Build Your List With Online Contests

Online contests are great ways to build your list. If you’re not sure what a list is, or what I mean, it is a collection of email addresses that you use to promote your products and services using a special emailing program like Aweber or Mail Chimp. It is considered “permission marketing” because the people who give you their email address are giving you permission to market to them.

There are a variety of ways to get permission such as:

* Pay per click advertisements — You purchase keywords to promote your website, sending those who click on your advertisement to a special landing page in which they submit their email address.
* Selling a product or service — Once you enter a business relationship with someone you are permitted to put them on your mailing list to promote business.
* Giving away a product or service — Often this is done in exchange for the email address and it is understood that the potential client or customer is trading his or her email address for the free product or service.
* Having a simple signup — Online you put code on your website that allows someone to sign up for more information or a newsletter. No need to give away anything, have a contest or a sale. If they enter their email you can market to them.
* Online contests — A fun way to collect email addresses for marketing purposes that can result in a lot of sign ups fast in which you conduct a game where people win prizes, or one major prize.

Online promotions are expanding exponentially for all types of businesses. It doesn’t matter if your business is online or offline; online contests can boost your visibility a great deal and increase signups for your email list fast. To have a good result with a contest your prize should be bigger than a typical giveaway. In fact, the prize should be the largest one you can afford to give.

By giving away something large of value to the winner, you will create even more buzz about the contest. Plus, a larger prize will make your contest practically promote itself! For instance, if you have a contest that requires the participants to get votes, then they’ll be sharing it with their friends, and so forth. You’ll not only get more entries, but you’ll get voters who also provide their email address to you.

If you make the prize your own products or services, all the better. By giving away your product you’ll also probably create at least one customer for life. If the product is good, and I’m sure it is, the recipient will tell people it’s good, and they’ll buy your other products and services too. Plus, if you give away your own products are services in the contest you’ll be appealing only to your target audience. By giving away something else like a Kindle or something, you may attract only freebie seekers. Save those type of contest giveaways for your affiliates and offer your own products and services as the big prize on list building contests.

Outsourcing your online business – The value of investment

In today’s world of remote technology and fast broadband, a business owner can actually outsource an entire business. To some this idea may be frightening, but to others it has been the ticket to freedom from a boss or a job. Internet marketers and online business owners who leverage technology to their advantage are the ones who understand that for every contractor they bring into their team, they are investing in their business. Every task that can be successfully outsourced to an expert can bring a huge return on investment (ROI) in terms of time gained for yourself and your family. In addition, there will be a monetary ROI for each and every service provider with whom you contract.

Think of it this way. If you can earn 160.00 per hour, doing what it is you do that brings in money to your business, but you’re spending time doing tasks that can be accomplished for $25.00 or even $100 dollars an hour, you’re not investing your money or your time wisely. Why not spend more time doing whatever it is that you do that earns $160.00 per hour, and less time doing what can be done less expensively by someone else. Not to mention that when you outsource to someone who is an expert the job will be done faster and better without you!

In business, this is called — maximizing your efficiencies. If you’re a fabulous life coach imagine how many more clients you can take on if you’re not entering data, editing websites or sales pages, or editing content for article marketing. If you run a successful online business of any kind, you can probably make a list of activities that you could outsource to others that will cost less than your hourly rate. If so, you can use the time more efficiently by doing more of whatever it is that you do best and let others do what they do best. You’ll create a more powerful and profitable business if you view bring on contractors as an investment in your business rather than an expense.

For example, your hourly rate is $160.00 for doing what you do. You hire a Virtual Assistant to take care of posting all blog posts and article marketing articles for you for 10 hours a month. Now this is off your plate. Now you have 10 more hours a month to earn $160.00 – $25.00 per hour, this is a net increase of $135.00 per hour for 10 hours, which can increase your monthly gross income by $1350.00.

That’s an excellent return on investment and can’t be beat in any other way. Even if it takes you an hour a month to communicate with your VA you’ll still be ahead by over $1000.00 per month. The truth is, the monetary increase will become greater the longer your VA works with you. When people do the same task over and over again they will become faster and faster at accomplishing the tasks, so over time that 10 hours of work that you contract with a VA can become worth more than you might imagine depending upon how good the VA is at their work.

