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Excerpts from the EntireWeb Newsletter – dated Feb 9, 2006

Article: The 7 Most Common Marketing Mistakes Michael Fleischner

When marketing your product or service, you need to have a firm understanding of your audience, the message you want to deliver, the offer you're willing to make, and the optimal timing for your marketing campaign.

Too often novice marketers, even marketing veterans, make costly mistakes that result in poor performance of their marketing campaign. Common marketing mistakes can be avoided with adequate planning, attention to detail, and ongoing measurement and evaluation.

If you're considering a traditional marketing campaign, an Internet marketing campaign, or something that's never been tried before, be sure to avoid these common marketing mistakes.

1. Timing.
You may have a great list, a fantastic offer, and even a well designed marketing piece, but if your timing is off, so too will be your results. As an experienced marketer, I have seen some very expensive marketing campaigns that were very compelling but failed to produce results. This is because the campaign reached consumers at a time in which they had no interest in buying the product. For example, trying to sell snow shovels in July would not be considered good timing.

2. Failure to Test Your Headline.
As the first thing your prospect usually reads, the headline is essential for luring your prospective buyer into the message, your offer, and the action you want them to take. Regardless of the medium, you should continually test your headlines (or subject lines) by running split tests and evaluating response. This ensures that your marketing message attracts the largest number of prospective buyers.

3. Failure to Test Your Offer.
In direct marketing, the offer is directly correlated to 40% of your response. If you have the right offer, people respond. There are other factors to consider as well, but providing a compelling offer is required in most instances. Offers can range from discounts to "hurry while supplies last", but the commonality remains. Test your offers for optimizing response.

4. Having a Good List.
Having the best offer and award-winning design is not enough. For many types of marketing campaigns, success is directly tied to having a targeted list. With today's sophisticated list generation tools, you can acquire lists that are highly segmented based on demographics, psychographics, buying behavior, and many other characteristics. The key here is not to be penny wise and pound foolish. If you're wondering where to invest your marketing dollars, spend them on developing a good house list (names you acquire on your own) or by renting/purchasing a well segmented marketing list.

5. Relying on a Single Communication.
On average, consumers are hit with over 2,000 marketing messages everyday. In fact, recent studies have indicated that consumers need to see your marketing message an average of 12 times before they take notice. If there is any truth to the claim in part or in whole, it means that you must communicate to prospects on a regular basis. Placing a single ad in the newspaper or sending a single email cannot deliver effective results. Determine the media that prospects use to gather information and develop an ongoing campaign that works within your budget.

6. Not Measuring Campaign Effectiveness.
Over time, your business is going to do a lot of marketing. Even if you are a small business wondering how you're going to communicate to a prospective audience, you're going to eventually have some type of communication. Regardless of the marketing campaign size or expense, you need to track your results. This can be done with a simple spreadsheet or a multi-million dollar CRM system. The bottom line is you need to record what works and what doesn't so that you can improve your results in the future.

7. Failure to Continue the Dialogue.
After consulting for a number of large companies, I'm still amazed at how many fail to communicate to customers on an ongoing basis. Often times, consumers or businesses only hear from the seller when its time to buy again. If you have an established customer base, chances are you've worked hard to acquire them. You should be spending some of your marketing budget to retain them. Be sure to open a dialogue with customers, solicit their feedback, and communicate with them regularly. This will help to build your business over the long-term.

Excerpts from the Site-Reference Newsletter – dated 06/2005

Article: 10 Successful Strategies To Site Promotion by Rhonda Wright

Rhonda White offers 10 common sense suggestions for promoting your website. Although the article focuses on what stay at home moms who are also website owners should do, the principles offered in this article can apply to all website owners.

1. Generate Traffic. To generate a lot of traffic to your site and gain recognition, you need to promote in as many places as you possibly can. Do not throw all your advertising dollars in only one or two spots. Try to determine or ask the amount of traffic they are generating. Sites generating huge traffic often require higher advertising rates. Be aware; however, that some sites requesting high advertising rates, may not necessarily be generating that much traffic. There are many sites out there that really offer a great deal and do not charge high rates. To generate more traffic find as many free places to advertise as you possibly can.

2. Target the Right Market. Try to find sites that target the type of audience you are marketing to. Example: Someone selling baby products should advertise at baby sites, mommy sites, networks, groups and forums where mommies hang out and visit frequently. Just because you may be a work-at-home mom doesn't mean you have to limit yourself to just advertising at "WAHM" sites. Place your focus mainly where your targeted market will be, but find all similar possibilities to target as well. Example: If you sell educational products to career-minded young people, you would want to focus where young people of this age visit frequently, but you can also search for a few places to network where moms may visit who have teens getting ready to graduate from high school.

