Monthly Archives: June 2011

Why Hire A Designer?

A lot of online business owners start with no money. They have to do everything themselves — the preparation of a product, the development of a marketing strategy, the actual building of a website to cater to their product’s marketing needs. As their business expands over time, they will find that their simple “homemade” site might not be enough to cover everything, and they will have to take a day or two away to simply dedicate that to the website expansion.

Sounds familiar? Chances are, you’re someone who started everything with no money too, so you’re pretty skeptical when it comes to giving away your money in exchange for something that you could have done yourself. However, there is a lot more to hiring a designer than just finishing up a job that you don’t want to do.

When you hire a web designer to do your job for you, you are doing more than just handing over the “dirty job” to someone else. In fact, by paying a little money, you can let the designer worry about the little annoyances that always evade the main picture and only come haunting when you’re halfway through the job. That way, you will be more focused and have more time to spend on your actual business strategy.

On the other hand, the designers you hire a professionals so they are good at what they do. By outsourcing your web design jobs to them, you won’t have to worry when problems surface because you can always get them to fix it for you. Again, they will be able to pin point the problem and fix it faster than you probably will be able to.

Also, the work you pay for will turn out more professional than what you can achieve because the designers have been doing it longer than you have. After all, they do it for a living so they have to be good!

So, remember to not just work your business, but grow your business too!

Landing Page Success Tips

Also known as the “name squeeze page” or “lead capture page”, you can build your mailing list by funneling all of your would-be subscribers through the creation of a landing page. Not only do you do the work just once, your traffic driving efforts can be focused onto just one effective method.

The following are tips in creating a successful landing page that converts visitors into subscribers on a very huge percentage.

Success Tip 1: Offer a freebie in exchange for your visitor’s email address. I very much endorse this method of building your mailing list. You can offer a special report or a sample of your paid product to your visitor in exchange for their details such as name and email address.

Success Tip 2: The landing page must be written professionally. When writing your page, treat it as if you are writing a sales letter. While you are not necessarily making a hard sale or try to get someone to buy your product upfront, being able to entice your visitors to give their details to you is just as important as selling.

Success Tip 3: Other than your opt-in form and perhaps important disclaimers and terms, there shouldn’t be any other links on your landing page.

Success Tip 4: Rub in the benefits of the freebie you are offering more than a mere subscription to your newsletter. You should focus most of the attention of the letter on encouraging your prospective visitor to download your free offer. Later, you gently remind your prospect that he or she has nothing to pay but just merely subscribe to your newsletter in exchange for the freebie.

As a final reminder and conclusion, in order to build trust, you can include your hand-written signature or a photo of yourself explaining where you are coming from and how you can help your visitor through your free report on offer.

18 Link Building Strategies

1. Contact the websites you are currently linked to to optimize the links. Ask them to change the “click here” to another anchor text containing relevant keywords since the anchor text encourages people to click the ad.

2. Monitor the websites 404 statistics. Keep track of the links that are old or misspelled URLs. Google has a great tool for tracking URLs and links.

3. Create a “link to us” link on your website. This provides information for others to link to your site including anchors, URLs, and logos. Keep this page updated with current information and additional links.

4. Use spell check and grammar checker to correct any errors. The users will notice when you have errors in your links, pages, and content.

5. Search the internet for other sites that mention your website but are not linked to your site. Contact them to have them link your site.

6. Post comments on blogs with a link to your site in your signature line. When you add comments that are relevant and informational you will build traffic.

7. Make sure your navigation is spiderable by the search engines. Use anchor text or image text to increase the search engine results.

8. Use a sitemap on your website. Link all the pages on each page with the sitemap for a user friendly site.

9. Link your site to relevant topics on other websites. Link to the important pages on the site.

10. Link to sites with high search engine rankings. They will drive traffic to your site.

11. Check on the sites your competitors are using. Get the same links to add to your site.

12. Post comments from clients that are positive to add the trust and interest of future clients.

13. Create a free eBook containing your expertise or niche. Offer the eBook as a gift for people viewing your site who provide their personal contact information.

