In this post, I will reveal the crucial rules that I believe that all Internet marketers should follow because they will always bring results. Unlike other ebooks, this one won’t attempt to stuff you into a rigid template.
Instead, I will simply tell you what will work without mixing it with stuff that “might work” in certain situations. At the end of the day, all of it will help you to improve your mindset, your business, your relationships with your customers, and your bottomline.
Part 1: Preparation Rules of Internet Marketing
Preparation Rule #1: Maintain a ‘To-Do’ List
Since you’re frequently working on your computer, it is very easy to drift off into other activities at the same time you work. You might think you’re really accomplishing a lot, but if you were to back-track your day, you might learn that you had actually spent 3 to 4 hours surfing the web aimlessly; and another 1 hour checking sports scores or watching YouTube videos.
This is precisely why it is important to keep tabs on things you need to do. You can do this with a calendar, with a simple to do list, or however you think is best. The most important thing is that you keep track of all tasks that you need to do.
Why is this good idea? Because it gives you something to do the minute you get distracted. Instead of wandering off further, you’ll remember that you have something important to do; and you’ll get on top of it, rather than letting things slide.
When it comes to “to do” lists, there are good and bad items to add. I personally suggest that you try to break everything up into very small parts, so that each individual task seems easy. This will reduce your resistance to starting each of these tasks, which will make it easy for you to fill your day with them, rather than becoming bored or wasting time.
So keep yourself on a tight schedule, create goals for your daily accomplishments, and make sure that you always have many small, but important tasks you can do whenever things get slow during the day.
Preparation Rule #2: Learn to be Patient
As I said in the introduction, the keys to success in Internet marketing aren’t all entirely practical. Some are primarily philosophical. In particular, this rule is philosophical, but will bring you a great deal of success if you can actually follow it.
So what it is? Learn to be patient. You can start doing this today by lowering your expectations.
Want to become a millionaire by tomorrow? Practice patience by cutting that down to a more reasonable figure. Expect only $500,000 by tomorrow.
When you realize how ridiculous it sounds not be satisfied with $500,000 by tomorrow, cut it down further. Chop it down to $250,000; and then $100,000; and then something reasonable.
The sooner you can accept that you won’t become rich tomorrow, the sooner you can give up on your wild dreams and start making real, intelligent, well-thought out business plans that can truly offer you the hope of one day having a thriving, successful business that could indeed make you a millionaire.
So, as stupid, simple, and trite as it sounds, learn how to practice patience. Don’t become overwhelmed by wild aspirations; and feel the pressure to succeed immediately. Instead, be patient and lay the foundations of a real business that provides true value to customers.
Preparation Rule #3: Do Not Overwork
You’ve already heard the other side of this story: work hard and you’ll get ahead. But there’s something else you should take into consideration: if you work too hard, you’ll become burned out, dull, uncreative, and uninspiring to those you encounter.
In short, working hard can work against you. So instead of staying up until 4am, pounding away at meaningless tasks, give yourself time to replenish your energy, think creatively, take a walk, see the people you are most important in your life, and enjoy things other than work.
If you don’t do this, you’ll soon find yourself as many new Internet marketers do: feeling purposeless and without any success—feeling like the amount of work you put in cannot be justified by the results and that the entire enterprise of Internet marketing is not worthwhile.
So save yourself the heartache, lost sleep, stress, and feelings of hopelessness. Put a cap on your work hours, take breaks, and don’t wear yourself out.
I would like to end Part 1 with a my post here. It briefly explains what it takes to undertake your journey with Internet Marketing:
Part 2: Crucial Rules of Internet Marketing
Crucial Rule #1: Copy Successful Business Models
The most important rule of all: Don’t re-invent the wheel!
One of the best parts of Internet marketing is that it is relatively easy to observe & copy other business models. No only can you see what other business owners are doing in your niche, but you can carefully pick it apart by reading their salesletters, signing up for their lists, following their forum discussions, observing their product launches, and back-tracking the sources of their traffic.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s break this down, step-by-step. Let’s examine each of these methods more closely.
