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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… […]

You can make a difference!

My friend and mentor, Ken McArthur is producing a feature length movie called “The Impact Factor.” This is a story that needs to be shared with the world. And you can help make this happen. I have already committed to a monetary pledge and have also donated some of my material at incentives for his KickStarter campaign. For as little as $1, you can help make this film a reality. For $10 you also get my book, “The Influencer Effect,” in both digital and audio format (as well as being listed in the credits of the film). In fact, you get over $1000 worth of benefits for a $10 donation! But the real point is you get to see this story brought to life.

Ken has shared the story he is portraying in the movie with me, and it is really powerful. You can see a short trailer on his KickStarter page. Only 37.55% of Kickstarter Film & Video Projects are successfully funded. The Impact Factor currently is at 66% funded with 22 days to go. Join me in helping make this film a reality! Visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theimpactfactor/the-impact-factor-movie-a-feature-narrative-drama

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How come I’m not listed on the first page of Google?

This is still the question that most business owners ask. However, I always tell my clients that if they do everything else well, the search engines will take care of themselves. This means that we need to look at what is going on with your website and your overall web presence to see why you are not listed on page one of Google.

You should also understand that Search engines are not the only source of traffic (in fact, I would argue, they are not even the primary source of traffic for most sites.)

I would argue that search engines are not the primary source of traffic for most websites. Click To Tweet

You hear stats all the time that Google accounts for somewhere between 70% to 90% of the search market. While this clearly makes them the market leader and dominant player in the search world, that does not mean that they are the only ones driving traffic to your website! Various studies indicate that organic search drives somewhere between 34.8% and 51% of total website traffic. Social media drives another 5% to 25.6% of traffic. Paid traffic accounts for maybe another 10%. Where does the rest of the traffic come from? The answer is often YOU! People either click on a link that you put out on the internet (such as a directory listing or blog post), they enter your url directly into the address bar, or they get there through an email that you sent them. This is as much as 60% of the traffic that comes to your website and it is traffic that YOU (not Google) control.

I recently had a conversation with a client who had discovered that he was “invisible” to the search engines and was really concerned about this. Then, I got a message from a another client asking me how come he didn’t show up on page 1 of Google. Despite the fact that most of your traffic comes directly from your own efforts, these companies (like most of us) value the free, organic traffic that Google sends our way. So, I did an analysis of his website and here is what I found, and the solutions  that I recommended: […]

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 WebStoresLtd.com 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!

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 […]

How Behavioral Marketing Works

We would all really like to think that we are not under the control of marketing. We’d like to think that we get to make our own decisions, and that people and companies aren’t learning about us in order to sway us one way or another.

But luckily for companies, that’s not really what happens. Now, in real time, they’re able to see how their marketing is working to influence behaviors. You know where people are looking online, what they’re looking at, what their interests are, and perhaps what their dislikes are. Knowing that can help you deliver better, more targeted information in order to, of course, sway their behavior.

Even if you aren’t very sophisticated in your behavioral marketing, you’re likely putting the tenants to work in your emails. You’re sending a message and then you’re asking someone to do something after reading it. What else do you need to know about this subject? This graphic explains it.

They Do This, You Do That: How Behavioral Marketing Works

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StorySelling

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 https://gregjameson.com/eric-loftholm/). 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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