Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing tips & ideas to help you grow your business, by Jim Connolly

Month: September 2008 (page 1 of 3)

Top newsletter tips – part 1

As you may already know, I produce a very popular newsletter; with thousands of readers spanning more than 100 countries around the world.  I have developed my newsletter without any form of paid advertising; everything has been achieved through my website, blog, referrals and forwarding!

Here are a few of my suggestions, if you want to either add a newsletter to your marketing or increase the success of an existing newsletter.

Content

I believe the finest way to generate a massive, interested readership for your newsletter – is to build your subscriber base on the recommendation of your readers! Of course, the only way to get people forwarding your newsletter and growing your readership for you, is to provide them with stacks of really powerful, valuable information!

My marketing newsletter carries an original article (always written by me) and usually just one very brief news story.  Most newsletters I see are just a massive sales pitch, wrapped around generic content.  As a result, no one bothers to forward them!

People do not forward adverts to their contacts; they forward things they find interesting, useful or both.  Focus exclusively on high value content and your newsletter will ‘go viral!’  I get around 25 new newsletter subscribers each day using this approach.

Only write for your readers

If you want your newsletter to generate new clients or customers for your business, make sure that you only write material that is 100% relevant to YOUR specific market! Many newsletters make the mistake of trying to appeal to too wide a range of readers and as a result, end up being of little relevance to anyone!

For example; if you sell insurance broking products to small businesses within your area – everything you write should be relevant to the local, small business community.  If you focus on their problems, their opportunities and their interests, your messages will always be relevant to the reader.  You will find it far easier to grow your readership this way, than if you write general information with no local appeal.

Ask your readers to forward your newsletter

Every edition of my newsletter finishes with a request.

“If you found this newsletter useful, please forward it to anyone you think might find it interesting!”

This causes people who have just read and enjoyed your newsletter, to focus on people they know who might also find the newsletter useful.  This simple step can generate a 200% increase in the number of new subscribers you get after each edition – often more!

Offer new subscribers something to welcome them

You should ALWAYS offer people an incentive for taking the time to subscribe to your newsletter!  For example, when you sign-up for my newsletter, you get a free copy of my short eBook; “10 secrets to success!” People LOVE this brief eBook and it’s a great way to welcome new readers!

Just make sure that whatever you offer is likely to be extremely attractive to your ideal profile of reader.

No more than once a week & no less than twice a month

If you send people any form of email communication more than once a week, it is likely to result in lots of unsubscribe requests! People hate being bombarded with emails; even emails that contain really useful information, like your newsletter!  I get so few unsubscribe requests using this approach that I manually delete them.  I get fewer unsubscribe requests a year than many people get in a week!

However, if you leave too long a gap between emails (more than 14-21 days), response rates and new subscriber numbers start to drop!  For my newsletter, two emails a month seems ideal.

Let your readers know their details are safe with you

Never, ever sell, rent or share your subscriber database with anyone!  Also, make sure you let people know that you will never share their details!

You only need an email address

If you want to send your newsletter to someone, you don’t need anything other than their email address.  Did you know that every additional piece of information you ask for, drastically reduces the number of people who will sign-up?  It’s true!

If you think that by getting your readers names you will be able to ‘personalise’ their emails – STOP!  It’s not 1999 any more and EVERYONE knows what a mail merge is! You make your newsletter personalised by making the information specific to your target readership – not by opening it with Dear Bob!

Newsletter marketing is something I will be covering again in future posts.  If you have any specific newsletter questions, either contact me using the contact button above or leave a comment here.

….and feel free to subscribe to my newsletter, using the button below!

Jim’s 1 Year Marketing Program

As some of my more eagle-eyed readers will have noticed, I have just added a new page to this website; all about my popular 1 Year Marketing Program.

If you are serious about dramatically improving your sales and profits, this program is exactly what you need!  To find out more, click here!

Making your marketing work

Imagine a building project, where the carpentry work was being carried out by an insurance broker, the electrical work was being handled by an accountant and where the bricks were being laid by a web designer!

That project would be a total mess!  Although the people working on that building are all intelligent professionals in their own area – none of them are professional builders!

Marketing havoc

Believe it or not, I see the result of this kind of havoc all the time; when I meet with the owners of small businesses!  I see what happens when someone who’s an expert in Law or Recruitment or Insurance etc, but  with no marketing background or experience, handles their businesses marketing!  They usually waste a fortune; on advertising that could never work, mailshots that no one reads or websites that no one visits.  They not only waste a fortune, they miss out on masses of new business too!