14. Teach an online seminar regarding your expertise. You should be considered an expert in your field and will attract people to the webinar. Post announcements of the seminar.

15. Use Google AdWord’s content to build your network with other sites with relevant products and content.

16. Join an affiliate program that promotes and sells the same type of product. Add links to your website.

17. Add a “donate to charity” link to your site. Describe the charity and how you donate the proceeds received. Pick a charity that people are willing to donate.

18. Submit your URL to social media sites to promote your products and services. Make sure the sites have quality services and products offered on their sites.

When you utilize these strategies to your website you will begin to see profits from the increased traffic.

eBay Title Writing Tips.

Trying to be help your buyers find your auctions can be a truly daunting task. Most people only search eBay by title, not by description, and that means that you only have those 55 characters of the title to cover all the possible search terms. That’s not easy. In this email, I’ll give you a few pointers.

Don’t bother with eBay clichs: There are plenty of eBay auction titles that say things like “Super rare camera wow look low price”. These are stupid things to put in your title, as no-one is going to search for them.

Think like a buyer: If you were looking for your item, then what exactly would you type into that box? If you think it’d help, try searching yourself to find someone else selling your item. What were the first things you thought of typing?

Think like other sellers: Keep an eye on which sellers are doing best with items like yours, and try to copy their title styles – if it works for them, it can work for you.

Be specific: You should be sure to write the item’s brand and specific model number in the title, as people will often search only for this information. Make sure that you also say exactly what the item is.

A Few Examples.

Here are a few examples of good titles. They’re real, and they’re on eBay right now, making their sellers money. So what makes them good?

“Dell Latitude Laptop P3 500mhz Notebook PC Computer”

If you know about computers, you’ll know instantly what this auction is selling. It has manufacturer (Dell) and product line (Latitude), followed by a few technical specifications (P3 500mhz is the processor speed). Notice also that the title includes the four words ‘laptop’, ‘notebook’, ‘PC’ and ‘computer’, as the seller wants people looking for any of those words to see his auction.

“OASIS Don’t Believe the Truth CD Album (New)”

This auction for a CD is well formatted: it gives the artist name in capital letters, followed by the album name. It then manages to include the two key words ‘CD’ and ‘album’, as well as the word ‘new’ – that means that anyone searching for ‘new oasis cd’, ‘oasis new album’ and so on will find this auction.

“1840 Penny Black stamp, certificate, four margins”

Here’s a slightly more obscure one, from the exciting world of stamp collecting. A penny black is one of the oldest and most famous stamps. It uses a few key words that collectors will consider important: ‘four margins’ indicates that the stamp has been cut out with some margins around it and so isn’t damaged, and ‘certificate’ tells you that the item has a certificate of authenticity – it’s a real penny black. Remember to use every bit of space to squeeze in as much important information as you can in the title.

So now that you’ve written a winning title, you need to start on a great description. The next email will show you how.

Who Is Your Audience?

Understanding the type of people who visit your site is a very important task because you can use that information to enhance your site to suit them. As a result, you will gain more loyal returning visitors that come back again and again for more.

What is the age level and what kind of knowledge does your audience have? A layman might linger around a general site on gardening, but a professional botanist might turn his nose at the very same site. Similarly, a regular person will leave a site filled with astronomy abstracts but a well educated university graduate will find that site interesting.

Take your audience’s emotional state into consideration when building your site. If a very irritated visitor searches for a solution and comes across your site, you will want to make sure you offer the solution right up front and sell or promote your product to him second. In this way, the visitor will put his trust in you for offering the solution to his problems and is more likely to buy your product when you offer it to him after that.

When you design the layout for your site, you have to take into account the characteristics of your audience. Are they old or young people? Are they looking for trends or are they just looking for information served without any icing on the cake? For example, introducing a new, exciting game with a simple, straightforward black text against white background page will definitely turn prospects away. Make sure your design suits your site’s general theme.

