Today’s Most Effective Marketing Tool

Several years ago, SMS marketing became a very popular tool. You’ve seen it. “Text ‘PIZZA’ to 55-555 for regular coupons at your favorite pizzeria.”

Texting is the most used data service in the world. People text for hundreds reasons every day! And virtually all messages are read almost instantly – 96% are read within 3 minutes of being sent. The average response time for text messages is just 90 seconds! This blows away every other marketing tool, including email which averages a 20% open rate. Because of its prevalence and popularity among consumers, texting could be the single most beneficial tool for your business that you’re not already using.

But how do you turn texting into an automated marketing tool instead of texting your customers one by one? The answer is to use a bulk SMS mass text-messaging platform like TextMagic. The fact is, customers would rather text you than have to call someone else. Last year, only 14% of phone calls to businesses were answered without being placed on hold.

A fully-featured 30 day trial of TextMagic is available for you to try and no credit card is required!

Have you ever been given a list of contact information with address and phone numbers but no email addresses? Most often those phone numbers are cell numbers! and you don’t need to worry about clogging up your personal cell number with business messages or making yourself open to everyone, as TextMagic uses virtual mobile numbers and messages can come back to you via email or through your online dashboard. Click here to start your 30 day trial of TextMagic.

iTunes is Dead!

I don’t know if you’ve heard?

But Apple is killing iTunes.

After 18 years, Apple decided to end the app and move on to other ventures. (Sort of…)

Why should you care?

I’ll tell ya. […]

From Marketing Gimmick to Pop Culture

Recently,  I read an article about how pedometers have proliferated in smartphone apps and wearable fitness trackers. The article discussed how a new benchmark has entered our lives: Take at least 10,000 steps a day, which is about five miles of walking for most people. I-Min Lee, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, says “It turns out the original basis for this 10,000-step guideline was really a marketing strategy. In 1965, a Japanese company was selling pedometers, and they gave it a name that, in Japanese, means ‘the 10,000-step meter.”

Based on conversations she’s had with Japanese researchers, Lee believes that name was chosen for the product because the character for “10,000” looks sort of like a man walking. As far as she knows, the actual health merits of that number have never been validated by research.

This got me thinking about other marketing gimmicks that have become part of our pop culture, and how brands can have this type of impact on society.

In the 1930s, Coca-Cola, in need of a spokesman to spur sales in the slow-for-cola winter months, took the images of Santa and galvanized them into the red-suited, white-bearded, sack-carrying, merry, rotund figure we have today.

In 1924, Macy’s welcomed the world’s largest department store with their first parade in New York City. Although held on the morning of Thanksgiving, it was presented as a Christmas parade with floats featuring favorite nursery-rhyme characters, matching the theme of their window display that year. Today, it is an American tradition.

On the morning of October 21, 1892, children at schools across the country rose to their feet, faced a newly installed American flag and, for the first time, recited 23 words written by a man that few people today can name, Francis Bellamy. The Youth’s Companion, was the country’s largest circulation magazine, and in a marketing gimmick, the Companion offered […]

Layout Options for Web Design

Recently, I was asked to give a presentation in California on layout options for web design, so I’ve decided to share that information with our readers. Whether you are a web designer or a business owner, it is important to understand the basics of good web design to help you make decisions about your website. The first and most important thing to understand about ANY website, is that is primary purpose is to share content with your visitors. This is true whether you are selling physical goods on your site or you have an informational brochure site for a service busienss where you are just trying to attract customers to call your office. As Bill Gates said way back in 1996, “Content is King.” And it remains so today.

So, what exactly do we mean by “content?” It has been said that “Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life.” It can include:

  • Text
  • Images
  • Audio
  • Video

Ryan Diess say, “Content marketing is about transforming people that DO NOT know, like, and trust you into people that DO know like, and trust you.” As we can see from that quote, this is why it is so important that you are able to share content with your visitors in a way that […]

Incentivized Referral Marketing

Soon after I reached 1500 followers on Instagram, I was asked to join a company’s “ambassador program.” I was flattered, so I checked it out. Basically, they wanted me to promote their product and in return, they would pay me a 20% commission for everyone that bought their product through my link. That sounds like the definition of an affiliate program, so it got me thinking…What’s the difference between an Influencer, Brand Ambassador, Advocate, Affiliate and JV Partner?

Word of mouth is the strongest form of marketing there is, but there is no reason why it all has to be organic. Click To Tweet

Truth be told, all of these are some form of incentivized referral marketing. No matter what you call it, the idea is to provide some type of incentive to get other’s to market for you. Word of mouth is the strongest form of marketing there is, but there is no reason why it all has to be organic. Giving people a reason to share your product is a smart move for any company (as long as there aren’t industry regulations preventing it, such as in the financial services industry).

