be the full content itself or just a link to it, possibly with a summary or other metadata (data describing the content).
RSS feeds are operated by many news web sites, weblogs, schools, and podcasters.
"RSS" can stand for any of the following phrases:
Really Simple Syndication (RSS 2.0)
Rich Site Summary (RSS 0.91, RSS 1.0)
RDF Site Summary (RSS 0.9 and 1.0)
Want to see an example of RSS in action? Go to the Oak Web Works, LLC homepage (www.oakwebworks.com/), and look at the bottom of the right-hand column under the title 'Latest Tech News'. This is actually two RSS feeds from other websites.
Our company homepage was very static. It didn't change very much since the services we offer stay basically the same. Why should any visitors come back if every time they come to our site, the content is exactly the same? They don't have much of a reason.
Interestingly, that's the way search engine spiders were programmed to "think" as well. Spiders are programs written for search engines to regularly surf the Web and record what's there. That recording goes into the search engine's databases ready to be accessed by the next searcher. This process is called indexing.
For example, Google will send out a spider to your site and index a lot of it, but not always all of it. It determines how often to revisit and index your site by how often you update it. If you update it every day, then it will visit much more often than if you rarely update it. Engines also consider the homepage to be the most important page, so it's good to update it even more often than the rest of your site.
Again, if you struggle with adding fresh content, then RSS may be the answer. We didn't write the headlines under 'Latest Tech News' on our homepage. Instead, the RSS feed automatically grabbed it from another site that had created them. Once we set the feed up, we don't have to do anything more, and our homepage has regularly updated content. Every time those headlines change, it updates its feed, which is then updated on any other websites displaying that feed, as well as ours.
RSS feeds can be more than news headlines. They can be lists of any kind. They can be press releases, articles, blog entries, product releases, or almost any other grouping of changing or growing data.
How Do I Set An RSS Feed Up?
There are a number of ways in which you can display an RSS feed on your website. You can use JavaScript or various other scripting languages. Unfortunately, RSS that uses JavaScript is not seen at all by search engines when they come and index your site, so don't use JavaScript.
Instead, use a script that can be handled by your Web server besides JavaScript. Ask your hosting company or IT people what platform your Web server uses and what software or modules are loaded onto the machine. This will determine what scripting language you can use for your RSS.
Check if your Web server has PHP capabilities. If so, then there are hundreds of scripts written in PHP that you can use for free that properly displays RSS feeds that are recognized by search engines. There are RSS scripts written in ASP.NET, Perl and numerous other languages, so you have a wide variety to choose from.
For the Oak Web Works, LLC homepage we used an ASP script called RSStoHTML.
Which one would you choose? After you've determined which languages your Web server supports, conduct a search such as “PHP script for displaying RSS feeds in html” or 'ASP and RSS', for example. Try a few and see which ones run on your server. If one runs on your server properly, and you check this by simply seeing if it displays RSS feeds on your Web page, then use that one.
When you download the script, look at the code and find where to add an RSS feed URL. There should be a dummy one in there already, so just replace that one with the RSS feed you want to use. Here's what a typical RSS feed URL looks like: http://www.nytimes.com/services/xml/rss/userland/Technology.xml The URL's often end in '.rss' as well.
After we inserted the RSS feed URL into the script, we wanted to display the feed in HTML on our homepage. To do this we added the following bit of code into the spot on our homepage html code where we wanted it to display:
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Keep in mind that this is for a Windows Web server. The way in which you include it on a website powered by a UNIX Web server will be a little different. If you're not sure, ask your hosting company.
Where can I find feeds that are relevant to my website's content?
First you can try these:
- Syndic8 - www.syndic8.com/
- Feedster - www.feedster.com/
You can also do a search for your topic and RSS feeds. For example, search for "RSS feeds and pets', or 'football and RSS feeds', or 'small business news feeds'. Finally, you can go to specific websites that are related to your industry and look for a small, orange, rectangular icon that say 'RSS' or 'XML'. Click on that and you'll get a feed URL to enter into your RSS feed script.
Remember, always be sure to include feeds that are relevant to your website's content. Once you get the hang of the concept, RSS can be a lot of fun, and it definitely keeps your website fresh and updated, just what search engines like, and more importantly, what website visitors like.
About the Author Jason OConnor is President of Oak Web Works, LLC (http://www.oakwebworks.com/), an e-strategy firm. Reach him at joconnor888@hotmail.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jason_OConnor

Michael Epstein
MSE Marketing Systems
Your Small Business Marketing Partners

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Autoresponder – Your Faithful and Profitable Servant