Try to sprinkle colloquial language in your sites sparingly where you see fit and you will create a sense that your audience is on common ground with you. This in turn builds a trusting relationship between you and your audience, which will come in useful should you want to market a product to your audience.

Using Free Reports to Build Your List

Aside from pre-selling your products and affiliated offers, the other purpose of your free viral report should be to build your mailing list.

This is because if you are unable to pre-sell, let alone sell, the products and services featured in your free report, the last ditch effort should be to collect leads. In short, if you cannot convert the reader into a ready buyer, you should then attempt to convert him or her into your subscriber.

In that manner, you can still follow up with your reader on future offers and have a chance at converting him or her into your customer, preferably lifetime.

You can do so by offering a lifetime update to your report or a unique notification list your reader will be interested in subscribing to, which leads to having him or her subscribed to your mailing list.

One of the few success factors in viral marketing of your free report is quality. If your readers find your information worth sharing, and you encourage them to do so by giving them the right to give your report away for free, you will be able to have your name, status and links within the report passed around without any effort on your part simply because others are willing to do so for you!

How to Choose the Right eBay Product Category.

Some people think it’s easy to choose the right eBay category, and often it is. Sometimes, though, it might not be quite clear exactly what to go for.

Why is it Even Important?

Plenty of people use the category system to find items, when they’re not looking for something specific. If your item is listed in the wrong category – or you’ve just given up and listed it in ‘Everything Else’ – then these people aren’t going to find your auction.

Also, listing items in the wrong categories is against eBay’s rules, and eBay say they will remove any auctions that are wrongly categorised. They don’t often actually do this, but it’s not worth the risk – especially since breaking any rules can cause them to penalise your account, including losing PowerSeller status if you have it.

So What Can You Do?

eBay will suggest categories for you when you sell your item, if you type in a few words to describe the item on the category selection page and click ‘search’. You can make the best of this feature by typing in exactly what your item is, with brand name and model number (if any), so that eBay can find the best category for you.

If that doesn’t work for you, then search yourself for items like yours, and pay attention to which category most of them seem to be in (you can see this near the top of each item’s description page). Try different words and see which ones come back with the most results. You can also browse through all the available categories from eBay’s front page.

Remember that the more specific the category is, the better – use as many subcategories as are appropriate. Don’t just list your HP laptop in the ‘Computers’ category, for example – list it in ‘Computers > Laptops > HP’. Don’t worry: your item will still appear in the ‘Computers’ category, as well as ‘Computers > Laptops’, because items listed in subcategories are always listed in every category above.

Take some time to look through all the categories and get familiar with the way eBay as a whole is laid out. After all, that’s better than getting a few months down the line and finding that you still think of eBay’s category system like it’s some kind of scary jungle.

What if More Than One Category Fits?

Don’t worry, eBay have you covered. For a small extra fee, you can list your item in an extra category, to increase the number of potential buyers who will see it. This isn’t always worth it, though – some items only really fit properly in one category, and listing them in extra categories is just a waste.

Once you know where to list your item, the next step is to write your auction’s title. The title is the most important thing about your auction – the difference between a good title and a bad title can be the difference between $10 and $100. That’s why I’ll take you through the dos and don’ts in the next email.

When Is the Right Time to Redesign?

If you run a website, chances are you often wonder whether it is the right time to do a total redesign of the layout of your website. Here are some points to consider:

Are you thinking of a redesign just for the sake of it? If you answered yes to that question, it is not yet the right time to do a redesign. Remember, a design serves a specific purpose. If you are not sure whether to do an overhaul of your site, keep in mind that your current design might have a specific purpose that you might not know about. You will lose that function if you do a redesign.

