Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Age of Empowerment

This year, someone asked me for a screencast demonstrating how to use one of our products.  Normally, we publish very polished videos that take a long time to produce.  Not wanting to spend any time on this, I just created a sloppy screencast video that was very chatty and had some dumb jokes in it.  To my amazement, that video outperformed all of our polished, videos with the slick animations and sound tracks.

I asked myself how this could be.  There were only two things that set this screencast apart from our other videos: 1) it was personal and chatty, and 2) it showed people how to do something they may not have known how to do before. This led me to a realization — the market has shifted from a producer/consumer relationship to one that more resembles that of a mentor/protégé.

The difference between the 2oth and 21st Centuries is this; we now live in the Age of Empowerment, People no longer want to just buy something out of the box if they can possibly do it themselves, acquire new skills and save money.  People want to know more because knowledge is power. So, the more you can empower people, the more they will like you and your products.  Additionally, people no longer want to be sold. Instead of having a slick presentation thrown at them, they would prefer to be engaged by a personality they see as authentic and credible, who will help them achieve a new level of proficiency or capability.  This is huge.

Although reach and frequency is still kind in marketing, the way you engage your customers should change from impersonal to personal and from enticement to education and empowerment. If you help your customers to be better and do better, they will stop seeing you as just another company trying to sell them something and start seeing you as a resource and an authority. Who knows, maybe they'll start to see you as a friend too, and that's not bad either.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Amazing Traffic Building Discovery

For the first time in years, I decided to search for my brand and products online as if I was someone else.  I can't believe I waited so long to do this, but the results were alarming and illuminating.

First the Good:

The things that showed up highest were posts from my Google + page. If you want to drive traffic to your site and rank high with keywords, I strongly urge you to post your own product videos on your Google+ page and write something about each product using the keywords you want to get listed for. It's important to do this as often as possible.

If you have more than one Google+ page, I would do the same for your other Google identities, but don't copy and paste the same text.  Be sure to change it up.

This is all I'm going to say on this because it's simple and if you're not doing it, you're just hiding from your target audience.

The Bad:

When I typed in "C4Depot reviews", I found a lot of free web domain analyzing pages which had incorrect statistics about my site.  It said I had only one Facebook like and no interactions.  This was clearly false, but was simply because I had never hooked my Facebook page up to my website.

If you use Wordpress, you can use an SEO plugin to create this connection.   I used the Yoast plugin for this.  Since I just created the connection today, I can't talk about results, but it's important to do this to make your page look legit, otherwise your customers will type in your page, i.e., "acmewidget reviews" to see what other people think of your site.  Then these other site evaluation pages will show up and list your page as being risky and unreliable.  So, it's important to get your social media stats connected to your website.

That's all for now, and I hope this helps.



Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nothing Succeeds Like True Love

In marketing, it's all about gimmicks and fast results. For some reason, I've never found any shortcuts that really worked very well.

It appears the real formula for success is to love what you do and to love your audience and customers.  That means you are always looking for ways to give your audience something they will appreciate and engage them in a fun and interesting way.  If you can only think about how you're going to get money out of their pockets, you'll be way behind the curve.

Love your customers a little more than everyone else

In my business, we have two lists; some are customers, while others are just on the list because they wanted to download something we gave away for free.  Sometimes, it's nice to let everyone know that your customers are going to get something really great for free because after all, they are real customers.  The idea is to make the takers jealous, so let them know how well you treat your real customers.  I do this periodically by sending out a general e-blast about a product update and in that e-blast I let everyone know the people who already own that product will get the update for free.  Naturally, we like to update our software products as often as possible.

Love your marketing tasks

If you're on Facebook or Instagram, be sure to enjoy the time you spend there. Enjoy chatting with people and thank them for participating.  If you hate social media and pictures, then you need to find someone who enjoys this to do it for you, because it's nearly impossible to succeed at something you don't like.

In short, this is all about being genuine and authentic.  Mysteriously, people can sense this and respond well to sincerity and respond quite negatively when they feel they're being manipulated.  I call this "21st Century Marketing"; instead of bragging about how great you are, just love what you do; love your customers, and enjoy doing everything you can to make them happy. In almost every case they'll love you back.  Monetizing this love will take care of itself, as word will get around.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Two Years Later...What's Changed in How I Market Online

Two years ago, I set out to market my 3D site, and was pretty successful all things considered.  I would like to mention some hits and misses I made over those years.

Feeder Sites are NOT a Good Idea  Two years ago, prevailing wisdom said you should pick URLs that would match what people were searching for and build sites to catch that traffic. I actually posted on this, and while it made sense two years ago, it is no longer a valid strategy. 

Building a bunch of feeder sites is a looser's game for a number of reasons. First, everyone, including search engines love authenticity and hate the opposite. A real site that is the living, breathing representation of a business will always outperform a site that is only built to catch traffic no matter how good your URL is. 

Secondly, if one site is difficult to maintain with new content, then multiplying that for every feeder site you have is pretty much impossible to accomplish unless you have a staff of people to help you. Google is pretty smart at figuring out which sites are legitimate and which ones are just dead hooks floating in the water.

