The Value of Membership

Membership marketing is an extremely valuable tool for online business owners and internet marketers. It is a great way to create customer loyalty and establish a reliable revenue stream that will help your business grow.

But the value of membership marketing is often times misunderstood. The true value of membership marketing is not the additional sales. It’s not even the cash. The true value of membership marketing is all about the customer.

I know what you are asking. Isn’t the money the ultimate goal, and therefore the “value” of creating a membership site and membership marketing program? Yes, of course there is value in the revenue gained from membership marketing and yes, of course that is the ultimate goal. But the value of the program itself is all about gaining new customers and hanging on to the ones you already have.

Once your customers become members, you have automatically secured “x” amount of dollars. They have agreed to purchase a membership and because of your attractive, discounted offerings, they will most likely produce additional, reliable revenue for you as well by buying your actual products. This is essential.

However, what happens when their membership expires? How do you keep them your customers coming back for more?

The key to customer renewal is… you guessed it! Value!

You must entice with value, deliver value, and entice with value again.

For example, when initially trying to entice a customer to become a member, you may offer a free product as a perk to signing up for your program. People love free stuff! Don’t you?

Once you have made this promise, you then must deliver on it. In other words, make sure you provide them with that product as soon as possible so they know you can be trusted. And finally, reinforce your value by enticing members with value again. Offer them a discount on their next purchase should they choose to renew their membership with you. You may also want to take that opportunity to upsell them to the next membership level, where the discount is even greater.

Incentives are absolutely critical to gaining customers and renewing memberships. Nothing says value more than quality products and service and when you are offering a great deal on great products, your business will succeed.

The incentives you offer should add a high perceived value to your customers without costing you much if any resources at all. You may want to offer a set discount for membership renewal, exclusive free bonus materials for returning members only, or both! Just be careful not to give away everything for free. You must be strategic when offering incentives.

There are many reasons membership marketing is valuable. But customers are at the heart and soul of what makes this so true. Without customers… or even better, members… there is no revenue stream. And without a revenue stream, your membership site has no value. Therfore, the true value of membership marketing is the customer.

Get More Traffic to Your Blog With Keyword Phrases

While there are still many bloggers who just blog because they like to write and express their ideas online, most people want someone to read it. If you want someone to read your blog, you need traffic. And you don’t just want a little traffic, you want as many people as possible to share your blog with. The best way to reach these people is through the search engines. And the best way to show up in the search engine results is to optimize each of your blog posts for a specific keyword phrase.

Step 1: Find a keyword phrase

Don’t just sit down and write about any subject that enters your head. If you really want to appeal to people, you need to write about things that they want answers to. Start by finding a good keyword phrase to use in your post. This means it should be a phrase that a decent number of people are searching for, but which has a relatively low number of competing websites. Keywords tools such as Market Samurai and Wordtracker will help you identify these phrases.

Step 2: Create your post outline

Once you know what you want to write about, you can start to outline your post. Make sure your title contains your keyword and that your post itself will deliver on the promise of that title. Some people like to also include their keyword in at least one of their header tags (H1,H2), but you need to make sure that you won’t have so many instances of your phrase that Google sees you as a spammer.

Step 3: Write high quality content

With a good outline in place, you should be able to sit down and write your post quickly. At this point, don’t even think about your keyword phrase, except to make sure that you’re sticking to your topic. You’re writing for people first and search engines second. Once you’re done writing, go back and make sure that you do have the keyword phrase 2 to 3 times in your post, depending on the post length. The last think you want to do is “stuff” your article with a specific keyword. If you find you’ve done that by accident, just go back and vary the phrase a bit or use other words as a substitution.

Step 4: Add images

Always add at least one image to your blog post. It should be something relevant to the content, naturally, but it should also have your keyword in the alt image tag and image description. You’ll be able to see the places to input these when you click on the button to edit the image in WordPress. Another reason to add a description and tag is that Google can read text, but it cannot read images. By adding a description and alt image tag, you’ve give the search engine something to read.