If you ask one hundred successful internet marketers what their most valuable asset was – they would answer “The List”. Dig a little deeper and you will discover that they all rely on autoresponders to not only manage “The List” but also profit it. So what is an autoresponder and what can it do for you?
Briefly, an autoresponder is a piece of sophisticated software that does one or more of the following:
1. Manages “The List”, automatically adding and unsubscribing users to set lists.
2. Automatically sends our emails to “The List” at predefined timescales.
3. Keeps the business CAN Spam compliant, usually with double – opt ins, unsubscribe links and contact addresses.
4. Produces and manages the opt in form.
There are two ways to obtain an autoresponder – either set one up on your own server or subscribe to an online service. Although the online service can be more expensive it does have the following advantages.
1. The better services have very robust servers so that your precious “List” is safe.
2. They are used to working with the anti spam facilities of the major email hosts.
3. They have a lot of extra facilities such as newspaper templates.
4. Their use marks you out as a serious internet marketer.
So what can you do with your faithful servant – the autoresponder?
1. Send out regular emails to your “List”.
2. Start an ezine for your customers.
3. Send out answers to FAQ’s.
4. Acknowledge support and sales enquiries.
5. Keep in touch with people who have made sales enquiries.
6. Send out details of recent product launches.
7. Manage your linking and affiliate requests.
8. Anything you can think of, to keep in touch with your precious clients.
Now if only it could make coffee as well!
-------------------------------------------------© Copyright 2006 Biz Guru Services Ltd
Lee Lister writes as The Biz Guru, for a number of web sites including her http://www.clikks.com/ where she sells her informational products. With over 20 year’s management and business consultancy experience with businesses large and small as well as being a serial entrepreneur, she now helps others set up, develop and market their businesses.
If you would like more help and assistance in setting up your email marketing system then visit http://www.clikkmarketing.com/ for advice, assistance and some great products such as our Email PowerPack.-------------------------------------------------
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lee_Lister

Michael Epstein
MSE Marketing Systems

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Small Business Marketing Solution - A Brand Check Up

Nearly every small business needs a Brand Check Up. Certainly most of your competitors do, but most won’t invest the time and effort. Here’s your chance to pull way ahead of them. Remember, successful small business marketing can be understood as a triangle containing three essential elements: Brand, Package, and People.
Brand is your company’s identity. But as a small business owner your view of your company is just too intimate to be objective. You need to pull together the view of others both outside and inside your company.
Below are 15 words. Please circle the top 3 that describe your business:
Quality, Caring, Value, Speed, Cheap, Fair, Good, Fast, Dependable, Expensive, Friendly, Loyal, On-Time, Convenient, Honest.
Okay, after you list your top three, then it’s time to get this list in front of your customers in the form of a survey. A half-sheet of paper with big, legible type works wonders. Wording can be optional, but a suggestion is: “Please help rate us. Circle the top three of the following words that describe our company.”
Oh, and don’t forget to supply a pencil.
But before you send it out to the customers, do something your competitors never would dream of--discover the “view from the inside”. Distribute this Brand Check Up to five or ten of your employees. Please make sure they don’t compare notes with each other. Also, it’s wise to select as random a sample of your employees as possible. Don’t just limit it to management and supervisors. And, your Brand Check Up won’t be accurate if you only hand it out to sales and customer service. Put this survey in the hands of some of your staff who don’t typically have front-line customer contact. These people are ultimately responsible for client satisfaction; they create the end-product for your customers.
Get the Brand Check-Up in the hands of the man that sweeps your floors and the woman that cleans your bathroom. Give it to the person that handles the bookkeeping and the person who locks up every night. If you outsource some of these functions then ask the company you contract the work with to fill out your Brand Check Up.
Remember--no comparing notes. Some of you small business owners may need to tell your employees that nobody’s being tested.
Gather these completed surveys and then tally up your scores. There’s no right or wrong here; no master answer key locked inside the teacher’s desk. Just see what your employees and maybe even some of your vendors think about your company.
Next, get this survey in front of twenty or thirty or forty of your customers. Again, the goal is to collect a random sampling, but the main thing is to just make sure you get the surveys completed.
Then, compare the answers. Where do the customers agree with each other? Where do they agree with your employees? Where do the two groups disagree? Remember, this is only a start; a place you can build from. Like any good check up, the Brand Check Up will be part of an on-going process in keeping your small business healthy.
Remember, that Brand Banner you want everybody to carry for you? This quick survey exercise will provide you a snapshot of what it looks like, right now.
A Brand Check-Up doesn’t need to be involved or expensive. Look for 80/20 results, gather business intelligence about your small company, and then use this new awareness of your company’s Brand as you move forward with your marketing. Knowledge is power; power you can use to out-market your competitors.
© 2006 Marketing Hawks
Craig Lutz-Priefert is President of Marketing Hawks, a firm providing essential marketing vision for small business. Marketing Hawks also sponsors the ongoing small business adventures of entrepreneur Crystal Trino at the JourneyToday website.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Craig_Lutz-Priefert

Michael Epstein
MSE Marketing Systems
Your Small Business Partners

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Outsourcing Your Web Marketing

