This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Advertising. Marketing. Promotion. Call it what you want. It all means basically the same
thing. How do you get new people to find out about your company and decide to purchase
from you? How do you get people to call or email you for more information? How do you get
them to phone in an order? How do you get them to place an online order? How do you get
them to sign up as one of your affiliates or as a member of your MLM organization?
The Ever-Elusive, Magical, Mystical Advertising Utopia
Often times new business owners have the idea that they are going to happen upon some
mystical advertising utopia that is going to solve all of their lead acquisition problems. If they
could just find that one advertising method that nobody else has thought of that will
skyrocket their business to profitability.
The problem is, although they might happen upon a tremendous advertising opportunity that
may very well speed them on the way to success, the reality is that there are incredible
advertising opportunities all over the place.
The problem for most home business owners isn't finding the right advertising opportunity, it
is recognizing the proper way to take advantage of the hundreds of opportunities staring
them right in the face. Often times, a person will try a particular advertising method and,
when it doesn't "produce" they will deem that particular advertising method as ineffective -
I'm even been guilty of that myself. But that isn't necessarily the case - in fact, I would say
that OFTEN it is not the case.
The Problem Lies in the Mirror
The truth of the matter is, if a particular advertising opportunity does not produce for you,
look in the mirror to find your solution. It is more likely that you did not correctly evaluate the
needs of your ad, the audience for your ad, the media that your ad was placed in, etc. As a
result, you placed an ad that was doomed to fail from the start.
You see, many small business owners tend to lump all of their business promotion needs
into one single advertising solution, and they are then saddened by the results of their
efforts. What you need to do is begin asking questions about each separate ad and handle
them all independently (in addition to other "questions" you may come up with relative to
your specific business).
What Questions to Ask of Your New Ad
Is the ad being placed online or in print? If online, what type of website is it? Informational?
Entertainment oriented? Who are the website visitors or magazine/newspaper readers?
Primarily men or women? Income level? Education level?
What do you want to accomplish with the ad? Are you looking for online or phone in orders?
Newsletter sign-ups? Information requests? What is going to catch your reader's attention
well enough to cause them to actually call or click to your website?
The questions could potentially be endless, and you don't want to get so bogged down in
the questions that you never actually finish/place the ad. But, it would also be foolish to
ignore these questions and their answers. Every ad will be different and will generate
different answers to those questions. As a result, each ad will require a different method,
format, media, call to action, etc.
Now, that doesn't mean that the methods you use for each of them might not be similar from
one to another, but if the method is identical, I guarantee it will either work REALLY well for
one ad location and the result will be dismal for the other or the results will be mediocre for
both. Either way, you'll have wasted some advertising dollars that you didn't necessarily
have to waste.
Some Simple Examples for Diversifying Your Ads
As an example of what I've been talking about, I might advertise our synthetic diesel oil on a
trucking website or in a trucking magazine, but if I'm advertising on a racing website, I'm
likely to promote our synthetic racing oils.
If I'm advertising in a magazine, I might be more focused on getting that person to CALL
me, since they might have a cell phone or land line close to them when reading the ad. The
likelihood that they have a computer right next to them to log onto my website at that
particular moment is slim. So, in a magazine ad, I'd likely provide some sort of incentive for
them to CALL me right away at my toll free number while having my website address listed
but not prominent in the ad.
Alternatively, if I was placing the same or similar ad online, I'd, obviously, offer an incentive
for CLICKING over to my website and include the phone number "in the background", so to
speak. So, your advertisements must be tailored to the medium in which they are placed as
well as to the audience that will be reading the ad.
In addition, if you're advertising with the intent of getting an online order from the reader,
then your ad had better link to a page that offers a simple way to order product without 3 or
4 clicks in between. The reader should easily be able to find the way to order the product
without searching around on the page or, worse yet, having to search through your entire
website looking for a way to place an order.
Likewise, if your ad is targeted at getting new sign-ups for your business opportunity, then
you had better make sure that the number they call or the webpage they are directed to has
either a great deal of information regarding the biz opp or has a very enticing offer to get
them to supply their email and/or phone number to you for follow-up.
I think you get the idea, so, let's move on with a little more "meat" related to this discussion.
I'm going to touch on the most common ways that you might advertise your business. There
are, literally, thousands of ways that you might promote your new business, many of which
you might think of that I never would. So, please don't read this section as the be all and
end all of your advertising options.
Get a little creative. Combine a few of these together. Or, think outside the box and come
up with something entirely new. You're in charge. It's your business. I'm sure you can come
up with some great ideas with this chapter as a foundation.
- Pay Per Click
There are many types of pay per click advertising, so we'll take them one at a time in just a
moment (at least the major categories). However, first, you may need me to define just
exactly what "pay per click" (PPC) means. Of course, the name itself implies the definition,
but depending upon how new you are to the internet or to internet advertising, even that
may not be immediately clear, so let's break it down.
Pay per click advertising is just what it says. You pay whenever someone clicks on your
advertisement to go to your website. How much you pay for each click is determined by you
and the company you've chosen to advertise with. So, for instance, you might agree to
advertise on a particular website with a little logo for your company. Anytime someone
clicks on your logo from that website, they are taken to whatever webpage you have
specified and you pay "X" amount of money for that 1 click.
Now, the most common methods of pay per click advertising (often referred to as PPC) are
image banners placed on websites or within emails, in context links (on websites or within
emails) and search engine advertising. I'm certain you'll run across others, but most will be
some variation of those that I've just mentioned.
PPC Banners: You've seen banners at parties hanging above a doorway or something
saying "Welcome Home, Dave" or "Congratulations, Charlie", etc. Well, image banners
placed on a website or within an email are the same thing, only the message is: "Come Visit
My Website". The purpose of a banner on someone else's website is to get someone to
actually CLICK on the banner to leave the website they are on and visit your website. For
that privilege, you pay a fee.
Of course, these days, when webpages can even be sent to people via email, banners can
show up in someone's email inbox as well. They work the same way. If a person receives
an email, reads the email and then decides to click on your banner to visit your site, you pay
the person who SENT the email a fee. Normally, that person or company owns a list of
subscribers and you simply pay a fee (per click) for him/her to advertise your website in
their email newsletter.
Now, currently, we're discussing PPC banners, but you can also advertise using banners
and pay, not for clicks, but for "impressions" (in other words, viewings of your banner). The
purpose of a PPC banner is actually to generate a click, while the purpose of an impression
based banner campaign is actually something quite different, which we'll talk about shortly.
For now, let's stick with the PPC model.
With PPC banner advertising, you pay NOTHING each time your banner is VIEWED by a
website visitor. In other words, if you, hypothetically, had PPC banner advertising running
on the front page of Yahoo's website (which would cost an absolute FORTUNE, by the
way), each time their homepage loaded (yahoo.com) your banner would show up at the top
of the page (just an image that conveys whatever information you want it to convey). 10,000
Yahoo visitors could see your banner and never click on it, and you wouldn't pay a dime.
Only when one of them clicks on your banner to go to your website do you pay. How much
you pay is decided by you and Yahoo ahead of time.
What is great about this is that you get ALOT of "branding" exposure for your company
name and/or product name and/or website address. And, of course, by doing that, you get
your brand-name embedded in the mind of those who frequent the Yahoo.com website so
that, when they ARE in the market for a brand new, gold plated, diamond studded, widget
thingy to give to their wife for their anniversary, they'll remember that WidgetThingy.com
(your website) offers them at the "best prices around".
Why will they remember that? Because that is exactly what your banner said, and the
person viewed your banner 15 times over the past month. But, what if your banner was just
a big picture of a widget? No website address shown on the banner. No company name. No
mention of "best prices". Would that person still think of your company when they're looking
for a good price on a really nice widget?
Even if they did remember your banner and liked the picture of the widget, would they
remember where they saw it so that they could go back and click on it (since they don't
know your website address or company name)? How many other banners might be rotating
with yours on Yahoo's homepage? Will they have to reload the Yahoo.com homepage 155
times to get your banner to come up? Are they going to go through all that hassle?
