Millions in Internet Sales in 5 Easy Steps

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I imagine a time when I'll be telling my grandchildren about the Good Old Days of Internet marketing when we could just blast an offer to our customer file or even ice-cold prospect names, then sit back and watch an avalanche of orders come pouring in.


But if you've spent anytime in the trenches over the past few years, you know those days of grand slams are few and far between.


The question is why? The answer is obvious: When Web-based marketing was new -- and still relatively rare -- just about everyone of your prospects and customers read every word of every promotion sent to them.


But that's not so anymore. Good sales messages are lost among the scores of junk messages that slither into our inboxes. Overly aggressive spam filters are not only blocking promotional e-mails we've asked to receive -- they're even trashing non-commercial e-mails to and from family, friends and clients. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The entire Internet is awash with ads. Try to get a report from Weather.com, or check the stock market on Big Charts: pop-ups and pop-unders galore.


It was bound to happen. Since the dawn of time, every new marketing innovation and medium to come down the pike has gone through the same response cycle:


Phase No. 1 -- Advent: Innovative businesses and marketers discover a new advertising medium or technique that proves far superior to traditional methods -- advertisers' return on investment skyrockets.


Phase No. 2 -- Proliferation: Hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of businesses and marketers discover the secret and begin using it -- ROI begins to flag.


Phase No. 3 -- Saturation: The novelty wears off ... consumers, besieged by advertising messages begin tuning out -- ROI begins to decline.


Phase No. 4 -- Maturity: With its novelty spent and ROI falling, the once-vastly-superior new medium or technique eventually takes its place as an equal among many in the advertiser's arsenal.


Today, we are clearly in Phase Three of the Internet marketing explosion: The Saturation Phase.


Here's some simple ideas to boost response in these saturated days of Internet marketing:


Step 1. Pick the low-hanging fruit -- cheap. A respectable chunk of your customers love you to death and will buy just about any product you recommend. For these wonderful customers, create an extremely low-cost, multistep e-mail campaign: A series of short, daily blasts announcing the new product and the reasons why the customer should jump on board right away ... re-announcing the new product ... asking them why we hadn't hear from them, etc.


If your prospects perceive that your e-mail messages are just crass attempts to sell them something, they might be instantly deleted. If on the other hand, your e-mails are perceived as a timely and sincere offering to help the recipient in some way, your sales message is far more likely to be read and responded to.


And so, for urgency and readership, begin each e-mail with valuable information or advice relating to a fast-breaking piece of news from their world. The subject line and opening copy of each blast needs to be new each day -- as fresh as each day's headlines -- and rewarding prospects for reading the sales message.


Next, make the connection between the breaking news and the new product/service and demonstrate how the service could use this new event to generate huge rewards for the reader in the days ahead.


And finally, insert copy justifying the price and asking for the order.


Step 2. Get fence-sitters to a "tipping point" Web site. Though a significant group of loyal customers could be counted on to buy in response to a short e-mail, the short copy will leave at least 90 percent of prospects sitting on the fence. To sell them, you'll need longer copy -- more reasons to buy now -- than could be presented in a five or six-paragraph e-mail.


One way to overcome this is to create an "Urgent Special Report" online through a small, cheap Web site. In week 2 of your campaign, begin sending e-mails to the prospects urging them to click a link to read the free report immediately. You'll find a number of "fence sitters" will respond this way.


Step 3. Exploit other low-cost or free media. Simply take the pages of copy from the little Web site you've created ... write a new headline and opening copy ... turn it into a printed special report ... and have it inserted in the next issue of a printed newsletter.


At the same time, task the operators to include a pitch for the product on all in-bound phone calls from customers. And include an insert offering the free on-line report in your outbound welcome packages that new subscribers receive.


Step 4. Show up where they least expect you. Two weeks after the newsletter insert hits your prospects' mail boxes, hit them again -- with a full direct mail package created to promote the product, formatted as a free special report or "thank-you" bonus for loyal customers.


After years of receiving ONLY e-mail promotions for these high-priced trading services, prospects will suddenly realize that you must really be different -- and therefore better than -- anything recommended before.


Anyone who hasn't bought by this time probably hasn't read past the headline and lead-in copy, so make sure the first three pages or so are always fresh. Beyond that, the copy stays pretty much unchanged.


Step 5. Get Tenacious. Two weeks after the big package hits their mail boxes, stuff it into an envelope, add a one-page letter asking, "Why haven't I heard from you?" and drop it into the mail.


The Final Result


The combined effect of e-mail, the Web site, the inserts in the print newsletter and two direct mailings will have a multiplying effect on response and that's worth thinking about.


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