The stock-standard reply goes like this (regular readers
of AHBBO will recognize the following words from last
week's Q&A segment):
"First off, what everyone needs to understand is that this
business is a numbers game. Something like 2-3%
(estimates vary) of all people who read your ad will respond
to it. Of these respondents, a similar percentage will
actually buy from you. So, as you can see, the name of the
game is to get your ad in front of as many pairs of eyes as
"It is for this reason that spamming is such a problem.
People come to the realization that this is a numbers game
and, when they do, the uninformed conclude that all they
have to do is bombard their message to as many people as
possible and 2-3% of 2-3% will yield sales in sufficient
numbers to make it worthwhile. This approach does have some
superficial logic to it, of course, which is why it seems to
appeal to so many.
"What the rest of us understand, however, is that this
approach simply doesn't work. Most people will not only not
even open your message (we all develop a spam radar very
early on) but won't deal with you in any shape, manner or
form because these tactics paint you as a charlatan. In
addition, of course, spamming is downright illegal in many
countries and parts of countries.
"So, how do you, legitimately, get your ad in front of the
numbers of eyes you need to generate a fair return on your
investment? One approach, certainly, is to post your ads in
the free classified sites. Superficial logic dictates that
it's sensible to see whether your free ad generates a
response before spending money for paid advertising. Well,
your free ad WILL generate a response. Unfortunately, it
probably won't be the kind of response you're hoping for.
Usually, you'll just wind up on some spammer's mailing list
or find your autoresponder bombarded with other people's
"The reason for this is simple. Who do you know who goes to
the free classified sites when they're looking for a
business opportunity such as the one you're promoting? Not
many. The reality is that the vast majority of people who
frequent the free classified sites are those who are placing
their OWN free classified ads!
"So, what's the answer? It's threefold. The first is
something to get going with right now. The second and third
are longer term investments in your business that will yield
results over the longer term.
"Firstly, when you're just starting out, you're going to have
to rely on paid advertising to generate all your enquiry.
This means spending money on paid ads in ezines that target
your target market. You need to write a few different
classified ads and monitor the results, tweaking your ads,
one element at a time, until you have one ad (or a few) that
consistently generates good enquiry for you.
"Once you're at that point, you can begin to start
advertising aggressively, confident that your ad "pulls".
Be prepared, also, to reinvest your profits back into
advertising. This is how to build a serious business.
"Secondly, and longer-term, create your own website. The
traffic to your website is a rich source of prospects since
these people are already obviously highly interested in what
you have to offer since they've sought you out.
"Thirdly, develop your own list. This means capturing the
email addresses of your site visitors. You do this by
inviting them to leave their email address with you so you
can stay in contact with them about developments at your
site of interest to them.
"Also, supplement your website with a newsletter that people
can sign up for at your site. By establishing and developing
relationships with your site visitors and newsletter subscribers,
you are investing in your own highly targeted list of people
who are likely to be very interested in the programs you are
promoting not only now but in the future.
"This is the basic approach to running a business online.
Don't be concerned if you're not generating quick sales at
this stage. As you can see it takes a LOT of time, effort
and commitment. The good news is that your investment will
pay off over time."
The focus of this article is the third step of that process:
developing your own list. As suggested above, there are two
main ways to go about doing this. The first requires that you
have your own website. The second doesn't.
THE WEBSITE-GENERATED LIST
If you have your own website, you need a way to capture the
email addresses of your site visitors. Now, "capture" doesn't
mean using some devious means of tracking email addresses
without the knowledge of your hapless site visitor, if such a
thing is even possible. What it means is directly inviting your
website visitors to provide you their email address so you can stay
in contact with them, let them know about changes to your
site and let them know about new products and services that may
be of interest to them.
Your likelihood of success or otherwise in getting people to give
you their email address is directly related to one thing and one
thing only: the content value of your site. If your site is barely
more than a sales page for all of your various affiliate programs,
don't expect people to give you their email address. Why should
they? What have you given them of real value that would make
them think that you may have something of even more value to
talk to them about in the future?
To the contrary, your visitors are likely to be disappointed and
annoyed to find that, despite the promising description in your
search engine listing, your site is nothing more than a collection
of affiliate programs they could have found from any one of a
thousand or more sites they've been to this week.
So get the foundation right before you start to build your house
and way before you start inviting people over. Take the time
to create a website that is unique, that has REAL content
and which offers visitors something of genuine value. This
takes REAL work and REAL effort and REAL time. That's
because you're creating a REAL business!
Once you have created a real website with real content,
then, and only then, should you invite visitors to leave you
their email address for future contact purposes. You will, of
site to govern the uses to which any email addresses will
be put. In particular, you must keep those addresses secure
and confidential and never EVER reveal or otherwise make
them available to any third parties.
Over time you are going to amass a significant number
of email addresses. These addresses are your "list".
Once you have a "list", you have a ready-made group of
qualified prospects to whom to market your existing and
future product range.
THE EZINE OPTION
Publishing your own ezine is the other main way of
cultivating your own list. This option doesn't require that
you have a website (although it is recommended you do
Although you may not have a website, the same comments
about quality of content that were made in the context of
websites apply equally in the case of an ezine.
It is only if you publish an ezine with quality content (and
this means a LOT more than publishing a couple of
articles written by other people with a few ads thrown in
for good measure) that you will attract and, more importantly,
Your ezine then becomes the vehicle to communicate
any offers you want to make to your list. Because you
have been communicating with your readers week in, week
out, because you deliver consistent quality content, and
because you've been around for a while and seem to know
what you're talking about, your subscribers get to know you
and trust you. And that makes any purchasing decision
Some publishers add anyone to their subscriber list who
makes contact with them. Others only add subscribers who
specifically request to be subscribed to the ezine. It is this
latter group who will cultivate the better quality list because
the average interest level of subscribers will be much higher.
If you intend to accept paid advertising in your ezine, you
should definitely stick to the strictly opt-in version. Advertisers
will only pay for highly targeted lists that get results. Sure,
you may make the first sale but what you want is repeat
advertising and this depends on your advertisers getting good
returns from the ads they place with you.
There are many ways to make a decent income from an
online business but none of them come with shortcuts.
Because online marketing is a numbers game, you must
somehow find a legitimate way to get your message before as
many pairs of eyes as possible. But as we've all heard
many, many times before, it takes an average of seven
exposures to your message before someone will make a
Sure, if you spend sufficient money you can generate enough
exposures to make the sale. THAT sale that is. But then
have to start all over again to make the next one. You lose your
investment of time, money and energy as soon as that one ad
campaign is over.
The point to take away with you is that, as well as being a
numbers game, internet marketing is as much a relationship
game. By cultivating your own opt-in list you have created an
established bank of pre-qualified, targeted, interested prospects
who know you and trust you. You'll find that your response rate
will be much higher than from a cold-start ad campaign in someone
else's ezine. But it's not easy. It takes a lot of work,
effort to create a quality list. And so it should. You're
business, after all.
So treat your list like gold. It's your online business's greatest
asset. Besides you, that is.
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