I think the answers to those questions are quite clear. You're likely to lose that customer
because you didn't take advantage of your "branding" opportunities. Even though you
probably want your banner to elicit a "CLICK", it would be foolish to ignore the branding
opportunity that you have available to you. Design your banner to be dual purpose.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, "This presents an interesting situation. Why not
design the banner entirely for the branding and then advertise it using a PPC type
arrangement? The best of both worlds. I only pay for clicks, which the banner is designed
NOT to generate, thus minimal cost. I don't pay for impressions, so I get tons of branding at
a really good price."
Well, my answer to that is two-fold. First, many advertising companies and website
operators already recognize this type of "scam". They have the right to refuse any banner,
and, if they believe you've intentionally designed a banner with that purpose in mind, they
are likely to reject it. Also, many systems are designed to check click through rates of each
banner campaign. If a campaign is getting a lower than normal click through rate, the
banner might be "kicked" and you lose the rest of your branding opportunity.
The second part of my answer focuses more on the ethical side of such a practice. In my
opinion, it would be disingenuous to advertise through a PPC system using a banner that is
clearly designed for branding purposes alone. You MIGHT find a place to advertise such a
banner via PPC, if the people running the site or the advertising system are new at this and
haven't put safeguards in place against such practices. But, just because you can get away
with it does not make it right.
Never enter into ANY arrangement with a person or company where you have intent to
deceive or manipulate the other party into providing something to you that they never
intended to provide. Eventually, such practices will come back and bite you, even if not right
away. God designed the universe with certain natural and supernatural "laws" that govern
our actions, and there are always consequences for thinking and acting in ways that violate
the "right order" of His kingdom. He's in charge. We are not. He may be lenient for a time,
but wrong doing will not go without practical consequences, both personal and business
Besides, it's the best way to run your business anyway. In fact, a study was done awhile
ago to determine what the defining characteristics were of the 400 wealthiest people in
America. What was it that made them so wealthy? Were there certain personality traits or
environmental influences that were common between most of these wealthy people? The
study investigated nearly 40 different "categories" to establish whether there were any
statistical similarities between all these people.
Want to know what they found? The #1 thing that they found in 100% of these wealthy
people was that they had a HIGH level of personal integrity. In other words, they did what
they said, they said what they meant and they never tried to "jerk anyone around" with
deceit or manipulation. God's universal laws in action. Do right and you'll be blessed for it.
In Context PPC Links: These are links that are placed within the context of a website. So,
for instance, you sell horseshoes on your website. You run across a website that happens
to sell saddles (but not horseshoes) and has many articles on horses, a few of which deal
with "re-shoeing" (is that a word?) horses. What a great place to have your "ad".
So, you ask the webmaster (the person who designed and/or maintains the website) or the
advertising coordinator for this horse website if they would mind placing a few carefully
worded links within those articles that point to your site. Every time one of their website
visitors clicks on one of those links, you pay "X" amount of money (PPC).
This can be an excellent method of advertising. It can also be a very inexpensive way to
advertise. Find a large number of smaller websites about horses that have some articles
where such an "in context" link would work and ask them each if they would be willing to link
to your site from those articles in exchange for a small PPC payment.
Many would jump at the chance if they do not yet have an advertising plan in place. You
might get a great price on your links and help them generate a little income from what is
currently a personal site that produces no income whatsoever. It can take a little extra time
and effort to find decent websites with informative articles that don't already have
advertising lined up, etc. But ... if you DO find one, you'll be glad you did, and so will they.
And, don't forget, this is also a possibility in emails. If there are some electronic newsletters
that relate to your products in some way, subscribe to them. See, if the articles in the
newsletter are actually useful and well written. If so, see if you can get some "in context"
advertising links put into these emails. Again, if the author/editor of the newsletter is not
already doing this, they might be more than willing to do it for a very fair price.
Search Engine PPC Advertising: Here's the BIG ONE. If you want a ton of traffic in a short
period of time, in most cases, this is the best way to do it - but also generally the most
expensive, because everyone else is also going this route. With this type of advertising, to
one degree or another you are bidding against other advertisers for top placement on a
search engine listing. Let me give you an example:
One of the major players in search engine advertising (specifically PPC advertising) is
Yahoo Search (formerly Overture). Yahoo Search listings show up not only on the
Yahoo.com search pages, but also on a number of other search engines like MSN.com and
the like. You can get alot of traffic from the Yahoo Search Marketing program, but you have
to be careful. With that much traffic comes the potential to REALLY overspend yourself
Paid PPC listings from the Yahoo Search program are placed in specific locations within the
search listings of various search engines. So, for instance, if someone is searching for
something using the Yahoo.com search engine, they will see some paid listings on the
page, as well as some "natural" listings that are not paid for. Search engines, are basically
just big compilations of webpage information. When you or someone else types in a search
phrase, the search engine basically just spits out what is in the "natural" and the "paid"
database that relates to what you typed in.
For the "natural" or UNpaid listings, any new webpage that is submitted to a search engine
or that they "find" on the internet via links from other sites is "indexed" into their catalog.
Basically, the search engine "spider" reads the page and puts all the information from that
page into a database entry for that page. Then, it follows the links on that page to get to
other pages and does the same thing all over again. Millions to Billions of webpages are
indexed by the major search engines and placed into their giant database.
Then, when someone goes to Yahoo.com or some other search engine looking for
something, they type in a search phrase and click "go" or hit enter or something. The search
engine takes that phrase and compares it against all of the pages within it's database
looking for that phrase (or similar phrases) within each webpage. The webpages that seem
to have the best match to that search phrase show up near the top of the listing. As you go
down the page the listings generally become less and less relevant to the search phrase
entered. It's not perfect, but this is basically the way it works.
Now, there are some other criteria that search engines use to determine how relevant a
webpage is compared to the search phrase entered (remember that we're still talking about
"natural" listings). How long has the page been around? How many other websites link to
that page? How important are the websites that link to that page? Etc. The algorithms used
by these search engines to determine relevancy of listings is actually quite amazing and
So, when you type in your search phrase, the search engine goes through it's database of
"natural" listings to find those that are most relevant. But, then it goes into the PAID listing
database and looks for sites that show up as being relevant for that search phrase as well.
Often these "paid" listings will show up at the top of the search listing and/or to the side of
the natural listings. Most of the time, the paid listings will be highlighted in some way so as
to indicate that they are not part of the natural listing. Where your paid listings falls within
that list depends upon how much you're willing to pay for each click on your listing.
So, let's say you're still selling "widgets". BTW - on a side note, it used to be that people
referred to "widgets" as a substitution for a "whatchamacallit". These days, in the computer
world, the term "widget" actually refers to something specific. However, for the purposes of
this ebook, understand that widget is used to mean "whatchamacallit".
So, getting back to our discussion, your particular widgets are tailored to meet the needs of
commercial office users. So, you set up an account on Yahoo Search and then start doing a
little research. Within your account area, you have a tool that allows you to type in a search
term related to your topic and have Yahoo Search give you a listing of other possible search
phrases you might consider. Next to each potential search phrase is the number of times it
was searched for last month, the estimated number of clicks you'd receive and how much
other advertisers are paying for clicks on their link.
So, you pick out some search phrases like "commercial widgets" and "office supply widgets"
that seem like they could offer some good traffic for a good price. Once selected, then you
must enter a title that you want to show up within the search listing, a description and the
page that you want your listing to link to.
A couple of things to remember here. You're paying by the click. So, it is best to PRE-qualify
prospects before they click on your link. That way you're only paying for really good
prospects instead of tire kickers. In other words, make sure your ad gives enough
information to weed out the people that would likely click on your link and then immediately
return to Yahoo Search for a different listing, but also vague enough to spur some curiosity
among those who you think will be interested in what you have to offer.
For instance, what if you only sell BLUE commercial widgets. Do you want people clicking
on your link that are only looking for RED commercial widgets? Probably not. So, you
should stipulate in your ad (preferably in the title which is more often read - but at least in
your description) that your widgets are blue and make it prominent so people notice it. That
way, the majority of people that click on your link are actually looking for BLUE commercial
widgets and are much more likely to buy from you.
