Friday, March 26, 2010

Comparison of Direct Mail Marketing and Email Marketing

Comparison of Direct Mail Marketing and Email Marketing

For direct marketers, the print-to-online transition is an ongoing one. Consider the following facts comparing direct mail to e-mail for marketing purposes.

Paper costs

The 20 percent increase in the cost of paper over the past two to three years is being caused in part by higher labor costs as well as higher fuel costs to get wood to the mill, run the papermaking machines and transport the finished product to warehouses and on to printers.

Moreover, many paper mills are making investments to become more eco-friendly, incurring costs to train employees in new processes and procedures. Printing and postage costs are also rising, and additional paper price increases are likely.

E-mail costs

For companies whose customers are largely online, e-mail is a cost-effective replacement to direct mail. For organizations that have a blend of online and non-online customers, it can be a welcomed alternative for e-mail-equipped recipients that also lowers the cost of marketing for the company.

Direct mail efficiency

A direct mail campaign can take weeks to design, lay out, print and mail. Moreover, while deliverability and response are trackable with direct mail, they take time. Undeliverable mail can take weeks to be returned and addresses must be manually removed from a list. In addition,response can take days by postage paid reply.

E-mail efficiency

An e-mail campaign can take as little as a few hours to a few days from concept to receipt, enabling companies to respond rapidly to market dynamics and competitive pressures. In addition, with e-mail sent by an advanced e-mail delivery system, bad addresses are discovered within minutes and culled from a list. Then, marketers know exactly how many recipients opened the message.

With links back to a Web site, purchases can be made immediately and tracking systems can show which pages or items were viewed, providing invaluable customer data for future campaigns.

Green marketing -- direct mail

While many direct marketing firms are instituting green standards in their companies, the direct mail business is under environmental pressure because of the huge amount of paper it consumes and the waste that paper generates.

Green marketing -- e-mail

While e-mail servers require electricity, no trees are destroyed, no pollutants are sent into the air, and no gasoline or other petroleum-based products are used to get a marketing message across with e-mail.

Source: by Berry Abel

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tips for Preparing Effective Marketing Plan

In starting a business, you’re going to find that there are many different plans that you’ll have to put together. While it may seem tedious, having a well-formed plan is crucial towards helping guide the direction of the company. The most obvious is a business plan, but you should also develop a marketing plan that will be a guide on how you reach out to your audience – what’s your selling point? Communication strategy? Budget?

A marketing plan is a written document that details the necessary actions to achieve one or more marketing objectives. It can be for a product or service, a brand, or a product line. Marketing plans cover between one and five years. A marketing plan may be part of an overall business plan. Solid marketing strategy is the foundation of a well-written marketing plan. While a marketing plan contains a list of actions, a marketing plan without a sound strategic foundation is of little use.

Now let’s look at what goes into a marketing plan:

First you’re going to need to research the market. This goes into your situational analysis, which is basically research of your competitors, any trends in the industry, sentiment, market forecast, segmentation, customer information/demographics and a market needs analysis. Perhaps the biggest part of this section of your plan is the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. By doing a SWOT analysis, you’re going to be able to assess what advantages and disadvantages you bring to the table and look at what opportunities & threats await you in the industry.

It should be noted that at this point, you should be looking at the 8 P’s of marketing:

  1. Price – The amount of money needed to buy products
  2. Product – The actual product
  3. Promotion (advertising)- Getting the product known
  4. Placement – Where the product is located
  5. People – Represent the business
  6. Physical environment – The ambiance, mood, or tone of the environment
  7. Process – How do people obtain your product
  8. Packaging – How the product will be protected

After the situational analysis, make sure you cover the marketing strategy. This section of your marketing plan focuses on your mission statement, objective and focused strategy, including market segment and product positioning. While this may be similar to the situational analysis, one thing to keep in mind is that this area centers on the company internally. The situational analysis will examine your industry and external factors. The marketing strategy should be focused on what YOU can control and bring to the table. It’s all about your company and brand here.

Your sales forecast will be the next section in your marketing plan. Perhaps more mathematical in nature, this area will be devoted to track sales month by month and follow up on plan-vs.-actual analysis, specific sales by product, by region or market segment, by channels, by manager responsibilities, and other elements.

Lastly, you’re going to have to include an expense budget, which will be a gauge on your total marketing spend to promote your product. It includes a plan-vs.-actual analysis which looks at what you think you’ll spend versus the actual amount spent after a project/product is completed. It also includes specific sales tactics, programs, management responsibilities, promotion, and other elements.

While this may seem rather tedious to include in a single document, rest assured that if you have this, you’ll be fully prepared for what lies ahead and that you won’t be surprised about anything that comes up. Being prepared is a great strategic goal and you’ll be able to account for any issue over the long-term.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Marketing Mix Four P's

Although marketing is commonly thought of as only consisting of promoting a product or service through advertising and publicity, there is actually much more to it. Marketing is the process of establishing a product, pricing it, promoting the product and placing it for sale, as a way to make profits for the company. These items are called the Four-Ps or the marketing mix. it is an easy way to remember the parts of marketing.

Questions you may have include:

  • Why is promotion often emphasized?
  • What are the Four-Ps?
  • What is the advantage of using the Four-Ps?

Most think only of promotion

The general public normally thinks of marketing as promotion, advertising, branding and publicity of products or services. They often lump those items together as promotion.

What they do not realize is that there are other factors that a business must consider as part of delivering their products or services to the market and selling them.


Marketing can be classified into four categories, called the Four-Ps:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Place

These activities are also called the marketing mix. They are the variables that marketing managers can control in order to satisfy customers in the target market.

Using four words starting in "P" is an easy way to remember the items.

Product marketing

The product part of the marketing mix concerns determining what products or services customers want and establishing specifications for those items.

Considerations include functionality, appearance and quality of the product, as well as packaging, warranty and support.