On the other hand, if your website has had the same website design since 1990, perhaps it is high time to do a redesign. The last thing you would ever want to happen to your site is when visitors leave your site without taking a look at your content just because the design is old fashioned. If this is your case, here are some points to ponder before doing a redesign.

Redesigning your website is like performing plastic surgery on it. Your website loses its current identity (for the better or worse) and your regular visitors might not recognise your new design at first glance. You risk losing them just because they thought they landed on the wrong page. Hence, it is very important that you retain a characteristic feature from your old layout. Perhaps it is the logo of your site; perhaps it is the same text style for the title for your site.

To play it safe, put a poll on your site to let your visitors do the talking. If they think it is necessary for the website to have a fresh look, give it to them!

Weakness in Safe List

How would you like to send your commercial emails to people you do not know, but are expecting to receive such mail from you? Wait a minute. That does not sound right. How can this be?

It is simple, if you know what is really going on. Everybody who is on these lists, also known as safe lists, knows that they will be receiving emails from other members. This is possible because that is one of the conditions of their “safe list” membership.

And those who join these lists are willing to agree to this condition because they themselves would want to send out their own commercial emails to the others on the list.

The result: everyone is sending emails to each other but no one is reading them!

It gets worse when some savvy members sign up for the membership using a free or less-frequently-used account to store the useless emails they will never bother to open and read.

Having said that, it is always wiser to start your own mailing list and build it with opt-in subscribers, no matter how tempting safe lists can be or how many members there are in a safe list.

Taming the eBay Search Engine.

If you know what you’re doing, you can quickly find what you’re looking for on eBay – and the more you know about how buyers find you, the easier you’ll find it to be found. Here are a few golden searching rules.

Be specific: If you’re searching for the first edition of the original Harry Potter book, you’ll get further searching for ‘harry potter rowling philosopher’s stone first edition’ than you will searching for ‘harry potter’. You’ll get fewer results, but the ones you do get will be far more relevant.

Spell wrongly: It’s a sad fact that many of the sellers on eBay just can’t spell. Whatever you’re looking for, try thinking of a few common misspellings – you might find a few items here that have slipped through the cracks.

Get a thesaurus: You should try to search for all the different words that someone might use to describe an item, for example searching for both ‘TV’ and ‘television’, or for ‘phone’, ‘mobile’ and ‘cellphone’. Where you can, though, leave off the type of item altogether and search by things like brand and model.

Use the categories: Whenever you search, you’ll notice a list of categories at the side of your search results. If you just searched for the name of a CD, you should click the ‘CDs’ category to look at results in that category only. Why bother looking through a load of results that you don’t care about?

Don’t be afraid to browse: Once you’ve found the category that items you like seem to be in, why not click ‘Browse’ and take a look through the whole category? You might be surprised by what you find.

Few people realise just how powerful eBay’s search engine is – a few symbols here and there and it’ll work wonders for you.

Wildcard searches: You can put an asterisk (*) into a search phrase when you want to say ‘anything can go here’. For example, if you wanted to search for a 1950s car, you could search for ‘car 195*’. 195* will show results from any year in the 1950s.

In this order: If you put words in quotes (“”) then the only results shown will be ones that have all of the words between the quote marks. For example, searching for “Lord of the Rings” won’t give you any results that say, for example “Lord Robert Rings”.

Exclude words: Put a minus, and then put any words in brackets that you don’t want to appear in your search results. For example: “Pulp Fiction” -(poster,photo) will find items related to Pulp Fiction but not posters or photos.

Either/or: If you want to search for lots of words at once, just put them in brackets: the TV example from earlier could become ‘(TV,television)’, which would find items with either word.

Don’t get too tied up learning the ways of the search engine, though: a surprising number of eBay users don’t search at all, preferring to look through eBay’s category system and save their favourites in their browser. The next email will show you how to make sure these people can find you too.