3. Visit Mom Sites. Spend time visiting other sites by moms and see where they are advertising. If they are displaying a banner on their site referring to some directory or networking site this gives you a clue that they may have exchanged links or listed in their directory for free in exchange for displaying their banner. Exchanging links with websites of similar content and products as yours will help with your search engine rankings and once again target your market. While you are visiting other sites by moms, be sure to sign their guest book while you are there. Many guest books allow you to add your website's url.

4. Use the Search Engines. Use Google and Yahoo and do a search for "Free Advertising", "List your URL", "Add your URL", "Add your Site", "Free Site Promotion", etc. Also include keywords you use for marketing your site. Just be cautious before spending money with any new sites you haven't heard of before. You will probably be surprised at how many sites you find that still offer free advertising.

5. Go Local. There is a HUGE competition going on all over the internet especially for those who are promoting websites with direct sales. "Local" is gaining popularity...and for a good reason. If I decided to start buying Avon, for example, I would probably prefer to buy from someone locally. Use the search engines to do a search for free classified ads in your city and nearby locations. See if you can find any local networks, groups, forums, portals, directories, etc.

6. Write Articles or Ebooks. You don't have to be a professional writer. Just find some great content, some interesting facts, some helpful hints, etc. Your article does not have to be very long at all. To get better results, write more frequent short articles than just a couple of big long ones now and then. Be sure to include your name and website at the end. If you offer a newsletter, promote it as well. After you write your article, submit it to as many places as you possibly can. Give permission to others to use your articles as long as they include your name and website address.

7. Start a Newsletter. Newsletters are a great way to generate repeat traffic. It reminds your customer or interested visitors about your site when they receive your newsletter. In your newsletter, be sure to encourage your subscribers to forward your newsletter to a friend. Include information about how they can easily subscribe to your newsletter. Offering your subscribers a chance to win a free gift will often help you receive more signups.

8. Add Content. Content helps get repeat visits to your site. Sites become stale without new content. If you have a site that you can edit, use plenty of good content, especially using keywords that the search engines will pick up particularly targeting your audience that you are marketing too. If you don't have time to do this, there are lots of sites that offer "free content" and "free articles". Just do a search on the search engines to locate them. You can use their content for your site instead of trying to write your own content.

9. Partner with Someone. Working at home can begin to seem like a long lonesome journey. Find someone you can connect with and trust. Exchange front page links or banners and help each other promote your businesses. You could even add your partner to your signature. For example, under your name and link place: Partner, Sherry - partnerdomain.com. Have your partner do the same for you. Write and promote a newsletter together; manage a networking group together. Partners can encourage each other and make the marketing road a little smoother.

10. Read and Learn. Marketing is an endless task that must be done to generate sales. The best tip I can give is to read and learn all you can about marketing and sales. You can do this on the internet as well as your local library. Find someone who is successful and get some of their best tips. If possible, set aside at least an hour or two each day promoting your business. Many people make the mistake of thinking they can create a website and traffic will automatically arrive. It just doesn't happen. Behind each successful site is a hard worker who labored away to advertise and promote. You can do it too!

Choosing A Web Designer: A Plan To Guide You Through The Minefield.  By Robin Porter

Choosing a web designer can seem like a daunting task. They come in all shapes and sizes from freelancers working at home to glossy new media agencies, and there is as much variation in prices and service as there is in size. So how do you choose the right one for your business?

Select Your Marketplace

Firstly, decide what market your would like to select from: local , national or overseas.

If you would feel more comfortable meeting your designer, and running through your project face to face (maybe it’s the kind of project that needs to “evolve”) ,and your ethos is “quality of service” rather than “Pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” then a local web designer is for you. They can usually provide better back up, and be able to meet face to face to discuss your project and iron out any problems should they occur.

If you are a bit more budget conscious, then it makes sense to select from a “wider pool”. Getting quotes from designers across your country will usually obtain a more competitive quote. What you lose in face-to-face service is made up for in cost savings, and all but the largest web projects can usually be sorted out via telephone and email these days.

For the extremely cost conscious and value for money orientated (some would even say “brave”!) there is the overseas market. If you know exactly what you are looking for and can explain your project thoroughly and clearly in writing, then there are huge savings to be made. But what you save in price is invariably countered by having to do a little more work on your side – particularly when it comes to communication!

Finding Web Designers

To find a list of local web designers consult your Yellow Pages (or equivalent) or do a web search for “web designer “ “your area”. Looking further a field, you can do a web search or check out directories such as www.recommended-web-designers.co.uk . For overseas designers, go to web sites such as www.elance.com or www.rentacoder.com, the latter offering the benefit of escrow and arbitration services.

Draw up a shortlist

Draw up a shortlist of 3 or 4 designers to speak to. You can do this by visiting their websites, getting a feel for the type and size of business they are and looking at their online portfolio. Then call them – ask them questions about the type of clients they work for, timeframes and any other technical questions you have. Get a feel for how they communicate – whether they are on the same wavelength as you.