Content is Still King for Product Review Sites

So, you want to build a product review site and make a lot of money. Of course, you do! But, like with anything you have to do it right if you want to earn money. First, you need to decide who your target market is, then you need to choose the right products for your audience, and then you must fill it with keyword rich content that attracts search engines and humans alike. This is no easy task, but with a little practice, you can get really good at writing reviews that get results. We all know what results you want, right? You want to make money. So read on to discover the perfect formula for your product reviews.

Try it — When possible try the product you are going to review. If you cannot try the product, it makes it difficult to give it a great review. If you can’t review it yourself, offer the ability for site visitors to submit a review or invite those whom you know have tried the product to submit a review. If the reviews aren’t accurate, and someone buys the product they’ll blame you. How can you be accurate, if you haven’t tried the product or service — think of a way.

Be Truthful — If there are issues with the product that aren’t wonderful, but some are wonderful be truthful. Consider not posting reviews for products that are really bad. Sometimes, if you do that it makes the other products look that much more wonderful. However, be prepared for the owners of the product to be angry, especially if they gave you a review copy.

Why You? — Why should people trust your product reviews? Ensure that your site visitors and guests know why you are the one to give the reviews about your particular niche. Are you an expert in the area? Do you use these type of products on a regular basis? Do your clients use them? You don’t have to be a Doctor to review stethoscopes, but you do need to be able to interview those who do use stethoscopes.

Remember your Audience — You’re writing the review for the audience, not for the product creator, the vendor, or even yourself. If you keep in mind that you’re writing for a potential user of the product and not for anyone else you can keep your sights set on the correct keywords, the right attitude, and the best approach for the products you are reviewing.

Who, What, When, Where — These are the questions every product review should answer. The reader should know that the product is for him or her, what it is and does exactly, when they need it and where to get it. If you can’t answer those questions, then do more research, because nothing else matters as much as those four answers.

Benefits vs. Features — You’ve likely heard, when you are writing your own website, especially if you offer a service, that you should focus on benefits, not features. In the case of a product review, focus on both benefits and features. Discuss the features and the benefits of the features. What problem does the feature solve for the potential user?

Sum it up — In the ending paragraph tell your reader exactly what you think about the product. Is it worth the money? Now is the time to consider how you feel about the product. If you were going to use this product, do you think it’s worth the money the reader will need to spend? If you think so, say so, if not say so too. Your readers will appreciate your honesty.

Website Tools to Help You Capture More Leads

Autoresponders — You probably already have one, but you may not be using it to its full potential if you don’t understand everything that it can do. We’re talking software like Aweber.com, GetResponse.com, MailChimp.com and others. Just having it won’t capture leads; you have to also know how to use it properly.

Contact & Subscription Forms — Many autoresponder or email list services provide templates for generating forms, but you can also use other form services such as Formstack.com, Google Docs, and Formsite.com. You can go beyond what’s premade on your autoresponder and use your own.

Customer Relationship Management Software — No matter how badly you want it to be your autoresponder software and email list management software is not the same thing as a customer relationship management tool. Many CRMs work with your email list providers to create a better way to manage your customer relationships. Look at Insightly.com, Zoho CRM, and others. You can also look at systems that do both like Infusionsoft.com.

Google Hangouts On Air — This is a fabulous way to get the word out about a new product, service or event that you’re having. There is a lot to learn about Google Hangouts so you may need to do some practice runs or find an expert to help you but it’s a great way to connect with your audience pushing more leads to your website.

WordPress Plugins — A few that can help you bring in traffic, capture leads, convert leads and more are: WordPress Leads, WordPress landing Pages, OptinMonster.com, magicboxplugin.com and wp-livechat.com. Honestly, there are so many WP plugins that you can use to optimize your website for capturing leads that you can’t really list them all here. Start with these.

Canva.com — This is a nifty graphics generator that you can use for free with your own pictures, or use some of theirs for just a buck each, to generate terrific graphics for social media, presentations, blog graphics, Facebook covers and more. The reason this is so important is that you need to include visuals with your blog posts and social media updates to get noticed today. This makes it super simple.

Split Testing — You’ve hopefully heard of this but if you really want to improve your lead conversion rates so that you really can turn your website into a money maker, then you’ll need to practice split testing or A / B testing. You can use a variety of means to do this such as creating slightly different landing pages to see which one converts best, or different sign up forms, or offer different gifts. Practice makes perfect.