Method #1: Salesletter
If your site is selling only one product, there’s a good chance that your marketing efforts amount to crafting a salesletter and then marketing it carefully. If you haven’t done this already, it’s a good idea to find out how competitors have approached this same challenge.
Start by going to www.clickbank.com. If you don’t have an account already, create one. Once you do that, search the directory for affiliate products within your niche. Sort the results by either “gravity” or “% referred.”
These two orderings will give you an idea of how successful affiliates have been pitching these products. If gravity or “% referred” scores are high, this implies that affiliates have had a great deal of success selling the product, which signals that its salespage is probably good.
Once you’ve selected the products you plan to observe, use a multi-tab browser to open up 4-5 of the associated pitch pages simultaneously. In addition to that, open up your own salespage in another tab.
Compare the work in the other salesletters to your own. Think about what you’re missing relative to their salesletters. Is it only traffic? Or is your salesletter missing important features?
For instance, are you missing testimonials? Or are you missing a catchy story that will bring in readers? Or, compared to your competitors, is your headline relatively weak? These are all things you must consider.
Method #2: Sign Up for Email Lists
Another great way to reverse engineer your competitors’ success is to sign up for their email lists. I’ve mentioned this several times earlier, but here, I’ll emphasize the features you should look for when you do this:
i. How frequently do they send out emails? Every two days? Every week? Every two weeks? Irregularly? This is important. The pace of emails will play an important role in determining how interested followers will be; and also whether or not they decide to opt-out.
ii. How frequently do they pitch to their list? This is also an important determinant of success. Pitching too frequently will turn off subscribers and will cause them to lose interest or unsubscribe. Not pitching frequently enough leaves a lot of money on the table.
iii. What methods do they use to monetize their list? Do they directly pitch through advertisements? Do they promote affiliate products? Do they send out reviews of existing products? Do they give away free books and reports that subtly promote their own products?
Once you complete this process, make some revisions to your own email list. Consider changing the spacing between emails, the amount of free content you give away, and the frequency with which you pitch to customers.
Method#3: Follow Forum Discussions
In Internet marketing—as well as many other niches—business owners own forums; and use them to communicate with buyers, prospective buyers, and subscription site members.
This is a great place to find out about the inner workings of a successful business model. Start by identifying relevant businesses. After you’ve done this, sign up for their forums, and a handful of their subscription sites. Follow discussions between members. Find out what it is that is causing these subscribers to come back; to maintain interest in the business; and to buy products. Also, look for what is not working: what are they complaining about? What are they seeking advice about? Where has your competitor left gaps that you can fill?
Method #4: Following Product Launches
If you’ve spent a lot of time as an Internet marketer, you’ve probably learned this important gem of wisdom: if you want to know what successful marketers REALLY do to make money, WATCH them, rather than listening to them.
Why do I say this? They might tell you all the important things you must do; and these might all be true, but there are many intangibles that come with a product launch that you simply cannot discern by reading
Fortunately, product launches happen every day. And these provide the most revealing record of how marketers make money. So, next time you hear that a big name marketer is launching a new product, think about how you can copy her launch process, rather than wondering whether you can afford her $500 ebook.
Important things to look for include the following: 1) the extent to which they use joint venture partnerships; 2) the extent to which they use affiliates; 3) whether or not they (or other people) are promoting them through PPC; 4) how they subtly make an attempt to gain the attention of forum-posters; and 5) what changes they make to their site in order to attract attention for the launch.
Method #5: Back-Tracking Traffic Sources
As with method #4, pay careful attention to how Internet marketers actually generate traffic, rather than how they say you should do it. You’ll probably find the following is true:
1. Successful Internet marketers receive more traffic from word of mouth than from attempts at traffic generation. What do I mean by this? If you look at most successful businesses, people search the business out because they’ve heard good things about it, rather than searching blindly and stumbling over it.
2. Viral marketing campaigns are an excellent tool for quickly inflating the size of a company, but they’re usually either spectacularly successful or spectacularly pathetic. If you plan to use viral videos, viral ebooks, viral reports, or anything thing else like that, then you need to make a concerted effort to do it the right way.
