Online Marketing Essentials – The Customer Funnel

There are basically four methods

Direct to vendors sales page web site
Direct to the purchase page
Via your own squeeze page
Via your own website
Lets look at these in more detail
If you send the customer directly from your ads to the customer sales page you have no need for your own website. This means no hosting fees and no web skills required, hopefully the vendor sales page will do the selling and result in sales. This is good if you have no web skills at all or want to get started quickly. Although most web hosting companies now offer ‘no skills needed’ template built web sites. On the downside you have no opportunity to capture the customer or offer the customer any additional products. Also if you use affiliate links to the product they will clearly be seen by those in the know. There are ways of ‘masking’ your affiliate link but none are very good unless you have your own website. One quick option you do have is to simply buy a domain name. You can then set ‘forwarding and masking’ on your new domain name so that you can use that in place of your affiliate link to get to the vendor sales page. If you want to get up a running swiftly then this is a good option in the short term.
Sending traffic directly to the purchase page is pointless if the customer has not already been given the guided tour of the product and set up ready to buy. For new starters this not a realistic option. The reason for sending directly to a vendors purchase page is to bypass his sales page if it is not converting customer leads. You will then have to convince the customer to buy the product yourself. You will need to do this either on your own website or squeeze page. (See 3&4). This is an advanced marketing technique but not for a new starter.
Sending traffic to the vendor via your own squeeze page is a good idea. What you effectively do here is pre-qualify your leads. The better qualified your lead the better chance of a successful sale. If your squeeze page is very good you may bypass the vendor sales page altogether and go straight to purchase point. Worth offering the option on your page! You will also use your own domain name to get to your squeeze page and not your affiliate ID URL. On the down side you need to host your squeeze page in the same way as a web site. You also need to ensure that your page enhances your sales and not reduces them using a continuous improvement process.
Sending traffic via your own website is a great idea. You have the opportunity to mask your affiliate ID and you can capture customer details for ‘back end sales’. Long term this, or a squeeze page, must be your options. Also you can sell your own products from a website if you have them and offer content that will draw the customers back to view the website again, giving further opportunity to sell. With a web site you can also start to create your own brand and have a domain name and corporate image to use in all communications. Long term this creates recognition and more customers confidence which results in more sales. The downside is that you really need some skills in web site creation but there are plenty of tutorials and new applications that make it very very easy – honest!
Domain Name and Hosting
You will need a domain name and a hosting account if you going to put up a website or squeeze pages. You really can’t beat VodaHost at this game. They have the simplest and cheapest way to get a professional website up and running. They give away their BlueVoda (check out the video) web site creator which is absolutely the easiest one on the planet and it is not limited in functionality either. You simply buy the hosting and everything else, including your domain name and unlimited web space and bandwidth, is free so it is likely to be cheaper than other hosting companies who end up charging you for all the separate bits which can often come to quite a large monthly sum. Another big plus is that everything is integrated and I do not think any other hosting has this. i.e. you create your website in BlueVoda and you can upload it with a single click. No need for third party FTP or slow web based file managers.

Ten Marketing Tips That Generate Positive Results

With more than two decades of experience in marketing, Internet marketing, and working with small businesses, I’ve seen my share of failed and successful marketing campaigns. Regardless of marketing discipline, Internet advertising, direct mail, etc., basic marketing principle stand the test of time.

Getting results with your marketing campaigns is still far more complex than it was many years ago. But don’t be concerned. Basic marketing principles that worked back then still work today when applied correctly. Too often, professional marketers and small business owners overlook the basic techniques that have separated successful campaigns from those that never turn a profit. Here is my all time list of effective marketing tips.

Know your audience. Successful campaigns get that way because marketers know their audience. They fully understand their needs, how to help meet those needs and how to create demand. Knowing and understanding your audience through proper market segmentation means a well targeted campaign that generates a profitable return.

Focus on the offer. A marketing offer is the driving force of marketing promotions that drive results. In fact, market testing has proven that the offer is the most significant criterion for conversion. Focus on your offer if you want to be successful.

Split test. Never ever run a campaign without testing something. One of the most common is a split test which allows you to simultaneously test two versions of something. It can be a web page, post card, or email. Split testing is essential for improving performance.

Never work alone. The most creative ideas come from working with other creative people. Don’t feel like you need to have all the answers or great ideas. You may start with an idea, but an open dialog with creative individuals will make it better.

