Archive for the 'Online Marketing' Category

What you like vs. what works: not always the same thing

November 14th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Subscriber DH writes:

“Bob, what are your favorite websites in terms of the copy they
have, so I can see myself which copy style you think is great?

“I was working for a client and came across a website from a
company that sells the same thing he does.

“I was blown away by the simple, fun, almost magical style of
their site vs. the more technical copy on my client’s site.

“But I wonder if I was right to admire the competitor site —
does that kind of copy draw customers?”

There are two key parts to the answer I gave DH.

The first is something copywriter Peter Beteul said that I never
forgot: “Don’t let personal preference get in the way.”

Meaning subjective judgment is absolutely the worst way to judge


Because countless marketing tests and many research studies prove
that there is no correlation between people liking an ad and
whether they buy the product.

Second, regarding DH’s websites, she has little or no access to
analytics and metrics measuring the website’s performance.

And results … not whether the site has a fun or “magical” style …
is what determines whether she should admire and emulate it.

In this case, she just doesn’t know. So following the competitor
site as a model would be questionable at best and unwise at

Back in the day, with print ads and direct mail, it was

Running newspaper and magazine ads, and doing postal direct mail,
is expensive.

And so marketers who use them test very carefully.

If an ad or direct mail test is not successful, they will not
repeat it.

On the other hand, an ad or mailing that is profitable is run
over and over until it stops making money.

So if you see an ad or mailing that runs continuously, you know
that copy is working — and in that case, it would be wise to

It’s pretty much the same for ongoing email campaigns and web
pages, although not as certain, because they are less expensive
to run than print — and therefore, are more forgiving of

One more point….

You only know whether someone else’s marketing is working if you
see the evidence with your own eyes, as indicated by frequency
and repetition.

If another marketer says response rates for their campaign are
through the roof, or that they are raking in money hand over
fist, the problem is you have no idea whether they are telling
you the truth.

As my good friend top info marketer Fred Gleeck says: “The only
numbers you can trust are your own.”


Category: Direct Marketing, Online Marketing | 1 Comment »

When internet marketing works

November 10th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Sometimes internet marketing is a pain in the ass.

You work hard on a product, launch it, and nobody is interested.

Now you have to salvage the product either by improving it or
bundling it with other stuff.

Another disaster scenario: You send an email marketing message to
thousands of people, driving them to a product landing page.

And then they start emailing you to let you know your landing
page is down — and it is — and as the minutes go by, you are
losing orders left and right.

On the flip side, when info marketing works well, it can really
put a smile on your face.

For instance, a few weeks ago, I decided to promote an existing
product with an existing email to drive traffic to the existing
landing page.

Total investment of my time: less than 2 minutes — because
everything was already done.

Within the next few days, we got 112 orders for the $29 ebook for
gross sales of $3,248.

Overhead aside, because it was an ebook, our net sales were also
about $3,248.

Now that’s peanuts compared to what some info marketers make.

But consider two points:

The average American has to work 3 solid weeks at a 9-to-5 job
that probably bores them to tears to make that much money — and
with the commute, that’s probably 130 to 150 hours of their time.

While my 2 minutes of “work” generated over 3K in sales, which
comes to an hourly rate for my labor of $97,440.

And this is not a freak occurrence: $3,000 or more from a single
email blast using existing copy, which means no labor on my part,
happens many times throughout the year.

Passive income and info marketing online don’t always work.

But when they do, it’s a beautiful thing.

Again, my info marketing business is a spec on the windshield
compared to the big boys.

But if I wanted to, we could live nicely on it with me “working”
about 2 hours a week.

I have no intention of ever quitting my day job as a freelance
copywriter, which I absolutely love.

But having a spare-time six-figure passive income … and being
able to earn 3K from one eblast with zero work … sure takes the
financial pressure off — and makes you more relaxed.

Try it. You’ll like it.


Category: Online Marketing | 1 Comment »

A short course in making money with microsites

November 3rd, 2017 by Bob Bly

A “microsite” is a small website dedicated to selling a single
product, service, or offer.

I am frequently asked, “Does each microsite need its own domain
name, or can I just make it an extension of my main domain name?”

For instance, if your main site is and you
have a separate microsite selling your healthy eating cookbook …

… your domain could be an extension — — or a unique URL; e.g.,

For my product microsites, each has a unique domain name.

And an article in ClickZ (7/26/17) agrees with this domain
strategy, saying:

“As a general rule, a microsite should have its own dedicated
domain or subdomain.

“While it might be appealing for a microsite to be hosted on a
primary brand domain for SEO purposes, and there are instances in
which this might make sense, more often than not, it’s best to
host the microsite on a dedicated domain.

“There are numerous reasons for this. For one, a dedicated domain
is typically easier to promote.”