The online world is constantly evolving. You may be thinking about outsourcing your Web promotion to an expert who is immersed in this world as their fulltime occupation, rather than trying to acquire this knowledge yourself, and cope with the pace of change in-house.
So, what should you look for in a consultant, and what guarantees can you expect?
Choosing The Consultant
The consultant should ask a lot of questions about your business and your objectives. They need to be very clear about the specific goals of your site. Do you want as many visitors as possible (as in: "We get millions of hits on our Web site"), or are you more interested in attracting qualified leads? Are you selling products? Are you looking for new customers, sign-ups for your newsletter or events, media coverage, etc.
It's possible that there could be different markets for each of your objectives. The consultant should show that they clearly understand the demographics of the audience you want to attract. This includes whether your markets are currently online, whether they are comfortable using e-mail, etc. It's also important to clarify any restrictions on your marketing - for example, if you're only targeting specific locations.
The key to effective Web marketing is to have a comprehensive, integrated plan that focuses on where your markets “hang out” online. It’s absolutely not enough to concentrate your efforts on search engines - that’s a passive rather than an active approach. You want to reach out to your potential visitors, not wait for them to come to you. And, you want to ensure that your offline marketing includes your Web site - up to a third of your traffic can now come from real-world sources.
So, the consultant should propose to you a wide-ranging plan (assuming that’s appropriate for your goals) that includes:
* Search engine strategies* Paid (bid for placement) listings* Review sites and directories* Linking with other appropriate sites* Advertising / e-zine sponsorships (depending on your budget)* Online public relations opportunities* Integration with your real-world marketing
Effective Web marketing must also include an e-mail strategy. The consultant should include in their proposal some ideas for targeted, personalized (and fully opt-in) e-mail that is compliant with all State and Federal laws. This requires a contact database that you can use to select out the different audiences that you might have for these messages. The consultant should also be able to help you create this, if required.
And finally, the consultant should explain how they propose to evaluate the success of any marketing campaign against your goals and objectives. Marketing is an ongoing process, during which you’ll learn a lot about your site and about your visitors. This knowledge should be analyzed and used to tweak your site and refine your business strategies. A good consultant will be able to work with you to achieve this.
What Guarantees Can You Expect?
Let’s be very clear - there is a distinction, which often gets blurred, between sales and marketing. The job of a marketing consultant is to bring qualified traffic to your site (or in other words, into your storefront). Completing the sale is then a separate challenge.
Marketing is also a very gray area, in which it’s difficult to provide cast-iron guarantees of results. This is particularly true in the area of search engine optimization, since the search engines are so unpredictable. In my opinion, if a consultant promises you "top ten placement" you should be very wary - it's possible that they are using tactics that could be classified as spam - soon if not now.
And that can really hurt you - I have a colleague who was banned from Google because he hired "experts" who used this type of approach.
Obviously you do want to check that the consultant has a good track record, and that they can provide references from other clients. I believe that good Web knowledge and proven online marketing tactics are as important as an in-depth familiarity with your industry.
In setting your contract with the consultant, it's important to have a mutual comfort level with your goals, expectations and budget. There are many opportunities for free promotion online, but if you're prepared to spend some money, you can potentially build your traffic faster. Since building awareness of a site takes time, perhaps a minimum six-month period would be advisable, but with appropriate get-out clauses for both parties.
Good Web marketing is a team effort! Hire a consultant who you feel very comfortable with, who asks lots of questions to really understand your business and your goals, and who seems genuinely interested in promoting you. But then be prepared to work with them - respect and consider their suggestions, and allow them to be creative in their approach.
© Philippa Gamse, 2003. All rights reserved.
Philippa Gamse, CyberSpeaker, is a Web strategy consultant and professional speaker. Check out her free tipsheet for 23 ideas to promote your Website: http://www.CyberSpeaker.com/tipsheet.html Philippa can be reached at (831) 465-0317.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Philippa_Gamse

Michael Epstein MSE Marketing Systems michael@msemarketingsystems.com

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Demystify Database Marketing

Let’s forget the technical jargon and take a look at what database marketing really is and how you can use it, in plain, understandable English. Database marketing is a marketing and sales system that gathers, refines, and utilizes information so that you can make informed decisions regarding marketing and sales communications.

How To Use Database Marketing to Grow Your Business?

1. Identify your best customers’ common characteristics and then target your next program to those prospects with similar characteristics.

2. Learn which market segments bring you the most revenue and which ones bring you the highest average revenue. These might be very different industries, in which case you would want to market differently to each one.

3. Find out what types of prospects respond to which promotions so you can decide where to spend your advertising and marketing dollars the next time.

4. Calculate the average lifetime value of your customers. You can use this information to find out which customers aren’t living up to their potential and devise marketing and sales programs to nudge them to buy more.

5. Reward your most frequent buyers and the buyers that bring you the highest revenue

Want to leverage your customer database to grow sales profitably? Let us show you how.

Michael Epstein
MSE Marketing Systems

Friday, August 18, 2006

Why Build Your Email Address Database?