Marketing & cause and effect

If your sales and profits are not what you want, you must either hire a marketing professional or decide to learn professional marketing.  Business is all based on cause and effect, which is great news.  It means you can achieve any result you wish; providing you do the correct things, in the correct order – correctly!

The law of cause and effect also assures us that; “if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.”

In other words, you can’t expect better results without making better decisions and taking better actions. The business owner who moans about her lack of success, but refuses to improve her effectiveness through study and application is a fool!

Free marketing material to help you

As one of the UK’s best known marketing professionals, I have produced a stack of free marketing material for you.  It’s on my main website at www.jimconnolly.com; in fact, 100% of the sales and marketing material there is free – even the audio program!  I also write a massively successful marketing newsletter, which you can subscribe to using the button below.  All the marketing material on my main website and in my newsletter is written by me and the free audio programs are written and narrated by me – to help you make your marketing as powerful as possible.

I hope you find it useful!

Listen to the marketplace

Here’s one of the most valuable pieces of business advice I ever received.  It was given to me by a retired accountant way back in 1995, a few weeks before I started my business.

It is simply this: “Listen to what the marketplace is telling you!”

He went on to explain that if, for example, you find prospective clients (your marketplace) expect the cost of your service to be lower than you quote – the marketplace is telling you that it cannot see enough value in what you offer.  This means you must either make the value of your service more obvious with better marketing or increase the value of your service by adding more benefits to it – preferably both.

No matter how well someone markets an ‘average’ service, they will always struggle.  There are thousands of business owners out there who work long hours and extremely hard, with little reward.  This is because they are trying to sell something that the marketplace sees little value in, like yet another ‘average’; accountancy service, legal service, recruitment service or web design service etc.

Business is always going to be a struggle for them, because the marketplace is attracted to value – not ‘just another average service’.

As a successful marketer you should ALWAYS be looking for new ways to add value to whatever you offer.  The more value you pump into your product or service, the easier you will find it to make highly profitable sales and you will NEVER have to sell based on price. This marketing tip will help!

WordPress.com and business blogging

I wrote a post a while ago, saying that WordPress.com was a good place to host your business blog, if you were just starting out and wanting to ‘test the water’ as it were.

However, since then I have been emailed by a reader; who pointed out some poorly publicised, but extremely important limitations to a WordPress.com hosted business blog!

I looked into this and found 3 REALLY IMPORTANT reasons why I believe you should NOT use a WordPress.com hosted blog for your business.  Here they are:

1. WordPress.com insert ‘hidden adverts’ into your blog

Automattic (the company that runs WordPress.com), inserts ‘hidden advertising’ into the blogs hosted on their servers.

Hidden?

Yes, the ads they place into your blog are hidden from you - so you can’t see what THEY are advertising to YOUR readers in YOUR company’s name! Because Automattic use Google Adwords for these ads, they could be advertisements for your competitors products or services!  This is perhaps why they feel the need to hide these adverts from their users?  Anyhow, many of their users have no idea these adverts even exist; because they will not be able to see them when they look at their own blog. The ads are only displayed to their readers!

As of last week, you can pay to have these adverts removed, the fee is currently $30 a year.  This is an improvement, as until last week you were stuck with them! However, there are two far bigger problems with hosting a business blog at wordpress.com!

2. WordPress.com won’t let you advertise anything

I have been in marketing for over 20 years and I own and run a very successful international marketing business.  I don’t know a single company, which has a commercial blog and does not use it to promote their business or market their services in some way.  The whole point of a commercial blog is commerce after all!

Although Automattic actually encourage people to host a commercial blog at WordPress.com, they forbid any form of commercial advertising!  So, if you have any desire to advertise your services in your blog; you simply can not use WordPress.com – full stop!

3. WordPress.com won’t let you link from your posts to your website

One of the major marketing benefits of having a business blog, are all the links you get from the blog to your main website.  These links can be really useful for a business blog!

