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Economic Dip No Indicator of Your Online Marketing Future

With the UK avoiding a third dip recession and the economy weakening what hope is there for online marketers?

Plenty! The jobs market may be shrinking and manufacturing in decline but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a buoyant market out there hungry for information products. You just have to find it and give it what it wants. Simple.

So how should you go about it? Look at markets where people are hunting information. What is it that they want? What is their biggest and most compelling problem? Can you solve it? Can you put together a free product to give away?

Do some investigation. Read forums in different niches. Look on books selling on Amazon. What are trends you can latch onto and develop products for that market.

The issue with most markets is not that the information is not out there, it is. It’s just that people are lazy. They can’t be bothered to do the research. They’d rather someone else did it for them and spoon fed them.

This is where the online marketer can win. You see doing the spade work that others can’t or won’t do is where you can win. Gather your information and put it together into a small report. Give it away for free. Why you ask?

Give your customers the basics for solving an issue. They will see you have delivered them value. This in turn means you are connecting directly with the customer. Your aim is to build up trust. This won’t happen overnight.

It’s estimated you need to ‘touch’ or ‘connect’ with people at least seven times to make them buy from you. So when giving away your free report make sure you capture their e-mail address. By doing this you can start a dialogue.

The best way of doing this is by using an auto responder service such as AWeber. You can send out regular emails and posts to people on your list. You can try it for $1. The aim isn’t to sell but to offer help, advice and guidance.

In order to connect with people regularly start article marketing or blogging. This builds up more credibility in the market for you. You are trying to become the authority in your chosen sector so people look to you for advice.

Once you’ve made the connection and begun communicating with people you can find out what they want. How? Why not ask them? You can get direct feedback or you can do a survey. Use free tools like Survey Monkey. Armed with this information you can build and develop new products to service your market. You could even take your original report and break it down into a series of reports each going into much more detail of resolving issues.

Take it a step further and turn those items into videos. You can post them for free on YouTube. Use the audio from your video and make an MP3 file or CD. Use Audacity, another free resource tool.

Each and every item is another product for a hungry market will be looking to consume. If you offer real value and make the right connection you can really build and develop a lucrative and profitable online market.

To start an online business can be a relatively low cost affair. You can try and test different ideas to find the right market for your products. Ultimately the aim is to build a list of customers, give them good information and value, and provide them with products that will help solve their problems.

The state of the economy should never be an indicator of how successful your online business can be. Ultimately internet marketing success is feeding clients what they want, when they want them, and at a price that reflects the value to them. Meet those needs and your online marketing future will be bright.

Online Marketing Advice For Beginners

Introduction – In simple terms, Internet Marketing or Online marketing, describe a set of business strategies and marketing techniques that are employed to represent a company’s overall online marketing objectives. It describes the practical methods of analysing the market, performance testing and promotion to ultimately sell products and services using the Internet. The first step is to research and analyse your target market to be in a position to make decision regarding online objectives and tactics….

Market Research and Analysis – the first stage in any form of online marketing is to find out as much as possible about what your prospective customers want. By reviewing market research information, reviewing competitors web sites, industry surveys, obtaining online feedback, obtain company reports, research search engine usage and so on; a qualified business strategy can be formulated. Without collection of unknown information to discover and learn from, creation of business strategy is nothing more than guess work. The main areas of information to qualify and quantify are; target market size, industry conversion rates, website traffic, distribution channels, purchase behaviour, sales copy testing, price elasticity, regulatory and legal restrictions and company product testing. By far the best form of market research and analysis is primary feedback from prospective customers (as opposed to general secondary research from 3rd party industry surveys); these secondary surveys results are usually out of date and data collection, analysis and conclusions questionable. Practical ways to get customer feedback when testing new product ideas could be asking for feedback via Online Feedback Surveys, Free Prize Draws, Free Product Samples, Special Offers on the Confirmation Pages of Contact Forms, Newsletters, Contentious Forums, Competitions and Quizzes.

Setting Goals and Targets – if you don’t know where you are going, how do you know when you have got there? Without previous experience or good quality market research, it is extremely difficult to quantify and forecast how much you will to sell in the future, by when and at what profit margin. However, use your market research to put numbers against the elements you can quantify. Look at the realistic boundaries for your online marketing projections… if your competitive analysis shows the average product value, market size and search traffic volume, you could make some realistic sales assumptions if a top engine ranking were to be achieved. Similarly, if you knew of the average number of sales per affiliate (see below) could send you, you could plan the number of affiliates you need to recruit and how quickly you need to recruit them. If you want buy into a market quickly via online pay per click advertising you can test return on investment very quickly. By test spending on pay per click in search terms using various sales copy, it is easy to begin to develop some useful metrics to project future sales volumes and profits. Download the company reports of the top three competitors in your target market to check sales revenues… then apply some common sense to the situation… If your top three competitors only turnover X per year it would indicate a certain ceiling in that particular market. Most importantly, understand your predicted conversion rates and average product margin associated with your product or service. Without those two numbers it is difficult create a spreadsheet business model to forecast sales and profit targets.