However, to create interest and/or curiosity, you might also have your listing ALLUDE to a
special offer you have running or a special report you're offering, etc. Something that will
grab their attention, stimulate curiosity and cause them to click on your link. Be careful,
though. Yahoo Search does not allow you to go hog wild with your listing. No hype or deceit
So, now you've created your listings and you've made sure to make it clear how your site is
related to the topic of their search (you should probably use the exact search phrase in your
title if you can). You've also carefully crafted your ad to weed out those people that probably
wouldn't buy from you and to stimulate interest and curiosity in those who might. Next, you
have to decide how much you want to pay for each click on your listing.
This is a debatable question. On the one hand, the higher in the listings you are, the more
likely you are to get more traffic from your listing. So, if you bid enough to be in the number
1 slot, you'll get more clicks (generally speaking). But, cost-wise, this may not be the best
solution. By going for the number 2 or 3 spot, you may get a little less traffic, but of the
traffic you DO get, many of the people have already been to the sites listed above you and
have now come to you to see if you can offer anything better than the other sites. IF you do,
then you've got a good chance of making the sale. So, you MIGHT get more for your money
by settling for the #2 o r 3 position in the listings.
However, keep in mind that if the sites listed above you are as good or better than yours or
offer a product/service that is as good or better than yours for a similar or better price,
people may never come back to the listings and see you. So, investigate the sites listed at
the top. Many times they are paying major bucks to be #1 in the listings, but their website is
so terrible or their product so overpriced, that chances are searchers will come back to the
listing and check out the #2 and 3 listings before settling on the site they intend to purchase
You might have to play around a little with this one, but you'll figure out what works for you.
One other significant item to mention is that you can set a maximum daily expenditure for
Yahoo Search. If you only want to spend $10 per day on advertising, you can do that. Your
listing will show up in the search listings until you hit your $10 mark, then it will drop out.
The next day it will come back until you hit $10 again. So, this is a good way to control
expenditures, if you need to.
This brings me to another important point that you should seriously take note of. When
advertising through PPC search engines, you will have the option to choose MANY different
search phrases on which to advertise. For instance, in my synthetic oil business, I am
advertising on well over 100 terms. I could probably advertise on hundreds of terms.
This is a question you'll have to answer for yourself. What terms do you choose to advertise
on? How many do you advertise on? The answer to that depends upon what you're looking
for and how much you're planning on spending. For instance, in my business, there are
many terms I COULD advertise on that are somewhat related to my synthetic oil business
(like "automotive repair" for instance).
So, are there other search engines that offer PPC advertising? Yes. Tons of them. But,
most are fly by night operations that will only be around a short time or that provide very
little value for your advertising dollar. FindWhat and Kanoodle are two that I put in this
category. I've used them both and the results from those search engines were DISMAL
compared to the results I could get from Yahoo and one other that I use regularly:
Google is THE major player on the search engine scene. They are the 800 pound gorilla
that everyone else is trying to "knock off". Some say, though, that Yahoo Search may
overtake them (I'm not so sure). Either way, there is ALOT of traffic passing through
Google, so if you're going to advertise your business through PPC search engine
advertising, it is wise to at least consider Google. They call it their Adwords program.
Although the setup is a little different in the administration area than Yahoo Search, the
concept is the same. Choose a topic, enter some keywords, let Google generate a list of
other possible phrases, take a look at how many searches are going through each month
for particular phrases and what it will cost you to get a good listing on Google's search
pages. Then, decide which phrases you want, how much you want to pay and what you
want your listing to say.
Now, with Google, your placement in the listing is a little different than with Yahoo Search.
Google actually rotates their listings to a certain extent. So, one listing doesn't always have
the top spot. However, the more you're willing to pay per click, the more frequently your link
will be in that top spot. Again, be careful here. With the amount of traffic running through
Google, depending upon the phrases you decide to advertise on, you could easily rack up a
$5,000 bill in a day or two if you're not careful. As with Yahoo Search, you can limit your
daily expenditure to X number of dollars if you like. In the beginning, I highly recommend it.
If you're going to advertise via PPC through the search engines, it pays to have an efficient
way to analyze the entire PPC landscape, seeing what you're competitors are doing and
finding areas that they may not be effectively infiltrating - so that YOU can. There are alot of
programs on the market designed for this purpose - some useful, some not so useful. Today
I ran across one called Keywords Analyzer that I hadn't seen before, but it looks really
powerful, and they have another program called "Competition Dominator" that looks equally
I want to stress that I have NOT used this software, so this is not a review. Only a
suggestion of some software that may prove useful to you in your question to gain search
engine traffic. Judging by my time spent reviewing the featureset, watching the training
videos and reading through the forum, the developers of the software have really outdone
themselves. Assuming that the software is stable and quick, the price they are asking
seems very reasonable considering the potential benefit of using this software to it's fullest.
If it wasn't for the fact that I'm in the middle of a very large project right now (and not
focusing much on PPC at the moment), I'd probably purchase it myself for a testdrive. As it
stands, I know I won't have an opportunity to really put it to use for at least another few
months, so it makes little sense to purchase it now. At any rate, if you want to really make
the search engines work for you, information is the key, and this software offers it up in
spades. Take a look and see what you think.
One extra note: The same company that runs Carbonite's affiliate program (for which I am
an affiliate) runs the affiliate program for this software (which is actually how I ran across it).
As such, I can use my same affiliate ID to promote both Carbonite AND Keywords Analyzer,
so that's what I'm doing. However, as I will do in the "Resources" portion of the book, I'm
providing a quick link here directly to the site (bypassing my affiliate ID), if you don't want to
pay me a commission (www.KeywordsAnalyzer.com). Otherwise, if you don't mind me
earning a commission (IF you actually purchase the software), here's my affiliate link:
More importantly, though, if you happen to purchase this software and you find that it is not
all it's cracked up to be, please let me know. If it turns out that this software isn't as useful
as I think it will be, I want to quickly remove mention of it from this book. So, just to be clear,
I'm not endorsing this software because I haven't yet used it. Just offering it up as a
possible resource that looks REALLY promising and will likely be a part of my software
"toolbelt" at some point down the road.
Impression Based Advertising
Most impression based advertising is related to banners or pop-up/pop-unders of some sort.
There may be other variations, but they'll likely be similar to these. With impression based
advertising, as opposed to PPC advertising, you pay for the number of times your ad will be
SEEN, regardless of whether it will be clicked on or not. In fact, more specifically, in most
cases, an "impression" really only means that your ad "loaded" with the page or email. It
doesn't necessarily mean that it was "seen", although many places you'll advertise through
have measures in place to be sure that, generally speaking, an impression is equal to an
Let me give you an example of what I mean. Let's say that you don't do all your homework
on a particular advertising opportunity. You purchase 10,000 impressions at $5 CPM (cost
per 1,000 impressions - M represents 1000 in Roman numerals). Your total cost would then
be $50. That's ALOT of ad "views" for $50, don't you think? Well, maybe. Depends upon
where the ad banner is placed.
If you purchase the advertising on the homepage of a site that generates alot of "hits" to
their homepage, but everyone leaves within 5 seconds, those impressions won't help much
if your banner is at the bottom of the page. Nobody will ever see it. So, not only won't you
get any clicks to your website, you won't get any branding either.
You want to make sure that your ad is being placed somewhere that website visitors will
actually see it and NOTICE it. Is your ad going to be stuck between a bunch of flashing,
screaming, loud colors? Maybe not so good. Could turn people off. Bottom of the page ...
might not be seen. Just make sure you get a chance to see an example of exactly where
your banner is going to show up. Then, load that page and try to put yourself in the shoes of
a website visitor. Will they see it? Notice it? Remember it? Click on it?
Base the amount your willing to pay on the answers to those questions and a few others,
like, "who are the visitors of this site and do they care about my product?", "how much
money do the visitors to this site have and can they afford my product?", etc. These
questions are very important. Don't overlook them. Sites that already have advertising
options available should have visitor demographics that they can provide you with. If they
are a larger site offering advertising opportunities but no demographics, be very careful
about advertising with them. You need to know who you're going to be advertising to.
Pop-ups & Pop-unders
Pop-ups and pop-unders are impression based advertising. When purchased in bulk, you
can pay to have your ad banner load or to have your actual website load in the pop-up
window. Depends upon the company you're purchasing from and how you want it done.
Either way, you pay when the banner or your website loads, you're not paying for clicks.
