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Internet Marketing (IM) won’t cure AIDs or make you an instant millionaire. Many people get into Internet marketing with unrealistic expectations that they’d never consider entertaining if it were in some other field. Just because you don’t need to go to school for years to get a degree in Internet marketing for you to be able to open an online business doesn’t mean that it won’t take hard work and commitment to succeed within this arena. Like other business endeavors, it’s going to take money and time to get started and the results won’t be instantaneous.
Let’s take a look at some of the misconceptions that people have about Internet marketing and place them in a more realistic context. Some of these unrealistic expectations include the following:
- Little To No Work Involved – This may come about from the idea that there is little physical labor or that you are working in a virtual environment using the power of the Internet. However, as any business owner will tell you, running your own business always takes a lot of work to start and much more work to maintain. If you are getting into IM to make money, consider it a full-time job to start.
- It’s Easy Money – Making money on the Internet is easier than doing manual labor. However, the number of hours you have to devote to learn the ins and outs is not limited to a 40-hour work week. Can you make easy money? Yes, but often this takes years of steady progress before you realize that dream.
- Anyone Can Do It – Anyone can hop online and build a blog, but it’s not as simple as writing and attracting an audience. You will want to take the role of learner in this endeavor and seek to upgrade your skills and knowledge to exploit the power of the Internet. It’s not a birthright that everyone has just waiting to be put to use. You have to make a conscious decision to work at it and to keep learning.
- You Can Make Tons Of Money In One Shot – It may come as a surprise to many people that the “tons of money” actually comes from a number of diverse online ventures. You probably won’t make tons of money on just one blog, although that does occasionally happen. Instead, if you concentrate on building multiple income streams from a variety of websites, products, and services, you’ll have a much better chance of striking it rich later on.
Not Enough Research Before Starting
If people fall prey to any of the unrealistic expectations we’ve discussed, the outcome is that they don’t spend enough time researching and planning their online activities to make them a success. Instead, they’ll think it’s just a matter of slapping a website up and putting a shopping cart on it to get orders. That couldn’t be the furthest thing from the truth. You have to start by knowing what niches are hot online and how you plan on attracting people to your site. Even if you managed to get a huge traffic stream, do you know enough to convert those visitors into leads or customers? This is where people fail miserably when they could have improved the chances of success simply by taking some extra time upfront to research and learn how to implement a successful online business.
What Is Your Hot Niche?
Typically, people can get carried away with a specific, personal passion that they instantly focus all their energies on marketing it, thinking that customers will be equally enthralled with this topic. That’s a poor way to establish a business online, especially with so much information online about what people are actually buying, searching for, or talking about. Why not market something that everyone already has an interest in and that don’t need to be convinced to buy?
One thing to remember when working out what niche you want to target is that they can be dependent on world events. Right now, the recession has made some niches more important than others. Finance is always a hot niche, but the influence of the recession means that there is less interest in the stock market and housing and more interest in debt management and consolidation. Or, you might find a sub-niche like “gold mining stocks,” which weren’t very popular before the recession, but that now have numerous investors flocking to them.
Research Using Online Tools
Use online tools like Google Keyword Analyzer to find out what keywords, and thus niches, are being searched currently. Go to places like Digg.com or Technorati.com to find out what topic is tops on everyone’s mind right now. Go to eBay.com or Amazon.com and look through their top sellers. This will give you great ideas on what is hot and easily marketable, even before you take the time to develop a website or open a blog, saving you tons of time and heartache down the road.
Fuzzy branding can apply to multiple aspects of your online business. It can be as obvious as a bad domain name or it can even be how poorly you’ve designed the site. It’s any fault in your site that is an Internet faux pas that makes it difficult for your visitors to associate your name with the brand of product or service you’re offering. Instead, they’re left scratching their heads trying to figure out what your site is all about.
Domain Names Are Very Important
After you have your niche in mind, it’s time to start getting the elements of your website together. You will have to register a domain name and start to think about the organization and branding of your site. If you are selling fishhooks online, you want to try to include that in your domain name somehow. A good domain name is short, descriptive, and tells the customer in a few words what your business is all about. Obviously, many domain names have already been bought, leaving you less choice on what to name your site. If you must pay someone else for a name, be sure it is a very well branded name that is going to stick with your business for a while.
Is Your Home Page Clear And Concise?
Most people will log into your top-level domain first, meaning the home page. If this is cluttered with bright fonts, a disorganized menu, a bizarre or confusing design, and copy that doesn’t equate to your business, you are going to have a number of people leaving as quickly as they showed up. The idea is to get people interested in your site enough to browse it some more. Make your home page as clear, concise, and descriptive as possible.
The look and feel of the website should also reflect the brand or image you are trying to associate with your business. An office supply website will look more professional, with muted colors in blue, gray, or black, and be highly organized. A website for web scooters might try to attract a younger, funnier crowd by providing colorful snapshots of scooters and a fun domain name.
Pay Attention To Content
Next comes content. In order for people to find your site, your content should be optimized for major search engines, using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. It should also be written with an eye for headlines, white space, lists, and other sales copy techniques that make it easy for someone visiting to briefly scan your copy and to pick up the most salient points about your products and services.