Choosing The Right Business Model – now that you have created a quantifiable set of objectives, the next step is to decide how this is going to be achieved online. In most situations websites can be categorised as using one or a combination of the following business models…

- Dominating ‘Natural Organic’ Rankings – Getting to the top of a search engine is every company’s number one priority when we talk about organic rankings. 80% of surfers only bother to visit the first three results related to any given search term; and in most queries you are provided with millions of search results and hundreds or even thousands of competitor websites to choose from. Once top rankings have been achieved across a range of highly relevant search terms, the ability to make money scales to a point at which the market demand for at search term is reached. So how long does it take to get to the top of a search engine? There is no quick way to get to the top of search engine. There is no quick way to get the to the search engine. Yes that is right, we have repeated ourselves. Do not believe any of so called to search engine optimization company that claims they can provide you with a new secret method to get your site there in weeks or even months. Everybody seems to be an ‘expert’ and a little information is sometimes dangerous as you can just as easily get your website banned from a search engine, as listed. Speak to people who have achieved results as opposed to other people who want to risk your money. It is true that the ability to dominate rankings varies according to a range of factors; we will expand on how top rankings are achieved and what these factors are in our section on search engine optimization. SEO covers a whole range of inter-related areas that include professional website design, affiliate marketing, pay per click advertising, email marketing, user interactivity, social networking, blog marketing, viral marketing, and conventional forms of advertising. Essentially, factors include the market competitiveness of any given search term, site content relevancy, website age, link buildings effectiveness, to name but a few.

- Selling Using an Affiliate Channel – by sharing the profits of a sale with other websites it is possible for webmasters to generate higher sales volumes . By devising an attractive affiliate scheme and promoting and implementing that scheme in a professional manner, it is possible to generate thousands of website visitors using an affiliate of channel online. Affiliate marketing is a very well established method of selling online. Thousands of affiliates schemes already exist from multinational brand names to locally based niche online shops – all designed to motivate entrepreneurs, portals, etc, to promote their products and services. The main advantage of affiliate marketing is high sales volume with nominal sales effort. The main disadvantage is much lower margins as affiliates need paying commission to remain motivated. This business model relies on a sensible amount of available margin to be divided between the website owner and its affiliate on each sale. In addition, critical to success is patience/ time to recruit the desired number of motivated affiliates. Also, a thorough understanding of online affiliate tracking software and services to ensure affiliates are paid on time, sales are allocated fairly and automated new affiliate recruitment can be initiated. Ask yourself basic questions… if it takes 6 months to recruit 100 affiliates who generate 200 sales equivalent to £100,000 profit in that time, could you have generated more than 200 sales in that time (and at what profit) if you had concentrated on direct selling only. Please visit our section on affiliate marketing to find out more.

- Advertising Driven Sales – Using this business model, webmasters drive visitor traffic to the web site by on spending advertising alone. By raising website brand awareness either through conventional means such as newspapers radio or online, visitors can be enticed to visit the website and buy something. This simple model relies on deep pockets and a thorough understanding of margin, product break even point and good old fashioned marketing skills. For instance, the sales copy must be compelling and have unique selling points related to target buyers needs. To find out read our section on online advertising. The Global market for online advertising (predominately pay per click advertising) now stands at a staggering $40 billion per year and expected to double to $80 billion dollars per year over the next 10 years. For webmasters, the various methods of advertising potentially available means instant website visibility and access to thousands of prospects almost instantly. The key questions a new webmaster should ask are how much I spend on advertising?; How and where should I best my budget? and How do I calculate the return on investment of any advertising spend. Unlike hugely expensive TV advertising (which is normally used to raise brand awareness), online advertising can provide a level playing field for nimble flexible webmasters, with smaller budgets to compete in niche sectors.

Types of Websites – the type of business model preferred somewhat dictates the type of website that is build to achieve your profit objectives. The main types of web sites are as follows…

- Brochure Only Sites – the purpose of a Brochure only website is to promote and organisations image. This is the most common form of website and is usually static nature in that it doesn’t actually do anything (other than provide marketing information). Most small businesses prefer this type website, as most customers expect some information about the company. When a prospective customer uses a search engine to find the telephone number of a local tradesmen, having well presented and professional looking Brochure website is a given in today’s paste it to market place. Brochure only sites also include information regarding products and services, history and background, employees, how to find the business. Designing a brochure only website is possible for the complete novice using basic software becomes of most personal computers.