Pricing marketing

Setting a competitive price for a product or service is an important part of marketing. That price may be based on the marketing strategy of whether to give the impression of quality or to appeal to the price-conscious buyers. Supply and demand also affects pricing.

Pricing includes not only the list price, but also discounts, financing and leasing options.

Promotion marketing

The promotion part of the marketing mix concerns communicating and selling to potential customers. This includes advertising, sales promotion, publicity and personal selling. It refers to the various methods of promoting the product, brand or company, as well as the message and media to be used.

Advertising and promotion costs can be a large part of the product price. Analysis should be performed to determine the actual value of the promotion in getting new customers.

Place marketing

Place is the location or channel where the sale can be made. This may include geographic location and market segment. Sometimes this "P" stands for placement or distribution, which refers to how the product or service gets to the customer.

Distribution includes market coverage, channel member selection, logistics and levels of service.

Advantage of Four-P system

The advantage of using this marketing mix of products, pricing, promotion and place is that it is easy to remember and provides a good organization of marketing.

There are other combinations of the factors in marketing, but the Four-P classification has been the most useful is sticking in the minds of marketing students. In other words, the expression has become a "brand" for marketing.


Marketing is commonly thought of as only consisting of promoting a product or service through advertising and publicity. Actually, marketing consists of the process of establishing a product, pricing it, promoting the product, and placing it for sale, as a way to make profits for the business. These items are called the Four-Ps, and they are an easy way to remember the factors of marketing.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Marketing Tips for your Blog

How many times have you visited one of the many “professional” blog advice sites, and left with little more advice than the ubiquitous (and unhelpful) “build great content?”

If building a great blog was as simple as writing quality posts, we’d all be tied for number one on the Technorati Top 100 blog list. I’m not about to start my own web site, but I did want to start sharing tips that I’ve personally found valuable when building the traffic to Marketing Pilgrim.

It’s possible that these tips have been shared before–perhaps they were lost among all of the “great content” on the web–but I’m pretty sure these will be fresh ideas. I initially thought I could fit half a dozen tips in a single blog post, but as I started writing, I realized that each tip easily fills a single post. So instead, I’ll start with Tip #1 and see what you think. Leave a comment if you’d like to see more tips in the future.

Tip 1: Your Blog Post Titles Have Two Audiences
You’ve no doubt read that you need to make your blog post titles “search engine friendly,” but doing so often kills the creativity and initial appeal of your writing. Instead of trying to appeal to your loyal readers and Google at the outset, approach the two difference audiences in separate stages.

Stage One – Your initial blog readers
Your initial audience is likely going to be those that have already subscribed to your blog’s RSS feed–or happen to check your blog every day. They want to be thrilled, excited, and given a reason to not only read your post, but also share and link to it.

When you first publish your blog post, follow this advice:
Make your post title interesting – it could be that you ask a question, share a scoop, or offer a cryptic title that peeks your reader’s curiosity. I’ll often use a blog title that sounds like a scandal/scoop, but is really just a question. For example, “Microsoft Buying Yahoo?” I ran that headline last year–before Microsoft made its bid. It generated a lot of traffic then and even more so now.

Keep it short and sweet – if you make your initial post title too long, you run the risk that you’ll either confuse a reader or give them so much information, tthere’s no need to read the post itself. Back to my example, “Microsoft Buying Yahoo?” leaves a lot of unanswered questions that just beg the reader to click through to view the entire post. If I had used “Rumors that Microsoft May Buy Yahoo, but No Confirmation Yet,” how many of you would have clicked through to read the entire post? Not many.

Appeal to keyword scanners – When you read posts in your RSS reader, do you sometimes scan the titles looking for keywords that you know will interest you? Apple, Google, Wii, and Blue-Ray are all examples of keywords that might appeal to your specific audience. This is not the same as keywords for SEO–that comes later–at this stage, you’re simply looking to include words that will make your post stand out to your readers. Use popular keywords in your post titles and your post will have a greater chance of standing out among all of the other posts in your reader’s RSS aggregator.

In stage one, your goal is to appeal to the initial readers that will likely view the post on the day that you publish it. But what happens after your post is relegated to the archives? It’s unlikely someone will spend hours just wondering through your archived posts. Instead, they’ll likely discover your “great content” via one of the search engines. OK, only one search engine: Google.
With this in mind, you need to massage your post’s title so that it can go to work for you in Google’s search results.

Stage Two – Your Google readers
That cryptic, enticing post title you used to attract your initial readers isn’t going to cut-it when it comes to attracting Google search engine users. Sure, you want your post title to entice a click from the SERP (search engine results page) but if your post is sitting on page 10–and not page 1–it doesn’t matter how engaging your post title. In stage two, you need to give your post title the Google-juice it needs to make the first SERP.

Add keywords to your title – you should have already included a relevant keyword that appeals to the human “keyword scanners.” Now that it’s Googleblot scanning your post title, it’s time to pump-up your keyword count. Now, don’t go overboard and add half a dozen keywords to your post titles–you want the title to remain targeted and enticing–but you should look for opportunities to include additional keywords. Compare this before, and after post title. Before: “Ten Ways to Avoid a Google Reputation Management Nightmare.” After: “Ten Ways to Fix Your Google Reputation & Remove Negative Results.” Both are engaging, both convey the same meaning. Yet, the revised title removes keywords that are not likely to be Googled such as “avoid” and “nightmare,” while adding keywords that are searched often, such as “fix” and “remove negative results.”

