The Prosperative Blog

How A Simple App Can Explode Your Site Traffic

If you’re not heavily courting mobile device users, expect your business to fail in the next five years. 

Hopefully my bold statement and that comScore graphic got your attention. If you’re a content producer, you cannot ignore mobile users. Yes, that means having a great looking, responsive mobile website, but it also means engaging your users in a custom app designed for your site.

Let’s think about that last statement for a moment. Do you really need an app for your website if you already have a great mobile site?

To answer that, ask yourself: How much time do you spend on your phone or tablet each day? Of that time, how much of it is in apps versus your mobile browser?

Mobile Users Spend More Time In Apps

If you’re anything like the typical user, 90% of your time is spent in apps. As a mobile society we’ve grown accustomed to using apps. It’s just quicker to load up an app and flip through it than it is to open up the browser and clumsily tap a site name into the url bar or do a search at Google to find it.

But don’t take my word for it. Take a look at the facts in this chart:

Of all the time people spend on their mobile devices, only 10% of that time is in the browser. That means if you limit yourself to a mobile website you’re missing out on a potential explosion of traffic and revenue.

Apps Aren’t Just For Entertainment Anymore

I’d be remiss to ignore the fact that the chart in the previous section shows most of people’s app time being spent in entertainment-focused apps. If your business is entertainment-focused, that’s even more reason for you to create an app. If it’s not, notice that 1 minute out of every 4 that people that spend on their phones outside the browser is not related to entertainment.. That’s still two and a half times more time than people spend in their mobile browser. So unless you want to miss out on 240% more traffic to your site, you need an app.

Seriously, though, how many visitors and potential new loyal customers or readers can you get using an app that’s purely informational? Do people really install those kinds of apps? Indeed, and they do so in droves. Here are a couple of examples:

100 thousand downloads

500,000 downloads

1 million downloads

I found all three of these apps at the top of Google Play’s search results for “weight loss tips”. All three are basic apps. There’s nothing fancy or impressive about any of them, and yet collectively they’ve been installed by more than 1.6 million people — and that’s just from Google Play. Add the numbers from Apple and Amazon (whose app store is very popular for the many millions of Kindle users), and we’re talking double or triple those figures just for the top 3 apps.

Keep in mind that these example apps are purely informational in nature. They’re not games, they’re not productivity apps — they’re not really any different than a mobile website in any way except that they’re an app.

Not sure how that might apply to your site? Well think about it – people want information on all kinds of topics. The information isn’t suddenly worthless because it is delivered on a mobile device. Let’s look at just a few examples:

Woodworking: When you publish posts every week (or day) with a new pattern, or technique, review or tool advice, you help people interested in woodworking get better at it. You think they want to take a laptop out to their workshop? Some may, but imagine the convenience of having the information on a phone. It could be right in front them them while they work.

Knitting: This is almost the same as for woodworking. You can publish instructional videos and techniques that your viewers can watch anywhere. The knitters and crafters I know like to do their stuff when they’re sitting in queues, or otherwise just killing time. Patterns and ideas on their phone can be taken anywhere.

Weight loss: You’ve already seen the types of application shown above. Weight loss tips are invaluable if you’re eating out – who wants to pull out a laptop?

Exercise routines: Guess what? I don’t take my laptop to the gym. How many do you see in the gym? Even the basic information is only valuable if you can access it. Since almost everyone has a smart device these days, it tends to stay with them.

Language learning:  Publish one post a day with the meaning of a word in German, Spanish, Italian or whatever. Give examples of use. Your application users can improve their language skills while they’re waiting the queue for a coffee, sitting on the bus, or doing anything else (like exercising at the gym…!)

Are you starting to see why you need to get an app created for your mobile users?

Apps Don’t Have To Be Expensive To Create

Maybe you agree that you need an app for your mobile users, but think that they’re very expensive to have created. That used to be true, but it’s not anymore. Basically all you really need is a great mobile website that’s “wrapped” into an app that turns your website into an app. While it’s not quite that simple, that’s the basic concept.

Honestly, the hard part isn’t so much the creation of the app, it’s getting everything right with the app so it will be accepted into Google Play, Amazon’s App Store and the Apple App Store (especially the Apple App Store — sheesh). The potential benefits however, are huge.