How do these different marketing terms relate?

As previously stated, these types of marketing have been used interchangeably. A lot of businesses name their referral programs with the term ambassador or advocate in the headline. It doesn’t necessarily mean that is a true ambassador or advocate program. Some people may refer to them as “rockstars” or “road warriors” (a term we used with my first business).

So are there any significant differences between a Brand Ambassador, Influencer, or Affiliate Partner? Technically, there are differences depending upon someone’s definition. For example, an influencer often has tens of thousands of followers and is paid a lump sum by the sponsoring company, regardless of the actual number of sales made, whereas anyone can be an affiliate marketer no matter how many or few actual followers they have, since they are paid for each sale they bring to the company. You can do a Google search on the differences between each of these terms if it is really important to you, but the one thing that they they all have in common is that they are content creators.

Each of these types of marketers is creating their own unique content on behalf of the company. It might be a blog post, an Instagram photo, an online review, a YouTube video, or a simple recommendation vie email, but what makes referral marketing work is that the person promoting the product has created their own unique spin on why someone should buy the product. And that is the reason why this type of marketing is so much more effective than traditional marketing (where the company is the one producing the content).

Think about it… […]

Tech Tidbits

Is the Facebook News Feed Really Going Away?

In January of last year, Mark Zuckerberg noted, “Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands, and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.” For nearly a decade, the News Feed has been the jewel in Facebook’s crown. However, over the past couple of years, Facebook has been locked into a battle with misinformation, troubled by privacy issues, and found itself trying to counter a decline in original content (photos, videos, status updates) shared by users. As a result, you may have heard the rumors that the regular Facebook Feed as we know them will be ‘going away.’ The same may be true for Instagram. It seems that day is getting closer.

Mari Smith recently stated, “What we might see is a combination of both regular feed posts in their original format, interspersed with vertical Stories. (And, possibly unskippable ads.) Navigation will be horizontal, tap and swipe. Nothing would be vertical any more.”

Certainly, Facebook seems to be pushing stories and the horizontal scrolling recently. Which is amusing to me, because horizontal scrolling is much less intuitive and vertical scrolling, especially with the layout of mouse wheels to enable easy vertical scrolling.

Another option that Facebook seems to be experimenting with is a “Grid View” instead of the traditional vertical view, as shown here:

The problems with the news feed are much bigger than just shifting to stories and the horizontal scrolling format. All businesses go in cycles, and it may be that the public is simply over sharing personal data with big businesses. Perhaps social media has reach it’s apex and is in a decline? Let me know your thoughts in the comments at the end of this article.

Page Rank is Still Important

PageRank is a system for ranking webpages developed by Google and named for founder Larry Page. It’s used to give each page a relative score of importance and authority by evaluating the quality and quantity of links pointing to a web page. Yes, you read that correctly, Google ranks pages, not websites, so it is to your advantage to get every page of your website indexed by Google, not just your homepage. Here’s how it works: each link from one page to another casts a vote, the weight of which depends on the weight of the pages that link to it. It’s believed that Google recalculates Page Rank scores after each crawl of the Web.

Due to SEO companies trying to spam the system, Page Rank is no longer displayed. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist or that it isn’t used in search results – quite the contrary. Page Rank remains Google’s secret sauce ingredient. SEO PowerLink recently conducted an independent study on the various factors that affect search engine placement. You can view the results of that study here.

Similar to Page Rank is your site’s Alexa ranking. Your Alexa ranking is based on a combined measure of Unique Visitors and Pageviews. It is a good practice to see how your site stacks up compared to other sites. For example, here is WebStores Ltd Alexa rank as of this writing:

As of December 2018, there are approximately 1.94 billion websites in the world. That puts in the top 0.06% of all websites in the world! The lower the number the better. The top 3 sites are 1.) Google, 2.) YouTube, and 3.) Facebook. Wikipedia is #5, Yahoo is #9 and Amazon comes in at #10. Most websites don’t even have an Alexa rank, as they don’t get enough traffic for them to be measured (they stop measure at about 20 million). Since your Alexa rank is based on unique visitors and page views, getting other sites to link to your pages helps to improve your rank, and the best way to get people to link to your site is to provide quality content that others find it worth linking to. Find your Alexa score here.