Gaining your customers' email addresses will:
Provide an additional channel for reaching your customers
Increase the ROI of your marketing investments
Significantly reduce your customer acquisition and marketing costs
Allow you to easily measure the impact of your marketing campaigns
Increase your customer participation and retention rates
With ongoing postal and telemarketing pressures impacting marketing budgets for many organizations this year, email marketing could become the "silver lining " for many marketers. But how do you create a successful email marketing campaign if you do not have a substantial email database? That question may be one of the largest Internet related challenges facing companies this year.
Research shows that the majority of organizations have email addresses for less than 10% of their postal files. So how do you level the playing field and start to add quality permission - based email addresses to your database?
Here are some tips that you can use to cost effectively build your email address database and increase your customer participation and retention rates:
Every communication or touch point with a customer should start or end with a request for an email address. By utilizing the four points below, you should be able to add email addresses for 5% to 10% of your postal file over the course of one year.
1. Direct Mail Collection
Think about how much time and money you spent for copy and design on your last new direct mail piece. Most companies have started to ask their customers for their email address information within these mailings. This is a great step forward. However, companies need to look at one major improvement if they want to increase their email address collection rates.
To date, most requests for email address information have been pushed, shoved or jammed into whatever white space remains. It should be no surprise that the success rate has been less than stellar.
To improve on these efforts, you need to provide your members with a reason to release their email addresses to you. E-newsletters, purchase confirmations, petitions, and special discounts and offers are but a few of the benefits that will encourage your members to come on board.
2. Web Page Collection
Many companies have an email address collection function in place via the web. To improve your sign-up rates, add text below the email request box that informs your visitors of the special email benefits that they will receive (i.e. e-newsletters, purchase confirmations, delivery updates, etc.) upon registering. You can also utilize a pop-up link to inform users of these special benefits.
Finally, your email address request function should be available on your home page. Don't make your users go and look for it. Every click away from your home page reduces the chances of your users taking an action and providing you with their email address information.
3. Existing Email Database Collection
Don't forget to ask the members of your existing customer base for email addresses of their friends, family and associates. Viral marketing is a powerful tool to use and is extremely cost effective! You could ask them either to provide you with additional addresses or simply to pass on your newsletter, email specific offers, or other information to others they feel have similar interests.
4. Telemarketing Collection
Don't assume that your telemarketing agents are asking for email addresses from potential customers. Ensure that your agents have an updated script, which outlines the previously described benefits to potential customers of providing their email addresses.
The suggestions above are a great start! Yet they really should be viewed as a secondary plan for building your email database. To exponentially and expeditiously grow your email database, please read on!
Utilizing an email appending service enables you to add email addresses for up to 25% of your postal file, all within 3-4 weeks.
Email Appending - is the process of adding an individual's email address to that individual's postal record in side your existing database. This is accomplished by matching the postal database against a third party, permission based database of postal and email address information.
Best Practices - Email Appending is not a prospecting tool. The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) and its interactive arm AIM (Association of Interactive Marketing) have guidelines in place that dictate that email appending only be used to append email addresses to your existing opt-in postal record house file.
The Process - Your opt-in postal file is securely transferred to an email appending provider, who will do an initial gross email address match of your file against its opt-in database of postal and email address records. Your appending provider will then send these matches a permission-based message prepared by you. All bounces and opt-out requests will be removed from the list. At that point a valid permission-based email address file of your customers will be delivered back to you.
Cost - Less than the price of a postal stamp!
The first step of any successful email marketing effort is to build a permission-based email address list of your customers. The simplest, quickest and most cost-effective way to do this is through email appending, which will enable you to add email addresses for up to 25% of your postal file. Secondary efforts of email address collection via focused direct mail, web, viral and telemarketing practices are also important and will enable you to add email addresses for an additional 5% to 10% of your base on an annual basis.
Best of luck in building your email address database. As many companies have already learned, the ROI and cost savings to be achieved will far exceed your expectations.
Bill KaplanCEOFreshAddress, Inc.
FreshAddress, Inc., The Email Address ExpertsTM, provides a comprehensive suite of industry leading database and email deliverability services to help companies increase their e-commerce revenues. For more information on how we can help "Build and Update" your email list, visit http://freshaddress.com/biz or email biz@freshaddress.com.

MSE Marketing Systems www.msemarketingsystems.com Michael Epstein 508-259-1987

Thursday, August 17, 2006

How To Improve Your Conversion Rate

Hardly a day goes by that I don't get an email from someone saying:
"Michael, I just don't know what to do. We are not getting sales, nobody is signing up, we are not making any money. What is going wrong?"
They start thinking about search engines, more marketing and expensive advertising. When what they SHOULD be doing is taking a step back and saying;
"Why aren't the people who are already finding my website doing what it is I want them to do?"
If you can get to the bottom of that problem you might not even need to get more people to your website. If you can convert a high percentage of the visitors that are already finding you into sales you won't need to devote as much time and money to marketing your site in the first place. So let's talk about some quickfire ways you can improve your conversion rate.
**This Visitor Will Self-Destruct in 5 Seconds..
You have probably heard a lot of figures and the average seems to be about 4 - 5 seconds: the time you have from when somebody lands on your home page to actually convince them to remain on your site.
You don't have long - after the 5 seconds if people don't see what they want to see they will disappear - forever. What happens is when I come to your site - I am looking to get a series of questions I have in my mind answered as quickly as possible.
For example, I want to know;
- Why you are different to your competitors, maybe where you ship to, how many products do you have on your site? - What sets you apart from everyone else in your region or in your industry? - What do your customers say about you? - Do you have any testimonials? - Do you have any press coverage? - Do you have any accreditations? - What makes your product so special? - What do you actually provide on this website?
I want to know all of these things in about five or six seconds.
Now it is not easy, nobody is saying that it is easy, but you do need to get over these benefits as soon as you can on your homepage. One of the ways you can start to do this is to actually bullet points of information.
**Be Ruthless With The Pages on Your Website
Take a look at your web site and pare down everything that you think is not essential. Try to take a step back, put yourself in the shoes of the customer, look at your website and look at every element and say;
"If I removed that - would my web site be any worse?"
As a customer would that make the experience any worse, would that give the customer less information?
It is quite a scary thing to do. I have been down this road myself. When you start to do this it turns around your whole perspective on what your website is actually trying to do. I have landed on some websites, as I'm sure you have, that have the opening line;
"Welcome to our home page. Welcome to ABC Ltd. We were formed in 1973 and we have 50 staff. Our core services are.."
And it just goes on and on and on - boring long paragraphs. People just don't read like this on the web. They just want something now, they want it yesterday. So you need to think about how your website content is put together.
Don't put things on your site that the managing director wants on there or things that you want on there or the graphic designer or developer wants on there. Put things on there that your CUSTOMER WANTS.
**Don't Try To Be All Things To All Men
Another way you can improve your conversion rate is to try to focus on one single goal for your website or for each page.
The problem I see a lot of people struggle with is that they are trying to do too much with their web site;
- They are trying to sell a product
- They are trying to get people on their subscriber list
- They are trying to give information to their employees
- They are trying to get new business
- They are trying to get information to customers
- They are trying to give information about the community
Just hold fire a minute and zero in on the ultimate goal of the site. What is your site's primary objective?
You need to have one goal for the site or at least one goal for each page.
**Your Website Only Needs To Do One of The Following 2 Things
To help your thinking in this there are really only two things that a web site should do. If you are in the position that you can sell directly over the web that is what you need to do - you need to be selling through your website.
If you can't do that, and there are a lot of companies that can't due to the type of business they are in, then you need to be getting people's contact information. That is it. Just two things.
Either sell to visitors or get their contact information.
Once you realise this, and it might not be a nice thing to hear, because you might look at your site and think that lots of your pages are now redundant, or that certain pages don't sell anything or get contact information. You might realise that specific paragraphs aren't getting contact information for you or selling anything. The entire creation and copywriting process of your website becomes a totally different exercise.
But if you don't focus on one of those two things then nothing is going to happen. I know from experience that not many visitors will read through your homepage, through the about page, through the services page and then dawdle along and click on contact and say;
"I will go to the enquiry form and see how much do you charge."
You might get the odd one. But you are not going to get tens, thousands or tens of thousands. You need to sell something or get contact information. Your website needs to be a machine that does one or both of those things and that is it.
This article is an excerpt of "From Zero To Hero" - a free 30-minute Audio Masterclass you can download here: http://www.websitemarketingbible.com/marketing/
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_Cheney