Change the word order – I always try to take into consideration my potential Google ranking, when writing my post titles. However, there are many times when I see my post sitting at #11 on Google, because the word order I used–while appealing to my initial audience–isn’t doing me any favors in the SERPs. So, like a good optimizer, I go back and change the word order so that the beneficial keywords are closer to the beginning of the title (which is where Google prefers to see them). Here’s a before: “26 Free Tools for Buzz Monitoring.” And after: “Buzz Monitoring: 26 Free Buzz Tracking Tools.” (Notice I also added the keyword “buzz tracking” to the title).
Optimize your TITLE – When you first publish your blog posts, you’ll likely want your TITLE (aka title tag) to match your actual post title. Once you start focusing on your Google audience, it might make sense to tweak your page TITLE so that it’s even more optimized than your post title (side note: most blog software will simply match your page TITLE to your post title). If you’re using WordPress, consider installing the SEO Title Tag plugin to do just that! I don’t use it on Marketing Pilgrim, but on other blogs, I’ve found it a great way to further optimize my TITLE–which is what is displayed in Google’s SERP.

Don’t play with slugs – I’ll write more on the topic of page “slugs” (aka permalinks) but I’d be negligent if I didn’t warn here that, while you should change your post title, changing the actual page slug is to be avoided.

I hope you’ll find the above tactics to be fruitful in your quest to increase both initial, and Google-referred, visitors to your blog. I’ve got plenty more tips I can share, so let me know what you think and if you’d like to read more blog promotion tips.

Thanks to:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Buzz Marketing Explained

Put the Buzz in Viral Marketing

Buzz marketing is just a twenty first century spin on the family or friend endorsement of a product. The good old "tell two friends, who tell two friends and so on” is now the buzz marketing campaign that can reach millions at the click of a mouse button.

The buzz technique is not new, it just is magnified and sped up with the intervention of the internet. Social media platforms such as Facebook, twitter, MySpace, have changed the pace of the buzz marketing.

Web blogs originally were a place to up date current events with family and friends. Now marketing campaigns are steadfastly ingrained in blogs and twitter feeds are used to drive traffic to the blog so that product can be sold.

Previously, endorsement of items was done for products that people liked. Now people get paid to endorse products and have them mentioned in twitter feeds and Facebook.

Keep the Mentions Buzzing

Developing and maintaining a marketing campaign is big business. It is important to have an advertising campaign that brings attention to the product and doesn’t get hidden in the myriad of other competitors. Buzz marketing brings awareness in an off hand and friendly way.

What is thought of as a friendly impromptu endorsement may be well rehearsed sales pitch by a trained customer service representative. These people study and follow a specific personal profile that will like the product. By selecting the correct people the blanket of buzz will continue to influence others.

A sample of this is how an unknown brand could rise to become a trend setter when paid agents would frequent trendy fashionable bars and order an unfamiliar brand all the while soothingly up-selling the brand to the barkeeper and other groovy locals. As a result, and the desire to be the trend setter, the unknown brands would grow into the mainstream.

How to Find the Buzzers

A correct stable of buzzers to draw from is the foundation of a successful buzz campaign. These people have skills to lead and influence others without them ever really knowing. They are trendy, hip and are one step ahead of their peers.

Each exchange is hoped to bring a new spin, a new user and more buzz to the product. From the outside it appears to be a serendipitous exchange of two people interested in the same things but the buzzers are really the purveyors of a well designed marketing campaign aimed for purpose of selling more products.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Small Business Trends in 2010

Small businesses need to make the most of every advertising dollar. Understanding what marketing trends will be most successful in 2010 can help your business soar above the competition, while ignoring those trends could leave you floundering.

Search engine optimization (SEO) continues to head the list of online marketing strategies. New aspects in 2010 include personalization and greater relevanceAs you develop your SEO strategy this year, dedicate some of your resources to developing content that targets niche audiences. You’ll also want to keep your web content up to date since search engines will begin factoring publication dates, geo-locations, and social media content into their relevancy algorithms.

Social network marketing will continue to rise in popularity in 2010, but you’ll need to fine tune your strategy in order to use it to best advantage. It will no longer be sufficient to maintain a Facebook or Twitter page. You’ll need to take the next step and use it as a vibrant forum in which to engage current and potential customers in meaningful conversations.

Mobile marketing has exploded and continues to rise in popularity. More people now have access to cell phones than to cable TV or home computersSmall businesses need to take advantage of this burgeoning market by creating mobile apps and by instituting location-based marketing techniques

Video blogs are the blogging method of choice in 2010. Millions of web users view online videos each day, and while video blogging may not replace the text version, still, companies can expect an increase in the number of viewers who want more than pages of text about their products.

Videos are highly shareable, and are more interactive than text; consequently, they have the potential to attract more loyal groups of followers than the more traditional written blogs.
Building your web presence should be a key leg of your online marketing platform in 2010. It’s no longer sufficient to maintain your website, Facebook page, and Twitter page. You’ll want to make your website visible in as many venues as possible including blogs, Youtube, Yelp profiles, and email newsletters.

For instance, videos that appear on your website but nowhere else online will fail to reach a large portion of your target audience due to the web user’s tendency to search one centralized site such as Youtube for any videos on a given topic. If your video doesn’t appear on Youtube, then for that viewer it may as well not exist.

Online marketing trends in 2010 will expand on the succession of new marketing outlets that appeared in 2009. Using your advertising dollars effectively means putting them towards the venues that will produce the most return on your investment rather than continuing to invest in trends that may be dying out.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Glossary of Internet Marketing Terms

Ad Click : Number of times a particular ad is clicked.

Ad Views : Also known as impressions. The number of times an ad is viewed by a browser. If an ad is blocked by a firewall or web filter and not seen by the consumer, but the browser attempted to attain the information, often the ad is considered viewed even though it was not.

Bandwidth : The amount of information that can be sent at a time through an Internet connection. This is often also referred to by a host ISP as how much total information can be sent in a month from your website to visitors to your website.

B2B – Business-to-Business: This often refers to a retain business working with an advertising or e-commerce business.

Banner : An advertisement on a webpage, similar to a yellow page ad, except it usually contains a link to the advertising page.