If you opted to go overseas, the websites already mentioned have ratings systems which can help you decide, and you can also send and receive private messages to ask questions.

Get Quotes

Once you have your shortlist, you can get quotes. For a straightforward website this can be a simple fixed price – for a more complicated project that is likely to evolve, you may just want to get a budget price at this stage, and then pin down details and a fixed price with your preferred bidder later. Always specify your expected timeframe for completion when obtaining quotes as this can affect prices.

Get References

Once you have your preferred bidder, get references. Any established web designer will be able to provide details of satisfied clients. Email them and ask if they were happy with the service received, if the job was completed on time, how unforeseen problems were dealt with etc.

Remember to trust your instincts: If you are not entirely happy with the references you obtain, walk away and select another designer.

Appoint your web designer

You now have a fixed price, references, and confirmed timescale for your project. Now appoint your designer!

Most have standard agreements –read them carefully, and if in doubt get your legal adviser to look them over. Make sure timescales and project milestones are specified, as well as payment terms. Find out how alterations to your project are dealt with – in terms of cost and delays – and how disputes if they arise would be settled.

Finally, when you are completely happy, sign on the dotted line and look forward to a productive working relationship with your web designer!

Excerpts from the Web Pro News – dated 10/2004

Article: Word Count And Search Engine Optimization by Shari Thurow

Reader question: Is it really important for search engine visibility to have my own domain name? Also, would it be better for my site to have four pages (total) instead of three? I want to use the content on two pages for my home page. I heard that the home page should at least contain 400 words so that it is more attractive to the search engines.

Answer: With all of the search engine mythology available on the Web, it is no wonder people get confused about how to build search-friendly Web sites. To help build better sites, I will answer these questions one by one. Search engine optimization should go hand-in-hand with site usability.

Domain names and SEO

For this paragraph, forget about search engine optimization. Just think about your target audience. Every business should absolutely have its own domain name. If a business owner is not willing to spend the $30 per year (or so) on a unique domain name, it communicates "cheap" in a bad way.

By domain name, I mean having one like this: www.companyname.com. The domain name does not have to be a company name. It can be a keyword phrase commonly associated with the company name. Abbreviations? Well, abbreviations do not mean anything to site visitors who have never heard of your company before. Just make sure your domain name is easy to type and easy to remember. That is the best advice I can give any business owner about a domain name.

Okay, back to search engines. Some search engines do not give any weight to keywords in the domain names or file names. Some search engines give a little bit of weight to keywords in the domain name. If you really think everything through to a logical conclusion, if your site sells Honda auto parts, you might name a file honda-parts.html. Savvy webmasters will label subdirectories and files with names that make sense to their target audience. Programmers might tend to name files with nonsensical (to end users) numbers.

Do not obsess over this search engine marketing strategy. I would not change every single file name on a site just to put a keyword in it. I would not buy a domain name just because it has a keyword in it. Plenty of sites rank well over time without keyword-rich domains.

But from a pure business perspective? Buy your own domain name to communicate professionalism.

Word count and SEO

What is very difficult about search engine marketing is that facts are often combined with truth. And the truth is that a considerable number of pages with a word count between 400-800 words tend to rank. Does that mean that every single Web page should contain 400-800 words? No.

If a page can communicate a full thought or idea with less than 400 words, then I would not purposely try to add words just to hit a word count standard. Plenty of pages rank well that contain less than 400 words. In fact, many SEOs recommend that a page have at least 200 words. Where they came up with this number? I don't know. I do know that a 200-word Web page usually contains enough content to communicate a full thought.

For example, let's use a clothing ecommerce site's product page. On a product page, end users want to see price, availability, sizes, material (what is the shirt made from - cotton, polyester, silk), colors, maybe even a few reviews. That is 100 words, easy. The site owner's primary call to action is Add to Cart. So that call to action should be featured prominently on the page.

But what if site visitors are not ready to make a purchase? A smart webmaster will have related items available on the page. The related items are usually placed in the right column on a page, but I have seen them placed directly underneath the main product descriptions. These related items are also good for upselling in the event that a shopper does Add to Cart.

The related items are usually a combination of a thumbnail photo and a product name. That adds to the word count. Then add in the headings, breadcrumb links, text links at the bottom of the page, HTML title tags - and voila! A page that contains at least 200 words, is very focused (Add to Cart), and has a back-up plan if shoppers are not ready to take the main call to action.

On the flip side, if a site owner needs to communicate an idea in more than 800 words, I would not necessarily try to shorten the page's content or split it up into multiple pages if the page is performing well. In terms of search engine optimization, a page that contains over 800 words might not be focused enough. A good SEO specialist can fix that by breaking up the text into more "scannable" units with keyword-rich headlines separating the units.