MSE Marketing Systems
Michael Epstein

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Small Business Money-making Tips of the Day

Google Adwords Tip #1 Broad Matching
If you include general keyword or keyword phrases-such as tennis shoes-in your keyword list, your ads will appear when users search for tennis and shoes, in any order, and possibly along with other terms.
Google Adwords Tip #2 Phrase Matching
If you enter your keyword in quotation marks, your ad will appear when a user searches on the phrase tennis shoes.
Google Adwords Tip #3 Exact Matching
If you surround your keywords in brackets-such as [tennis shoes]-your ads will appear when users search for the specific phrase tennis shoes, in this order, and without any other terms in the query.
Google Adwords Tip #4 Negative Keyword
If your keyword is tennis shoes and you add the negative keyword -red, your ad will not appear when a user searches on red tennis shoes.
Google Adwords Tip #5 Add Plural From to All singular keywords
Maximize the number of keyword phrases you’re bidding on. After you’re done brainstorming your keyword list, add the plural form to each and every singular keyword phrase (where it makes sense grammatically to do so).
Google Adwords Tip #6 Optimize Optimize Optimize
Include keywords in both quotes “dog house” and brackets [dog house] for all key phrases longer than one word. Use negative keywords where necessary. For example, if you’re selling dog house plans, it might make sense to include the negative keyword -free so that your ad won’t show up when someone searches for “free dog house plans”.

Michael Epstein, Small Busines Marketing Consultant MSE Marketing Systems, Sharon, MA 508.259.1987

Friday, August 11, 2006

Small Business Money-Making Tips-Of-The-Day

Tip #5 Newletter Publishing Drives Free Traffic To Websites
Newsletter publishing is a powerful way to stay connected to visitors to your website and help generate repeat traffic to your online business. By creating fresh content and strong readership, your newsletter will be forwarded to others leading to a growing subscriber list. Strong design and subscriber interaction, a newsletter will generate regular traffic that over time will build your credibility and name recognition and Branding.

Tip #6 Blogging Keeps Them Coming Back For More
Blogging for online business is quickly becoming one of the best web site traffic generators you can find that doesn’t have to cost you anything.

A blog with strong titles, quality content and strategic pinging plus rss feeds will be your key to fast search engine indexing, traffic to your blog that can funnel traffic directly to your business website.

Tip #7 Articles Are Worth The Investment In Time
Writing articles with a strong resource box is your best free web site traffic generator. Due to its viral nature on the internet, articles that are published on websites and in newsletters of other ezine publishers will bring your website traffic. With each new article and publishing, your articles will reach more people building both traffic and branding You as an expert. With each article you write, your first stop is EzineArticles which is a high traffic article database used by webmasters and newsletter publishers to find fresh content. EzineArticles also publishes your articles in a search engine friendly format that lets internet surfers find the information they are seeking.
Every business website owner should take these keys to web site traffic seriously. The energy put into learning SEO, newsletter publishing, business blogging and article writing has a high return on investment.

Free web site traffic is initially very labor intensive but the investment of yourself in these four areas will bring you the success online you are striving to achieve.

Michael Epstein, Small Busines Marketing Consultant
MSE Marketing Systems, Sharon, MA 508.259.1987


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Increase Your Sales by Giving It Away

Stand out above the crowd by Giving Away Your Best Information

What makes you better than your competition? Let me give you a hint, it’s not because you are less expensive than your competition or because of your great customer service. When you start giving away your services, your ideas, you will see your sales skyrocket.

Consumers have choices. In fact, they’ve got more choices today than ever before. And it only takes a few clicks of your mouse to be overloaded with options.