Web Design Elements You Should Avoid Having on Your Site

As a web designer, you should design your websites to give your visitors the greatest ease of use, the best impression and most important of all a welcoming experience. It doesn’t matter if you had the greatest product in the whole world — if your website is poorly done you won’t be able to sell even one copy of it because visitors will be driven off your website by the lousy design.

When I’m talking about a “good design”, I’m not only talking about a good graphical design. A professional web design will be able to point out that there are many components which contribute to a good website design — accessibility design, interface or layout design, user experience design and of course the most straightforward, which is graphic design.

Hence, I have highlighted some features of the worst web designs I’ve come across. Hopefully, you will be able to compare that against your own site as a checklist and if anything on your site fits the criteria, you should know it’s high time to take serious action!

1) Background music

Unless you are running a site which promotes a band, a CD or anything related to music, I would really advise you to stay away from putting looping background music onto your site. It might sound pleasant to you at first, but imagine if you ran a big site with hundreds of pages and everytime a visitor browses to another page on your site, the background music starts playing again. If I were your visitor, I’d just turn off my speakers or leave your site. Moreover, they just add to the visitors burden when viewing your site — users on dial up connections will have to wait longer just to view your site as it is meant to be viewed.

2) Extra large/small text size

As I said, there is more to web design than purely graphics — user accessibility is one big part of it too! You should design the text on your site to be legible and reasonably sized to enable your visitors to read it without straining their eyes. No matter how good the content of your website or your sales copy is, if it’s illegible you won’t be selling anything!

3) Popup windows

Popup windows are so blatantly used to display advertisements that in my mind, 90% of popup windows are not worth my attention so I just close them on instinct everytime each one manages to pass through my popup blocker (yes, I do have one like many users out there!) and, well, pops up on my screen. Imagine if you had a very important message to convey and you put it in a popup window that gets killed most of the time it appears on a visitor’s screen. Your website loses its function immediately!

In concluding this article, let me remind you that as a webmaster your job is to make sure your website does what it’s meant to do effectively. Don’t let some minor mistakes stop your site from functioning optimally!

Refrain from Buying Bulk Mails

I am sure that you have definitely come across advertisements that read: “1,000,000 email addresses for $29.99”. And these bulk mail companies can even offer you these names in a CD at your doorstep.

Sure, having 1,000,000 subscribers is the best thing that could ever happen to any Internet Marketer and often sounds too good to be true. But very often, it always sound too good to be true.

What many beginning marketers do not really know is that these bulk companies harvest the email addresses using robots and other wares on the Internet. That is how the 1,000,000 email addresses come about, whatever the amount is.

Now, the really awful part is that if you purchase the so-called 1,000,000 names even at a low price, not only is it a waste of money, you are risking being accused of spamming. It is no longer a surprise how you often receive spam mails on Viagra, OEM Software and things you do not even need in your inbox.

That is so possible, because of the 1,000,000 names, no one knows you or even ask to be subscribed to your mailing list.

On top of that, not all 1,000,000 email addresses are really in use because a portion of them can either be own by the same owners (one owner can own more than 1 email accounts) or are obsolete.

When you read such ads again, tell yourself that it is a waste of money.

How to Use eBay to Grow Your Other Businesses.

Most of the people who make money from eBay don’t actually make all of that money on eBay. There are all sorts of ways you can use eBay to give your existing businesses a helping hand.

The Supply Side.

If you have any leftover stock or used items from another business you run, then why not sell them on eBay? You can make this a regular thing, using it to get rid of things that won’t sell for the premium you ask for in a shop, or items that are no longer in demand in the town or city where your business is based.

You can really make a lot of money this way, if you know what you’re doing. You will, of course, already be an expert in the items you’re selling, as you use them in your business, and you’ll know that the items are of high enough quality to be sellable. This is a whole new market for your old inventory!

Not only that, of course, but remember that your good eBay reputation will make you a great buyer! If there’s ever anything you want to get for your business, the chances are you’ll be able to get it on eBay for a discount.

The Sales Side.