Broad Keywords: These are very general keywords that are searched often. Many times are searched for information purposes as much as purchasing reasons. For some sites and keywords, these can convert well enough to have a positive ROI, but in general they don’t have the conversion rate of the other keyword types. (i.e. travel, real estate)

Browser: The program used to view WebPages. (i.e. Netscape, Internet Explorer, Opera)

Browser Caching : Often a browser will store WebPages in temporary folders on your computer to aid in surfing speed. When someone revisits your webpage and they have a cached version, they will view the old page instead of the new one (there are some metatags and browser settings that will prevent this) leading to your website being undercounted in total page views and visitors.

Click : When you right click on a hyperlink or follow a link to another webpage you have “clicked” the link.

Click Through : Most often referred to as a percentage. The amount of times an ad or link was viewed and then clicked on. If an ad was viewed 100 times and clicked on 10 times its click through rate is 10%.

Cloaking: Also known as a Cloaked Page or a Stealth Page.

Cookie: A small text file placed on your hard drive to store information about the site you visited. They usually have two purposes. One is to track visitors and how often they come back to a webpage or how long they stay on a website. The second is to store your preferences about a website so when you revisit the site your preferences are viewed instead of that websites default view.

CPC – Cost per click: Often referred to for PPC accounts. It is the amount of money paid each time a visitor clicks on a link.

CPM : Cost per 1000 impressions. This refers to ad impressions and how much it costs the advertiser every time an ad is displayed 1000 times.

Direct Keywords: These keywords are directly related to your products or services. They usually include a descriptive term. These keywords make up the bulk of most campaigns, and usually have a positive ROI. They are not searched for as often as broad keywords, so sometimes a campaign can be helped by the increased exposure from broad keywords. (i.e. Mexico travel, Pennsylvania real estate)

Domain Name : The Internet address of a website. For example, iDjinni’s domain name is

DTC – Direct to Consumer: is a term often applied to advertising targeted at consumers and not businesses.

Doorway Page: Also known as a Gateway page, it is a page specifically made to rank high in search engines. There are legitimate ways to use this technique (see FAQ Do we use Doorway Pages). Often pages made with Flash coding or a lot of Java are unindexable by search engines and thus need a corresponding page for search engines to index.

E-mail : Also known as electronic mail, it is the transmission of a file from one communication network to another. It is the most common form of communication on the Internet.

Flash : A type of coding generally used for animated graphics.

G: Short for Google

Hit : Each time a page is loaded, it receives one hit. If a page contains two images, the server logs will indicate one page and two image hits. This is used to measure the amount of traffic pages receive.

Host: A machine that is connected to the Internet. It usually refers to a machine that “hosts” or contains code or programs that are accessible by others connected to the Internet, the most common code or program is a webpage

HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language: This is the base language used to build WebPages.

Hypertext: Also known as a Link, it is text or an image that can be clicked on to call up another document or another section within the same document.

Impressions : This often refers to every time an advertisement is viewed. When one document calls for an ad to be viewed (usually weather is it actually viewed or not) one impression is recorded. See also CPM.

IP Address – Internet Protocol Address: Each machine connected to the Internet has its own address reflected in numbers. For ease of use, most people use a domain name instead of the IP address. However, over time these terms have been mistakenly interchanged.

ISP – Internet Service Provider: This refers to a machine that provides people a way to connect to the Internet. When you dial into the net, your modem is connecting to your ISP. Once you are connected, you can access the Internet.

JAVA : A general programming language, similar to C++ developed by Sun Microsystems. It can be used to add various features to a webpage when viewed through a JAVA enabled browser.

JAVA enabled browser: Referring to a browser that supports the JAVA language. Some browsers need a special plug-in to allow JAVA to be viewed. Also, when changing the security functions of a browser, you are often changing if JAVA can be viewed by your browser or how the JAVA language is handled.

Keywords: Words entered into a search engine to form a query.

KW: Short for keywords

Link : Refers to Hypertext, it is text or an image that can be clicked on to call up another document or another section within the same document.

Log File: A file that contains information about past actions. The most commonly referred to Log File is whenever a webpage is viewed the hosting machine logs the documents that are requested.

Meta Tags : HTML coding that gives information about a webpage.

Negative Keywords: These are filtering words. If your keywords contain a negative keyword, and that word is included in a search term, your ad will not show. (i.e. If your Google AdWords keyword list looks like: Blue Widget-fuzzy (the – sign meaning negative inside an AdWords account)

A search done for blue widget would show your ad, a search for green blue widget would show your ad, but a search for fuzzy blue widget would not show your ad because it contains a negative keyword.

Niche Keywords: These keywords are highly specific, but have low search rates. They usually have the highest ROI and conversion rates among all keywords in a campaign. Often, there are not enough niche keywords to only rely on these to make up a campaign as there just are not enough searches done in a month for them to sustain a business. They are a nice addition to direct keywords as they usually have a lower bid price. (i.e. Mexico city vacation packages, Philadelphia real estate)

Opt-in: Usually referring to e-mail, it is when permission is given to send e-mail (often newsletters and email advertisements) to a specific email address.

OV: Short for Overture (now called Yahoo Search Marketing)

Page Views : The number of times a particular web page was viewed. A website is generally made up of multiple pages.

Portal : A website that has links to a multitude of links organized by categories.

PPC – Pay-Per-Click: The amount a website pays another company when someone clicks from one website to the advertising website.

ROI – Return on Investment: ROI generally stands for the amount of profit made from an advertising campaign versus the amount spent on the campaign.

Search Engine: A website that indexes other websites and when a search is performed, queries its database about the search and shows the most relevant websites.

Server: See Host.

Spider: A program that indexes WebPages and follows links on WebPages to find other WebPages to index. This is the most common way a search engine updates and adds to its database of WebPages.

Sticky: A term used to describe websites that visitors spend a long time viewing. A website with search capacity or in depth content pages is generally more sticky than one without such features as a visitor may spend time searching the site and reading articles.

Unique Visitors: The number of different people who visit a site over a given time frame. If three people visit the site, and two of them return later. The site has five hits, but only three unique visitors.