For example, the newsletter button at the foot of my blog posts is a link; however, it would be BANNED from use on a wordpress.com hosted blog! Also, links from your business blog to your main website can really help with the sites Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

However, these links to your main website (what Automattic refers to as a ‘third party’ website) are forbidden on a WordPress.com hosted blog.  Their terms of service state that by making content available on your blog, you warrant that it:

“does not contain unethical or unwanted commercial content designed to drive traffic to third party sites or boost the search engine rankings of third party sites

Although it is impossible to understand what they mean by ‘unwanted commercial content’ (as this is always going to a matter of opinion), the threat itself is clear.  If someone at Automattic sees that your posts link to your business website – you could have your blog suspended until it is removed!

Conclusion

Even if you pay Automattic to have their adverts removed from your blog, you are still left with a blog that:

- You cannot link from as you wish
- You cannot market advertise or promote your services on or even insert adwords
- You cannot customise fully
- You cannot advertise other people’s products or services on
- You cannot add commercially useful plugins to

A ‘free’ business blog on WordPress.com, with the ads removed, your own url added, some slight changes to its look and some extra space will cost you between $70 and $145 dollars a year.  For not much more, you can enjoy full control of a blog and (most importantly) use it to market your business; by hosting it with another provider.

I love WordPress software and the people in the wordpress.com user community are fantastic! WordPress.com servers are really reliable and very secure too.  However, if you want a commercial blog that you can advertise your services on and you want the freedom to link when and where you wish – I believe you need an analternative host.

UPDATE: Because some people are commenting here, without checking the date of the post (September 2008), I have disabled comments.

2 years later, changes to WordPress.com Terms and Conditions make it slightly more business friendly, but ultimately it is still a platform over which someone else has control.  WordPress.com these days says you CAN link from the blog to your 3rd party site (or main website) though they decide if you are OVER linking!  Any time you elect to put your time and effort into building something, which someone else can suspend or delete, you are taking a risk.  If you are happy with that risk, WordPress.com is still the best free platform out there.

Think long and hard before you build your marketing on a platform they do not control.

Jim.

Big blog update

I have just relocated this blog; from being hosted at WordPress.com to being self-hosted professionally.  This will allow me to provide you with far more resources and remove the limitations of having the blog hosted at WordPress.com.

Mr Mark White – “Thank You!”

The entire relocation / migration process has been expertly handled for me, by business blogging guru Mark White.  You probably already know Mark from his massively successful Better Business Blogging site.  If you don’t, you need to stop reading this, grab a coffee and take a look at the masses of highly valuable information there.  If you are in sales or own a small-medium sized business you will love it!

Thanks for all your expertise Mark!

3 great Internet marketing tips

In this blog post, I am going to give you 3 great tips to improve the amount of leads, enquiries or sales you make from your website!

But first, have you ever wondered why some of your competitors appear on the first page of Google, when you do an industry related search?

They have really average looking websites and the content is no better than yours – so how come they rank so highly and get all that lovely search engine traffic?

You ‘might’ be surprised to learn that it has LESS to do with the quality of their site and MORE to do with things like the number of inbound links their site has and how many times a day or week it has new information added to it!

Search Engine Optimisation = Google optimisation

I know people speak about Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO) – but it’s really Google optimisation. Here in the UK, for example, more than 80% of all Internet searches are done via Google. So, it’s all about Google and doing what THEY say you need to do, in order to rank highly.

This means, if you seriously want to get onto the first page of Google for a common search term associated with your industry or profession – I’m afraid it’s going to cost you serious money! I know medium-sized companies today, which spend over £8,000 every month on SEO; to get as close to the top of page one of Google as possible!

Yes, those people who appear above you in the search rankings at Google, are often paying tens of thousands of pounds a year for their FREE place at the top of those search results!

A big marketing problem for small businesses!

Google created a major marketing problem for every small business on the planet, as soon as it became the dominant search provider. It’s all down to how Google decides which sites to place at the top of its search rankings. Two of the most important things Google looks for are:

1. Inbound links, preferably thousands, linking to you from relevant sites!
2. Regularly updated pages, preferably updated on a daily or weekly basis!

Obviously, most small businesses simply do not have the time to add new pages to their website every day and they lack the time and expertise, to add the thousands of links from other people’s websites too!

Google’s SEO model loves BIG companies!

Bigger companies find it extremely easy to make their way to page one of Google.com – without breaking any rules! That’s because Google is rewarding things that small companies cannot afford to provide; like a dedicated person or group of people pumping links and content into their website!

Big companies, however, simply hire a great SEO company to do it all for them (along with the dozens of other nifty techniques that SEO companies use.)