Initially my feeder sites were very successful in directing traffic to our primary site, but apparently Google caught on to that strategy, and overnight, our feeder sites dropped in rank from #1 on Google to completely off the radar.  Our primary site,, however, did not drop, but has gained steadily since then.  Why? Because is a real site which is supported with YouTube,  Twitter, and Facebook content and is updated on a fairly regular basis.  We also work hard at driving traffic to our primary site and Google sees that.  The feeder sites which were just dead billboards in cyberspace were flagged as such by Google's algorithm and were  punished accordingly. 

So, my advice for marketing a web page as of this day is to focus on one site and don't build a bunch of other sites hoping to catch traffic.

Don't Be Afraid to Blow Cash on Advertising

Granted, most of us don't have a ton of cash, but look at it this way.  If you have a site and spend $1,000 marketing your site on Facebook and only sell $500 in product, but get 500 people to opt-in on your site and get 500 likes on your Facebook page, that means you spent $500 to build a legitimate list of 1,000 people.  That's pretty good groundwork for your future marketing. 

I know spending money is painful, but I would recommend spending $100 dollars at a time on Facebook until you stop getting the market penetration that you desire. Each time, you can target a different country and monitor your results. We have steadily increased our Facebook ad campaign spending each time we release a new product, and it seems to work well for us.  Currently, between Facebook and our opt-in list, we can now reach over 12,000 qualified customers.

Engage Your Customers Frequently on Social Media, but Don't Bother them With E-Blasts

It's always a good idea to connect with your fans via your site blog or social media, but don't send them e-mails every week unless you have something really good to share with them.  I reserve sending out bulk e-mails only for new product releases, free give-aways, and a reminder that a promotion is about to end. In each case, there is a notification about an expiring discount that can be grabbed.  One thing I hate is getting too many e-mails from some ambitious marketer, so I try not to be one.  Again, blogs and social media are a different story, so use those as often as you can.

Make Friends with Other Movers and Shakers in Your Industry and Partner Up

Lastly, there's always someone out there with a bigger list than you have. Give them something you've got that they can profit from and promote on their site. This can be done using affiliate plugins that give your affiliate marketer a piece of each sale.  If you do this, you can get a quantum boost in market penetration overnight even if you don't make much cash. Remember, your list is your crown jewels, so a bigger list is always a better one.

That's it for now. Next time, I'll talk about my experience with Shopify.



Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Free Give-Away Really Works for List Building

When we launched C4Depot in 2013, we had good success building "likes" on our Facebook page by offering some free software tools. After a few months, we had approximately 3,000 "likes", but after the initial splash, the new likes died down.

Concurrently, we installed two opt-in forms on our web page; one was called "Opt-in Pop" which is a pop-up window with an opt-in form which launches automatically when someone lands on your site. We also had an opt-in squeeze form which comes standard with our WPeStore shopping cart module. Between those two squeeze forms it was a slow build to get confirmed opt-ins, and took the entire year to get 2,000 confirmed registrants using the squeeze forms. This was largely due to two reasons: 1) we spent most of the year focused on generating paid-for products, and 2)  a squeeze form requires someone to not only register on your site, but to also confirm their registration via e-mail.   This extra step of confirming a registration is probably the cause of attrition. Nevertheless, a real e-mail address is far more valuable than a Facebook "like" for future marketing.

Every time we would launch a new product to our less than 2,000 list members, we would see a spike in sales for that 24 hour period.  This was really great, but developing paid-for products is very time consuming and sometimes it would take two months to create a new product. There had to be a better way to make money than just developing new products and launching them to a small audience.

Spending your valuable time producing free give-aways to generate traffic is a difficult mental and emotional hurdle to make.  My temptation was to always attach a string to the free give-away in hopes of making a sale.  My associate, Kyle, on the other hand, had a clearer vision of the passive income model and after repeated conversations, finally convinced me to focus more on traffic rather than launching paid products.

To that end, we created a free download page which can only be accessed using a password which you receive when you confirm your registration to our site. We then publicized this page along with a follow-up broadcast with a video featuring our best new free give-away product. We launched the broadcast on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and to our own list.  The page and video for the give-away area here: C4Depot Back Room. Amazingly, for the first time, we got reTweeted by several people and we saw an immediate spike in confirmed opt-ins on our site; eighty new members for one give-away to be exact.

Since the quality to your list is always high considering your list only consists of people who voluntarily agreed to join your page, it is safe to say that your online revenue is a function of the quantity of subscribers to your list.    Therefore, to state the obvious once again, it is more important to build your list than it is to have new things to sell.  Think of it this way: what is more difficult; to produce a new product or to present an old product to a new person?  I think the answer is obvious.  For this reason, building traffic by giving away valuable free content may be counterintuitive and difficult on an emotional level, but it is the model for generating traffic, building your list and generating passive income online.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Great Ad Rotating Plugin for WordPress

If you've got an e-commerce site, two things you're going to want to do is offer free stuff to increase traffic, and make sure you advertise your flagship products on your own site.  For example, offering a gardening tutorial is a great place to advertise your magic fertilizer.

If your site is driven by WordPress, one plugin that has worked for me is AdRotate.  I had some difficulty getting this to work due to a lack of documentation, but once I found the right tag to use for my ad, everything worked fine.  Here's a clip of the code that worked:

AdRotate will permit you to cycle through a group of ads where you want people to see them.  Remember: you know what's on your site, but a new visitor may land on a page and not know the answer they've been looking for is on a different page of your site.  Cycling ads in the margin is a great way to boost sales.