Finally, as they say: “Nothing is done until the paperwork is complete.” That’s true for your websites too. You must study your analytics to find out if what you’re doing is enough to get conversions. It’s good to know what is working and what is not working and you can’t know that without looking at and drilling down into the numbers. You can find out most of what you need to know using the free Google Analytics software available to all webmasters.

Would you like fries with that?

If you’ve ever been to a fast food restaurant, you’ve been asked the following, “Would you like fries with that?” Why? Because even hamburger and milkshake makers know how important it is to follow-up and follow through on a sale.

The same goes for internet marketing. Backend sales strategies, when applied correctly, are effective ways to increase your revenue and gain customer loyalty. But you won’t be asking your customers if they want fries with their ebook. Instead, you’ll be asking them if they’d like a report on the same topic that explores some of the issues the ebook does not.

As simple as it sounds, and as deeply woven into pop culture as it has become, the question, “Would you like fries with that,” is as strategic as a multi-million dollar advertising campaign. Backend sales strategies aren’t about how much money you put into them, they are about knowing who your customer is and understanding what they want, what they need and how you can exceed their expectations… oh, and keep them coming back for more.

Don’t let the customer simply place their order, drive through and never look back. Hit them with the soft sell by asking a question, or showcasing similar products to what they have already purchased. Because in the end, they may not even know what they really need. Sometimes, when you offer them the fries, they’ll ask for the milkshake too.

Manage Your Time — Focus on Income Producing Activities

One of the most productive time-management success secrets for business owners is to learn to focus on income producing activities. As a business owner, everything you do does not produce income. It doesn’t mean that those tasks that do not produce income aren’t important, all business owners have tasks to do that aren’t related to billable hours that are absolutely essential to having a successful business. But, knowing the differences of these various tasks is important to the effective management of time, because it helps create a better schedule when you differentiate your tasks.

Keep your focus — Each time you start a task ask yourself the question: “Is this a money making activity?” If the answer is yes, continue. If the answer is no, it is important to make a choice about whether or not the task is essential or a time waster. If it’s a time waster, stop. Save time wasters for when you really have time to waste. During business hours, you don’t have time to waste if you want to be successful in both business and leisure. Focus fully on any activity to get the most out of it.

Get into the flow — Brain studies have shown that most humans sleep and think in 90 minute cycles. Focus on each task or group of tasks for at least 90 to 120 minutes without interruption. Allowing yourself uninterrupted time, free from social media, email, door knockers, and telephones will enable you to get much more accomplished faster due to the existence of “flow”. According to Wikipedia, “Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus.” The point is, a lot happens during flow — and it happens regardless of the activity you’re engaging in. Whether you’re wasting time on Facebook, creating a work of art, or whether you’re entering data into a spreadsheet flow is your friend when it comes to time management.

Choose your priorities — Aside from the obvious, deciding what it is you want out of “life” there is a smaller picture to look at, which is what you’re going to do today. What are you going to do today that advances your business, brings in money, and gets you closer to being a successful business owner? That’s what you need to know each day as you go to work. If you aren’t centered on what it is you want to accomplish, you can get bogged down with a task list of 30 things and be upset that you only crossed off five of them today. But if you know exactly what you’re working toward and making the money you want to make, you can also feel good about getting the five things done if you didn’t allow yourself to get sucked into time wasting activities. If you’ve scheduled uninterrupted working time, stick to it unless a true emergency arises.

Delegate and Automate — It can be very difficult for a business owner to let go of non money making tasks to others. But, ultimately it is imperative that you find a way to automate, outsource, delegate or otherwise let someone else do tasks that aren’t a priority to earning money, but are nonetheless tasks that need to be accomplished. Whether it’s employing automation technology, hiring a bookkeeper, a receptionist, a Virtual Assistant, or a housekeeper it doesn’t matter. Any help will be a real time saving measure.

Making Money with Free and Paid iPhone apps

iPhones are one of the most popular mobile devices for surfing the Internet, playing games and even conducting business remotely. It isn’t difficult to get approval for your app via the Apple store so don’t be intimidated. You do have to pay for the software development kit, and follow all the guidelines and rules for developing a killer app. There are even companies that will create your app for you. You can also hire a programmer on sites such as rent-acoder.com, it’s up to you and depends on your skills.