You will also notice that YouTube is the second most visited website in the world. It happens to be owned by Google. Imagine having high-quality links from YouTube pointing back to your website. that might do wonders for your Page Rank and search engine placement – just saying. (Hint: create video content about your website and link your videos back to the page on your website talking about what you discuss in your video!)

Speaking of Videos…

When it comes to getting more views for your videos, the most important thing you can do is […]

The Inconvenient Truth About Content Marketing

According to HubSpot, content marketing generates THREE TIMES more leads than paid search advertising. Whether or not that is true, content marketing certainly establishes authority and credibility that paid advertising cannot match, and therefore could easily generate 3 times more sales than paid advertising. But one thing both paid advertising and content marketing have in common is the need for consistency. I’ve had customers try paid advertising, and give up after one month saying it doesn’t work, because they didn’t get any new sales from the ad. In a recent podcast, my guest Preston Rahn, talked about how he sometimes runs ads for a year just to build a following before he even starts to ask for a sale. The return on content marketing can be even longer – you must consistently be producing content on  a regular basis for an extended period of time before you build up the “know-like-trust” factor with your followers to where they look upon you as an authority and are willing to spend their money with you.

This naturally brings up some questions:

  • How long is an extended period of time?
  • How often must I be producing new content?
  • How can I reduce the amount of time I spend creating content?
  • Should I be contacting my list every time I create new content?
  • What platforms should I be creating this content on?
  • Is it really worth it?
  • If paid advertising also take a time commitment, is there anyway to speed up the process?

Since we are all stressed for time, these are valid questions.  I’ve been blogging now since 2007. That’s 12 years of writing a new article every single week. This does not count the thousands of images I’ve created and posted to social media sites or the hundreds of videos I’ve made or guests that I’ve interviewed on my podcast. No wonder I have enough material to write a new book at least once a year. And, on top of all that, I manage to create hundreds of ecommerce websites for my clients, teach classes at the college level, and produce a series of my own online courses. That’s a lot of content. Still, I don’t generate nearly as much content as some of my colleagues do. I have a friend who has created 500+ videos on his YouTube channel. He is a one person company who has been doing this for a little over 2 years. That is almost 1 video per day for each work day. To put that into perspective, Donald J. Trump tweets 10 times per day and has produced over 37,000 tweets.  I have friends and colleagues that have produced twice as many tweets than him! Think about that:

365 days per year x 10 years = 3,650 tweets. You would have to tweet more than 10 times per day, every day, for 10 years to create that much content.

According to Neil Patel, the top 3 content marketing challenges are:

  • 69% say they lack the time
  • 55% struggle with producing enough content, and
  • 47% with producing engaging content.

Yet most consumers (90%) find custom content valuable. I’d say it’s the reason they might very well buy from you instead of a competitor. If everyone of your competitors is selling similar items, and they are using generic product descriptions and photos, then writing your own stories explaining why a product is awesome and telling that story with your own photos will make you stand out.Ah, but the time commitment. As John Buscall said, “Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.”

Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign. ~John Buscall Click To Tweet

Consumers today are exposed to more online content than ever before, so it’s even more challenging to rise above the noise. And it’s only going to get worse. But remember, the goal of content marketing is to build a relationship. Let’s remember that as we try to answer the questions above and see how […]

Give away the recording, but sell the show

According to Zazzle Media, 60% of companies struggle to produce content consistently, and 65% find it a challenge to produce engaging content. You can quickly overcome this obstacle if you think of your company in terms of experiences, rather than products or services. Products and services quickly become commodities, but experiences don’t. When we think in those terms, we can start to free ourselves to “give away the recording, but sell the show.” What do I mean by that? We have to look no further than at one of the most iconic bands in history, the Grateful Dead. We can learn much about content marketing from the Dead, who were true innovators when it came to marketing.

Products and services quickly become commodities, but experiences don't. Click To Tweet

In Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History, authors David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan illustrate how the Dead went far beyond being just another touring band to become a cultural movement. The Grateful Dead used free content to build a social network of fans before Mark Zuckerberg was even born. They pioneered many of the ideas we now use in social media and content marketing. Instead of banning recording at concerts, the Dead actively encouraged audience taping and distribution of the band’s legendary live shows. This turned attendees into raving fans – a word-of-mouth marketing force that out-performed most of the contrived corporate attempts we see today in social media.

And the live show is still our main thing. ~Jerry Garcia

Content marketing, in its simplest definition, involves giving away something valuable in order to sell something related. The Dead knew that its related “thing” was not the band’s recorded albums, or even the bootleg recordings of the shows, but the experience of the live show itself.