Step 5: Add links

By creating links within your post to other posts in your site, you create a natural structure that the search engines love. At the same time you add value for you readers by pointing them to other information that they’ll benefit from. However, you shouldn’t limit your links to internal ones. That looks suspicious to Google and could even get you pushed down in search results. Link to one or two other sites that add value for your reader and they may even link back to you, bringing in even more traffic.

If you really want people to read your blog content, you should always try to start with a keyword phrase that your target readers are looking for. Longtail keywords are the best and they will help you be more specific about what you write. In addition, by using a keyword in the title of the post and strategically throughout it, you’ll be far more likely to rank highly in the search engine results.

LinkedIn – Is It A Good Link Building Strategy?

One of the most refreshing things about social networking site, LinkedIn, is the way you don’t have to pretend you’re not trying to generate links. Part of the reason lies in the demographic, according to Quantcast:

– 35-50 plus age group
– No children
– $60k income, with the majority being over $100k
– Asian
– Male

This group tends to be professional, focused, and with little time for platitudes or nonsense. But if that’s the market you want to reach, setting out on the right foot by following these 7 basic tips help increase your link SEO chances straight away…

1. Make sure you have a memorable “Public Profile” URL (customize it, if you have to!)

2. Don’t neglect your home page. Unlike some, it’s not static: It’s a shortcut to “what’s hot” in your field – and who.

3. Keep your status updated – don’t just “set and forget”. Unlike other social media sites, it’s the perfect place to showcase new creds

4. Be sure to use the “Index” option, so that Google (and other search engines) can quickly serve you up on a platter.

5. Break the ice: Instead of answering – ask. Give others a chance to show their expertise (be grateful – but don’t be deferential).

6. Get links by simply asking for recommendations (providing, of course, you’re asking other members who have bought your products, used your services or served with you on non-profit projects).

7. Remember that on LinkedIn, relationships matter, even more usual when it comes to social sites. Don’t be flakey – be consistent. Thank people who help, help people who ask – and be generous with your time and attention.

The pay off in valuable links and traffic is definitely worth it.

6 Ways To Come Up With Post Ideas When You’re Facing Bloggers Block

We all experience bloggers block from time to time, but don’t let it stop you from giving your subscribers the content they’ve been waiting for. There’s nothing worse than a blogger who fails to post! Here are 6 ideas that’ll help you come up with blog posts worth reading.

1) Use Your Daily Life As Inspiration

You might not be writing a personal blog, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring personal experience into the posts you write. If you can relate personal experience to the topics you write about, then do so. Sometimes you have to get creative, but your blog posts will be more interesting as a result!

2) Google It!

Why not Google the main topic of your blog and see what appears? You don’t want to copy any other blogs, of course, but one idea will often lead to another. Have a read around blogs in your niche – maybe even blogs outside of your niche – and see what they’re writing about. Either use this as inspiration for your own topics or write a direct response to what’s already out there.

3) Check Your Analytics

Checking your stats can leave you with a whole range of blog post ideas. Take a look at the keywords people are typing in to find your site. Chances are that some of the things they’re searching for aren’t on your blog yet. Why not use these keywords as ideas for future blog posts? You’ll also have the added benefit of knowing there’s a future audience for those posts!

4) Test Something And Post Your Results

If you’re really stuck for ideas, why not give yourself a challenge and post the results? For example, in the personal development niche this could mean making a gratitude list each day and writing about the effects. Or you could try a new fitness program and write about how you’re dealing with it. In most cases, readers in any niche love to read real life case studies!

5) Use Videos

Why not get surfing YouTube and see if there’s an interesting video you can share with your subscribers? Embed the video into a post where you give your own personal comments. This is a super-fast way to come up with content that’s still interesting.

6) Invite Readers To Ask Questions

What better way of coming up with content that your readers will enjoy than to invite them to ask questions? Write up a quick post one day asking them what they want to know, then post a follow up a few days later with all the answers. This last method is also an excellent way to connect with your audience.

Marketing Your Business Blog via Social Networks

If you have a business blog but aren’t using social network marketing to promote it, you are losing out on literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of potential readers and customers.