URL – Uniform Resource Locator: It is the exact address of a webpage. URLs are generally shown as links on WebPages.

Visits: The total number of hits a particular page, often referred to as visits per month. If three people visit a website, and two come back within the month, that page got five total visits that month.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MarketingProfs Articles : Move Over, Night Rider

We like to emphasize that mobile is probably the most personalized technology available so far in the 21st century. And these days, finding ways to incorporate yourself into users' daily rituals is crucial to maximizing brand exposure on their up-close-and-personal handhelds. That's one reason for taking a look at GM's new OnStar mobile app for the Chevy Volt. Although the media of late present few reasons to love GM, this is one: The logic behind this saucy new tool is right on.

Here's why: The Chevy Volt is capable of running up to 40 miles on electricity alone before tapping into its gas reserves. The Onstar app lets users track the car's battery life, displaying voltage (120V or 240V), miles per gallon, electric-only miles and odometer readings.

Cooler still, you can actually control aspects of the Volt with your phone: Set it to "charge" mode when electricity rates are low, or remotely start the engine so the interior is at your temperature of choice well before you climb in. Owners also have the option of receiving email/text notifications for when the car needs charging!

Director of Marketing for the Volt Maria Rohrer says the application is tailored to "a very tech-savvy early-adopter, someone who revels in telling their friends how to use technology, an educator who has energy and the income to spend on high technology."

The Volt OnStar mobile application is available for the iPhone, BlackBerry Storm and Motorola Droid. You can also use it from a browser if your phone is Internet-ready.

Marketers note: We suspect that electric-car drivers also tend to be smartphone users, making this the perfect marriage of practical usability and cool-factor. It's a match made in Detroit!

The Po!nt: Fit a toy to a trend. Dig deep into your demo to spot intersections of interest crying out for a new app. Then design away!

If you're not already a MarketingProfs Pro Member, Upgrade Your Membership and gain instant access to hundreds of exclusive, cutting-edge articles, case studies, templates, tools, online seminars, research, and how-to guides to make your marketing smarter and more effective.

Challenges in Affiliate Marketing

Life is full of Challenges

A person who succeed here is a person who loves challenges. Affiliate Marketing is an opportunity for those people who are imaginative and love challenges. If you want to make money quick, this is not an opportunity you are going to relish. Statistics shows that 90 percent of those affiliates make less that 100 dollars per month. Most of these affiliates make loss.

What are the Challenges that we face as an affiliate? The Challenge begins from searching for a merchant. Finding a great product sell itself is a challenge. If you want to copy the success of other affiliates, you will not succeed here. You must choose a product that will be successful in the target market. If you fail in this first step you will not succeed. Remember quick money programs will not get you anywhere. Knowledge accumulated through experience is the key.

Once you have a product, your next challenge is ready to greet you. A marketing plan is necessary to sell this product. How will you do it? It is a difficult task. An affiliate must burn lot of his night oil in this. Having a right kind of strategy is the key here. If you have a website with good traffic you have a beginning. You can employ lot of different marketing strategies. Most affiliates base their affiliate marketing strategy on PPC. Pay per click programs like Google adwords, Yahoo search marketing serve their purpose. I have seen Top affiliates promote their products using articles. It is free and a valid promotion technique. If you are ready to spend some time promoting this articles you have a starting point. If you are a beginner forums and blogs are also a starting point. But do not spam forums and blogs as it will not help you at all.

Classifieds and Yahoo answer is considered as a genuine opportunity to sell your products too. You can follow this strategy too. Once you have a Product and a marketing strategy you are on track. Here you must make calculations and strategies based on the sales and amount spent on these campaigns. You must be on your toes because more money spent on PPC campaigns will wipe away the profit you make selling affiliate products.

You will learn the strategies with experience. A good affiliate is a person who will tread carefully in the beginning to unleash all his potential once he amassed enough experience. So begin your career carefully as an affiliate and progress with experience.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Benefits and Challenges of Email Marketing

According to a survey, conducted by Hurwitz & Associates for Ontario-based email marketing service provider Campaigner (a solution of Software-as-a-Service communication services and solutions company Protus), almost half of North American small businesses use email marketing today.

Campaigner’s “2009 State of Small Business Online Marketing Survey” found that 46% of small businesses surveyed rely on email marketing to help them find new customers, keep existing ones and grow their businesses. Hurwitz & Associates gathered responses from 259 North American businesses with 1 to 20 employees.

Furthermore the report reveals that 36% of the surveyed small businesses plan to start using email marketing in the coming year.

Despite the growing confidence in using email marketing, both current users and those that plan to use email marketing view spam as the biggest barrier or potential barrier to successful email marketing.

When questioned about their concerns in designing and executing email marketing campaigns, respondents reported the following top challenges:

  1. Concerns that my customers will view email marketing as spamming
  2. Too many email campaigns are filtered out by spam filters
  3. Poor response rates

Survey respondents cited the following as their top criteria for choosing an email marketing provider:

  1. Ease-of-use
  2. Quality of customer support
  3. Price

When asked more detailed questions about email marketing, small business owners cited the following as top benefits:

  1. Inexpensive/effective way to reach out to new prospects and customers
  2. Generates a fast response so I can tell if a campaign is working
  3. Effective way to build customer loyalty

Newsletters, sales and promotional offers and announcements are the most common ways small businesses said they are using email marketing.

Campaigner also released a second report about email marketing in small businesses, called “Small Businesses Put Email Marketing to Work” that looks at small business adoption, plans, use and requirements for email marketing solutions. Both reports are free and available for download here. Get more info on this topic at


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Online Marketing: Answer it First

We hear the questions businesses ask: How do I increase my sales or leads? How do I get more traffic to my site? How do I get better search engine rankings? How do I get fewer customers to abandon their shopping carts? What do I do with all this data I’m getting from my analytics software?

These are important questions.