Given the fact that competition is at an all-time high, what can you do to stand out? Most companies have someone just like them on literally every street corner. So how do you get noticed? Just assume that you are standing in a crowd. Everyone’s the same height, wearing the same clothes, and has the same skin color. That’s what most companies are doing. They look just like everyone else. So, how do you get noticed?

There are many things that should be done. Many of the consultants out there talk about coming up with an authentic brand, crafting your positioning statement or unique value, choosing the right Bull’s Eye Market, and delivering your message effectively. But I want to suggest something else to consider.

How do you provide more value than your competition assuming that your products and services are similar?

Then how do you let everyone know that you have something really different?

How do you become a trusted and credible resource and not just another vendor?

The answer is with information. You’ve got it. All you have to do is package it and share it. Just look at the number of people that surf the internet. What are they looking for? Information.

I’m not talking about just any information. I’m referring to information that will be valuable and beneficial to your prospects and clients. Start telling everyone how if they do XYZ their business will increase, their jobs will be easier. Give them some real meat that can help them, not just skim over the top because you fear that you will give away all of what you sell.

Spill Your Candy on the Floor—Give Away Key Information, Help Your Customer Get Information

I’ve heard other sales trainers say “don’t spill your candy on the floor in the lobby.” What they are referring to is the fear that giving all of your knowledge away means you are no longer needed. They believe you’ve essentially spilled all of the goodies so why should someone hire you? I believe just the opposite, that if we change our approach from selling to giving information and helping, you suddenly become a necessary part of what your customer needs. They are hungry for information. Information that tells them how to fix their biggest problems. They need that information to decide what is the best approach to fixing their problem. And they will look on those that provide that necessary help as a trusted partner and resource.

The best sales process requires that you first build rapport with the client; after all I’m sure you’ve heard the statement that people buy from people they know and trust, not from salespeople. Once they know you and trust you, then they have to know that what you offer will solve their problem, and finally that you are credible, believable. All of that is a part of the “building rapport.” You also are there to help in any way you can. Selling should be really on the backburner.

So, by providing information you establish rapport, credibility, and prove that you want to help, not withhold information until the cash is shelled out. You are truly there to help.

Give Away as Much Information to as Many as You Can at One Time

Let’s talk a little about your marketing efforts. Have you always sent out your direct marketing (emails, letters, whatever) with a goal of selling something? What would happen if you sent them out to advertise that you are giving away all of this free information? Get everyone to attend a seminar on How to……..[whatever]

I can tell you from experience, both my own and those of the clients that have followed this procedure that your direct mail response rates will increase somewhere around 10 times. During the seminar make sure to give them some real meaty ideas to improve whatever it is that are clamoring for. You have just become “the expert” in the industry, in your geographic area, your community. You will be the FIRST person everyone turns to looking for help, advice, and….to buy from.

You will also have shown your value to a roomful of people in the time that you would normally have spent in a one-on-one sales pitch.

It sort of goes this way for my sales training and coaching:

I send out 1,000 postcards advertising my next “Double Your Business in Weeks” seminar.

There will be 50-60 phone calls (about 5+% response rate, where before giving away information it would be 0.5% or less).
I’ll end up with 25-30 warm bodies in the seats.

10-15 will actually sign up for the next sales training session.

Also, I will have a list of the 50-60 people that called that are on my “qualified leads” list that are interested in my ongoing helpful newsletters (more information giveaway), and within 3-6 months many of those will either call me to join a later session, or send me referrals. And I've done it in the time it would take to make one sales call.

There are lots of ways to give away, or even charge a small amount, for this information. Public seminars, white papers on your website, email newsletters, chamber events (offer to be the speaker at a chamber event, or host a free training, send the entire chamber an email to drive them to your website for the information, or call you to send the information), an electronic file, a CD The options are endless. You don’t even have to stick to just one way to communicate it. The key here is to use the information as an enticement for them to contact you, give you their contact information, and for them to truly want more from you, much more. Don’t try to sell them, they will be turned off. Be the helper that is in demand.

If you have a complex or high-cost product or service, many businesses have had success by offering introductory seminars, webinars and teleseminars. It allows your potential buyers to take a test drive before committing to purchase. They can determine if your approach and values are similar to theirs.

By determining and delivering the information your buyers want, you will become more valuable and you’ll stand out among your competition. Of course, you have to make sure that your content is pertinent and objective. No one wants to read or listen to an advertising pitch, but they do want insightful information that makes their life easier or better.

Let’s look at some examples:

If you provide staffing services, you might put together information on “Five Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring,” or “10 Interview Tips To Learn What Your Job Candidates Won’t Tell You,” or “Now You’ve Hired Them…How To Retain Employees Without Blowing Your Budget.”

Mortgage company, you might offer a white paper or seminar on “How to get the lowest interest rates,” “How to Fix Up your house for best resell”. You might even partner with a local real estate agent to do joint seminars that would help both of you.

Massage Therapy: offer information where you talk about the biggest problems someone might experience, back and body pains, muscle pains, and how to eliminate them. It could include massages, some techniques that maybe your personal partner could do for you.

Don’t be afraid that you are giving away your services; this makes you visible, and THE EXPERT that they will turn to. I look at it this way: There are always those in your audience that will never buy your services. They are here to get the free information. So what? Aren’t you here to help everyone? The actual sales you get will always be a relatively fixed percentage of those you talk to, whether it is 10% or 50%. If your sales rate was 10% in a one-on-one, it’ll be MUCH higher in the roomful of people, since you are now considered an expert, not a salesman. And you just talked to a roomful in the time you normally do one sales call to one person.