Social network marketing is becoming, if it’s not already, the number one way businesses are marketing today. This is because the potential to reach people all over the world is on the Internet through social networking.

In order to make social networking work for your business blog, obviously you need to be a member of the major social networks. However, more is required. You must be active on the social networks. You simply can’t just belong but not interact with other members and expect to build your business that way.

The whole idea of social networking is not simply to drive more traffic to your blogs and sites, it is to build relationships with potential new readers, subscribers and customers. It is then through those relationships that your new contacts will come to know and trust you. Therefore, they will be more apt to purchase from you as well.

So, how do you go about making social networking work for your business? One way is to add, follow or friend people in your target market or niche. Then, begin building relationships with them first. Yes, let them know about your blog, but don’t be all about expecting them to go read it without first knowing why they should. This is where the relationship comes in. Once your subscribers know they can trust you and that you’re not just out to sell them something, but you genuinely want to help them, they will be interested in what you have to say and what you have to sell or your services.

Social networking can be tricky too. You may have a tendency to want to build up your number of friends and followers, but if they are not part of your target market or niche, then they are just a bunch of people. If you don’t have to offer what you’re followers need and want, then all your efforts are a waste of time.

As mentioned earlier, social networking takes time and effort. If you don’t personally have the time to devote to really make social networking work for you, hire a virtual assistant or social network manager to do it for you. It won’t do you any good to belong to social networks if you never have the time to spend building relationships with your potential new readers.

The hottest social networks right now are Twitter, Facebook, Digg, De.lic.ious and Stumble Upon. Of course there are numerous other social networks you can join as well, but these are recommended to get started. Trust me; you will be plenty busy trying to keep up with these five.

Once you start building relationships through social networking, then you can begin promoting your products and services to your audience. But remember, helping your readers, finding ways to benefit them is what’s going to keep them coming back to your site for more! Don’t let your relationship become all about only selling to them.

Your Perfect Sales Funnel Plan Begins with a Solid Foundation

No matter what you desire the end result of your sales funnel plan to be, the truth of the matter is actually quite simple. You have to start at the beginning. For anyone who is experienced in sales, there is already an awareness concerning sales cycles and how they can, at times be quite slow going.

By starting off on the right foot with a quality product and high standards for customer service, you will gradually build a positive reputation for yourself. Any future opportunities you have to provide repeat business with your customers will have them expecting the same quality service they initially received. And you need to be willing to provide that, even with your lowest priced or free product.

By laying a positive foundation from the start, you’re building a solid path between you and your customer. We want this path to be used for quite a long time. Once they are satisfied and begin to have trust in you, it’s time to find other venues for your business dealings with your customer. Set the stage for the next level of products you have available which may be of interest to them, and which they could find useful.

You have established your reputation now, and can take this opportunity to offer an assortment of enhancements for your customer’s original or subsequent purchases. More upscale services may be in order to assist with some of these new enhancements, and you must be ready to assist in any way necessary to remain trustworthy to these people who have stayed with you to this point.

There will be many other opportunities surrounding this initial contact. They may have told their friends, and had them contact you for the same products and services. Or you may have found your own clients for the niche you’re supplying information on. The same process you used for your initial customer can and should be used over and over again, as often as possible. This is how you are going to grow your online business. This consistency will ensure all of your customers receive what they well deserve.

As time passes, you may create or discover a high-level service or product which could be quite useful to your client, creating a huge impact for them or their business. The rapport you have built with this customer from the very beginning will come in very handy here. They will trust you in regards to these types of products, simply because you have been their faithful provider of friendship, quality information, and in some cases even reassurance, which has helped them develop their business just as they have helped you.

The final word for the time being is this: in the end, all you really have to give is your word. Make sure it is worth giving, and deliver everything you have said you would in the agreed-upon timeframe. It is this powerful yet tiny thing which can make the difference between success and failure.