3. An important source of traffic for most websites is direct links from other places. This includes links embedded in website content, links posted on forums in reference to the website, and links posted on blogs.
Of course, you will want to augment this list with the results from your own analysis, but in general, you should find those things to be true of your competitors.
Crucial Rule #2: Solve Someone’s Problems
You have a real business with real customers. Whatever you might think about the importance or efficacy of salesletters, text ads, banner advertisements, and video content, there is one additional thing you should always keep in mind: selling a product that has no purpose is much, much harder than selling something that solves a problem that many people have.
Of course, when you’re creating a product, this isn’t always the easiest question to ask and to answer, but it’s an important one to keep in mind. Many Internet marketers simply don’t ask it. They ignore what customers might want; and instead spend time figuring out how best to trick them into buying.
Please follow my advice and do not follow in their footsteps. It will lead you down a path of failure and disappointment from which you may never emerge as a successful, skilled Internet marketer.
Instead, start off by locating your customers. Again, look for them on forums, on blogs, and wherever else they might be. Find out what problems they have; and create or recommend a product that SOLVES those problems.
Whatever you do through your salesletters, text ads, banner advertisements, and social media marketing efforts will be greatly amplified by the quality of your product. You won’t start off with the great disadvantage of needing to sell a bad product that no one needs. Instead, you will genuinely be helping people by telling them about your product.
Crucial Rule #3: Create a Credible Website or Blog
As I mentioned in the introduction, this e-book is a mix of practical and philosophical advice. And there are very few pieces of advice that are more practical for an Internet marketer than to establish yourself through a credible website.
So don’t rely entirely on marketing efforts that direct traffic to affiliate links; or that send your customers to a sketchy, untrustworthy site that includes six dashes in the URL. Instead, start with this approach:
1. Frame your business clearly in your mind. If you’re like many Internet marketers, the frame for your business may simply be your own personality. If this is the case, your site could revolve around you, the products you make, and your trials and triumphs in Internet marketing. On the other hand, if you don’t sell to the Internet marketing crowd, then your business may be framed around the niche of products you sell. Whatever the case may be, take some time to solidify this framing before you move to the next step. If the theme isn’t clear to you, it definitely won’t be to your customers, either.
2. Select a domain name that matches your framing. It can be your name or the name of your business, but in general, it shouldn’t be a giant string of words connected by dashes. Nothing will kill your credibility faster than using a URL like that.
4. Download an open source “what you see is what you get” WYSIWYG editor for your website, such as this http://net2.com/nvu. Use it to implement what you had in mind originally. Be mindful that your site content and theme should be clear and navigable. Otherwise, it will baffle buyers.
By the end of this process, you will have a narrowly-themed site with a clear purpose that appears credible to visitors. This is the best place to start if you want a business that has the potential to expand limitlessly in the future.
One of the best ways to generate traffic for your website is to create a blog, update it regularly, and optimize it for search engines.
You have many options when it comes to creating a blog, but two in particular I highly recommend you use WordPress and focus solely on that platform.
After you have your blog setup, spend some time researching popular tags on sites like www.technorati.com, which index blogs. Once you do this, create several categories for your blog posts based on these tags.
Once you finish updating your blog, ping all of the blog directories by using a service like http://pingomatic.com. Your entry will automatically be added to the categories on those sites for which you tagged it.
If you spend some time to create high-quality content, there’s a good chance that visitors to these directories will recognize it, read it, and vote positively on it (if it has a social ranking system, such as Digg’s). This can significantly expand the reach of your blog; and subsequently your site and products.
Crucial Rule #4: Build a List
This is a MUST for all Internet marketers – building a list. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, who you’re selling it to, or how well your current efforts are working. Building a list is always a surefire way to:
1) Allow you to make more sales to your existing customers; and
2) Convert your website traffic better.
Now, when it comes to list building, the best place to get started is by getting an autoresponder account. I highly recommend you get Aweber. Currently they offer a fully-functional account for just $1 for the first 30 days. Click here to subscribe.
Unfortunately, purchasing an autoresponder service is the easiest part. Actually getting things rolling, building a list, and using it to convert subscribers into buyers, and buyers into repeat buyers is the truly challenging part.