Although pop-ups can be effective, they must be done properly in order for you to get any
benefit. I suggest, and some might disagree, that pop-ups and/or pop-unders ONLY belong
on your own site. Do not purchase pop-up or pop-under advertising from other sources.
Almost always the results are dismal. But, if used tactfully and correctly on your own site,
they can be a great way to get new sign-ups to your newsletter, etc.
Many web browsers these days (and some other specialized software) are designed to
block pop-ups because they are SO prevalent and most webmasters don't know how to be
tactful about using them. However, there are ways to avoid having your pop-ups blocked
AND avoid annoying your website visitors. The pop-up that I use on my site comes up
gracefully, only comes up ONCE and not on every page or every time a person returns to
my site, and is easy to close (but web browsers can't block it).
It is quite effective in generating information requests, so don't underestimate the power of a
pop-up advertisement, just make sure you're only using them on your own site and not
purchasing them from someone else. Normally, the method they are using to generate the
pop-ups in large numbers does not provide good results and your advertising dollars will
have been wasted. Put a small, tactful pop-up on your site offering some sort of free report
or ebook or newsletter subscription along with a form to submit name/email.
With email advertising, there are technically two routes you can go. Either you can purchase
advertisements in an electronic newsletter that goes out to X number of email recipients
every week/month/etc. or you may purchase a single bulk mailing to an email list (or simply
purchase the list and do the bulk mailing yourself).
I submit that, in most cases, especially if you are new to this, buying large email lists to
advertise to or paying someone to do a large bulk email campaign for you is going to get
you into trouble and may not generate nearly the result you're hoping for. First, if you're
purchasing large lists of email addresses to mail to yourself, it is often hard to determine
whether the company you're purchasing from is a reputable one.
If it isn't, you may get a list full of undeliverable emails or, worse yet, a list of people who
have NOT willingly provided their email addresses for mailings such as what you're sending.
In that case, you're going to get all sorts of SPAM complaints and could get your ISP and/or
website account terminated by your provider. Not a situation you want to get into. So, I
would recommend not doing large mass emailings of that nature.
A better option is to find established electronic newsletter publishers who regularly send an
email to their subscribers. Place an ad within their newsletter (such as a banner or in
context link as I discussed earlier). Your response rates will be better and you won't be
taking on the risk of being labeled a spammer, you're not even sending the email, just
advertising in it.
This is one of my favorite methods for generating website traffic and increased sales. It is
especially effective if you've got a little time on your hands each day or each week
(consistently). There are a number of very positive goals that can be achieved through this
sort of advertising. But, before we get to the benefits of using Forums in your advertising, let
me explain just what forums are (in case your somewhat of an Internet newbie).
What are Forums & How Do You Use Them?
Forums are online bulletin boards, of sorts, where people post comments or questions
about certain topics and have discussions with other forum members. It is all done online
and, often, there can be thousands of members to a forum, all from different areas of the
world and with very different perspectives on the topics of discussion.
Of course, that can lead to some pretty heated discussions sometimes, so you have to be
careful not to get sucked into that kind of thing. Also, there may be some opinions
expressed that you really dislike or that get you upset. It's important to remember your
purpose for being on the forum in the first place and to make sure your ACTIONS on the
forum lead you to that goal.
An Example of How to Use Forums for Advertising
As an example of how to use this forum based advertising method, I once had an account
set up on the "Road Star Riders" forum. A RoadStar is a motorcycle, which, by virtue of
having an engine, needs oil and filters regularly (which is a good thing, since I sell the best
synthetic oil available anywhere - with full data to prove it).
So, I became a member and began "lurking" a little bit to see what the general attitude was
of the people on the forum, what the common threads were, how things were moderated,
etc. Seemed like a well run forum with lively discussion, a good moderator and plenty of
discussion about maintenance of motorcycles.
So, each day I'd log into the forum and do a search for motor oil or filter related postings.
Any of them for which I could provide useful information, I did. At the end of all of my posts
was a "tag line" that listed my little slogan ("Change Your Thinking, Not Your Oil") and my
motor oil website address. Nothing fancy or flashy. I pretty much never mentioned in my
post that I sold oil or how someone could go to my website. I simply answered the question
as objectively and honestly as I could.
At first, I didn't get much response. Some people still thought I was just going to waste
forum space "advertising my wares". But, over time, people began to realize that I knew
what I was talking about, and that I was very honest in my responses to people, even
recommending competing products, if I thought they would be more suited for a particular
application. As time went on, many people would actually post their questions and address
them specifically to me for response.
Within about 6 months, nearly a third of my income was coming from motorcycle oil and
filter sales to RoadStar riders. That's pretty significant, considering that motorcycles take
VERY LITTLE oil compared to trucks and autos, which were a large part of my business.
So, the moral of the story is, if you don't come across as just a salesman, but rather as
someone who knows what they're talking about and genuinely wants to help, people will
begin to trust you and will eventually try the products that you offer. But that's not the end of
the story. There is another very important aspect of forum "advertising" that I haven't yet
Using Forums to Enhance Search Engine Placement
Another thing that forum postings do for you is create "link popularity" for your website. If
you frequent a few very large forums and stay focused on only responding to posts that deal
with your particular area of expertise which will help you build sales of your product (over
time), you can put up ALOT of targeted posts. Every post that goes up is another link back
to your website (because of your "tag line").
That does two things for you. First, when people search for particular phrases on search
engines, often forum postings come up in the listings (because they are indexed also by the
search engines). So, if you've written a post about a particular topic, then when that topic is
searched for on the search engines, your post on one of those forums may very well come
up in the listings. If the searcher clicks on that link and likes what he/she reads in your post,
they will be likely to click on the link in your tag line to see what you have to offer. Free
website traffic. BONUS!!!
The second thing that all those tag line links do for you is to create that link popularity that I
discussed earlier. Basically, search engines rank your website in the search listings partly
by how many other RELATED websites link to your website. The assumption is that if 100
automotive sites link to your motor oil site compared to only 50 linking to another motor oil
site, yours must be the more useful/relevant one. So, you'll be listed higher in the search
engine listing for a search on "motor oil" (all other aspects of your page being equal).
Since all of your posts will be on forums that are related to your product line, and your posts
will be regarding subjects even more specifically related to your product line, the links within
your posts will be very targeted links and will REALLY increase your link popularity,
especially if you are a member of many different forums that are regarded as high quality
Important Things to Note About Forum Advertising
As you can surely tell, I am a big fan of this method of advertising. Although it does not
generally produce immediate results, over time it can be one of the most effective
advertising tools you have in your "belt". That being said, though, there are a few things you
should keep in mind if you decide to pursue this method of advertising.
How Well Indexed is the Forum?
First, if a particular forum does not index with the search engines well, then you will NOT
gain nearly the benefit from your posts that you could. You won't gain any link popularity for
your site, and people searching for your topic of interest will not see your posts show up in
the search engine listings.
So, make sure that you take the time to see how well indexed a forum is before you make a
decision about which forum(s) you decide to start promoting on. There is actually a very
simple way to know whether a forum is well indexed or not and I'll explain it in just a
moment, but there's another issue I want to make mention of first.
Will Search Engines "See" Your Signature Links?
The links that you place within the "signature" portion of your postings are what will give you
link popularity with the search engines, but that will only be true if the search engines
actually can "see" those links. Thus, it's important to make sure that they CAN before you
start posting to a particular forum (so that you get the most benefit from your efforts).
What do I mean by "see"? Well, there is a trend on many blogs and forums recently to begin
adding "nofollow" to many of the links on their site, which are placed there by users of the
site. This is done to discourage "marketers" from placing ADS disguised as forum posts for
the sole purpose of generating links back to their site.
Moreover, some forum owners have actually gone so far as to not allow forum signatures at
all, eliminating the issue altogether. This is a good idea for a forum owner and keeps out
alot of "spam". Unfortunately, it's not so great for you. The good news is that not all forums
do this, so if you can find a forum that does NOT, which meets all of your other criteria,
THAT will be your best bet and will generate the greatest reward for your efforts.
So, how do you KNOW whether a search engine will "see" your signature links? Well, first,
check to see whether a forum allows signatures in the first place. If you go through a
number of forum posts and see no website links or "tag lines" on any of the posts, chances
are they don't allow signatures at all ... move on. But, how do you know do you know if they
are using "nofollow" on the signature links that ARE allowed?