Rather than restrict recording and bootlegging, the Dead saw the practice as a gift from the fans, not a gift to them. The distribution of recordings from fans to future fans intensified and channeled desire for the authentic experience of a Grateful Dead show. Plus, getting people to the live venue fueled the other profit center for the band – merchandise.

You may have noticed that […]

Why no one is reading your content

It’s only going to get worse – as more and more people keep creating more and more content, the likelihood that someone is actually going to read what you’ve written is getting slimmer and slimmer. Still, we see top marketers say things Gary Vaynerchuk saying, “The more content I put out, the luckier I seem to get.”  And Bill Gates said, “Content is King.” It seems like all anyone talks about is content, content, and more content. You put out a ton of content, yet all you hear is crickets. As a result, you give up, and stop spending so much time creating content – you’ve got better things to do, right? If no one is reading your content (or watching it or listening to it), is it worth it? Should you keep going?


Stop and consider why. Why are you putting out content in the first place? Then, take a look at the world’s top websites: Amazon, YouTube, Facebook, even your local news sites. What do they all have in common? They all produce a ton of content, and not just monthly, weekly, or even daily, but continuously. Every time you go to one of these sites, you are presented with new information. I recently did a survey to verify this.The results were not surprising, but hopefully they are enlightening to anyone who is running their own website as to why visitors go to a website in the first place, and why they return (or not).

In response to the question, “How often do you visit this site?” 84% of the respondents said they visited Facebook either more than once a day or several times per week. But business sites are visited “Never, Seldom, or Occasionally” a whopping 92% of the time.  So, it seems that sites which have more frequent content updates are visited more frequently.

To verify this, I then asked the question, “What are your reasons for returning to this site?” I included a choice for the obvious answers, such as “interact with friends on Facebook” or “buy something on Amazon.” But respondents could select multiple answers to this question. These answers were quite revealing: 42% said they go to Facebook for “latest information and updates” and 50% said they go to business sites for the same reason. 33% of people go to Facebook for “Personalized Content” and 25% go to business sites for the same reason. Even though people are visiting Facebook much more frequently than they are business sites, the reasons why people are returning to a site are essentially the same – they are looking for good, personalized content and updated information.

Content is important, but you are not getting any traction from your content – why and what can you do about it?

The first thing is to make sure that you […]


I had the honor of interviewing someone this past week who has been called the greatest sales trainer of his generation, Eric Lofholm (you can listen to the interview at Eric is a master sales trainer who has helped over 10,000 students and has helped generate nearly $500 million in revenue in the last two decades. This interview got me thinking about how traditional sales techniques can be applied to typical shopping cart software. The answer lies in telling a compelling story. The story behind a product or service is the key factor in getting someone to resonate with your offering and to remember it. Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The feelings that stories evoke is instrumental in making a sale, regardless of the method you use to tell the story. Here are some ways you can tell your story:

The long description of EVERY product or service you offer on your ecommerce website should tell a story. There are multiple ways to tell a story, called storypaths. This is a common example, called […]

A Couple of Important Lessons

This week I want to share with you some important lessons about creating content. As you know, I am a huge believer that you must create content for your website on a consistent basis, as this is one of the primary reasons why someone will return to your website over and over again on a regular basis. Whether it be Facebook, your favorite news site, or Amazon, all the major websites provide new content on a continual basis. You must do the same with your website.

But, you will argue, “I don’t have the time to do that.” Or, you might be thinking, “I don’t have that much to say.” Well, here’s the good news – you can simply get someone else to create your content for you. and you don’t have to hire them or pay them (they might even pay you!).  I recently had a company in Pakistan approach me if they could write a guest blog for my website. You can see the post here. Now I don’t just randomly allow anyone to post on my blog, but if the content is good and relevant, I figure it’s a win-win. I get free content and they get free exposure. In fact, the second lesson for this week is that they got a free link back to their website – they used the anchor text “web development firm in Pakastan,” with a link back to their website. What this means is that when Google looks at this post, and they see that link, Google assigns them 1 vote for that search phrase, moving them higher up in the search engines for that term.Here's the best part about getting others to contribute content to your website - they will now send traffic to you when they share it with their followers! Click To Tweet

But back to getting others to create content for you… Each week I also do a podcast where I interview someone and we talk about business. This week I interviewed John Lawson, one of the top 100 ecommerce influencers in the country. John gave me about an hour of his time and we recorded our conversation. I got some great content, both as audio and video, which I can use for a number of purposes. You will definitely want to check out this interview, especially if you are selling online. Here’s the best part: Both the company in Pakistan and John Lawson will now send traffic to my website as they share their “win” with their friends and followers.

How can you do this for your business? Start by […]

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