Don’t sell on price. I’ve seen so many marketers fail because they sell on price along. This leads to a discounting war, lower profitability, and often bankruptcy. Rather, focus on creating so much value that the perception of price becomes insignificant.

Consistent messaging. Consider the entire user experience before you launch a campaign. From email to website to offer, is the prospect having a consistent user experience? If they are, your campaigns stand above 98% of others.

Create value after the sale. As marketers, it’s our job to understand our market segment and build relationships, not dump people off at the front door of our store and walk away. Focus as much of your energy on building relationships with customers as you do prospects.

Test. Test. Test. In addition to split testing, you should consider multiple forms of testing in each marketing discipline. For direct mail, test headlines, offers, copy, time of direct mail drop, etc. Consider testing a life long mission.

Integrated Marketing Works Best. You can’t rely on one form of marketing to carry you to success. It’s okay to generate most of your leads or sales through PPC marketing if you will but what happens when that dries us? Use multiple media sources to meet your goals.

Nothing can replace experience. You can run out and hire all of the best consultants in the world, but you still have to do the work. Nothing can replace actual experience. It will make you a stronger marketer and more successful in the long term.

Consider these marketing tips before you being your next campaign. If you want to be truly successful keep things simple and apply what you already know works effectively. These techniques and tips are applied by successful marketers on a daily basis. The result is an ever growing success rate of marketing success.

Drive Your Sales With a Professional Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a blue print document for a business which is developed to plan and implement the marketing activity necessary to achieve the goals set out for the business. For most small and medium sized businesses this will mean a marketing plan which is developed to achieve the sales and profit targets set for the business. A good marketing plan will target available resources in the most efficient and planned manner and enable the business to achieve its objectives. There are a number of stages to developing an effective marketing plan.

1. Define the business itself – What is the business in terms of size, location, sales channels, etc. What does the business do, what are the unique sales points or main sales points of the business or its services and products.

2. Define the objectives – What are the objectives for the business, these may include increasing sales from existing customers, winning new customers, increased profitability, launching new products or services, moving into new geographical areas, opening up new markets, raising awareness of the business or brand, developing new distribution channels. Most likely it will be a combination of several of these objectives.

3. Identify the target market – The marketing plan should identify the types of customers or clients that the products or services will be sold to. Factors to consider for B2C businesses will be social group A, B C1, C2, D & E. Geographical location, age group, gender, interest group, etc. For B2B businesses factors will include business sector, size, geographical location, job title, turnover, etc.

4. Timescale – It is most productive in developing a marketing plan to break down the achievement of the objectives by timescale. Set out what needs to be achieved in the short, medium and long term. In the short term it may be best to focus on achieving a level of sales which can at least support the business outgoings, longer term objectives would include achieving high levels of awareness in the target market and a reputation for excellence in your field.

5. Marketing Tactics – Once points 1 to 4 have been decided the next stage in the marketing plan is to decide which marketing tactics need to be employed to best achieve the objectives that have been identified for the short, medium and long term. The marketing tactics employed could include advertising, direct marketing, graphic design (logo, brochures, leaflets, point of sale), online marketing, search engine optimisation, public relations, sales promotion and channel marketing. The factors which decide which marketing tactics will be most effective include available budget, the nature of the target market, the main sales points of the business and its services and products, competitor activity, market conditions and availability of suitable media.

6. Media Selection – Once marketing tactics have been decided the next stage of the marketing plan is to select the most appropriate media. There are a whole host of available media channels whatever marketing tactics are employed. For example, for direct marketing there are a multitude of list brokers offering many options for suitable lists – so contact at least 4-5, the internet is now an excellent means of sourcing professional marketing help, consider which options are best for your business. For advertising you can select from media such as national, regional and local newspapers, magazines, newsletters, radio, posters, banners and even TV. The selection will depend entirely on your target market and budget – make your budget work as hard as you can.

7. Creative Message – This aspect of the marketing plan will be developed directly from the unique sales point and major sales points that were identified earlier. The creative message may include a strapline that encapsulates the key sales point for the product or service. The creative message must be consistent across all media and have impact and standout. For the implementation of this aspect of the marketing plan it is advisable to seek the services of a professional marketing agency – again this can be sourced via the internet.

In summary, your marketing plan is key to the success of your business, it is a blueprint for the long term development of the business sales. It is important that your marketing plan centres around achieving sales and profitability, return on investment is key to good marketing. It is best to get professional help when developing your marketing plan – use the internet to source that help.