Supercharging your StumbleUpon Search Results

If you’re a serious seeker after information, and you depend on solid online research for your living, you may find it’s not enough simply to wait until you’ve logged in enough clicks via StumbleUpon, to refine your results. Waiting for this powerful social network to learn your preferences is all well and good – but there are definitely ways you can trim the fat from your Stumble results, leaving only those valuable golden nuggets (and I’m not talking about the McDonald’s variety, here!)

Here are my 3 best tips for getting better StumbleUpon search results:

1. Pay attention and subscribe to Superstumblers. These are people whose content is even more ideal for your needs than your own. Remember that when you subscribe to them and befriend them, their favorites are added to yours in StumbleUpon’s algorithms. Search their content, if your own is proving too slow.

And if you’re subscribed, you can receive updates whenever they have something to share. (It can be rather like going through your ultimate coach’s personal library and files, with permission!)

2. Don’t stumble by topic or category, if you’re really serious about finding specific information. Search by long-tailed keyphrase instead. You can do this by clicking through your “All” button until you locate the “Search” channel. Click on “Search” and enter your long tail. You’ll find the results well worth it!

3. Don’t forget to visit your favorite power stumblers’ profiles. Subscribe to them (the green “Subscribe” button in the top right-hand corner. Check “accept shares to my toolbar” to be party to their new discoveries. Review their entries (not every one, but your genuine, absolute favorites) – it’s well worth it, when they (hopefully) review one of yours in reciprocal gratitude. And because you’re both like-minded.

These 3 tips may not seem like the be-all and end-all of power searching, but put them into practice and I guarantee you’ll see a significant positive impact in your StumbleUpon search results – and who knows? Perhaps in your own traffic and fand base, too!

Consistency is Important for Business Blogging Success

When you start out posting to your business blog, your readers get accustomed to your style of writing and the content you’re producing. They come to rely on it and if you deviate from it, they may discontinue reading or feel they aren’t at the right blog. Obviously we don’t want this to happen, so below are some important keys to help you stay consistent on your business blog.

Branding your business blog is the key to retaining and building your readership. Branding is simply creating a look that is uniquely yours, including your business logo, your picture or an image that people will automatically associate with you and your business. If you have a blog that is separate from your business website, be sure your brand is consistent throughout both. Even if your brand is simply an avatar of you, having it somewhere on your blog will let readers know they are at a blog that belongs to you.

Being consistent as far as the appearance of your blog goes is also key. Use the same colors, fonts and images on your blog that are on your website. You want your customers and readers to know they are at your blog when they first arrive. If you have a logo for your business, use it on your blog. If you have a custom header, use it throughout your site.

How often you write is also important to your readers. Your readers rely on hearing from you on a regular basis, whether that is every day or once a week. If you start out writing every day then all of a sudden drop off to once a week, they may turn away, thinking you’re not doing business as much or whatever. If you have to change how often you post to your business blog, let your readers know with a simple post. Or better yet, send message to your readers on your email list. Take care of your readers by letting them know you care about them.

Not only is being consistent important for how often you write, but consistency is important regarding what you write about. The purpose of a business blog is to introduce readers to your products and services, inform readers about what you have to offer them, let readers know how your products and services can benefit them and to increase sales. With that in mind, the content of your business blog, your blog posts, should always do just that. Don’t be all over the place talking about subjects that aren’t pertinent to your business. If you start talking about your mom or your spouse or other things that have nothing to do with your business, you will lose readers fast. They come because they want to know about your business, not your personal life, or what’s going on down the street (unless of course it has to do with your business).

Being consistent with your style of writing, the appearance of your blog and what you write about will keep readers consistently returning to your business blog and increasing traffic to your business!

Creating Lifelong Customers

It’s a well-known realization not all of those from your target market who visit your website will in fact become customers. There is an opportunity here for time, resources and money to be wasted on trying to coax the wrong type of person into the ‘inner sanctum’ of your sales funnel. It’s important to understand your ideal client, before you end up spending a small fortune trying to grab hold of people who won’t do your internet business justice.

Another point to understand how people perfer to buy from those they know, have confidence in, and actually like. These are all aspects you can achieve with each of your customers, even if you never meet them face to face.