- Portals – Portals of a single point of contact for a web user interested in particular information. They usually do not own the products and services but instead provide added value services around those products (either in order to resell these products, or offer passive advertising to their site visitors). Good examples of portals of our Property Advertising websites such as Rightmove.com or Realtor.com. These sites charge property agents to advertise their properties for sale or to let on this site and provide an integrated, clear and unified searching mechanism what to help users find property or accommodation quickly and easily. Some smaller portals do not charge advertisers (or cannot justify the charge) and so choose to simply write their own content. Critical to the success of website portals is the level of unique textual content, compelling technical opinions and interesting information. The ability to collate fragmented and difficult to obtain information, from a range of sources – all presented on easy to navigate website is particularly compelling. For instance, a directory of fine antique dealers and interesting articles on antique restoration provides a niche single point of contact for a range of different types of users…. dealers, restorers, shop owners, collectors what and homeowners may all have an interest in this type of niche portal. The portals provide a great way of sharing information and typically use forums or discussion groups to allow people to post relevant articles, questions and answers. Engines love portals because the content of the website focus on a particular topic. This means algorithm (a formula utilized by a search engines to determine the ranking of web pages), is ranking the site in terms of the content of for all of the pages, delivers highly relevant search results to its user base.

- E-commerce Shopping for Consumers – the main goal of an e-commerce website is to sell products and services (whether physical or online service such as a subscription or membership). Users expect to be sold to with the promise of special offers and quality of friends. They expect to be able to enter their credit card quickly in encrypted shopping basket check out page. To build an ecommerce online shop requires knowledge of local banking laws and usually require companies to authenticate their credentials before being given her approval to trade online. Amazon.com was the first example of global e-commerce success providing users what they want quickly and cheaply, with a clear delivery process and customer service policies. The critical success factors for e-commerce websites varies depending upon the local geographic market and general competitiveness of the product of or service. Users of expect a clear sales offers, cheaper deals and a high street, brand names, a clear delivery and refund a policy and someone to talk to on the telephone. There are many online vertical directories concentrating on specific consumer products. In addition, search engine applications such as ‘Froogal’ provide a new and huge channel to market that the traditional high street shopping could not possibly reach.

- Community Networks – a community network is a consortium of users and web sites all sharing ideas and information. There are brought together by a common interest in a particular topic. Leading examples of online community social networks are Youtube, Myspace, Facebook, Friends Reunited and so on. There are thousands of other example in niche areas where uses are coming together to have fun, share ideas, or make money. They are usually highly interactive with messaging passing between users and may include blog functionality, forums and discussion groups, PC file sharing, videoconferencing, instant messaging, chat rooms, secure e-mail and led to communicate using mobile technology such as PDA’s or mobile phones. These networks are great places to ask questions to like minded people or companies. It is probable someone has the answer or is experience the same problem as you have. If you’re planning to create a community network, critical to success will be the level of niche content and information regarding contentious and complicated issues that every interest of great many people.

Clear The Confusion Regarding Online Marketing – Serve Your Market!

Have you ever found yourself pondering on the thought that the more you learn, the more you realise how little you know? This is something that most internet marketers experience. Without really knowing if it is because they are already overwhelmed with so much information or things to do.

As you enter the internet marketing industry, of course, you would not have much knowledge or perhaps, no knowledge at all about effective online marketing, then you learned or at least somebody has told you what online marketing or SEO is, or any other means of marketing your business on the web. But imagine if you have never really encountered all those information, you would be unaware of those internet marketing terms and their meanings. Do you think that there might be a difference in the way you would run your business right now? Probably so!

In fact, the reason why you might be confused right now is because of that. Because you are just told and taught to do whatever it is that you are doing, without even knowing why you are doing it. A lot of information are given to you, and before you know it, you are now suffering from information overload! You are now feeling so overwhelmed, confused and lost.

In this case be assured, there is really nothing for you to worry about. You are not alone, and this is somehow a phase that most internet marketers go through. All you have to do is to instil in your mind that not every strategy that other people have tried and worked for them, will also work for you. Some strategies even contradict each other, while some seem pointless and contradict common sense. So you must learn to control and filter the information you are given, to avoid getting lost at your own expense.

Now, you may be asking how can you clear your confusion, regain your focus and get back on track. First things first, you have to realise that the things that you have been told and taught, especially, those that you are uncertain about, are most probably things that have nothing to do with “serving your market”.

Those are just things that you implemented because other people urged you to do so.
You may even think that you know why you did those things, or somebody has already explained those to you. But the thing is, without proof or live examples, you are still pretty much going on a grey area.

Like for example, if you are asking yourself how long should a blog post be? How many links should you include in a post? With questions like these, the answers will most probably be “IT DEPENDS”. You just have to bear in mind that any piece of content or whatever you are posting is, should be as short or as long as it takes to stress or make a point. As to the number of links that you should post, it should depend on the number of references or resources your readers need.

What I am trying to say here is, you should disregard the things that other people have told you or have urged you to do. Especially, the standards that they have instilled in your mind because there are no real standards! All you have to do is do your own thing and serve your market.

Go on with your business like nobody is pushing you, or like Google and SEO does not exist. Just be natural with your linking and marketing strategy and everything will fall into place. when in doubt, just ask yourself what makes sense the most and what serves your market best. That way, you will not be overwhelmed and lost with other people’s thoughts and ideas.

Follow this guide for a while. Instead of trying to figure out everything in the online marketing industry, including the different marketing and monetization strategies, try to simplify everything and focus on serving your market.

With these, I promise you, you will be smarter than you think. Clear the confusion in your head and focus on what really matters to your business which is to serve your market using value-based marketing!