Ask a Bigger Question

What makes people buy? When you focus on this question, all the subsequent details fall much more easily into place. This is not a word game; it’s a change in perspective. Without a proper strategy, you can win every battle and still lose the war.

Tactics: The Unspoken Assumptions

Whenever businesses tackle optimization, site design or redesign, they start with a set of assumptions. Very often, these assumptions depend on a granular, detail-oriented view of the problem as the business sees it (from the perspective of the business, not the customer). Very often, the problem is couched in the language of “best practices”, a series of tactics. However, to paraphrase Sun Tzu, tactics applied without strategy are the noise before defeat.

Asking a “bigger question” broadens your view of your situation beyond the details; bigger questions often lead you to reevaluate your strategies, which in turn allows you to devise more effective tactics. The critical answers to these bigger questions—the answers that meet your specific needs—can only from you.

7 Online Marketing Challenges & How to Frame Them as Bigger Questions

Here’s a list of the top seven challenges clients put to us, with their variations. We reframe them through bigger questions to target the deeper issues that influence your marketing effectiveness.

1. “We need to reach more people.”

Sometimes you simply need to reach more people. You need to improve your search engine rankings; you need to add more keywords to your search engine marketing; you need to find new or more places to advertise; you need to grow your list; you need to advertise offline; you need viral marketing; you need to increase the number of links to your site; you need to add or modify an affiliate program, and other variations on this theme.

Bigger questions to explore and ask yourself:

  • Are enough of the people coming to our website sufficiently satisfied with what we present that they buy, or does our presentation damage our reputation and create an impediment to buying?
  • Are enough of the people who buy from us sufficiently delighted to purchase again, are we wasting resources by driving new traffic?
  • Do we provide enough of the right information for people to return even when they are not ready to buy right now
  • Are we focused more on marketing to the search engines or marketing to the people who visit our site?

2. “We need to reach better people.”

Sometimes you simply need to reach better people. You need to target more appropriate publications; you need to select better keywords; you need to source better lists; you need to find more qualified buyers; you need to reach your competitor’s customers; you need to reach people when they are ready to buy; you need the right content to attract search engine traffic, and other variations on this theme.

Bigger questions to explore and ask yourself:

  • If we reach those people, do we have relevant content for them when they are in the early, middle and late stages of their buying process
  • Is our offering so narrow that there are too few “better” people?
  • Does the buyer only identify the need and buy on a very short time horizon, such that we need to find them before they have the need?
  • Is the message we’ve been telling the “wrong” people strong enough for them to reach out and tell the “better” people?

3. “We need more resources.”

Sometimes you simply need more resources. You need more money; your need enough time; you need the right consultant; you need better-skilled people; you need the right talent; you need the right vendor; you need to justify your opportunity costs, and other variations on this theme.

Bigger questions to explore and ask yourself:

  • Do our priorities and goals match our resource allocations?
  • Do we commit our resources based on predicted rates of return?
  • Do we hold people accountable for those returns when allocating new resources?
  • If we don’t have the resources or time to do it correctly now, when will we have the resources or time; when, exactly, will we commit to do it?

4. “We need better testing and usability.”

Sometimes you simply need better testing and usability. You need to make it easy to buy from you; you need to make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for; you need to make it easy to checkout; you need to get feedback from visitors; you need to set up tests and watch how visitors vote with their mice; you need to test to isolate which variables are most important to your visitors; you need to test to see which offers work best, and variations on this theme.

Bigger questions to explore and ask yourself:

  • What motivates people to buy even when sites aren’t usability-friendly?
  • If usability is the only critical factor, why haven’t conversion rates improved in any meaningful way over the last five years, when attention to usability has increased dramatically?
  • What if what we’re testing is only what we can think of, but the problem lies in what we haven’t thought of yet; which variables are truly significant and which are not?
  • How do we know that pages further up or down the click-stream don’t affect the test we are conducting on one page?
  • Do our scientific tests include an hypothesis of the outcome, a theory for why we expect the outcome and a statistically meaningful sample size so we can validate or refute our hypothesis and learn from the results; can we apply that learning more broadly to other situations?
  • Would different click-through paths for different audience segments give us a cumulatively higher conversion than the best average conversion?

5. “We need to redesign.”

Sometimes you simply need to redesign. You need to scrap what isn’t working for you; you need more persuasive copy; you need more persuasive or illustrative images; you need to refresh your company image; you need to update your technology; you’ve added so many pieces to the original design that you need to reconceive it, and variations on this theme.

Bigger questions to explore and ask yourself:

  • Do we need a redesign or do we need to make what we have work
  • Why will the redesigned site better serve visitors?
  • How, exactly, will the redesigned site better serve visitors?
  • Why are the best-converting sites so often boring in their design?
  • Will our redesign incorporate a scientific testing methodology that will allow us to optimize click-streams based on a prediction of how different audience segments will engage with the site?

6. “We need better metrics.”

Sometimes you simply need better metrics. You need to measure the impact on conversion of the elements on your website; you need a good web analytics program; you need to turn your data into wisdom so you can act upon it; you need to measure whether your predictions were correct; you need to identify what campaigns, keywords, elements and audience segments give you the best return on your investment, and variations on this theme.

Bigger questions to explore and ask yourself:

  • How can we better implement the web analytics program we are currently; do we understand how the data we collect impacts our financial statements?
  • Are our metrics based on the way we set up our website to sell or on our visitors’ buying cycles and buying modalities?
  • Do our metrics help us refine our website to meet visitor expectations?
  • Have we identified and planned an intentional path so that metrics can help us separate the signal from the noise or is our analysis an attempt to divine order from randomness?

7. “We need a better Conversion Rate.”

Sometimes you simply need a better conversion rate. You need a better return on investment on your traffic; you need to remove obstacles to conversion; you need to plug the holes in your leaky bucket; you need to reduce shopping cart abandonment; you need visitors to complete more lead generation forms; you need more business, and variations on this theme.