However you do it, creating iPhone application is an excellent way to add to your income stream. If you’re a developer you can make money directly by creating apps for other people who need apps. If you want to expand your branding you can develop an app that gives potential and current clients a useful or fun app that they can use daily. If you’d like iPhone applications to be another way to earn money plus expand your brand you can offer apps free with advertising or sponsorship, or sell them out right for a onetime fee or even a subscription service. Even if your app is completely free, with no ads, and no charge, you can make money indirectly with an iPhone app increasing product awareness and creating a new way for your clients to use your products or services on the go.

For your application to make good money you’ll have to sell a lot of them, or create an app that is so useful and different that you can charge more than the typical free with advertisement up to 1.99 or so. If you create a really useful application or extension to an online app that you already offer, then you may be able to earn more than average by subscription. If you create a fun application that goes viral, offered free, with pay per click ads that earn money you can earn money that way too. Even if you did not have thousands of downloads, if the app is useful, or fun and something that is accessed on a daily basis the ads will earn money over and over again.

It will be up to you to determine which method of monetization or combinations of methods works for you. You’ll need to know your target market well enough to know whether or not they will pay for an app to avoid advertising, or whether they will even use an app or not. You can often offer both a free ad supported version and an upgrade to pay for a non ad supported version successfully. This gives your customers a choice and will give you a good clue as to what types of apps to develop in the future if you decide to create more.

Once you create your app and decide on how you will earn money then you will need to concentrate on promoting your app. You can promote it the same way that you promote any product you have. You can use social media, blogging, article marketing, and every method at your disposal to promote your new app so that you can make more money from free and paid iPhone applications.

Driving Your Target Market To Your Virtual Event

When you have put a lot of effort into planning a virtual event you want to make sure that people show up, but you don’t just want anyone at your virtual event, you want your target audience to show up at your virtual event. Marketing your virtual event with the results in mind will go far in ensuring that the right participants show up. You can do this by making sure every aspect of your promotion considers that target market.

Team Members — Likely you’ll have a team in mind to work with whether they are JV partners, or whether they are contractors, it takes a team to pull off an awesomely effective virtual event. Team members should all be on the same page at every step of the event from start up through to follow up.

Have regular meetings regarding planning, marketing, and conducting the event. Everyone should have the same message to the same audience but to their own special niche and with their own unique spin.

All team members should market the event with similar materials to various niches of the same target market. Keeping a unified marketing message will result in the right audience showing up to your event.

Speakers — Your speakers should have experience within your industry, or present a unique perspective to your target audience, as well as offer something useful to them. Ideally. they will put forward related and complementary services and not be direct competitors to you.

For instance, if you are a Life Coach that offers coaching to women transitioning to working from home, it is likely you will not want to invite other Life Coaches that offer the same exact service. Rather, you invite speakers who offer another kind of service to your client base, such as a speaker who offers tools and or services to help your client accomplish the goals developed in coaching.

Every speaker should market the event to their own audience using the information you designed for them to promote the event. Naturally, they will put their unique spin on the marketing material but using quality, cohesive marketing messages will ensure that your target market that resides within their market, comes to the event. Make this part of your contract with the speaker. In return, you will promote that they will be speaking and this will give them traffic to their own site and information.

Sponsors — The people who sponsor your event, should offer related and complementary tools and services to your niche. They should again, not be direct competitors, but they should still be of interest to your target audience. The sponsors’ advertising and information should flow well with your event’s color scheme, logo and message and not compete with you directly.

Sponsorships should also be limited. If you offer too many spots, your advertising and conference room will be cluttered. Also, if you have too many the sponsor might not get anything out of it, and won’t want to sponsor your event again. You want to keep sponsorships limited so that enough of your participants purchase from your sponsor to make it worthwhile to your sponsor later. Sponsors should be proud to have been chosen to be a sponsor of your event enough that they will announce it to their lists. This can be part of your sponsorship agreement, again they should use your thought out advertising message along with their own unique spin.

How To Make Direct Mail Pieces Stand Out From the Crowd

The average adult knows and understands how junk mail clutters up our lives. It’s stuffed into our mailboxes, it’s strewn across our tables and counters waiting to be sorted, and half the time we wonder how these advertisers even got our names and addresses in the first place.

From an advertiser’s perspective, however, this ‘junk mail’ is a way of advertising a product to a target market, creating awareness about an online business, or an effort to make a website name more recognizable. These goals should be present in every business owner’s marketing plan!