If you find that a 800+ word Web page is not performing well, even though it is fully optimized? Maybe it might be a good idea to divide the content into multiple pages. Remember, usability is very important. If you find that your target audience prefers the longer pages, then give it to them. If you find that your target audience prefers multiple, shorter pages, then give it to them. But do not obsess over word count. It's a general guideline, not a Holy Grail of search engine optimization.

Web page layout and SEO

How a search engine marketer optimizes a page depends on the page type. For example, I would not optimize a category page the same way I would optimize a product page. I would not optimize a site map the same way I would optimize a home page. An FAQs (frequently asked questions) page is very different from a form page.

Using a textbook as an analogy, a home page should act as a site's table of contents. It should point to the main sections of a site, the ones that are most important to you (the business owner) and the target audience. What are your best-selling products and services? Do you have a monthly or seasonal special? These features can be more prominent on the page through use of screen real estate (top of a page), use of color and emphasis (HTML/CSS-formatted text), and photos.

A site map is more like an index. Do not put links to every single page of a site in your site map unless you have a small site. With a larger site, site map links should point to the main category pages, with the main category pages pointing to the product pages. I tend to create site maps based on user behavior and site statistics analysis.

Search engine optimization is more than placing keywords on a site. A savvy search engine marketer knows how to work with a variety of Web page layouts.

Conclusion

To be perfectly honest with this reader, a four-page Web site is a brochure site. People do not visit sites to see how wonderful a brochure looks. They visit sites for information. In addition, it might be difficult for a four-page site to get quality link development.

Adding keyword-rich content is not as difficult as it may seem. All sites should have a home page, about us section, list of products/services, FAQs or help section, call-to-action forms (contact us, add to cart, etc.), and a site map. If a site owner wants to utilize search engine optimization as an online marketing strategy? A links/resources page can provide useful information as well as a tips/how-to section.

Buy your own domain name to communicate professionalism, and do not obsess over word count. 400-800 words is a good starting point, and I would even venture as low as 200 words. Think about what your target audience wants to know about your product and/or service. Always create content for your target audience, first and foremost.

Excerpts from the Hewlett Packer News Letter – dated 09/16/2005

Article: “Protect And Maintain Your PC"

Making your PC a safe zone is easier than you might think. Here are some simple, proactive measures you can take to curb hackers and prying eyes.

Quick tip: Turn off your Recycle Bin.

1.Right-click on the Recycle Bin icon on your desktop and choose Properties > Global.

2.Check the box that says, “Do not move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted.” Files will then be permanently deleted.

Quick tip: Delete your web history and your browser’s cache.

1.In Internet Explorer, select Tools > Internet Options.

2.Click General, then click Clear History.

3.To clear the cache, click Delete Files.

If you do not use Internet Explorer, check your web browser’s help section for instructions.

Quick tip: Learn to identify spam.

Recognize signs of spam:

• Subject line: Is it for something financial (mortgage rates or free money) or a joke (“FWD: great punch line”)?

• Sender: Is the name common, but you can’t place the person?

• Date sent: Was it sent much later or earlier than its arrival?

If an e-mail looks suspicious, do not open it. Check if your e-mail provider offers a spam filter so you can activate it and prevent unwanted messages.

Quick tip: Password-protect your PC.

This will make your PC inaccessible when it’s first turned on.

1.In the Control Panel, click User Accounts.

2.Click Create a New Account to create a user identity and password.

Quick tip: Password-protect your screen saver.

When your screen saver runs, your PC can only be reactivated by entering the password.

1.In the Control Panel, click Display.

2.Click the Screen Saver tab.

3.After selecting a screen saver, check the box next to On resume, password protect.

4.Click the Apply button to set the password, and then click OK.

Performing routine maintenance tasks, like updating your antivirus software, will keep your PC running at its peak. Neglecting maintenance can slow down your PC and increase the frequency of freezes and crashes. But how do you know what to do and when?

HP’s PC Tune-up Center helps you keep your PC in top form. It provides maintenance schedules for your desktop or notebook PC, and offers free classes in tuning up your PC.

» HP PC Tune-up Center

» Free online class: Tune up your PC

A warranty is the most cost-effective resource there is for minimizing potential repair expenses and having instant access to technical support. HP Total Care provides the free initial service and support that comes with your HP PC, plus a variety of upgraded and extended options for enhanced coverage as long as you need it. Only HP’s Total Care warranty covers your new HP desktop and notebook PCs for a full year, with service you can rely on 24/7. In addition, HP Total Care Extended Service Plans let you add up to three continuous years of technical assistance from trained HP support specialists. There are a variety of support, repair, and service plan options, so you choose the length and scope of coverage for your specific needs. Visit www.hp.com/go/totalcareservices for details.

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