They point out that a dedicated domain such as is
easier to remember and type in than

For instance, the domain for my microsite on how to write and
sell your first ebook is

Having an easy-to-remember dedicated domain is especially helpful
when someone asks me about one of my products, because I can
instantly recall and tell them the site domain.

Now, you may object, “But that means I have to buy a separate
domain for every microsite I have and every product I sell!”

Well, last time I looked, you can buy a domain name on for an annual fee of around $12.

Domain names are the real estate of the web.

That means for $12, you can own a piece of real estate online
that produces for you sales of $5,000 a year … $50,000 a year …
even $100,000 a year or more.

Owning actual real estate doesn’t give you anywhere near that
kind of return most of the time.

And having just spent $4,500 to fix problems at a rental property
we own, I can tell you microsites are a lot less of a headache to
manage than houses.

To be fair, my best microsites make just thousands of dollars a
year each — not $100,000 or $1 million or more like the big boys
of ecommerce do with their websites.

But with dozens of sites each making a few thousand bucks a year,
my little online info business makes me a nice spare-time annual
income … in the six figures … with me “working” on it just a
couple of hours a week.

Another key to having a business with a lot of microsites is to
get a hosting service that allows you to host an unlimited number
of sites for one flat monthly fee.

For instance, one hosting service is, on the surface, very cheap
at just $19 a month.

But, it’s $19 per site. That’s OK if your business has one big
website, as many do, such as my CPA and my attorney.

My hosting service is more expensive at $49 a month — except, for
that fee, I can host as many sites as I want at no extra charge.

And with my 100 microsites, that means my hosting costs are less
than half a dollar per site per month.

Very affordable.

One more tip…

Your microsites should offer only one choice of action; e.g.,
download a free white paper or leave.

Or buy the product or leave.

Nothing else.

No navigation … no links to other pages … no free content.

If you have navigation on your squeeze pages for lead generation
… or on microsites for product sales … strip it off immediately.

Then sit back and watch your conversion rates rise like bread
dough in a hot oven.

And make more bread online!


Category: Online Marketing | 4 Comments »

The ideal length for online video

October 31st, 2017 by Bob Bly

Abraham Lincoln was, for his day, unusually tall and gangly.

Once a man asked him, “Hey, Abe Lincoln … how long should a
person’s legs be?”

Lincoln answered, “Long enough to reach the ground.”

It’s the same with copy in general and online video in

Both should be as long as they need to be to get the message
across and generate maximum ROI.

TwentyThree, the maker of a video marketing automation platform,
studied over 1.5 million videos to better inform marketing and
content creation teams about preconceived video myths.

Their “State of Online Video in 2017” report found that videos
can, and should, last longer than 90 seconds if publishers want
to see higher engagement rates.

While 80 percent of videos are under 5 minutes, the short ones
drive less than a third of overall video engagement.

Mid-form and long-form videos, which are at least 15 minutes
long, drive over half of all video engagement despite
encompassing just 8 percent of all video.

The subject matter has a lot to do with how long viewers will
stick with videos.

I wrote scripts for marketing videos in the late 1970s when I was
at Westinghouse Defense and Aerospace, and our average run time
was about 8 to 10 minutes.

Yes, you can argue it was a different time with longer attention

But the footage — F-16s soaring through the air and tanks
blasting apart concrete targets with rounds — was really cool to
watch. And so people did.

I recently read an article saying the human attention span is now
less than 8 seconds.

But if you’ve ever watched a half-hour sitcom or a movie in a
theater, you know that is pure baloney.

Four hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day.
Average run time is about 3 minutes.

Stansberry Research had a home run with a video sales letter
awhile back called “The End of America.”

It was one of the most successful financial promotions of the
last few years, and its running time was an incredible 45

I’m sure the Stansberry team heard from a lot of friends and
family who said, “You’re crazy; nobody will watch a video that
long” or “Whenever I click on those things, I immediately click

But Stansberry wisely ignores subjective opinion, especially of
noncustomers. All they care about is ROI and gross revenues, and
“The End of America” made them a small fortune.

And that’s all any marketer, including you, should care about,
too. Right?


Category: Online Marketing | 3 Comments »

The 90/10 secret of writing and info marketing

October 10th, 2017 by Bob Bly

My Facebook friend CR writes:

“As a relative newcomer, I’d love to find my way into the passive
income world. I get stuck at the very beginning: topic.

“I have the same problem trying to create articles to build
reputation in my new copywriting niche.

“What do I know that anyone else would want to know? I ponder and
ponder, but so far, nothing.”

Here is the answer….

The mistake people make — whether creating info products, or
writing articles or books — is to say, “What can I write about? I
don’t know anything special” … just as CR says above.

But she — and they — and you, if you believe her — are wrong.

My good friend Dr. Gary North says:

“The great mistake most small-business people make is to imagine
that their detailed knowledge of their niche market is widely

“On the contrary, hardly anyone knows it. They are owners of a
capital asset that others do not possess and have no easy way of

Dan Kennedy notes, “You know something that someone will pay to
learn. There are plenty of opportunities to help people get the
most out of their business and life.

“You just need to grasp a few key strategies for presenting
yourself as an expert advisor and people will gladly pay to get
that guidance from you.”

Ray Bradbury said every writer was capable of producing unique
writing, because each person’s experience is different.

Now, when I repeat Dr. North’s statement, the next objection I
hear is:

“Well, I know something about a few things … but I am not a top
expert in these subjects. So I have no authority to pontificate
about them.”

My friend, top info marketer Fred Gleeck, overcomes this argument
with his 90/10 principle of content.

Fred says yes, maybe there are a few people … say as many as 10%
of the world’s population … that know as much or more about your
topic than you do.

But, you are not writing for them. They are not your audience.

You are writing for the 90% or more of readers who know less
about your topic than you do — for they are your audience.

Gary North says you already know more than 90% of people about
your topic because of your extensive experience.

Or what Dan Kennedy calls “expensive experience,” because (a) it
cost you a lot in time, study, and effort to acquire and (b) you
can sell it for a profit to others.

One famous speaker I know said he became an expert in his topic
by reading a couple of books every week on the subject for an
entire year — 100 books in all.

Mark Ford says you become knowledgeable in a skill or field once
you have spent 1,000 hours practicing the discipline … and if you
work at it 20 hours a week, you’ll have logged those thousand
hours in about a year.

As for becoming a master, Mark says that takes around 10,000
hours of practice.

One other point: People read as much for repetition as for new

So if your book, article, or info products mostly tells them what
they already know, they’ll enjoy and learn from it — think you,
the author, really know your stuff, because it jibes with their
own understanding — and feel they have gotten their money’s

And if in that book, article, or info product you also give them
a couple of new ideas, they’ll be even happier.

So I say to you and to CR: Ponder my advice above, if you wish.

But really, the best way to overcome CR’s objection and worry is:
just start writing.

What you produce will be much better than you expect — most
likely surprisingly so.

And with some rewrites and polishing, you’ll in short order have
a publishable and valuable work.

As Dr. Benjamin Spock wrote in his best-selling book Baby and
Child Care:

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”


Category: General, Online Marketing, Writing | 6 Comments »

Why your free stuff has to be your best stuff

September 1st, 2017 by Bob Bly

MS recently downloaded a copy of one of my free special

I offer it free to folks interesting in my copywriting services,
books, and courses — and MS took advantage of it.

After MS downloaded the free report, he sent this quick email to
me in response:

“Hi. Thanks. This is an awesome report — much better than some
I’ve paid for.”

And therein lies a simple but powerful marketing lessons:

***The content you give away for free should be as good as, or
preferably better than, the content you sell!***

This may seem counterintuitive.

You think, “Well, the person is not paying. So it doesn’t have to
be that good. For free, so-so should be good enough.”

But the purpose of giving away a free report is to either (a)
strengthen your reputation as a subject matter expert or (b)
upsell prospects to your paid products or services.

So riddle me this: If I get a report from you, and it’s a yawn,
then why would I bother to give you money for more of the same
level of thinking, expertise, or advice?

And don’t tell me, “Well, people know the free stuff is just a
taste, but for the steak dinner, they gotta pay the full price.”

Because actually, they don’t see it that way: If the free sample
sucks, you’ll almost surely fail to whet their appetite for doing
business with you on a paid basis.

That’s why the content you give away for free should be as good
as, or preferably better than, the content you sell!

But … just because the free has to be as good or better than the
paid, it doesn’t have to be the SAME as the paid.

Here’s a useful rule of thumb from my colleague WM: The free
content tells people WHAT to do.

The paid content or service either tells the how to do it or
actually does it for them.

See the difference?

One more time:

Free content is “what to do” … paid content is “how to do it” …
paid services are “done for you” — doing it for them.

Back in the day, we called these free reports “bait pieces,”
the idea being we used them to go fishing for leads.

Today these free content offers are called “lead magnets,”
because they are used to attract potential customers.

Also back in the day, we didn’t call it “content marketing.” We
called it “giving away free information.”


Category: General, Online Marketing | 5 Comments »

Wanna get rich online? Do what Amazon does.

August 18th, 2017 by Bob Bly

My colleague Craig Murphy helps companies improve e-commerce
revenues using what he calls “online sales psychology.”

Essentially, he applies principles of psychology to improve

How does it work?

As an example, take a look at Amazon.

The core elements on their website are:

>> Search bar across the top of the page.
>> Login area.
>> Main featured image that rotates through a select few

What’s happening here is Amazon is conditioning their users to
an experience.

They have spent millions and millions of dollars researching the
psychology behind their website — what users see first, what
they expect to see first, where they click, and why they click

By doing this Amazon tailors their website around expectations
and also sets expectations for the rest of the web.

That being the case, say you are looking to create an ecommerce

You put your search bar down the very bottom out of site.

You don’t include a login.

And instead of showcasing featured products, you highlight the
about your company section.

Would this work as well?

Does this fit in with what your prospects are expecting?

Does it get the consumer from your homepage to a product page to
checkout as quickly and smoothly as possible?

Amazon has already done the hard work for us of determining what
works on e-commerce sites … so why not learn from their expensive

Avoid reinventing the wheel and copycat a winning formula

For instance, on product search result pages, the search filter
options are typically down the left hand side as is the case with

Why? Because the western world reads left to right … and the web
has conditioned people as a standard to expect search options on
the left hand side.

As an experiment, on a development server, try adding your search
options to the right hand of your website.

You’ll see how odd it looks. Moving it to the left should give a
better visual appearance, user interface, and improve sales.

Always remember to keep your important page elements — including
images, headlines, and most importantly call to action (CTA)
buttons “above the fold.”

If you don’t, and users have to scroll down to find the CTA
button, conversion rates will plummet.

You can use screen recording software to track
visitor activity on your website and follow the actions that they
take from start to finish.

Analytics may tell you there’s an issue. But screen recording
software such as inspectlet will show you exactly what the
problem is.


Category: Online Marketing | 3 Comments »

How I made $907 in 90 minutes eating Korean food

June 30th, 2017 by Bob Bly

One Friday night last month, after checking, answering, and then
deleting or filing in Outlook all my emails, we left the house at
6pm to get a quick dinner.

When we returned at 7:30pm, I checked my email again.

In the 90 minutes we were out, I had gotten $907 in info product
orders online, all for products I was not actively promoting that

(We call these “over the transom” orders because we took no
deliberate action to generate them.)

No work on my part. Over $900 made while eating in a Korean

(Full disclosure: this is an isolated incident — and not a
typical Friday night.)

Some people work all week to make $900 in a 9-to-5 job that bores

One that they must commute to and from on their own time and dime
— for a boss they don’t like

I tell you this not to brag, but to illustrate (a) the value of
having multiple streams of income and (b) the advantage of having
at least one of these be a stream of passive income.

Just to be clear, passive income is anything that makes money
without your direct labor.

Passive income streams generate cash flow for you on Sundays,
holidays, vacations, and even while you sleep.

As George Clason writes in his book The Richest Man in Babylon,
“I wish an income that will keep flowing into my purse whether I
sit upon the wall or travel to far lands.”

On the other hand, with active income streams, you get paid only
when you are working.

Dentistry, for instance, although lucrative, is strictly an
active income stream.

Dentists have a saying: “Unless you are drilling and filling, you
are not billing.”

Most people I know have, for the most part, only a single stream
of income — typically the paycheck from their full-time job,
where they toil away to make someone else rich.

And unless you are getting a huge salary, that’s risky … although
back in the day, when I worked on staff at a Fortune 500 firm in
the late 70s, a corporate job gave one the illusion of security.
I know I felt safe in mine.

But no longer.

The scary part is that if you get laid off or the company
falters, you suddenly have zero income … except for a small sum
from temporary unemployment insurance.

Your income stops. But your expenses relentlessly keep on coming.

This sudden stoppage of your cash flow makes it extremely
difficult to pay your rent, mortgage, car loans, insurance
premiums, property tax, and kids’ college tuition — among many
other expenses.

When I became a full-time freelance writer in February 1982, my
main source of money was an active income stream — writing copy
for clients.

But even back then, I had a smaller passive income stream:
royalties from my hardcover and paperback books published by
mainstream publishing houses.

The nice thing about royalties is that your work can generate
ongoing income for you months, even years, after you write it.

For instance, I recently got a check from one of my publishers
for $4,856 … for the Chinese edition of a book I wrote in 1985,
which is work I completed more than 3 decades ago.

Some of the passive income streams various writers I know have in
place include:

–Book royalties.
–Copywriting royalties.
–Reselling your published articles to multiple magazines and web
sites over and over.
–Real estate investing.
–Stocks and bonds.
–Online information marketing.
–Options trading.

Action step: develop at least one active income stream and one
passive income stream.

Your goal: Build them to annual six-figure revenues. Each.

That way, if you decide to quite working someday, you can live
comfortably from the passive income stream alone.


Category: Online Marketing, Success | 3 Comments »