Build It And They Will Come (WRONG!)

Let me be clear here: having an app for your mobile users does offer massive potential, but just having an app created and submitted to all the aforementioned repositories isn’t going to immediately result in a huge number of downloads and installs. Just like your website, you need to promote your app.

One great way to do that is from your mobile responsive website. All of the app stores base the ranking of your app in large part on the number of users and the ratings that those users give your app. High installs and good ratings combined with good title, keyword and tag use pushes your app higher in the search rankings of the app stores.

So if you can get your current mobile visitors using your app, not only does that increase retention by making your site easier for them to access when they want to, it also helps promote your app in the stores, which can result in an explosion of new users beyond what you’re already getting to your mobile site.

Mobile Site + Mobile App = Success

Just to be clear: I’m not advocating you ditch promotion of your mobile responsive site in favor of an app.  Recent studies show that more people make purchases from a mobile browser when on the go than from an app, but that apps build loyalty, brand awareness and user engagement. As a content provider, having ads in your app is a great way to increase revenue as well. To maximize the presence and profitability of your online business, you want to take advantage of both avenues.

Mobile is where it’s at. We all know that. So make sure you’re doing all you can to grow the mobile side of your business so you don’t get left behind.

Ask your questions, share your thoughts and your own personal experience in a comment below!

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5 Costly Website Mistakes to Avoid!

With the overwhelming success of my in-house network of content sites (thanks to Social Multiplier 2!), I have millions of website visitors coming into my various sites. With that kind of traffic you can quickly optimize your sites in order to maximize conversions, and that’s just what I’ve been doing.

Today I want to share with you the five most common mistakes people make with their sites, based partly on what I’ve known to be true for years, and partly on what I’ve recently learned to be true.

With that being said, let’s get started!

5 Website Mistakes that are Costing you!

  1. Lack of focus
    They say, “first impressions are everything.” I’m not sure if I’d say they’re everything, but the first impression a visitor has of your site is incredibly important! If you visit a site and you have no idea what to do next, you’re probably going to hit the back button quickly. A blog is easy. You have the article title and the article. But how is your homepage looking? Do you have headlines all over the place? If the primary goal of your site is to get phone calls, is that clear? Determine what you want the visitor to do and make it clear from the get-go. Get this one wrong and you’re just wasting your time on everything else.
  2. Failing to build a list or doing it ineffectively
    You must retain visitors. Even if it is only a small percentage of your total visitors, you must regularly retain visitors or you’re fighting an uphill battle. Email marketing is the best way to do that. Are you collecting name’s and emails? I find that entry popups are the most effective way to build a list. If popups annoy you, get over it. They work! Give away something of value that solves a problem your visitors have. It could be a report, it could just be revealing some powerful tip to them. Once you have your popup going set an auto-responder series up. Send them whatever it is you promised them immediately. Then, send them a few emails of free content. You could even send a short email that just sends them to a few blog posts on your site. After 3 or 4 free content emails, send them a promotion. Find a great, relevant product at ClickBank or some other affiliate network (ClickBank is great for digital products) and promote it. Now, each new subscriber will be primed and sold to on autopilot!
  3. Poor monetization
    You may be tempted to choose the ad dimensions and colors that look best on your site. Do not do that! You want to do what makes you the most money. I’ve find that for content sites, a large rectangular ad below the article title and above the content works best, followed by another large rectangle in the middle of the article and a third at the end. Add a relevant image, with text wrapped around it, to the second or third paragraph so the ad and the image don’t get in each other’s way. For sites that are not focused on textual content, you’ll just need to try different things and see what converts best.
  4. Neglecting mobile optimization
    Mobile use has risen considerably over the years and it has not peaked! That means you need to concentrate on both desktop and mobile. Did you just activate a new popup? You better check it on mobile! I’ve found that even aWeber and GetResponse popups can have issues. Most can be worked around, but you need to make sure your popup is displaying correctly on mobile and that it is actually working (as in, collecting the name and email and adding them to your account). Are your ads responsive? Better check it too! If you’re using Google Adsense be sure to use the mobile responsive ad unit. If you use a caching plugin with WordPress (you should if you don’t) be sure to exclude mobile user strings from the caching, as it can cause issues.
  5. Neglecting overall appearance
    An ugly site can certainly be successful. Just look at Craigslist. However, they are the exception and not the rule. You want your site to look clean, professional, and legitimate. In most cases a site that doesn’t look legitimate with have a high bounce rate. That means that even if you’re getting good traffic, you’re going to make far less money than you could have made. Look for a nice theme/template. There are plenty out there to choose from. Add a Facebook widget to your sidebar that displays the images of people who have liked your Facebook page. Add “credibility pages” (ie. about, contact, legal, etc.). Use high-quality images in your posts, not poor-quality, low resolution images. Look out for little things. Little things can cause big credibility and trust issues.

These are the most common issues I see when visiting websites. It is very sad to hear from a subscriber who’s site has several of these issues, yet he or she has spent months or even years of their time working on the site, just spinning their wheels.

Plug the leaky boat now and you can concentrate on getting to your destination (making money!) more quickly and smoothly.

Are you ready to make this year YOUR year? Join me at LearnFromJon.com where I’ll answer your questions personally and provide the training you need to make this year the year your online business finally “made it!”

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Don’t Waste your Time on the Wrong Market

market selectionI remember when I first started building sites going on two decades ago (time flies!). Choosing a market was really more of a lottery than a business decision. Needless to say, I learned the hard way that you really should look into a few things before making an investment in a market.

I say it is an “investment.” Sure, there’s the monetary investment that is involved. In many cases that’s low though. The primary investment that I’m referring to is your time. You can’t get the time you put into your site(s) and assets in that market back. The time you could have spent on something that resulted in a lot of money or with your family or friends.

Over the years I’ve learned what to look for in a niche, but more importantly, what to avoid. I’ve also learned that, unfortunately, many other Internet Marketers have been slow to learn these things. That’s the purpose of this post … to help you if you happen to be one of those people who has a hard time finding a profitable market.

market demographicsWith that being said, I’ll tell you immediately that the most important thing to realize is that effective market research requires you to move outside the confines of the Internet Marketing mindset and think very broadly in terms of commercial intent, the mind of consumers, trends and demographics.

That sounds complicated and it can get really complicated really quickly if you really dig into it all. But for most Internet Marketers it doesn’t need to be. Let’s look into some simple market selection principles that I believe any Internet Marketer can understand and, if put into place, use to their advantage.

You want to put yourself in the shoes of a “model” customer in this market. If the market is hiking, think of yourself as an avid hiker. If you have money to spend on your hobby, what would you want to spend that money on? Would you even need to spend any money? How often do you need to spend money in order to continue enjoying this hobby. Where would I spend this money? Then you need to see what your options are in profiting from the money that is spent by that “model” customer.

There is a particular hobby that has widely grown across the world called Geocaching. It is sort of like a world-wide, GPS oriented treasure hunt. For a long while hand-held GPS devices were needed in order to participate (great profit potential as an affiliate). But now, most people have smart phones, and there are apps available for it, so those devices are no longer needed. So if you hit that market, don’t expect to make much money selling GPS devices. You’ll be reduced to selling containers or other trinkets. That could still be profitable, but you’ll need to consider how much of a profit you’ll make per sale. It may take 100,000 visitors a month to make $1,000/m. selling those inexpensive trinkets. See where I’m getting at? Dissect the niche and consider what people spend their money on.

Josh Spaulding, one of my senior staff members, has a site about Germany tourism. Most people who visit Germany as a tourist visit once in their lifetime, or twice max. If Josh concentrated on building a list of people who visit his site, it could be profitable in one way or another, but it would probably not be NEARLY as profitable as a list built from a woodworking site, for example. My brother, Ted’s woodworking site has generated a massive email list of people who regularly work with wood, so the people on that list are always potential buyers!

I enjoy old time radio. But when I consider the market, I find that there aren’t many opportunities to profit from that market because those who enjoy it are really looking for one thing: to listen to old-time radio. Sure, you can brainstorm a few ideas that might interest people in the market, but the overall consumer intent is very low, so it’s just not likely going to earn you nearly as much money for the time spent on it as many other markets would.