I'll make it easy for you. Click on the following link. A page will pop up in your browser which
will allow you to add a bookmark to your browser that will quickly allow you to check any
page for "nofollow" links without ever leaving the page. AND ... it won't cost you a dime.
Check for Nofollow Links
Some Extra Investigation Will Go a Long Way
I spoke a moment ago about evaluating just how well "indexed" a forum is (do all - or at
least MOST - of it's pages show up in the search engines?). A little investigation is going to
go a long way here. First, go to the forum website in question. Look through the forum
category listing which is ordinarily found on the front page of the forum (for instance, check
You'll notice on the front page of the Cadillac forums website that there is a column listing
for "threads" (some forums might list this as "topics") and one next to that called "posts"
(some forums list these as "replies"). Count up the total number of "posts" or "replies" listed
for the forum. In this case, on the Cadillac forums site, there are approximately 600,000
"posts". That means that members to this forum have posted about 600,000 times regarding
various topics since this forum began (a pretty busy site).
Now, first of all, this is a good place to mention that choosing a forum with a high number of
members and good lively discussion is a crucial part of this as well because the more
people that frequent the site, the more people will be reading your posts. More business for
you, as long as you sound like you know what you're talking about.
So, with these Cadillac forums, already you'd be in good shape if you offer a product that
would appeal to visitors to this site because they clearly have a large number of ACTIVE
members. But we still don't know how well indexed this site is with the search engines
(primarily Google). So, here's what we do next.
Click on any of the forum categories to do a little more in depth searching (best to choose
one that has a large number of threads/topics). In this case, to follow our example, click on
the Cadillac CTS-V Series Forum link to enter that specific category which, at the time this
article was written, had 8800 threads listed.
What we want to find out is, what is the default number of postings that this forum lists for
each page of a thread. For instance, my motor oil forum defaults to 15 posts per page of a
thread. So, if someone starts a new thread about extended oil drains, and there are 35
posts to that thread over time, then there would be 3 pages in that thread (1-15 on the first
page, 16-30 on the second page, and 31-35 on the third page).
Why do we care? Because we're going to use this info to determine just how many pages
exist within this forum (approximately). Then, we're going to see how many of those pages
are actually indexed on Google.com.
So, inside the CTS V-Series forum we see all of the different threads that have been posted
to this category since the forum began (some forums will only list the threads that have
been started in the last 30 or 60 days, although there is normally a setting at the top or
bottom of the page to adjust this to show ALL threads ever started in that particular
We also see, the total number of posts/replies per thread (shown over at the right) as well
as the number of pages in each thread (shown directly after the thread title/link). These two
numbers are going to tell us what we need to know.
Find any thread with more than one page and click on the link. On the page that comes up,
count the number of individual posts that show up on that page of the thread. On the
Cadillac forums they help you out just a bit because each thread is actually numbered on
the page. At the time of this writing, the default for the Cadillac forums seems to be 20
posts/replies per page.
If you're a math savvy reader of this article, you probably also know that you could have
simply used the total number of posts/pages of a few different threads and calculated out
how many posts are put on each page. Either way you should come to the same
So, now what do we do?
Putting the Results of Our Investigation to Use
Now, take that default posts-per-page number (in this case: 20) and divide that INTO our
total number of posts. This will give us an approximation of the total number of pages on
this particular forum.
In this case, the answer is about 30,000 pages (600,000/20=30,000). WOW!!. So, now, let's
check Google to see how many of those 30,000 pages are actually indexed. To check this,
go to the Google.com search engine and type the following:
Then, try it without the "www":
Of course, don't actually type "TheForumDomainName.com", use the domain name of the
actual forum your investigating. In this case, our forum domain name is:
CadillacForums.com. So, if you were to type: site:www.CadillacForums.com into Google
you'd end up at this page.
At the time of this writing, Google lists about 65,000 pages indexed (for both the "www"
version and the domain listed without the "www"). So, clearly this is a well indexed forum. In
fact, it appears that are potentially many more pages within the Cadillac Forums website
which we didn't see but Google "sees".
This would appear to be a perfect forum on which to "advertise" through informative posts to
the site. Notice the bolded word: INFORMATIVE. Do not go in and just start placing little
ads in the forum discussions hoping to gain business. You'll make alot of people angry and
you'll get banned from the forum.
Be an educator. Be a helper. Be a servant. People posting to those forums are genuinely
looking for help or offering help. Be a part of that community. It can actually be alot of fun,
and, over time, very lucrative.
So, if you have the time to do so, and not necessarily alot of money to advertise your
website, forums are a great way to generate free traffic to your site and create new
customers who trust you. Don't overlook this potential advertising avenue. It may be one of
the most powerful free advertising methods available on the net.
And, if you think you'd like to take full advantage of this marketing technique, you can get
even more useful tips from the following free ebook: Forum Supertips. Some of the tips I list
above are provided in this book, which I found a quick but informative read, but you will also
find various other tips and techniques in this book which should really benefit you, if you
decide to use forum posting as a method of marketing your business.
Quickly Find Appropriate Threads
If you're going to use forums as a significant portion of your marketing, you'll likely end up
being a member of multiple forums (at least you should). As such, on a regular basis,
probably at least every other day, you'll want to logon to each of those forums and do a
search to see if there are any threads that you can supply useful information to.
You'll want to try and keep a list of search phrases that relate to your business/products and
that you will be able to respond to intelligently. But, even with the list, it can take time to
navigate to each forum, login, do the search, and then scan through the listings to find
threads that fit what you're trying to do. Fortunately, there is a MUCH faster way: Google
Google has a service that allows you to receive an email from them anytime a NEW listings
comes up for a particular search phrase. For instance, if you searched for "gold plated
widgets" today and didn't find what you were looking for, you could sign-up for a Google
Alert which would let you know when a new webpage was listed for that search phrase (one
that did NOT show up in the list today when you did your search). That can be really useful,
but it is INCREDIBLY POWERFUL when you recognize how targeted you can make your
Click on the following link: Search Example
You'll find a listing of all pages on the CadillacForums.com website that contain any of the
- Synthetic Oil
- Motor Oil
- Oil Filter
- 2-Cycle Oil
- Two-Cycle Oil
Since the CadillacForums.com website will contain primarily pages devoted to forum posts,
the vast majority of these listings will refer to forum threads that discuss the phrases listed
above, in one way or another. Chances are, many of the threads may not be ones to which
you can supply useful information, but, it narrows your search. However, there are still
ALOT of listings there. Going through them all would probably take awhile, and many of
them would be old threads.
Enter Google Alerts. Since Google Alerts only talls you about NEW pages that have been
added to Google's database, the list will be MUCH smaller, and will NOT, in most cases,
contain old threads. So, by using Google Alerts, each day you would receive an email listing
any new pages that have "popped up" since your last alert. If nothing new has been added
to the database that matches your search phrase, no email would show up.
And, you can setup an alert for as many search phrases as you like. Meaning you can
monitor dozens of forums all at the same time, without ever having to logon to the forums
unless Google sends you an alert. This is a HUGE timesaver and an excellent marketing
tool. So, the question is, how do you use it and what does it cost?
Fortunately, the answer is, it costs NOTHING and is very simple to use. Just go to the
Google Alerts website (Google Alerts) and sign-up for an account. Once you have an
account, sign-in and click the "New Alert" button. Then, simply fill in the details.
Of course, the details are where the power is at. HOW you setup your search phrase will
have ALOT to do with how targeted and useful your alerts will be. So, crafting your search
phrase is important. Typically, you'll want to narrow your alerts to only search forums that
you've already deemed a "good fit" for what you're trying to do (ie. topic related to your
product or service, lots of ACTIVE users, well indexed in search engines, allows signatures
and doesn't use "nofollow" links). So, in your search you'll want to use
"site:www.SomeDomainName.com" (without the quotes) which narrows the search ONLY to
pages on the site found at www.SomeDomain.com.
So, for instance, if you're wanting to search the CadillacForums.com site, you'd use
"site:www.CadillacForums.com". Then, add a space and start including relevant search
phrases. As an example, in my alerts, I search specific forums for "synthetic oil" OR "motor
oil" OR "oil filter" OR ... You can use AND instead of OR, if it suits your purposes. You don't
have to put the phrases in "", but, if you need the phrase and not just the individual words to
show up on the page, use "".