Bigger questions to explore and ask yourself:

  • How does our conversion rate affect our advertising and promotional budget?
  • If we could attract a drastically reduced audience that converts better, we’ve increased our conversion rate. Are we prepared to reduce our conversion rate if we can generate more sales at an acceptable return on investment?
  • If what we are offering is good, what are all the potential reasons why someone wouldn’t convert today, in 30 days, in 60 days, etc.?
  • What is the percentage of visitors we would expect to lose to each of our potential reasons?
  • After identifying all the potential reasons why someone wouldn’t convert, if we can’t justify why our conversion rate is less than 20%, why would we set our goals so much lower than that?
  • Is it possible that the strategy that helps you increase the average conversion rate isn’t the strategy that would produce the most overall sales or best results?
  • Would different click-through paths for different audience segments give us a cumulatively higher conversion than the best average conversion?

Meeting your challenges

Time and again we have learned that the answers to these bigger questions, which depend on a critical appraisal and an intimate knowledge of the business, its marketplace, its audience and its objectives, make the difference when it comes to being successful online.

You can tackle these bigger questions yourself. Objectivity and being able to see outside the box that defines your current situation will best serve the quality of your answers.

What happens if you don’t want to rethink your challenges or to identify more effective marketing solutions? Things stay the same, and you never realize your potential.

What happens if you’re unsure how to, or can’t, rethink your challenges?

Well, that’s why we’re here!

Thanks to the author: Jeffrey Eisenberg

He is founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark. Original Copy of article available at:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Marketing Plan

Firms that are successful in marketing invariably start with a marketing plan. Large companies have plans with hundreds of pages; small companies can get by with a half-dozen sheets. Put your marketing plan in a three-ring binder. Refer to it at least quarterly, but better yet monthly. Leave a tab for putting in monthly reports on sales/manufacturing; this will allow you to track performance as you follow the plan.

The plan should cover one year. For small companies, this is often the best way to think about marketing. Things change, people leave, markets evolve, customers come and go. Later on we suggest creating a section of your plan that addresses the medium-term future--two to four years down the road. But the bulk of your plan should focus on the coming year.

You should allow yourself a couple of months to write the plan, even if it's only a few pages long. Developing the plan is the "heavy lifting" of marketing. While executing the plan has its challenges, deciding what to do and how to do it is marketing's greatest challenge. Most marketing plans kick off with the first of the year or with the opening of your fiscal year if it's different.

Who should see your plan? All the players in the company. Firms typically keep their marketing plans very, very private for one of two very different reasons: Either they're too skimpy and management would be embarrassed to have them see the light of day, or they're solid and packed with information . . . which would make them extremely valuable to the competition.

You can't do a marketing plan without getting many people involved. No matter what your size, get feedback from all parts of your company: finance, manufacturing, personnel, supply and so on--in addition to marketing itself. This is especially important because it will take all aspects of your company to make your marketing plan work. Your key people can provide realistic input on what's achievable and how your goals can be reached, and they can share any insights they have on any potential, as-yet-unrealized marketing opportunities, adding another dimension to your plan. If you're essentially a one-person management operation, you'll have to wear all your hats at one time--but at least the meetings will be short!

What's the relationship between your marketing plan and your business plan or vision statement? Your business plan spells out what your business is about--what you do and don't do, and what your ultimate goals are. It encompasses more than marketing; it can include discussions of locations, staffing, financing, strategic alliances and so on. It includes "the vision thing," the resounding words that spell out the glorious purpose of your company in stirring language. Your business plan is the U.S. Constitution of your business: If you want to do something that's outside the business plan, you need to either change your mind or change the plan. Your company's business plan provides the environment in which your marketing plan must flourish. The two documents must be consistent.

A marketing plan, on the other hand, is plump with meaning. It provides you with several major benefits. Let's review them.

  • Rallying point: Your marketing plan gives your troops something to rally behind. You want them to feel confident that the captain of the vessel has the charts in order, knows how to run the ship, and has a port of destination in mind. Companies often undervalue the impact of a "marketing plan" on their own people, who want to feel part of a team engaged in an exciting and complicated joint endeavor. If you want your employees to feel committed to your company, it's important to share with them your vision of where the company is headed in the years to come. People don't always understand financial projections, but they can get excited about a well-written and well-thought-out marketing plan. You should consider releasing your marketing plan--perhaps in an abridged version--companywide. Do it with some fanfare and generate some excitement for the adventures to come. Your workers will appreciate being involved.
  • Chart to success: We all know that plans are imperfect things. How can you possibly know what's going to happen 12 months or five years from now? Isn't putting together a marketing plan an exercise in futility . . . a waste of time better spent meeting with customers or fine-tuning production? Yes, possibly but only in the narrowest sense. If you don't plan, you're doomed, and an inaccurate plan is far better than no plan at all. To stay with our sea captain analogy, it's better to be 5 or even 10 degrees off your destination port than to have no destination in mind at all. The point of sailing, after all, is to get somewhere, and without a marketing plan, you'll wander the seas aimlessly, sometimes finding dry land but more often than not floundering in a vast ocean. Sea captains without a chart are rarely remembered for discovering anything but the ocean floor.
  • Company operational instructions: Your child's first bike and your new VCR came with a set of instructions, and your company is far more complicated to put together and run than either of them. Your marketing plan is a step-by-step guide for your company's success. It's more important than a vision statement. To put together a genuine marketing plan, you have to assess your company from top to bottom and make sure all the pieces are working together in the best way. What do you want to do with this enterprise you call the company in the coming year? Consider it a to-do list on a grand scale. It assigns specific tasks for the year.
  • Captured thinking: You don't allow your financial people to keep their numbers in their heads. Financial reports are the lifeblood of the numbers side of any business, no matter what size. It should be no different with marketing. Your written document lays out your game plan. If people leave, if new people arrive, if memories falter, if events bring pressure to alter the givens, the information in the written marketing plan stays intact to remind you of what you'd agreed on.
  • Top-level reflection: In the daily hurly-burly of competitive business, it's hard to turn your attention to the big picture, especially those parts that aren't directly related to the daily operations. You need to take time periodically to really think about your business--whether it's providing you and your employees with what you want, whether there aren't some innovative wrinkles you can add, whether you're getting all you can out of your products, your sales staff and your markets. Writing your marketing plan is the best time to do this high-level thinking. Some companies send their top marketing people away to a retreat. Others go to the home of a principal. Some do marketing plan development at a local motel, away from phones and fax machines, so they can devote themselves solely to thinking hard and drawing the most accurate sketches they can of the immediate future of the business.