Everything Increases, Marketing Leads and Sales Closes

Everything increases, marketing response will increase, your sales close rates will increase, and on top of that you are talking to 20-30 people at once.

What would happen if you stopped going door to door, talking to one-on-one, and started having 20-30 people come to you every week, or every month?

Alan Boyer, President/CEO of The Leader’s Perspective, LLC, is considered one of the world’s leading breakthrough specialists. He has worked with some of the worlds largest companies, on projects in the multi-billion dollar area, and with single proprietor companies. He has worked on many hundreds of projects with companies that have resulted in multi-$100 million savings or gains.

With over 35 years of business, quality, and process experience, he has catapulted businesses lightyears ahead in weeks. Some have doubled and some have jumped 10 times. He claims the key to that is:

Helping the business owners/employees develop the business skills
Helping them overcome the limitations and attitudes that they built between their ears (the self imposed limitations, I can’t, this won’t work for me, I’m different)
By helping them find the breakthroughs in their business and thinking

He helps companies worldwide reach further than they EVER thought possible . . . . FASTER



Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Alan_Boyer

Small Business Customer Recycling

Moving your current customers back through the sales cycle again has value. Just like any recycling process where an item is turned into something else, the same can be done with your current customers. All too often we use a sales cycle to acquire a small business customer and then put them on the customer shelf. What revenue increase could you accomplish if you took them off the shelf and put them back through the sales cycle?

New Products and Services

Most new small business customers normally start with a few products or services. Customer recycling could bring them back through your sales process and produce a broader base of business from them. The process of recycling treats a current customer as though they were not yet a customer. This helps you open up your thinking and see new opportunities. The advantage comes from the fact you already have a relationship of trust but you approach things with a fresh set of “eyes and ears” in looking for sales volume from new products and services.

More of the Same

An initial order may not represent the full potential of a new client’s need for your products and services. When you continue to recycle current small business customers through your sales process you stand a good chance of gaining more sales volume from the same customer base. This area of small business customer recycling focuses on assessing past purchases against total possible volume. If you work in a highly competitive market you may not be getting all of your customer’s volume. Customer recycling using all the original sales tools could increase their order size.

Customer Referral

Increased contact with your small business customer base can also increases your opportunities to develop the kind of relationship necessary to ask for and receive customer referrals. You may not increase your volume or add new products and services to the list of items they purchase from you but you might gain a new customer to sell and recycle. Every time you do a full sales cycle you increase your customer knowledge and deepen your level of trust. The fact you’re continuing to invest your efforts in the best interests of servicing a customer translates into the kind of relationship that facilitates new customer referrals from your current customer base.

There are many new things that can come from small business customer recycling. The three possibilities listed above are a good starting point. Customer recycling is not just asking a current customer for more business but bringing current customers back through the sales cycle with the idea of creating a “new customer”. How many customers do you have just sitting on the shelf ready to be recycled?

Learn' Do Solutions - Free Assistance to maximize your small business profits. Small Business Crossword Puzzle at: http://www.profitpuzzle.com. Don Osborne authors The Profit Puzzle to help you plan, finance, start up, run, grow, sell your small home based business ideas.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Don_Osborne

How Do I Improve My Web Site Conversion Rate?

Question 1

Does it help to track visitor behavior on websites through software?

Yes is the simple answer. No debate is required but I’ll offer a simple explanation. If you don’t measure, how do you expect to know what to improve? You can guess and hope you get it right, but if you have effective tracking software, then you simply have facts in front of you.

Effective measurement is more than simply having good software though; it’s analyzing why things happen. One thing we measure is bounce, the number of people arriving at one page and then leaving without doing anything. The lower the bounce rate the better, because it means people are using the site more effectively.

One perfect example comes from a recent client. She had two pages with different articles on her site with exactly the same navigation left and centre. Most articles had a bounce rate of about 53%, but one had a better bounce of about 50% and another had a much worse bounce of around 90%. We looked at both and found that the one with the 50% bounce was much more relevant to the reader arriving at the page. It had better and more relevant links at the bottom of the article than the one with 90%. We concluded that by being relevant on the poor page in the same way, the bounce rate would be reduced. We would simply not have known that this was occurring at all without tracking software. So yes, it most definitely helps to track visitor behavior.

Question 2

What measurement software tools would you recommend?

We use IRIS Metrics. However apart from IRIS, I would also recommend browser-based software such as HitBox, WebTrends Live, RedSheriff, and Omniture. Generally, you get what you pay for. And while these systems are not cheap, they do provide the level of detail required to run an effective web campaign.

People have asked me if it’s possible to use webalizer (free log software) to run an effective web measurement campaign. While it’s possible to get a lot of useful information from free and cheap systems, you don’t get path tracking, bounce rates, repeat visitor information, accurate visitor counts, accurate page counts and loads more information which is critical if you want to base business decisions on your measurements.

Question 3.

What is the difference between log-based and browser-based measurement?

Tracking tools that rely on server-based measurement are typically programs that are installed on your web server (by your ISP if your site is hosted) or installed locally on your PC using the log files taken from the server. Server-based measurement programs measure activity based on the text files held on the web server (referred to as log files).