Fortunately, there is a process for this, too. Start with the following five steps:
1. Create some content for your autoresponder. It doesn’t matter whether it is a free newsletter, a free report, a free book, or something else. What’s important is that it has to be free, it has to provide value, and it has to entice to site visitors to join your list. Beyond that, you can be creative.
If you create low-quality content and use it as your hook to get people to sign up, it might work initially, but once people read it, they’ll be disappointed. In the long run, this will translate into unnecessarily forgone sales. So do it right the first time.
2. Create a “squeeze page” or an “opt-in” page for your site. Unless you are only selling one product on your site, this opt-in page should not be on the main page of your site. Instead, it should be located on a subdomain. In fact, if you want to split test your results by trying different squeeze pages, you should have more than one of these subdomains—each with a slightly different setup. Then send identical traffic to it (perhaps through PPC sources) and test your conversion rates.
3. Alter the main page on your site to include an opt-in form. You might do this through a non-invasive “slide-in” or “hover-over” ad. Alternatively, you could include it in a sidebar, at the bottom of your main page, or at the top.
4. Finally, send traffic to your opt-in forms. Do this through pay per click campaigns, text ads, and joint venture partnerships. But when you do it, send your traffic to distinct subdomains. This will allow you to track the convertibility of your various traffic sources, so you can determine which are profitable and which are not.
5. Monetize your list. This is often the trickiest part of the list marketing process. Fortunately, there is a large variety of different ways in which you can do it. I personally suggest that you do it by periodically giving away free reports that guide your readers into making purchases through affiliate links (or from your own product selection). This will usually be more effective than direct marketing attempts.
Of course, list marketing is a complicated process; and there is a lot of debate over the best way to do it. But without even knowing the best way, you can benefit significantly by creating a list and using it to market your products. And this is precisely why I suggest you do it immediately if you haven’t started already.
Crucial Rule #5: Create Products that Market Other Products
Do not undermine what I’m going to reveal to you right now. This is another proven method which will bring you tons of subscribers & sales if you do it diligently & properly – create products that market other products. In practice, this is relatively easy to do.
Let me give you an example. You create a 15-page report that explains how people can make more money by setting up single-product sites and marketing them through PPC advertising. You’d charge $10 for this report and market it through your list and some forums.
But there’s another alternative. You could create that some product, fill it with relevant affiliate links and links to your site; and you could then give it away for free.
Imagine how much greater the reach would be if you did this. Since your report would be completely free, hundreds more would download it; and many would take your advice and purchase multiple products through your affiliate links. At the end of the day, this can be considerably more profitable than selling a report for $10.
Another alternative to giving your report away for free is giving people the right to sell it. Business owners are frequently looking for high-quality content to sell to their subscribers and visitors; and if you can offer them the rights to it for free, you might be able to get your report in the hands of thousands of people with very little leg work on your part.
Crucial Rule #6: Join Forums and Contribute
While paid forms of advertising can be highly effective and targeted, one of the best ways to promote your business is through the passive approach of posting on forums and blogs.
The goal here is to make yourself useful; and to make an overt attempt NOT to sell anything directly. As you build rapport and as people come to appreciate your posts and advice, you will want to use very subtle ways to make your business.
These methods include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Create a high-quality report and give it away for free. No matter what niche you sell in, forum readers will appreciate this—especially if your content is good. In order to get some kick out of this approach, be sure to include links to resources on your site in your book. Also, include links to the opt-in page for your list.
2. Include a signature with each of your posts that explains who you are, in which areas you are an expert, and why people should contact you. Also, include a link to your site, your product, or your list.
3. Become a moderator on the forum without asking for anything in return. This will involve a little bit of sacrifice on your part, but it will pay off in terms of the credibility and authority you gain among members of the forum.
If you’re not sure where to start, go to http://www.big-boards.com and search for forums related to your website’s niche. Spend a few hours each week on a handful of relevant forums that receive a lot of traffic. Find out which of these forums is likely to be the most profitable; and then make an effort to concentrate your time and resources there.
