Article Marketing and Targeted Website Traffic

July 5th, 2010 by Rob

Writing articles and submitting them to article directories is a long running strategy for building targeted website traffic and I have been experimenting with it to promote this site. From my readings around the web it seems that www.EzineArticles.com is pretty much the best directory to use. It has a PageRank of 6 out of 10 which means Google considers it very authoritative (perhaps something to do with the fact that each article that is submitted is reviewed manually by a human to ensure quality standards).

Anyway, here is a screenshot of my submitted articles:

Article Marketing and Targeted Website Traffic - Click Through Rate Screenshot

Two interesting points which struck me:

1. The articles which have gained the most views are the ones using the “New Business Ideas” keywords. I targeted this keyword after seeing its popularity on Google Adwords External Keyword Tool (great for looking at how many people search each month for a given keyword).

2. There have been 12 people who have clicked through to Business Virgin Online. Now, I have actually written all of these articles myself but if I had outsourced them say for $5 each then it would have cost me $60 (7 x $5). So based upon this each visitor to my website would have cost me ($60 / 7 =) $8.50! By comparison, the Google Adwords External Keyword Tool estimates the cost of 1 visitor to your site targeted on the search term “new business ideas” would cost $3.89. I’m not giving up article marketing yet but I wonder if it is actually quite an expensive source of traffic.

Any thoughts on this?

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New Business Ideas – Profitably Exploiting Consumer Trends

July 1st, 2010 by Rob

New business ideas are sometimes hard to come by and I’ve been recently researching more techniques to discover the latest emerging consumer trends. I say “more” because I have previously blogged about consumer trend websites that I use. This time I’ve been letting the data tell me what is important:

If you haven’t seen Google Insights then please do check it out. It’s free and is a really useful tool which charts the level of interest in various Google search terms through time. Of course this is a great proxy for emerging consumer trends. Here are 3 tips for using it that I am finding very useful:

1. Pay attention to seasonal trends (i.e., monthly). Try entering “Easter” to see a nice example!

2. The “Rising Searches” table is very useful for observing more specific and targeted search terms.

3. Make good use of the facility to select geography. If you are considering setting up a local business then this is invaluable to inform you which search terms people are using to find your product or service in your specific local area.

I’ve been able to come up with several new business ideas using these techniques as well as checking to see whether consumer trends are supportive of my existing business ideas.

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Transforming an “Ordinary” Business to an Extraordinary Moneymaking Machine

June 27th, 2010 by Rob

One of the key lessons from Dan Kennedy’s “How to Make Millions With Your Ideas” is that it is very difficult to make money from as-yet-unseen, revolutionary products or services. After all, how do you even know that a real market exists for your new idea?

A more low risk alternative is to make an “ordinary” business into an “extraordinary moneymaking machine”. Kennedy cites Larry Harmon’s De-Mar Plumbing Company as a great example. The business was so successful that, in 1993, it reached Inc. magazine’s 500 fasting growing business list. By surveying and listening carefully to his customers Harmon differentiated his business from its competitors in three main ways:

1. Guaranteed same-day service. This immediately addressed the number one irritation of customers that competitors would often advise that they could get out to them in “about three days”.

2. 24 hour/7 day service. Again, addressing what the customer really wants. If you have a leaking pipe you want it fixed NOW regardless of whether it’s a weekend or the middle of the night.

3. Flat rate pricing. This differed from the labor pricing + cost of materials model (which often shocked the customers) by effectively providing a price guarantee and therefore reassuring the customer in advance about exactly how much a job would cost. “We’ve developed a price book that covers 98% of all the jobs we face”, said Larry.

So perhaps it is time to spend less time on new shiny innovative ideas and simply rework a traditional outmoded and very “ordinary” business model.

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30 Day Challenge 2010 – Going Again

June 24th, 2010 by Rob

After doing the 2009 30 Day Challenge I’ve decided to participate again this year. It’s now been renamed “The Challenge” to reflect a significant change in the course structure. Everything gets underway on July 1st 2010 and the methods taught are useful not only for internet businesses but also traditional offline businesses who are currently not making the most of online marketing opportunities.

I’m keen to update myself on the latest internet marketing techniques as things move so fast with the changes to Google search algorithms, emergence of social networking and overall competition in the online marketplace. My other motivation is that I didn’t succeed in making $1 online when I completed the course last time around (this is the main goal of the program). I think this was mainly due to the fact that I picked a guitar playing related niche in which people seem to be generally looking for free information rather than actual products to buy.

If at first you don’t succeed… 🙂

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Small Business Ideas and Consumer Trends

June 21st, 2010 by Rob

In addition to trendwatching.com I have recently been using a number of other resources to identify emerging consumer and business trends.

springwise, coolbusinessideas and killerstartups utilise “spotters” around the globe to provide daily updates on recent business startups. The latter site is focused on internet businesses. I’ve added these sites into my Google Reader (still loving it!) which is now feeding me with a 30-40 new business startup ideas per day. Some seem absolutely mad/crazy but it really highlights how focused and determined entrepreneurs can be when they become truly passionate about a new idea – It seems there is no stopping them!