Ideally, after writing marketing plans for a few years, you can sit back and review a series of them, year after year, and check the progress of your company. Of course, sometimes this is hard to make time for (there is that annoying real world to deal with), but it can provide an unparalleled objective view of what you've been doing with your business life over a number of years.

Source: The Small Business Encyclopedia and Knock-Out Marketing.

Thanks to:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Brand Recognition

Brands can be on a business level, like the name of your business, or on a product and service level. An excellent example would be General Motors - which is a company brand - and they have line brands, like Chevrolet or Buick, and individual cars are branded as well, like the famous Corvette.

Those brands are indelible in our minds because of extensive branding strategies by General Motors. Is your business and product line branded as strongly? Your business should be branded strongly.

Here are the 5 levels of brand recognition and how you can build your business to improve it:

1. Brand rejection If someone associates your brand with something negative, they will purposely avoid your product. Have you ever experienced bad service somewhere and swore you'd never return to that chain? Have any of your customers said that about your business? Create a logo and slogan that is filled with great benefits to your customer and put that on everything. If public opinion is turning against you or your product, launch a campaign to alter it.

2. Brand non-recognition This is where your customers simply don't recognize your brand, probably because it is not clearly differentiated from competitors. Boldly state your product or service's benefits. Always include the full trademark name whenever you refer to your product. Be willing to create brand names for your products or services, just like you've done for your own business. Find the differences in value between your product and your competitors and highlight that difference mercilessly.

3. Brand recognition This is a good stage to aim for if you don't have any recognition at all. Brand recognition will help people lean toward your product when given the choice between your product and one they have never heard of. At the same time, though remember that your competitors are also working on brand recognition, which means their brand could be more recognizable. Continue to differentiate yourself and be sure to add value to your product in order to get to the next stage.

4. Brand preference This is where customers - given a choice between two brands - will choose yours over someone else's. It often is the result of a sense of differentiation and that your product or service uniquely serves their needs. As well, you can be sure that any value-added products or services you include help them to choose yours over your competitors. Even though this is a great stage to be in, it's not the final stage. The stage you absolutely want to be in with your brand is!

5. Brand loyalty This is where customers will choose your brand time and time again, even if they experience the occasional poor service or if another product comes along that seems to be better suited to their needs. To achieve brand loyalty, you need to provide a product that is highly differentiated, with plenty of value added, but also you need to offer them remarkable service at a level they will not get anywhere else. Providing this level of service will ensure that they will never switch.

Make it a point to start branding right away. Your new business should be branded from Day One, and the products or services you offer can be branded as well. If you have a few services, consider packaging them together as one package and branding that package.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mass Marketing Explained

Mass marketing is the maximum exposure of product advertising to consumers. It's the opposite of niche marketing where the idea is to advertise and market products to specific target markets. A target market is a segment of consumers identified through research to be the most likely to buy a particular product. In mass marketing, products that many people want or need such as soda, toothpaste, bread and household cleaners are advertised to a large audience.

Mass communication is crucial in successfully reaching large consumer audiences. The origin of mass marketing is the latter part of the 20th century when new technologies such as television and radio became immensely popular in society. For the first time, advertisers were able to reach wide audiences of people with each advertising message. Products that most people needed or wanted could be advertised to that large general market through the medium of broadcasting. Advertising is always done through specific communication channels to reach consumers; broadcast technology is the channel used by mass marketing.

For example, products advertised during national television programs reach consumers in entire countries. As long as these products are available countrywide, advertising to such a huge demographic is considered successful marketing strategy. Consumers seeing products advertised on television commercials are more likely to choose them over similar store products that weren't promoted. Showing television viewers the actual product and communicating benefits such as getting sparkling white teeth by using Brand X toothpaste has been shown to increase sales of advertised products. As the commercials are repeated, the repetition through broadcasting helps to create brand recognition.

Brand recognition occurs when consumers recognize a product through its packaging, name and promoted benefits. Consumers seeing a new product advertised that appeals to them are likely to add it to their shopping list. Mass marketing also works to inspire brand loyalty by reminding consumers of the benefits of a product over competing products. Through repeated product advertising, advertisers hope consumers will continue to purchase the item. Through mass marketing strategy, brand managers create a wide appeal for their products to match the wide scope of their audience.
Mass marketing is also called undifferentiated marketing since the typical strategies of reaching different market segments aren't used. In differentiated marketing, at least two different market segments are targeted. Each segment is reached through unique promotional strategies. This type of market concentration can be extremely effective in creating product sales, but it's more expensive than mass marketing.

Thanks to:

Marketing Myopia Explained

Marketing myopia is unnecessarily common among business people. It is not seeing 'down the road'. Many business people make their decisions based on current circumstances.

They do not think about what will likely occur in their industry in the future. One reason that short sightedness is so common is that people feel that they can not accurately predict the future.

They are right, of course. But just because we cannot accurately predict the future, that is no reason why we should not use the whole range of business prediction techniques available to us to estimate future circumstances as best we can.

The term was coined by Theodore Levitt in the 1960s.

People who focus on marketing strategy, various predictive techniques, and the customer's lifetime value can rise above myopia. This can entail the use of long-term profit objectives (sometimes at the risk of sacrificing short term objectives).

Thanks to: