Archive for the 'Online Marketing' Category

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
reports.

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.”

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Category: General, Online Marketing | 2 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
conversions

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
products.

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
there.

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
website.

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
experience.

Avoid reinventing the wheel and copycat a winning formula
instead!

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

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 www.inspectlet.com 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.

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Category: Online Marketing | 1 Comment »

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
week.

(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
restaurant.

(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
them.

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.

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Category: Online Marketing, Success | 1 Comment »

Transparency wins in email marketing

June 27th, 2017 by Bob Bly

A few weeks ago, I sent out an email to my list with this subject
line:

“My doctor said: ‘Bob, you might have blood cancer.'”

My blood test results prompted my family doctor to send me to a
hematologist.

Turned out, I dodged a health bullet: no blood cancer.

When I told this story in my e-newsletter, I got well over a
hundred of you emailing me back — more response than most of my
other emails in recent memory.

This taught or at least reminded me of three things — the first
of which warms my heart, and the second and third of which
reveals important truths about email marketing that may be useful
to you.

FIRST, my subscribers, as a group, are considerate and caring —
really nice people — which is the kind of readers I want to have.

SECOND, that the technique of “transparency” … revealing a lot of
personal information about you unrelated to instructional content
or selling in your writing … helps create a bond between you and
your subscribers.

Some comments from the responses to my cancer-scare email:

PC: “I’ve been a subscriber of your emails and a big fan of your
professional career for several years. I truly enjoy anything you
write. Thanks for sharing such a great life lesson.”

JK: “Thank you for sharing this personal story.”

CB: “Thank you for your email communications, which are a
pleasure to read and always worth the time. I read every single
one.”

TP: “Thank you for sharing your personal story and this great
lesson for all of us.”

AB: “I always enjoy your messages. But special thanks for sharing
something so personal. Your humanity is what makes your emails
stand out from all the others in my inbox.”

DF: “Bob, I love your down to earth good old fashioned work ethic
and I love your newsletter.”

I share these comments not to brag, but to demonstrate my thesis:
transparency works in cementing your relationship with your
readers.

Result: they trust you more, like you more, and read you more.

And people buy from people they like and trust.

So transparency makes your subscribers enjoy your newsletter,
decreasing your unsubscribe rate and boosting your open rates.

And all this translates into greater loyalty and more sales for
the products you offer your readers in your emails.

THIRD, people like stories. And stories are often more
persuasive and engaging than data.

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Category: General, Online Marketing | 3 Comments »

Optimizing PDF content for search engines

March 17th, 2017 by Bob Bly

My esteemed colleague, white paper guru Gordon Graham, recently
told me and his many other readers that, just like a web page,
your white papers should be optimized for search engines.

As Gordon explained, “Web spiders can index PDFs on the web so
that they show up in search results.”

That’s why you should always include your chosen keywords as
“descriptive metadata” in any white paper you post online.

(Descriptive metadata can include elements such as title,
abstract, author, and keywords.)

So how do you insert the metadata with the keywords into your
white paper PDF?

To insert metadata using Adobe Acrobat:

1. Open the PDF with Acrobat and select File > Properties.

2. In the Document Properties dialog, on the Description panel,
enter your preferred title, author, subject, and keywords
(separated by commas) in the appropriate text boxes. Then click
OK.

3. Select File > Save.

To insert metadata using InDesign:

If you have InDesign, you can insert metadata in your white paper
file and then generate a fresh PDF.

If your designers don’t know how to do this, share the following
process with them:

1. Open the white paper file with InDesign and select File > File
Info.

2. In the File Info dialog box, enter your preferred document
title, author, description, and keywords (separated by commas) in
the appropriate text boxes. Then click OK.

3. Select File > Save to save your updated file.

4. Then select File > Export.

5. In the Export dialog, select Adobe PDF with your regular PDF
options. Then click OK.

To insert metadata using Word:

If you have a recent version of Word, you can insert metadata in
a more roundabout way. Here’s how:

1. Open the white paper file with Word, press Alt+F, and select
Prepare > Properties.

2. In the Document Information panel, enter your preferred title,
subject, and keywords (separated by commas) in the appropriate
text boxes.

3. Press Alt+F and select Save As and then select PDF or XPS.

4. In the Publish as PDF or XPS dialog, navigate to the folder
you want, enter a suitable file name, and click Publish.

To insert metadata using your Mac:

If you have a Mac, you can use Adobe Acrobat or InDesign as
described earlier.

Or you can use a nifty piece of freeware that makes up for the
limitations of Preview, called Combine PDFs. You can download it
here:

http://monkeybreadsoftware.de/Freeware/CombinePDFs.shtml

When you have Combine PDFs running, do this:

1. Select File > Add Files.

2. In the Open dialog, select the white paper PDF and click Open,
then select Options > Add Metadata.

3. In the Add Metadata dialog, enter your preferred title,
author, subject, and keywords (separated by commas). Then click
OK.

4. Click Merge PDFs in the lower-right corner.

5. In the Save dialog, enter a file name and click Save.

Note that CombinePDFs is shareware, so after you process 1,000
pages with it, it asks you to pay for a license.

Gordon advises that if you use it that much, you should shell out
for it.

