10 Steps to Online Marketing Success

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"I want to market my business on the Web, but how do I get traffic to my site?" one client asked recently. "And if I want to sell my product or service using e-mail marketing, who do I send the e-mails to?"


Here is one online marketing methodology that has proven effective for many types of businesses. The primary concept is that online marketing works best when you e-mail to people who already know you. Therefore, successful online marketers build their house file or e-list (lists of prospects and their e-mail addresses) using the process outlined below, then sell to those people via e-mail marketing:


Build a Web site that positions you as an expert or guru in your field. This is the base of operations for your online marketing campaign.


This Web site should include a home page, an "About the Company" page, your bio and a page with brief descriptions of your products and services (each product or service description can link to a longer document on the individual item). You also should have an "Articles Page" where you post articles you have written on your area of specialty, and where visitors can read and download these articles for free.


Write a short special report or white paper on your area of expertise and make it available to people who visit your site. They can download it for free as a PDF, but in exchange, they have to register and give you their e-mail address (and any other information you want to capture).


Consider also offering a monthly online newsletter, or e-zine. People who visit your site can subscribe free if they register and give you their e-mail address. You may want to give the visitor the option of checking a box that reads: "I give you and other companies you select permission to send me e-mail about products, services, news, and offers that may be of interest to me."


The more content (useful information) on your site, the better. More people will be attracted to your site, and they will spend more time on it. They also will tell others about your site. You can even add a feature that lets visitors e-mail your articles to their friends, spreading the word about your site.


The model is to drive traffic to your site where you get them to sign up for your free report or free e-zine. Once they register, you have their e-mail address and can now market to them via e-mail as often as you like at no extra cost.


The bulk of your online leads, sales and profits will come from repeat e-mail marketing to this "house" e-list of prospects. Therefore, your goal is to build a large e-list of qualified prospects as quickly and inexpensively as you can.


Various online marketing options can drive traffic to your site. These include free publicity, e-mail marketing, banner advertising, co-registrations, affiliate marketing, search engine optimization, direct mail and e-zine advertising. (I will cover all of these topics in upcoming columns.)


The key is to try a lot of tactics in small and inexpensive tests, throw out the ones that don't work, and do more of the ones that are effective.


Another question that arises is frequency: How often can you send promotional e-mail offers to your house e-list?


Every time you send an e-mail to your house file, a small percentage of the list will "unsubscribe," meaning they will ask to be taken off your list. The number of people who unsubscribe is called the "opt-out rate."


Start increasing the frequency of promotional e-mail to your house file. As soon as the opt-out rate spikes upward, stop. You have reached your maximum frequency.


Many marketers have found that the frequency of e-mail promotion to the house file can be much higher than previously thought. Some successfully e-mail different offers to their house e-list as often as two times a day. This is good news for marketers, since the more frequently you can e-mail offers to your list, the more money you can make.


Best of all, the profit on these sales to your house file is extremely high, since the e-mail promotion costs almost nothing. There are no postage or printing costs, and because you already own the names, you avoid the $100 to $400 per thousand charge incurred when renting outside e-lists. n


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