For instance, if you did a Google Alert for: site:WeAreDogs.com dog walking, a page which
had the phrase "the walking stick landed on my dog's head" would trigger the alert because
it contains both the words "dog" and "walking". However, if you changed your alert and put
"dog walking" instead, only pages that contained that EXACT phrase would come up.
Any phrase that you can use to do a search on Google can be used in an alert, so be
creative. Then, set the other Alert characteristics (how often to notify you, what types of
pages to search and where to send the alerts) and you're done. Add a new alert for each
site you want to search. Possibly add an alert for the "www" version of a web address and a
separate alert for the address WITHOUT the www as sometimes the listings can be
No matter how you use it (and I'm sure you'll come up with some new and ingenious ways),
Google Alerts will save you a TON of time marketing your site. Make use of it - after all, it's
Viral Marketing: PRE-selling, RE-selling and CROSS-selling
This is one that could be the most effective and least expensive of all, although potentially
time consuming in the beginning - depends upon how you do it. I know that in the past year
you probably caught a cold. Chances are, you aren't the only one. It's likely that your whole
family ended up getting it by the time all was said and done. Maybe numerous people from
church or your workplace ended up with the same cold/flu bug.
How did that happen? Colds are contagious. Typically, if one person gets it, chances are,
many of the people that person comes into contact with are also going to get it. A cough, a
sneeze, touching the same doorknob, etc. There are probably 100 different ways that a
cold/flu bug might spread. The point really isn't the how, but simply that it does, and there's
not much way to stop it once it gets going. You just have to let it run it's course.
Well, that's viral marketing. You want to use word of mouth and the power of email and the
internet to spread the word about your company/products quickly. How does that happen?
Well, you offer something to customers and potential customers that has a high perceived
value but is low cost or free to you. Then, you provide an easy way for that person to let
multiple other people know about the offer.
Free Software: Offer free software from your website or through your electronic newsletter
that will actually be useful to YOUR customers and potential customers. In other words,
don't offer a free mp3 music player from your website if your primary visitors have severe
hearing loss. Make sure the software will be incredibly useful to YOUR website visitors or
newsletter subscribers. Just because YOU think it's cool, doesn't mean your website visitors
will. Try to see the software through THEIR eyes.
Then, encourage those that download the software to send it to friends and family who
might be interested. If your website visitors are likely to have websites or mailing lists of
their own, encourage them to offer the software for download from THEIR website. The
beauty is, you will have designed the software so that it contains prominent links back to
YOUR website, possibly even multiple sites that you own (or to websites for which you are
In this way, each person that this free software is forwarded to is presented with a link back
to your company website(s). Free advertising for you. Free software is one thing that
spreads on the internet very, very quickly, IF the software is useful and stable. So, in a very
short period of time, you could easily have thousands of copies of your software residing on
thousands of computers, each with a prominent link back to your website(s). Of course, if
you have more than one website, you would want to make sure that each of your sites has
links to your other sites.
This process would be considered CROSS-selling. You have interlinked all of your
websites/products to make sure that any customer of one website is exposed to the
products/services that you offer from the other sites. This is an excellent way to maximize
your advertising costs, since an advertisement for one product/service can end up exposing
that potential customer to multiple products/services that you offer. The free software is the
VIRAL part of the equation that ties everything together and spreads the word quickly.
The free software approach could also be an example of the PRE-selling approach if you
happen to be a software company or if the free software somehow has a direct relationship
to the product/service that you offer. PRE-selling is the art of building credibility for your
product/service BEFORE you actually try and sell it to someone.
For instance, as I just mentioned, the free software could be a PRE-sell for your "pay-for"
software. If the free software is REALLY useful and well done, there is a good chance that
those who download it will come to your site and check out your other software offerings,
because they will assume that your "pay-for" software should be even better.
Or, maybe, you are a company that offers domain names for sale. Your free software might
be a program that helps people brainstorm domain names and then check to see if they are
available. Then, when the person finds a domain that they like, they are offered the
opportunity to register it through you. Since you have already provided them something of
value, as long as you are not incredibly overpriced, there is a good chance that the person
will purchase their domain name from you.
Of course, the one aspect of Software Viral Marketing that I haven't yet covered is that of
RE-selling. RE-selling is a term I use to refer to any method you utilize to create additional
opportunities to sell the SAME product without any additional effort. That would be a
RE-sell. Software could fit that method in two different ways.
If the software is a program that a customer will utilize on a regular basis, and your product
is one that they might need to order more than once (which, if you haven't guessed already,
I HIGHLY recommend), then each time the customer uses your software they are RE-sold
on your products. The more opportunities you have to RE-sell your product to a customer,
the better chance you have that they will purchase it ... DUH. Seems like kind of a
no-brainer, doesn't it?
Hopefully, your software is well received by those who download it, because, if it is,
chances are they will recommend the software to others, either by sending them the file or
by sending them a link to your site where they can download the file themselves. This,
again, would be what I consider a RE-sell opportunity, because, again, you are creating for
yourself multiple opportunities to sell the same product (and, at the same time, other
products as well), with no additional effort on your part.
As much as you can, encourage people to send their friends back to YOUR site to get the
download (instead of just forwarding the file to them). If people always come to your site to
download the software, then you always have control over what software people are getting
their hands on.
Why is that important? Well, first off, if the software is upgraded or enhanced, or if "bug"
fixes are made, you want to make sure that old copies of your software are not circulating.
And, secondly, if you offer more than just that particular piece of software from your
website, wouldn't you like people to be exposed to those products/services as much as
possible? By having the person come to your website to get the software, you have an
opportunity to (UNobtrusively) present some other products/services that you offer while the
person is retrieving their software download.
Of course, if you're going to offer free software as your Viral Marketing method, the obvious
question probably becomes, "How do I develop a useful software program when I don't
know the first thing about programming?" Well, that's a good question. Truthfully, even if
you had the know-how to do it, the time involved in programming a piece of software that is
useful AND stable is considerable. So, even if you had a programming background AND
had an idea for a piece of software that a large number of people would use, it might take
you at least a month or two to create it (if not a year or two - depending upon the
complexity of the program and your level of time availability), then another month or two (or
12) to test it and revise it. And that is probably a best case scenario. It COULD take you
considerably longer. In the meantime, your Viral Marketing campaign is on hold.
Alternatively, you could hire a programmer to create the software you've envisioned. Of
course, there are inherent problems there too. First, unless you KNOW a programmer
already, you could easily end up with a very flaky programmer who does a poor job or never
completes the job, in which case you're left with no usable software to offer. Even if you do
manage to find a programmer who will do a good job for you, it is highly likely that the costs
could be significant. And, since the idea is to offer the software for free to create sales for
your other products, the initial fee for the software creation might be tough to swallow. It
could easily run into the hundreds or, MUCH more likely, even thousands.
Luckily, there are websites out there offering free software that you can "re-brand" with your
website links and offer for download from your website. Be careful with these. Many are
severely restricted versions of commercial software that push heavily for an upgrade to the
"full version" of the software either via the limited features or a limited time-frame over which
to use it before many features end up being disabled. You don't want that. For the "viral"
aspect of this to really work, the software must be completely free and highly useful in it's
free version. So, before you go rebranding someone else's program, make sure you've
tested it to verify that it is simple, useful (to YOUR target audience), stable and completely
Free Ebooks: This is another really good viral marketing method, possibly better even than
free software (although not necessarily). Many people will read a good quality free ebook
which focuses on a topic that interests them. What's more, if they enjoy the book and/or feel
they learned something from it then there is a good chance a certain number of them will
click over and check out your product offerings - resulting in product sales and profit for you.
Of course, that's assuming that you have properly placed links throughout the ebook back to
your website(s) and product(s). In this case, as we learned from our free software example,
you are using your free ebook to PRE-sell the products/services on your website, by
building credibility and trust between you and your potential customers.