Experts say that the volume of direct mail delivered through the US Postal Service totals OVER 1 billion pieces each year, which totals over $71 billion in advertising revenue spent each year. Those are staggering numbers and yet other experts say the ROI is only about 1%.

With those kinds of numbers, it’s vitally important to strategize every direct mail marketing campaign, including how on earth will YOUR direct mail piece be seen amid all the other junk.

Tips For Creative Direct Mail Pieces

1. Use different colored card stock. Plain white postcards with black type may be cost efficient but they are boring and will blend in with everyone else’s postcards. Be unique and choose a neon-colored card stock to catch the reader’s eye.

2. Reduce clutter. Limit just one message per direct mail piece. Adding too much information to a piece will make it look like a Yellow Pages ad. Readers will be ‘blinded’ from the clutter and toss the piece right into the trash.

3. Personalize each envelope. By handwriting the recipient’s name and address, using a real stamp and not putting a company name in the return address, each envelope will appear to be coming from a friend instead of a corporation. Adding these personal touches will make them open the envelope to be sure they’re not missing something important.

4. Send a dimensional package. A box or other three dimensional shipping package will definitely raise the recipient’s curiosity, prompting them to open it immediately for their free gift.

5. Print a creative teaser or call to action on the envelope. Telling the recipient they have a free gift or giving them clear instructions to open the envelope often encourages action. Creative copywriters can improve their open rates even more by adding their unique flair.

Direct Mail Is Not A One-Shot Deal

Keep in mind that people are generally not swayed to make a purchase after their first exposure to a campaign and this is true when using direct mail marketing or online marketing tactics. Often it takes upwards of 6 or 7 viewings before people make the choice to buy and this means creating multiple direct mail pieces, each being unique and compelling. And this means increasing your advertising budget.

Direct mail can be an effective marketing strategy, even for online business owners wanting to improve their brand recognition or venture into local marketing. For the best ROI, plan each campaign carefully with experts.

What is Outsourcing?

When an online business owner decides to outsource, they are essentially contracting an outside provider to do the work that was previously and, in some cases, still is performed by the owner themselves. This may become a necessity as the business grows and owners are looking for ways to cut costs or expand their horizons.

Outsourcing became popular in the mid 1980’s and has continued to be a major part of big business practices with even more companies joining in and utilizing this service.

Most recently, this practice has reached beyond big corporations and is being done by businesses of all sizes, especially Internet business owners.

Among the many tasks that are being outsourced by online business owners, the most common ones are:

• Customer Support

• Content Creation

• IT/Tech Support

• Bookkeeping & Tax Preparation

• Keyword Research

• Article Submissions

• And tons more

A business owner can outsource tasks such as these in order to free up their own time and grow their business.

You may be wondering why this practice has taken off in the online business world. The simple truth is outsourcing saves money. The monetary savings are a huge part of why most companies choose to go this route. However, there are also the advantages of not having to offer benefits such as time off, health insurance, equipment, office space and not having to pay income taxes for independent contractors versus full-time employees.

There are many other reasons a company may decide that it is time to outsource. The following are some of the reasons, in addition to cost savings, why online business owners decide to go the outsourcing path:

• Quality Assurance – When an agreement to outsource has been reached, the outsourcing provider has to strictly adhere to a level of service that should exceed expectation. The business owner has full reign on how their services should be carried out and performed.

• Experienced Staff – Services that are needed will be filled by tapping into a larger pool of people who have expertise in the field needed.

• Time Management – Since a lot of the positions that are being outsourced are time intensive, this will free businesses to focus on more pressing aspects of their company.

• Expansion of Business – Many online business owners start out doing everything for their business by themselves. Once the business takes off it reaches a point where it is no longer possible for the owner to do it all alone if they ever want to grow.

• Time to Enjoy Life – The majority of online businesses were started because the owner wanted to actually be able to spend more time doing “non” work things and making more money than a regular JOB can provide. When owners outsource work in their business they are also freeing up their time to do the things they enjoy doing away from the business.

As you can see, outsourcing has its benefits. Whether or not the time is right to start outsourcing in your business is a decision only you, as the owner, can make. Take some time to think about where your business is and how outsourcing certain tasks might help you achieve your goals, both business and personal.