The way that browser-based measurement (or ASP measurement) works is that information from each browser that visits your website is recorded, usually in a database, and then the data is manipulated into reports you can read. Typically, these services ask you to paste some JavaScript code into your web pages. A cookie is used to determine which user is accessing the site. This is then tracked on a remote server and you log in to view the reports.

I recommend the use of ASP measurement because it only measures how people using a web browser use your website.

The log files record everything visiting your pages. They need a number of added filters to stop email harvesters, search engines and a variety of other software generated crawlers or bots from being counted as ‘visitors’; without them, you can get seriously skewed results. Server access is often required to get log file filtering right; otherwise, you’re relying on your ISP to report your tracking correctly. The log files for one of our clients had 10 times as many page counts and visits recorded than shown by using an ASP. That’s a 1000% error!

Question 4.

What is an average conversion rate?

This is a very good question and is the topic of serious debate. In other marketing industries they don’t guess. They have standards that everyone follows. It’s what’s needed in online marketing before any real answer can be given. Analytics companies, the big research companies, and digital media associations are going to have to come together to define these standards and then people are going to have to follow what is agreed before accurate numbers can be delivered consistently.

Currently, we’re in the process of trying to establish a worldwide benchmark with a number of other prominent people (The Web Analytics Association and the IAB to mention two) in the industry who also want to know the answer to this question. But meanwhile, here are some statistics we’ve gathered from different sources published both recently and over the last few years. I have figures for 3 types of websites: sales (e-commerce), lead generation, and subscription-based websites.

Generally, sales sites seem to range between a 0.5% and 8% with the average rate being 2.3% according to FireClick statistics published this year and figures published in 2003 by e-consultancy.com. In 2000, the average figure for sales conversion as published by shop.org was 1.8%. The high-end figures, I hasten to add, are the top e-tailers according to all sources. My own experience shows sites hitting between .5% and 5.3% so this seems to correlate with the published figures. Of course since there is no defined standard, these numbers have to be taken as a rule of thumb.

The only source we have for lead generation sites is e-consultancy.com. They quote 2-3% of users completing an optional or free registration process, with 5% being best in class. Our own experience again falls within the same ballpark.

Subscriptions to sale conversion is typically between 1 and 7% again the source is e-consultancy.com

We don’t have figures for visitor to subscription conversion, but our own experience with clients has been between 1 and 8%. Our own site has consistently hit 15% for 6 months though the traffic is pretty well targeted and our methods very well tested.

Question 5.

How do you go about consistently improving conversion?

This is the million dollar question. What it really boils down to is treating web marketing as a science. We do it by consistently measuring how people use a website. Over time you will learn what works and what doesn’t and stop wasting your time on the things that don’t work.

First we look at the technical aspect of the website. It’s amazing how many people overlook and ignore thousands of people who don’t use Windows XP with Internet Explorer at a screen resolution of 1024x768. First make sure that you develop something that works for everyone.

One of the next areas we look at is where the traffic comes from. It allows you to concentrate your efforts on your best chance of generating converting traffic. Then we get into reducing the average website bounce rate. The lower the average bounce, the higher the number of people surfing your website and seeing the value of your offer. The higher the number who see your offer, the better the chance of a sale. Checking bounce rates also usually brings up some juicy problems to be solved.

Then look at testing and improving copy and graphical content, running split tests and measuring bounce rates on copy or simply testing the click-through on links. We do much more, but the basic premise is this: test and measure, follow up with experimentation, and then with more testing and more measuring. Sounds like science class doesn’t it?


In part three of this series of articles we’ll be looking at where traffic arrives from and how that effects conversion, specific search engine queries, PPC issues and other general topics. To summarize, I am suggesting that if you begin to scientifically measure and improve your websites based on facts and findings, not guesswork and theory, you will begin to improve your conversion rates.

Steve Jackson is CEO of Aboavista, editor of The Conversion Chronicles and a published writer. You can get a free copy of his e-book sent to you upon subscription to the Chronicles web site (http://www.conversionchronicles.com).

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Steve_Jackson

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Grow Your Business 25%-100% or More Without Any Additional Investment in Advertising and Marketing.....

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Through research and experience we have found that there are many small businesses where owner/operators want to grow their business, but spend so much of their time on day-to-day operations that there is little time left to execute a focused and consistant marketing/advertising plan.

We can work with you in any of 4 different ways:

1. Conduct a free-of-charge, full marketing "Opportunity Analysis"
2. Create a Customized Marketing Plan for Implementation
3. Implement a 30 Day Fast Start Program for your Business
4. Full Project Implementation

We're confident that we can help you grow your business in one of threeways:
1. Get More Prospects And Increase Referals and Word-of-Mouth Business
2. Increase Conversion Rate (Prospects to Customers)
3. Increase The Value Of Each Client
- Increase the value of the initial purchase
- Improve customer retention and increase repeat orders

What sets our services apart from all others is that we will help you grow your business without spending more money on Advertising and Marketing.

Let us unlock your business's hidden marketing assets today.

Michael Epstein

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Michael Epstein of Sharon MA to launch Marketing Consulting Business

Press Release: UPIS
Michael Epstein (MBA) of Sharon, Massachusetts, in partnership with HMA Marketing international, announced today that they are launching a marketing consulting firm servicing small to medium size organizations.

What set's Epstein's business model apart from others is his brash style, and 25% - 100% sales growth guarantee. This is sure to catch the attention of the broader consulting community.

Details to follow:

Prepress Release 4/1/2006 14:39:02PM