Moreover, if your ebook readers have found your book useful, they are likely also to forward
the book on to their friends, family and/or customers and newsletter subscribers. Again, you
want to make sure that you place in the book prominent links pointing back to your
website(s) (or affiliate links to high quality services/products that will earn you money). As
we discussed above, these are your CROSS-selling opportunities. If the book is well
written and covers a topic of interest to a large number of people, it won't be long before
your ebook will reside on numerous other websites and thousands of computers (creating
thousands of PRE-selling, RE-selling and CROSS-selling opportunities).
You can even incorporate a little "twist" that makes Free Ebook Viral Marketing many times
more powerful. The idea is simple. Most people browsing on the net are looking for
information of some sort. If they can get the info for free, even better. From a trusted source
that seems to know what they are talking about ... JACKPOT! With free ebooks AND free
articles you can provide ALL of that and make a bundle of money doing it (which, there is
nothing wrong with, by the way - don't let anyone convince you that making money is a bad
thing - it's only bad if you make money in an unethical way or if you use your money for
Free Articles: We've talked about how a free ebook is an excellent way to PRE-sell your
products and services by building credibility and trust in your customer's mind. But, in order
to stimulate interest for your ebook, you need to go BACK one step in the process. You
need to PRE-sell your ebook, which, in turn, PRE-sells your product or service.
So, in order to PRE-sell your ebook, you have to give people reason to believe that it is in
their best interest to get their hands on it, especially if you're going to require them to
provide their email address in order to get it (so that you can follow up with them). Free
articles are an excellent way to accomplish that goal.
A note about free articles: You might think that Viral Marketing via free articles can only
be used to pre-Sell an informational product of some kind, such as an ebook, but that is
certainly not the case. Even software can be PRE-sold via free articles.
For instance, let's say your software was a PIM application (personal information manager -
contacts, datebook, todo lists, etc.). You could write numerous articles that relate to that
area of business management. The importance of keeping contact information in a central
location that can be searched. The value of having an electronic scheduler to remind you of
important appointments, phonecalls, etc. A discussion of how much more money can be
made by an efficient business vs. an inefficient one (and how a PIM manager can increase
efficiency). Each of those articles would have a link back to your website which would
contain more useful content regarding efficient business and communications management.
Your website would then offer opportunities to download your free software.
I think you see how this progression mimics the free article/free ebook scenario above.
Don't get your mind set on a certain way of using these techniques. Think outside the box a
little and see if you can apply these Viral Marketing techniques to unique new situations that
arise within your own business. I guarantee you can find ways to make these marketing
methods work for you - in a BIG way. The beauty of this system is that the only real work
required is the writing of the book itself. Once the book is written, most of the rest is a
cakewalk. Take sections of the book, cut them down a bit into short articles and submit
them to free article repositories online. A free article repository is basically just a website
that keeps a database of free articles. Authors write articles and post them on their site.
Website owners looking for good content to add to their website come to the repository and
search for articles related to their subject of interest. If you've written an article that relates
to their search, it will come up in the listing. If the website owner likes your article, they
publish it on their website, along with your bio (which tells a little about you and has a link to
If you write well and your articles are useful, it won't take long before they begin to circulate
around the internet and show up on MANY websites all over the place (all with a link back to
your site, and all free advertising). It also serves to build link popularity since there are so
many links pointing back to your website (and all sites that are related to yours).
So, you get a bunch of free links back to your site, your articles help to show that you are an
expert in your field, and the link at the end of each article provides free traffic to your
website. Then, from your website, hopefully, you've got a sign-up form for a person to
request your free ebook (which is a significantly expanded version of your free articles).
That way your website visitors get something of value at no cost and you receive their name
and email in order to follow-up with them regarding special offers you might have, other
products, etc. (of course, you want to make absolutely certain that you offer an easy way for
them to "opt-out" of your mailings - normally a link within each email - you don't want to be
sending information to someone who doesn't want it).
Throughout your book you should have various links to products, services and/or
companies that will help the reader and make you a commission. Of course, don't just
include links because they'll make you money. If there is a service/product that you know is
available for free and you instead promote ONLY the one that costs money (because it
makes you a commission) then you're losing your focus. You'll make more money by
always thinking of your reader's best interests first, than you will by focusing on what is
going to make you the most money. Don't forget that. It is a very important business lesson
(and life lesson).
So, keeping that principle in mind, with USEFUL affiliate links sprinkled around your book,
the more people that download your book, the more affiliate sales you make, the more
money you make. So, the primary goal in this method is to get a LARGE circulation of a
large number of articles so that you get people downloading your book.
In order to do that, you'll need to make sure that your articles are written very well and that
the information provided in them is actually useful. If not, your articles will not circulate and
nobody will read them. Hence, no ebook downloads and no money made. The key is in the
content. Content is king. Remember that and you will go far.
It's also important to note, although it may seem completely obvious, that the number of
articles you write and distribute will have a direct effect on the amount of traffic that is
generated to your site. The more articles, the better (as long as they are well written). Also,
try to diversify the article content a bit to appeal to a wider audience. Always make sure that
the topic of an article is closely related to what you do, but branch out as much as possible
into as many different related areas as you can. This will get you wider distribution on a
larger number of websites - meaning more traffic for you.
Rebranding: There is one critical aspect of Viral Marketing that I haven't really touched on
and really should cover, even if only briefly. If you utilize free article PRE-selling, then you'll
hopefully have a wide distribution of free articles around the internet. But, you may also
want to consider the option of allowing websites to offer your free ebooks and software for
direct download from their site.
Notice I say "consider". This is not the best option in all cases. First, if you allow direct
download of your software or ebook from other websites, you may end up with alot of
outdated software out there, as you continue to upgrade/update it on your end but they do
not. In addition, if these other websites put the software on their server, they won't even be
linking to your domain to get the software, so you won't gain any link popularity or any direct
website traffic from the relationship. There are benefits, though. Many website owners
would be happy to offer your ebook or software for download from their site, if they can
make some money from the downloads. In addition, many of them would love to be able to
offer such a useful benefit to their website visitors if they could have THEIR name and
website address listed on/in it. And THAT is where rebranding comes in.
There are numerous ways for you to allow other business owners to insert THEIR company
name and website address into your ebooks and software and it is called "Rebranding". It is
beneficial to both you and the company doing the rebranding of your content. First, you
generally will see wider distribution of your books and software if other companies can put
their name and address on it. The benefit to them is obvious. Having their website link in all
of those downloads is a RE-sell opportunity each time someone opens the software or
In addition, there can be further benefits to other businesses considering offering your
books or software as a download from their site. Depending upon what sort of links you
have in your book, and whether you personally are running an affiliate program for your
business, they might be able to make money on product sales that are generated from your
For instance, let's say you are offering this free ebook called "101 Fun Things to do with
Blue Commercial Widgets". In that book you have links back to your site which happens to
sell high quality Blue Commercial Widgets at a lower price than ANYONE else on the
planet. You also have an affiliate program that pays 15% on every widget sale.
RedWidgetsRus.com sells only Red Commercial Widgets (and can't get Blue Commercial
Widgets because of your exclusive relationship with the manufacturer), but they have
customers who are interested also in Blue Commercial Widgets. If you allow rebranding of
your "101 Fun Things..." ebook to include affiliate links, then RedWidgetsRus.com might
consider offering your ebook for download from their site (because NOW with their new
rebranded book, they can make 15% on every Blue Commercial Widget sale they send your
way from that ebook download. This can be very powerful.
Or, maybe YOU are an affiliate for another company that sells Blue Commercial Widgets,
but their affiliate program is two-tier. You get paid 15% for all direct referrals you make, but
you also make 5% commissions on the sales generated by any affiliates you refer to the
Again, you write an ebook called "101 Fun Things to do with Blue Commercial Widgets" and
place within the book a link to the Blue Commercial Widget Company which references your
affiliate id. But, you allow the book to be rebranded by any affiliates that YOU have referred
to the company (such as RedWidgetsRus.com). So, now, THEY can use your book to get a
15% commission on any Blue Widget sales they generate through ebook downloads, but
you now earn a 5% commission on all of the sales they generate (sales which YOU
probably never would have made). Win-Win-Win all around.
As you can see, there can be considerable extra profit generated by utilizing this rebranding
concept to its fullest extent. But, there is still that problem of people having your software or
ebook on THEIR server which can lead to outdated ebook/software versions and provides
no link popularity to your site (because they won't be actually linking to your site for the book
- it will now be on THEIR site).