Poor Traffic Streams
The site is now up and you’ve done your research to optimize it for success, but you’ve noticed that it isn’t getting enough traffic. Why is that? Many Internet marketers think that putting up a fantastic website is all that you have to do to attract traffic. There are millions of people on the Internet, so it seems a fair assessment that getting a thousand eyeballs a month is not a big deal. Actually, the most successful Internet marketers adopt promotional strategies to maximize their traffic streams and to make their websites a success.
The main way to increase traffic is to find sites that already have a large audience and to siphon off some of those people back to your site. There may be rules about what types of links you can post and how to do this, but it’s basically the same process.
Some Strategies To Increase Traffic
Here are a few such strategies that you can implement to promote your website and to increase your traffic month after month:
- Article Marketing – Create free articles and submit them to article directories. They allow you to add a resource box with a couple of links back to your website. Try to keep the articles to topics within your niche to only attract people who might have an interest in buying your products.
- Commenting On Blogs – Another great way to bring streams of traffic back is to find some very popular blogs and comment on related topics to your niche. Add a link back to your site, and people who may find your comment useful will surely click on the link back to your site to find out more about you.
- Joining Forums And Groups – There are numerous groups online with large audiences, like Yahoo! or Google Groups. Look through the different categories and find some relevant to your market niche, then join them. Participate in the ongoing online discussions and add a signature to your postings with a link back to your site.
- Social Networking – Social networks like Twitter.com, Facebook.com, or LinkedIn offer numerous opportunites to meet new people and add status updates about your online activities. Include a link and make it interesting so that you can create relationships that will increase your bottom line.
Inability To Convert Traffic To Customers
Even if you manage to attract gobs of traffic, the real goal of any Internet marketer is to sell or make money. You have to monetize that traffic in order to achieve your dreams of success. If you aren’t aware of the strategies to convert traffic to customers, you will let many valuable opportunities pass you by. Worse, you will feel as if you are working your tail off for few rewards. Always keep in mind that it isn’t enough just to have a popular site; that site has to produce income, one way or another.
Some of the fault may lie in poor website design, like poor advertisement placement or inefficient payment processors. However, there are other ways that people fail to plan to convert traffic to customers. They don’t plan ways to make money with the site and assume that only putting out a few products will create income. This is one way to make money, but not the only way.
Features To Monetize Your Traffic Stream
- Copy That Sells – When you advertise a product or service, add in features in the copy that make the deal hard to pass up. By that, it’s important to get into the mind of the customer. Try to create a sense that they might lose out if they don’t take you up on your offer right away. You can do this offering for a limited time or in limited quantities of a particular product.
- Incentives – Can you persuade them to sign up by offering a free ebook in exchange for subscribing to a free trial membership? Once the trial is over, you’ll bill their credit card. Will you get a better conversion rate if you give new subscribers coupons off of your products and services?
- Affiliate Programs – Affiliate programs work like incentives to allow others to sell your products and make a commission on them. This will help you by getting other people to do some marketing work for you while you create a fatter paycheck.
- Advertising – There are all sorts of advertisements that you can implement to increase the chances of creating income with your website copy. They can be in text advertising, links to other people’s affiliate offers, or even Google AdWords campaigns. Partner with other people who might be looking for a larger audience in exchange for paying for advertising on your site.
Not Planning Ahead For Sales
The whole point of Internet marketing is to sell online. It may come as a surprise then to find out that many Internet marketers fail to plan their sales funnel ahead of time. Doing things by the seat of your pants may work to make a few sales here and there, but to really exploit the power of the Internet and make a living doing Internet marketing, you must plan ahead for sales using a carefully thought out sales funnel.
The Mouth Of Your Sales Funnel
Your sales plan should include different ways to harvest an email address from your visitors. This puts them into the mouth of your sales funnel where you can market to them again later on. Without this initial contact information, later plans won’t generate sufficient sales. Always start by getting the contact information and permission to contact that person online.
A Whirlwind Of Sales Activity Down Your Funnel
A well-planned sales campaign keeps track of people visiting and what they are buying. It has several email campaigns going at the same time, depending on what group a customer happens to land in demographically. One email list may be marketing to people who have yet to buy anything, while another may be marketing to people who are your top buyers. Whatever your approach, you should have definite categories or demographics of visitors and planned sales campaigns directed at just that group.
One way to do this is to put customers into groups based on the amount of money they tend to spend. Small spenders might be marketed with low cost product lines, while big spenders are marketed with bigger packages and items. If someone starts out small and suddenly buys a large package from you, you will want to have a system in place that shifts them from the small spenders’ campaign to the big spenders’ campaign immediately. That way, you don’t lose the opportunity to market to people or to send them two offers, one from a big spenders’ list and another from a small spenders’ list.
Automate Email Campaigns Carefully
Take advantage of multiple online tools and services to keep track of your email sales campaign. A good service that many Internet marketers use is AWeber.com. This allows a third party to manage your email sales campaigns, giving you the opportunity to spend more time planning roll-outs and to feature promotions.