Small companies & website traffic

How can a small company possibly compete; when it doesn’t have the time / expertise to do its own SEO or the money to outspend it’s bigger rivals?

Simple: It uses a different approach to generating targeted traffic to its website! That’s what I am going to share with you, with the following 3 essential internet marketing tips!

Internet marketing tip 1: Get an SEO company to optimise your site!

If you have a business website YOU NEED A GOOD SEO PROVIDER! A website that is not optimised might as well not be there – because it’s pretty-much invisible. An optimised website, on the other hand, can be a money-making-machine for you and your business. An SEO company will make sure that your website is configured correctly, so that it is visible to search engines. They can also make sure you have enough relevant inbound links and give you some great SEO tips (like putting keywords into the headings of your pages etc.)

Get an SEO company to look after your website on as regular a basis as you can afford. This alone is not going to get you to the top of Google, but it will make sure that your site can be seen by Google and that you get a better position than you have today. Every little helps and even basic SEO is often a very worthwhile investment!

Internet marketing tip 2: Get a business blog!

Google values sites with regularly updated content. This is useless for most commercial websites, because once they are written they are pretty-much static. There’s no need to add new pages or new sections each day, even if you had the time to.

Google likes to see new content added at least once a week, preferably more often! This is why so many businesses now write a blog, which is actually woven into their main website. Each new post counts as a newly added page and also generates new links – all working toward helping your website climb the Google search rankings!

Blogs are also a great way to reach new people and to have ‘conversations’ with them; through the comments section of each blog post. This is what I love most about this blog; it gives me the opportunity to have a two way dialogue with you. Right now, you can read what I am saying and then let me and all the other readers know what you think – something just not possible on a regular website!

As I write this, Jim’s Marketing Blog is just a month old and already has over 700 inbound links. It is also starting to generate a regular flow of search engine traffic and generating traffic to my main website at jimconnolly.com

Internet marketing tip 3: Use social bookmarking

You can generate high quality, targeted traffic to your website, without a search engine!

By joining a social bookmarking or social networking website, you can attract targeted traffic and make some great contacts too – all for free! I use StumbleUpon and my personal favourite Twitter – both of which have really helped me to reach more people with my work. I have had one page of my blog visited more than 5000 times in an hour or two – after a friend from StumbleUpon recommended it to his other friends. If you want to know more about StumbleUpon click the link.

Twitter allows you to communicate directly with people, each of whom have their own network of contacts. By selectively generating a network of contacts on Twitter, you can get highly-valuable feedback and also lots of new traffic to your website. I have made some amazing contacts on Twitter and can not recommend it highly enough! You can contact me now via Twitter – my user name is @jimconnolly (say hello)

There is also Digg, Reddit, Delicious and MANY more.

In fact, if you look at the bottom of all my posts, you will see a list of buttons. These buttons allow people who read my stuff and like it, to share it with their contacts at the press of a button.

You can and should be able to generate daily or even hourly enquiries, leads or sales from your website. This brief post / article has just scratched the surface and I will be adding more information in coming posts.

I suggest you start now, by looking for an SEO company who will give you an assessment of your website and a quote, to make sure your site is fully optimised. Many SEO companies offer different levels of service, from a one-off basic review of your website – to an ongoing service, where they handle everything.

I will be covering Internet Marketing and SEO a lot more in future posts and also in the articles in my newsletter.

Marketing Blog Update

It’s now just under a month since I launched jimsmarketingblog.com and I thought I would give you a bit of an update; regarding how things are coming along.

The emails and comments I have received have been helpful and universally positive!  It seems the information I have been sharing has really struck a chord with you.

It has also been great to be able to get conversations going in the comments sections of some of the posts.  Although I produce a very successful website and newsletter, these are one-way forms of communication.  This blog has allowed me to have a two-way dialogue and ‘get to know’ those of you who have commented here.

I already have just over 700 inbound links and amazingly, this brand new blog is already in the top 10% of all websites and blogs based on traffic! By the way, you can find ou how YOUR website or blog is doing with a useful little website called dnscoop.com. Simply enter the address (URL) of the site you want to check into the search box on their homepage, then hit the ‘check it’ button.  After a few moments you will be able to see how many inbound links your site has, it’s page rank, alexa.com rank and a few other interesting pointers.

Thank you for stopping by the blog and rest assured, I shall be working hard to ensure that this blog becomes a really free marketing resource for you and your business.

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