So, we come to a possible solution (for ebooks anyway). Have your ebooks rebranded "on
the fly" right from your server. In other words, these other sites and affiliates don't rebrand
your book and then put it on their server for download, they simply put a special link on their
website which has their special affiliate id or code embedded in the link.
For instance, "MyBlueWidgetEbookSite.com/affiliateID/ebookfile.html").
So, when a visitor to RedWidgetsRus.com clicks on their link to your website ebook at
MyBlueWidgeEbookSite.com/redwidgets/ebookfile.html, a script on YOUR server pulls the
correct ebook file and automatically embeds their special affiliate code (redwidgets) into
every appropriate link within the book. Then, the book is displayed for the end user (who
has no idea any of this has transpired) with all of the correct (redwidgets) affiliate links
already embedded in the book.
The person downloading the file can save that file to their computer if they like, read it, print
it, send it to a friend, whatever they like. It's THEIR file, but it has "redwidgets" affiliate links
embedded in the text so that if they decide they need a Blue Commercial Widget,
RedWidgetsRus will get the 15% commission. How awesome is that? You get to offer
rebrandable ebooks. Other websites get to use your well written ebooks to promote their
affiliate links and make money. You get paid your 5% on every sale, AND you get to make
sure that EVERYONE downloading your book gets the very latest addition. AND, all
download links point back to your site, so you get the link popularity.
NOW this is a Win-Win-Win situation for everyone concerned. Unfortunately, as I
mentioned, this might be more difficult to implement for software, but I think it probably
could be done if you hired the right programmer. For ebooks, this dynamic rebranding is
only available for Adobe Reader PDF files, as far as I know. So, you'd have to offer your
books in PDF format. But, this is simple and painless to do and costs next to nothing.
Moreover, PDF is pretty much the standard file format on the net now for anything that you
want virtually EVERYONE to be able to read. It won't matter if someone is running a new or
old Windows machine, a Mac, Linux, etc. All of them will be able to open your PDF ebook.
To learn a great deal more about viral marketing and to find out how you can get the server
software to do this "on-the-fly" ebook rebranding yourself (VERY easily and inexpensively),
take a look at the following link. Harvey Segal is a guy who is really setting the standard in
this area of Viral Marketing.
Now, this gentleman is selling primarily business building tools, which, as I've said before,
tend to be easier to sell than everyday products because everyone and their brother is
blinded by the $$$$ promised by a home business. BUT, at the same time, the techniques
that he reveals for creating a viral marketing "empire" really can be applied to just about any
product/service you might consider selling. So, I highly recommend following the link below
for a more in-depth analysis of the viral marketing strategy:
** Viral Tell-a-Friend ** - Ok, so we've been discussing the basics of setting up a Viral
Marketing campaign in order to explode your business, but the one thing that we didn't
really take much time to discuss was the process of actually helping your website
visitors/ebook readers/software users tell as many friends as possible. Obviously, they can
just send an email to their friends, but you want them to tell as many friends as possible,
and you want them to do it before they forget. So, what do you do? How can you enhance
the effectiveness of that process?
AUTOMATE!!!! There is software out there that will do a phenomenal job of making this
process astronomically more effective. It's a new twist on a relatively old internet marketing
method: Tell-a-Friend forms. The simple Tell-a-Friend forms that have been used for years
offer a way for your website visitors to recommend your site to their friends without ever
leaving your site. They simply fill out a form with their name and email and their friends'
names and emails and hit "Submit". Immediately, an email is sent to all the friends they
listed, telling them about the site.
This has been a relatively useful and effective way to get free, targeted and PRE-sold traffic
to your site. I say targeted because your website visitors KNOW their friends, so they know
whether they would likely have an interest in your site. Since they respect their friends, they
are not going to tell them about your site if they would have no interest. Thus, Tell-a-Friend
visitors are a very targeted audience, already predisposed to be interested in your products
I say PRE-sold because when someone receives a recommendation from a friend they
immediately lend more credibility to the business or website that has been recommended,
because they trust their friend's judgement and they trust that their friend would not
recommend something to them that was not worthwhile. Thus, Tell-a-Friend visitors are
already pre-sold on your company and your products or services. An ideal prospect.
But, here's the twist that takes traditional Tell-a-Friend to a whole new level and makes it
truly Viral. There is new software out there that will run on your website and allow your
website visitors, with just a few mouseclicks, to import all or just a part of their email
address book into your tell-a-friend form. Then, with just a click of the mouse, they can tell
ALL of those friends (often dozens to hundreds of people) about your site.
The beauty of this is that NOBODY will be able to remember ALL of the friends that they
have who might be interested in your site AND their email addresses in order to type them
all into a traditional Tell-a-Friend form, nor will many of your website visitors want to spend
the time typing all of that in. By importing their addressbook they can quickly tell dozens of
friends without ever having to type in their names and email addresses, many of which they
might not have thought of on their own.
Even more powerful is the ability of these scripts to automatically REWARD your website
visitors for recommending your site. Customize these rewards in any way you like. A
discount coupon to purchase your product. An additional free ebook. An extra free report.
Just about anything you can think of. Again, the key here is to make it valuable so that
people will be enticed to tell their friends about your site.
Specify within the software exactly what the website visitor has to do to get the REWARD.
Tell 3 friends. Tell 5 friends. 10 friends. Or, get even more specific, don't provide the reward
unless at least 3 friends actually come to your site, or only if at least 3 friends sign up for
your newsletter or only if at least 2 of their friends tell THEIR friends. You get the idea. YOU
decide just what a visitor has to do to get the reward. The software takes care of making
sure it happens AND automatically provides the reward when it does - AUTOMATED
Now, there are a number of scripts available online that will do the above, and they are all
somewhat similar. However, in researching what was available, the one script that seemed
to offer the most functionality for a decent price was ViralInviter, which I am currently using
on some of my sites and will be using on more of them as time goes on.
Now, one of the things that I disliked about ViralInviter was that there seemed to be a shade
of false advertising involved. The sales page says that one installation of the script can be
used to run tell-a-friend campaigns for multiple websites at once, which is TECHNICALLY
true. However, realistically, this is not the case.
In order to run multiple campaigns (ie. for multiple websites), you actually have to use the
same campaign for all of them. In other words, you can use the forms on more than one
site, but every tell-a-friend form will say the exact same thing, offer the exact same reward
and point to the exact same page. Obviously, that's not a very workable scenario in most
cases. So, 99% of marketers CANNOT realistically use the same ViralInviter installation to
run tell-a-friend campaigns on multiple websites.
The good news is, you CAN have multiple installations of ViralInviter (one for each separate
website) so that you CAN run multiple, distinct, tell-a-friend campaigns all at once and you
don't have to purchase multiple licenses of the software. Once license can be installed
multiple times for multiple websites. Not quite as convenient as a single install for all, but, a
workable solution. And, since none of the other Viral Tell-a-Friend scripts I've seen offer this
capability either, you're still better off with ViralInviter. Check it out and see what you think.
And, since I am an affiliate, if you don't want me to earn a commission (your price won't
change, but I won't be earning a commission), you can use this link instead: Pay No Affiliate
Targeting, Tracking and Testing
This section is going to be short and sweet, because I've already touched on a large portion
of this info. I just felt it needed to be mentioned separately to "drive the point home". Nearly
ALL of your advertising will be a complete flop (even your Viral Marketing methods) if you
don't pay any attention to targeting your ad to the right people, tracking who responds to
your ad and HOW they respond to your ad and then using that information to "comparison
test" your ads, ad locations, website formatting and design.
This step is CRITICAL to the success of any of your advertising campaigns. Quite frankly,
many of your ads will NOT perform well the first time around. Some tracking and testing and
tweaking will be necessary (either to your ad, the ad location or to your website to improve
conversions). Either way, you can't skip this step. Just don't forget that. If you're advertising
without paying any attention to this detail, whether your marketing is free or not, you're
losing money BIG TIME on lost sales and possibly wasted advertising dollars. You are sure
to "tank" your business very rapidly if you don't put a stop to the loss.
Take it or leave it, it's the truth, and your business will live or die by this one issue alone.
Helping you enjoy more of your life ..... by helping you enjoy more success in your business
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