Developing this level of trust may take some time; however once it is developed your client will be more open to spending money with you, even on those higher ticket-priced items. They could quickly and easily become a qualified buyer – someone who has already tested the waters so to speak. They have signed up and received your free item, and maybe even purchased your low ticket item. They’re now poised to become a source of reasonable income for your internet business.

In order to keep them coming back, you need to continue to supply them with information relevant to the niche. Gradually working up to higher ticket-priced items, you need to ensure your customers are still receiving quality information. While articles and e-Books are great to start out with, reports and home study courses are good to have in the works from the beginning of your launch. By starting early you know you’ll have these ready for your customers when the time comes for their need.

This is where is becomes important for you to encourage your prospect or customer to revisit, by reminding them you are there. A great strategy for achieving this is to create a mailing list or opt-in list. By offering them some information for free when they sign up, you are not only encouraging them to provide you their information, but also giving them a bite-sized chunk of what type of information they could expect from your communications. This is the beginning of the processes of building that level of trust you require to keep those customers coming back, or waiting with excitement for news from you about new products available to them.

Offering something of value to your site visitors makes it easier for them to agree to pass on their information to you. They know quite well if they give out their contact information, they are going to receive promotional emails or follow-ups from you. It’s paramount to make it worth their while if you want to keep them coming back for more of what you have to offer. Keeping them up-to-date on upcoming features or articles is another great way to keep the suspense and excitement going strong.

Creating lifelong customers does require hard work and dedication. Take great care to plan your content and marketing strategy accordingly. Earn your prospect’s trust and keep it and you will have a lifelong customer.

Five SEO Mistakes to Avoid

Whether you’ve been optimizing your web pages for quite some time or are new to the strategy, everyone makes mistakes. While the bad news is that these mistakes can have a significant effect on your page ranking, the good news is, they’re reversible. Here are five SEO mistakes to avoid (And if you’ve already made them, not to worry, you can make changes and move forward with your SEO strategy).

SEO Mistake #1 Not using keywords correctly.

Many webmasters are concerned about being banned from the search engines for keyword spamming or stuffing so they limit the use of keywords on their web pages. As long as your content sounds natural and reads easily, the chances are you have not overused your keywords.

Make sure your keywords are included in the first paragraph, in your headings and in your title and meta tags.

SEO Mistake #2 Trying to fool search engine spiders.

Search engines are a lot more sophisticated than most of us realize. They recognize, and penalize, hidden text, keyword spamming, and cloaking, which is showing different content to the search engine spiders than to your visitors. All of these practices only serve to hurt your page ranking and can in fact cause your website to be banned by the search engines, which means no one will find you and no traffic means no profits.

SEO Mistake #3 Using Flash

Flash is a great presentation tool and can be dramatic and effective if used sparingly. It’s particularly appropriate if you have a media related website and want to demonstrate your industry savvy however for most website owners, it’s just not necessary and can harm your page ranking. Search engine spiders cannot read content embedded in Flash files, which means they’re not recognized or indexed.

SEO Mistake #4 Using Your Company Name As a Title Tag

Unless you’re branding your company name, your company name shouldn’t’ be the only element in your title tag. Feel free to include it, however it’s also important to use your primary keyword for each webpage title tag. This is more useful for your customers and helps the search engines identify the various pages on your site.

SEO Mistake #5 Using A Splash Page

A splash page, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a web page with a large graphic or company logo, and a link to enter the site. This is an ineffective strategy for a number of reasons:

* No keyword rich text on the page, nothing for the spiders to index.

* Only one internal link on the page

* These pages often have a redirect which often causes spiders to ignore them

If search engine optimization is important to your business, you may need to forgo the splash page. Your home page should be easy to navigate, content rich, and link visitors and spiders to other main web pages.

In general, unless you’re trying to outsmart the search engines and using nefarious tactics, the majority of search engine mistakes are reversible. If you’ve committed a few of these mistakes, simply correcting them can increase your page ranking almost immediately. Take some time to evaluate your SEO strategy and eliminate these SEO mistakes.