Most importantly, do not show up on a forum with the express purpose of reaping a profit and then taking off. If it becomes clear that you have no interest in contributing to the community, forum members will be unlikely to respond well to you.
Crucial Rule #7: Seek Out Talented JV Partners
Another way in which you can do this is to form a joint venture partnership with someone who has different skills or resources.
For instance, let’s say you own a site that provides resources for dog owners. You might have an excellent product for dog owners, but no list to audience to market it to. As a result, you don’t move your product; and you don’t make profits.
Now, if you’re willing to venture outside of your comfort zone, you might be able to make thousands of dollars. And all you have to do is propose a joint venture partnership that involves your resource to a pet site that generates traffic, but is in need of a product to sell.
Start by making a list of these sites. In particular, look for any site in your niche that generates a lot of traffic. You can do this by performing a simple Google search and seeing what organic and sponsored results show up on the first 1-3 pages. You can also check Alexa.com ratings for sites you are already familiar with to find out whether they receive a lot of traffic.
Once you have your list of sites, sit down and decide how you want this joint venture to work. If you’re bringing nothing other than a product to the table, you won’t want to ask for too much in your proposal. After all, they have the customer base.
As an example of what you might do, consider the following joint venture proposal letter:
I recently discovered your site, www.fakesite.com, and noticed that you provide your visitors with high-quality resources and products.
I’m contacting you because I’m planning to launch a product in the near future and wondered if you are interested in participating in a joint venture partnership.
Specifically, I’m planning to launch a new product, which I will release only to my readers and the readers on one more site. If you’re interested in working with me, I will select you as the sole additional distributor and allow you to sell it at an 80% commission.
Let me know if you’re interested. If so, I will send you a copy of the product, as well as more information about my launch plans.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
Again, the particular form of the letter is not critical. The most important part is that you make an effort to start contacting people, pitching your role as a JV partner, and finding good matches for your plan.
Crucial Rule #8: Outsource Stuff You’re Not Good At Doing
This rule is important for people who feel that they should play the role of jack-of-all-trades. As an Internet marketer, this is not your role. There may be many things you are good at, but there’s at least two things you are best at: managing and marketing your business.
So stick to managing and marketing your business; and leave the details to people with more experience and better credentials. Your business will benefit greatly from this; and it will free up time for you to spend on important administrative and marketing tasks.
As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t feel comfortable doing something yourself, start by going to www.elance.com or www.scriptlance.com to find someone who does. Start by looking at existing projects to find out whether another business has hired someone to complete a similar project—and, if so, what they paid for it and whether or not they were satisfied with the work.
If you’re still not sure whether you feel comfortable letting someone else do it, go ahead and post your project on Elance. See how freelancers respond to your request and what types of proposals they offer. If none of them seem promising, you don’t have to assign the project, so you will lose nothing other than the amount of time it took you to create the project listing.
Crucial Rule #9: Track Your Results
If you follow skilled, successful marketers, you’ll notice that they frequently exhort new marketers to “test and track.” And this is great advice, but unfortunately, it is seldom followed.
New marketers usually either don’t have a strong understanding of how they can test and track; or they are not confident in the ways in which they are
1) Setting up the test; and
2) Tracking and interpreting the results.
If this is where you stand currently, understand that this can change. And if you’re willing to let it change—to learn how to test and track—you can truly gain mastery over your own results by becoming better at understanding and controlling the results.
Your first step should be to get a website statistics tracker that will provide you with a sufficient amount of detail. Regardless of which hosting service you use, there’s a good chance you already have one. Simply login your administrative account and check the control panel. You should see one or more icons on your panel that look like a graph. These will provide a comprehensive break-down of your traffic statistics.
If your site does not already come with a free website traffic statistics tracker, create a free account at http://www.statcounter.com. This will give you a sufficiently comprehensive break-down of the traffic statistics for your site.
Once you have a tracking system in place, the only thing that remains is to carefully design tests. Whenever you do this, you will want to keep two things in mind:
1) as many things as possible should be held equal; and
2) you should allow for a long time horizon to pass before you reach a conclusion.