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Category: General, Online Marketing | 1 Comment »

Turning your passion into passive profits online

February 17th, 2017 by Bob Bly

My oldest son, Alex, who was a history major in college with a
particular interest in military history, wrote an interesting
short paper, “World War II at a Glance,” that you can download
for free here:

www.theww2site.com/world-war2-at-a-glance

In this special report, you get a quick-reading overview of some
of WWII’s key initiatives including:

** Underground resistance groups in Europe.
** Enigma, other rotor-based coding machines, and the U.S. Navy
code breakers.
** The 5 most important intelligence groups operating during the
War.
** The real reason why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
** The deadly WWII sniper who racked up a record 542 confirmed
kills all in one year, without using a scope.
** Plus: the B-25 bomber raid on Tokyo… the 1944 attempted
assassination of Adolf Hitler … the top Allied spy of WWII …
Kamikaze and Blitzkrieg attacks … and more.

The reason I urge you to check it out, even if you are not a WWII
or history buff, is so you can see how Alex and I are building a
new topic-based site …

…and how we plan to go about “monetizing” the site to produce an
annual passive income stream in the five or six figures within
the next 12 months or so:

www.theww2site.com/world-war2-at-a-glance

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Category: Online Marketing | 3 Comments »

Goodbye digital, hello paper

February 3rd, 2017 by Bob Bly

In an article in The New York Review of Books (2/9/2017), Bill
McKibben notes that an increasing number of folks are turning
away from electronic communication and instead choosing
old-school media.

For instance:

>> In 2006, just 900,000 new vinyl records were sold in the U.S.
In 2015, the number of vinyl records sold was 23 million — an
increase of 20% per year.

>> Despite a hefty $150 price for an annual subscription, in the
last decade the magazine The Economist has seen its print
circulation grow by 600,000.

>> Students who take massive open online courses (MOOCs) perform
worse, and learn less, than their peers who are sitting in a
school listening to a teacher talking in front of a blackboard.

>> In many classrooms and office conference rooms, schools and
corporations are replacing digital smartboards with paper and
colored markers.

>> Hundreds of board game parlors, where people get together to
play on game boards made of cardboard moving pieces made of
plastic or metal, have opened in North America.

So … what are the reasons a portion of the population is turning
back to old media?

>> Well, in the case of records, people enjoy handling and
playing them, and appreciate the cover art and liner notes. They
also gain a sense of ownership over the music some don’t get from
digital.

>> For The Economist, when you carry the print edition, people
can see what you are reading, which if the magazine is
prestigious, shows you are smart, cultured, and in-the-know. Much
harder to see that the bloke next to you is reading the digital edition of The Economist without sticking your face right in front of his smart phone.

>> MOOCs does not surprise me. Podcasts, online courses,
streaming video, and other digital classes simply cannot match
the interaction and personalized attention a teacher gives in a
classroom or a speaker like me gives at a live workshop.

>> As for video games vs. board games, McKibben quotes writer David Sax: “Even if you were playing World of Warcraft with the same group of friends around the world each day, talking smack over
your headsets, and typing in snippets of conversation, you were
ultimately alone in a room with a screen, and the loneliness
washed over you like a wave when the game ended.”

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Category: Direct Marketing, Online Marketing | 6 Comments »

7 small graphic tweaks that can create a huge lift in response

January 27th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Last week I asked ace graphic designer Dwight Ingram for some
ideas on how to improve the performance of our direct mail and
online marketing through changes in design.

Dwight replied:

“Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest
difference. I’m often called upon to ‘freshen up’ a fatiguing
control, and I’ve developed a toolkit of small design changes
that can revitalize a promotion without having to create a whole
new piece.”

Here are 7 of Dwight’s go-to design tips you can use to boost
response and breathe new life into your control:

1–Change the envelope or the outside of the mail piece. If the
design is too busy, remove or move something. If the design is
too simple, add something.

Use a new teaser, freshen up the design, and try new fonts. Use
the back … think of the extra space like a buckslip. It’s a great
place to showcase the product and reinforce the offer.

2–Use bigger buttons. For e-mails and landing pages, try a bigger
button, a different color, or change the shape. Add a button to
the top or bottom in a key location near the offer language.

3–Simplify. Make the order process clean and fast, especially in
digital efforts. Don’t make your audience jump through hoops to
order.

One of the first things to look at is how many fields are on a
form? Are there too many choices, and is the process intuitive?
Decide what information you must ask for and what you can
eliminate.

4–Change the order form. Enhance the format of your form by
adding a notch, or make it an L-shape. Strengthen your offer
language, focus on the key benefits. Add an offer summary box.
Stress the deadline. Use more personalization, but not too much,
and use it appropriately.

5–Add an insert. A lift note, buck slip, or other element can
focus your prospect on the right features or benefits of the
product. Highlight the guarantee, the premium, or a unique
feature of your product or service.

6–If you use a business reply envelope (BRE), change the color.
Using a different paper color for the BRE can lift response.

7–Make sure your e-mails, landing pages, and order pages are
coded to display optimally not only on PCs but on mobile
devices including tablets and smart phones. (I’ll have an entire
chapter on designing e-mails for smart phones in my forthcoming
book “The Ultimate E-Mail Handbook” from Skyhorse Publishing.)

Remember, it’s all about clarity and thinking like a potential
customer. If your offer is hidden, or too complicated, or if
you’re asking for too much information, your response will be
affected. Make it easy.

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Category: Direct Marketing, General, Online Marketing | 3 Comments »