Here, though, is where the true power of eBay lies. eBay give you an ‘About Me’ page, where you can write anything you like and link anywhere you like. This means that you can get traffic to your business’ website by linking to your website from your About Me page and linking to your About Me page from each auction.

To create an About Me page, just click on ‘Community’ on the toolbar, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click ‘Create an About Me page’. You then get the option to either enter your own HTML or let eBay guide you through the process. All you need to do is write a little about your website, link to it, and you’re done – you’ll notice that more people start to come to your site straight away.

There are thousands of people who swear by this technique to drive traffic from eBay to their website – with a little persuasive sales copy on your site, they say, you can sell directly to buyers, cutting out the eBay middleman. What’s more, all the traffic you’ll get will be targeted – because the people who click through were interested in your auction to begin with.

This can be a really powerful technique, especially if you’ve already got an e-commerce site. Even if you haven’t, you might find it worth your time to set up a website that does nothing but list your eBay inventory with a few dollars off each item, with a PayPal ‘Buy Now’ button for each item. Then simply make the link to your About Me page read ‘Visit my website for even more bargains!’, and you’re done.

Now that you’ve seen how to drive visitors to your website, maybe you’d like a little help getting your auction in front of buyers. That’s why our next email will show you the secrets of taming the eBay search engine.

Ways To Improve Sales Through Your Website

Anyone who has been marketing online knows that the lifeblood of a business is the traffic of a site. More visitors equal more sales. However, here are some ways that you can tweak your sites with to improve sales without the need to get more visitors.

The first method is to weave in your personal touch in your sales message. Nobody wants to be sold to by a total stranger, but many people will buy what their close friends recommend to them. If you can convince your audience that you are a personal friend who has their best interest at heart, they will be convinced to buy your products. Remember to speak to an individual in your salesletter, not to your whole audience.

The second method is to publish testimonials and comments from your customers. A good idea would be to publish both good and bad comments; that way prospects will be really convinced that these testimonials are real. When prospects see testimonials on your website, they will have the confidence to buy from you because human beings follow the herd mentality; when others have bought and proven it authentic, they will jump on the bandwagon and buy too.

Use visual representations for the problems and solutions that your product offers. Not everyone will read your text copy from the head to the tail, but most people will pay attention to images on your website.

Offer quality bonuses to accompany the product. When you offer bonuses that complement your product, your prospects will feel it’s a very good deal and it would be stupid to miss it. Be sure to state the monetary value of your bonuses so that people will be even more compelled to grab your good bargain.

Lastly, ask for the sale! Many people entice their prospects with the benefits of their product, sell to them with stories of how it has solved many problems, even offered killer bonuses but forget to ask for the sale. Give a clear instruction on how to buy your product (e.g. “click the button to buy now!”).

Building Your List with Paid eZine Advertising

Some Internet Marketers can get clueless when it comes to unleashing the full potential of paid eZine advertising. One of the most common dilemmas is that whether should the Internet Marketer advertise the product or service he is selling directly to the subscribers of the eZine he is paying advertising for?

This can be a wise method, but with ifs and buts. For one, the advertisement must be compelling and attention grabbing. Secondly, there is no telling if the eZine’s subscribers constantly practice a buying habit until you put some money to find out.

Investing even a small sum of money can be risky to a number of Internet Marketers who are on tight budgets. But in spite of the risk factors, eZine advertising can still be rewarding, if done right.

Thus the solution: the marketer would be wiser if he or she uses eZine advertising to build his or her mailing list. It makes sense, anyway. Since some eZines display more than one sponsored advertisement, you can grab the subscriber’s attention by giving a free or risk-free product or offer through your ad.

When the subscriber clicks on your ad, he or she can opt into your mailing list in exchange for the free offer, which can be a free report or even a trial service.

While you are not making a hard sell through your advertisement just yet, building your list by getting other eZine’s subscribers subscribed to your eZine allows you to follow up with them in the future, as and when you have new offers.