For part one, you can do this by using PPC traffic exclusively for your tests. This will allow you to be certain that the quality and relevance of the traffic you’re sending is roughly equal for you’re the two salespages or squeeze pages you’re testing.
For the second part, you will want to keep in mind that you will need a large set of observations before you can draw a valid inferences from your sample about your target population. Consider running your campaign for several weeks with identical traffic and different ads to see whether there are significant conversion rate effects.
Finally, and most importantly, remember to make only small changes when you split test two ads. This might mean only changing the headline on one salespage; and comparing the results to the original salesletter. This will make it much easier to be sure that you are capturing the effects from the headline change when you view your results (rather than some other change you made simultaneously).
Crucial Rule #10: Stop Doing Things That Don’t Get Results
One important part of any successful Internet marketing campaign is figuring out how to do things the right way; and then following through once you do.
Another important thing is to stop doing things that don’t get results. Frequently, new Internet marketers simply don’t know how to do this. They know that they aren’t getting results, but they feel like they have too few options, so they cling to marketing strategies that are proven losers.
If you find yourself in this situation now, the best thing you can do is to set aside some time each month to re-evaluate your marketing efforts. For each marketing campaign, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do I have a reasonable way to test and track my results from this campaign? Can I setup tests that allow me to determine how different sources of traffic impact my campaign differently? Can I test how my conversion rates vary with changes in my marketing campaign? Can I measure my results fairly well?
2. When I check my results from these tests, what do I find? Is it clear that my current campaigns are better than the obvious alternatives? Is it possible that I could improve my campaigns my making small or large changes?
3. Are there any marketing campaigns that clearly are not bringing in enough revenue to cover the associated costs? If so, is it likely that this will change in the near future? Or is there reason to believe that things will not change unless you make major changes?
These are all important questions to ask. And until you answer them, you’ll never know whether your current marketing campaigns are money-makers are simply dead-ends. So do yourself the favor and start one of these evaluations tonight.
Crucial Rule #11: Look for Opportunities for Expansion
If you’re like many new business owners, your enterprise relies almost entirely on a few concentrated sources of traffic and buyers. Outside of this fixed pool of buyers, it isn’t clear to you how you might expand your business, scale it up, and bring in more profits as a result.
For the time being, you might think this is fine. But once you’ve expanded to your business’s maximum size within this pool of customers, you’ll want to expand, so keep an eye open for opportunities to expand and market.
For starters, consider each of the following marketing strategies for locating new leads:
1. Banner ads
2. Pay per click ads
4. Social media, such as Facebook and Myspace
5. Viral videos
6. Product giveaways
7. Joint ventures
9. Paid email advertisements
10. Print advertisements
11. Free reports
12. Creating an affiliate program
14. Forum posting
15. Article marketing
You have many options. And it may be the case that none of these is the best for you, but at a bare minimum, you should consider each.
You should also pay especially careful attention to new channels through which you can market. For instance, viral videos and social media marketing have become two powerful channels for driving traffic to websites. Even if you don’t feel comfortable using these channels yourself, you could hire a freelancer from www.Elance.com, www.Guru.com, www.Rentacoder.com, Odesk.com, etc to do the work for you.
At the end of the day, your open-mindedness, flexibility, and willingness to consider different advertising channels will reward you with constant growth while other businesses plateau or stagnate.
Internet marketing is not easy. It is filled with many complicated challenges that can push you off track, confuse you, and prevent you from succeeding. Reports and ebooks that attempt to give you a one-size-fits-all approach miss a very important point: successful Internet marketing requires you to be a dynamic, intelligent, and flexible, so a set of static, unchanging plans is unlikely to make you successful.
That’s exactly why I drafted this guide: instead of giving you a paint-by-numbers approach, I’ve given you a set of rules that will provide you with a firm, workable framework within which you can build a successful business. At the same time, they will leave you with the flexibility to remain responsive and to come up with dynamic responses to dynamic problems.
And with that, I leave you to build your business. So to get started, put the rules I’ve listed to work, and experience the long-lasting success that comes with building a business on strong principles.
To Your Success,