I’ve also just discovered a great tool here to analyse the trends amongst the blogging community. Since there are now numerous blogs for pretty much any topic you care to mention this is a pretty useful site for identifying consumer trends that are emerging within the business niches in which you are involved or interested.

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Small Business SEO

June 18th, 2010 by Rob

Search Engine Optimization

Whilst getting on the front page of Google’s search results is clearly desirable for any business I was surprised to learn how important the exact positioning is within those results. According to this research on “organic click through rates”, just over 46% of Google users choose the top ranked search result, 29.4% choose the second ranked result and 19.8% click on the website positioned third. Some degree of caution is advised here as I have seen other statistics which are different due to the data sample used and the method of calculation. However, what is true across the board is that the distribution of click through rates is heavily weighted to the top ranking positions within the results. This means that business owners can gain tremendous leverage by working to increase the ranking of their websites (a technique known as Search Engine Optimization). For example, based upon the above statistics a move from position 3 to the number 1 position would more than double your website traffic!

I wonder how many small business entrepreneurs are completely unaware of this?

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Quit The Day Job

June 15th, 2010 by Rob

Out for a drink last night with my friend Jason who has just quit his lucrative job in financial services and is moving to the countryside to start up in the holiday rentals business. This has left me asking “Is there something in the water?” as this is the latest of 5 acquaintances that have quit their careers in recent months!

Whilst my experience is clearly anecdotal rather than statistical, I did blog about a recent startup called Escape The City which seems to indicate this phenomenon is somewhat of an emerging trend.

These decisions are invoking quite a fight or flight emotion in me right now. On the one hand the “flight” option, namely quitting my job and travelling into the great wide open is the most exciting prospect I can think of. However, I know the logical thing to do is to “fight” at my job a bit longer to save more money and fully form my business ideas and plans.

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Small Business Failure – The Number One Reason

June 11th, 2010 by Rob

The majority of small business failures stem from one fatal assumption:

“If you understand the technical work of a business, you understand a business that does technical work.”

This at least is according to Michael E. Gerber and to be fair he makes a pretty compelling case in his book “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It”. Let me explain…

Most people start businesses directly related to the technical skills they have acquired during previous years of employment. The barber opens a barber shop; The musician opens a music store; The carpenter, or the electrician, or the plumber becomes a contractor. 

But these technical proficiencies are unrelated to the entrepreneurial skills which are vital for small business success. And so happens the “fatal assumption”. Instead of working “on the business” by developing procedures, systems and growth strategies, these technicians are instead wholly consumed by working “in the business”.

So what is the solution? Well, I’m only on page 117 of 268 so bear with me and I promise blog again on this shortly! 🙂

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$3m to $60m – Bringing An Offline Business Online

June 8th, 2010 by Rob

I’ve just read an interesting article about a wine retail business in Springfield, New Jersey. It was inherited by Gary Vaynerchuk in 1987 when it was turning over $3m. Bringing the business online – at a time when competitors were still using fax machines and phone calls – dramatically accelerated growth and today the business has revenue of $60m.

Online Marketing - Wine Library TV!

Online Marketing - Wine Library TV!

Although there are fewer and fewer businesses that don’t have some kind of online presence it seems to me that many of them are not making the most of their online potential.  For example, Vaynerchuck has an online video blog which is watched by over 100k people! How many businesses are missing out on this? It costs nothing (or very little except some time) to record some videos, upload them to YouTube and post them to your website. Worth considering how much value-added this could deliver to the business and how cost effective this is relative to conventional advertising.  A no brainer for many entrepreneurs?

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5 Tips On Generating Free Advertising For Your Business

June 5th, 2010 by Rob

Generating Free Advertising - Steve Clarke

Generating Free Advertising - Steve Clarke

When I learnt that millionaire entrepreneur Steve Clarke had generated over $2.5m of free editorial coverage for his company in the United States I decided I couldn’t miss out on his recent conference call on how to achieve this. The call was hosted by Steve and comprised an interview with local newspaper editor Paul Winspear.

Top tips were:

1. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with either the Editor, News Editor or Reporters. Provided you have a newsworthy story they will be pleased to hear from you.

2. New or junior reporters are often especially pleased to receive your call/email as they are encouraged to establish their own primary sources for news.

3. Stay in touch with your contact and try to build a relationship. You might even end up with a column!

4. Your initial contact is effectively a press release. Don’t worry too much about the exact format but it should contain an eye catching headline, an intriguing first couple of sentences and a call to action at the end (e.g., email/call me). 300-400 words max.

5. Especially interesting topics could be awards or unusual orders that your business has won, exceptional company results and your employees (e.g., maybe one of them run a marathon or given birth to triplets?!).

There were many other interesting points made and Steve mentioned he would be posting the call as a podcast on his website soon (see the link above).

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