Saleswoman weighting vegetables on scale in grocerYou also want to consider where money is spent. Organic food is becoming more and more popular. The trend is growing more and more. It seems like it could be a great market to get into, in one way or another, for that reason. That may be the case, but before you do, you’ll want to consider the fact that Wal-Mart (at least here in the U.S.) and most other grocers are continually expanding their organic food line, so while the market is growing, the online market seems to be shrinking because people are able to get more and more of that food at their local grocery store.

Once you’ve found a niche and considered these things the next question you have to ask yourself is this: Can I profit from this market without having to drive millions of visitors to my site? If so, how?

Can I create my own product in this market? If so, would there be enough profit margin after production/shipping etc.? Are affiliate programs available? If so, are they legit? What do they pay? Is it worth my while to promote this offer? At times I’ll find a market that looks great after considering all other things, but when it comes to the product/service to sell I hit a brick wall. Creating it myself is not feasible for one reason or another and I either can’t find a good affiliate program or all of the affiliate programs I come across are just bad.

As I hope this article has helped you to realize, market selection is less of a step-by-step process and more of a mindset. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Success rarely comes by following a static step-by-step process. Success comes by having the right mindset and taking action.

That is why, while providing step-by-step instructions mindsetwhen beneficial, my team and I at LearnFromJon.com concentrate on helping our clients learn to THINK right and then to DO right in order to gain success online.

We’ve had many success stories so far and I have no doubt there will be many more in the future because a successful mindset + a successful strategy + taking action almost always = Success!

Do you have experience related to market selection that you’d like to share? I would love to hear from you. Please do share your own experience, ask a question, or just leave a random comment on this post via the box below. I read them all and I’m always interested in hearing what you have to say.

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The Damage Of Distraction

distraction, 3D rendering, rough street sign collectionThis past Wednesday afternoon I made a phone call to my attorney (don’t ask, sheesh). When the call was over, I took the phone away from my ear and expected the screen to light up and the red “End Call” button to become visible.

It never happened. In fact, my phone became completely unresponsive. I forced it to reboot and it got stuck drawing the Samsung logo. Long story short, I should be getting a new phone in the mail today.

Here’s the thing about being without my phone for two days. At first I actually felt nervous and uncomfortable. “Oh my God, I’m freaking out. I can’t check my email or my texts!”

I didn’t expect this knee-jerk response at all. It made me irritated with myself. Somehow people had managed to survive without a smart phone in their pocket for thousands of years. I had managed to survive my first 30 years of life without one as well. I wasn’t lost without it.

Once I got my ridiculous initial reaction under control, I was amazed at how much easier it was to focus on the task at hand. Normally when I’m out and about, I’ll periodically check my email, texts, earnings stats, etc. to see how things are going for the day and if there’s anything that needs my attention. I think it’s just in my nature to be obsessive when it comes to my work.

Robbed of the ability to be obsessive, my brain settled in on the fact that I could give one hundred percent of my focus to whatever was in front of me at the time. When I’m writing code for a project that’s rarely an issue. I get completely absorbed in it. But with other tasks it can be harder – especially tasks that don’t require active physical participation.

That is, when I’m coding my fingers are flying across the keyboard. When I’m trying to envision how to build my next application, that’s different. I sit (or walk since I tend to think better while in motion) and contemplate the best way to tackle the project.

Not having the phone beckoning me to check it every time it made a sound, I was in a much better position to stay completely focused on the project that I am currently mapping out. It was amazing how quickly the plan came together because I had zero distraction.

The irony is that the smart phone was conceived with the idea that it would help you get things done. Being able to read and respond to emails or texts from anywhere, being able to call anyone from anywhere, would surely increase our productivity in whatever work we do, right?

Sometimes, sure, but when we’re in the middle of something that requires a lot of our focus and thought, that handy little gadget can serve as a destructive distraction, interrupting the flow of thought that is inherently required for anyone who runs a business to think through their strategy.

I’ve decided that once I get the replacement phone, it’s going to stay off a lot more than its predecessor. Not just in matters of business, either. I’m sure my wife will greatly appreciate the phone being off when we’re having dinner together. I’m pretty good about keeping it on silent and ignoring it in those moments, but sometimes the tug to check it is overwhelming. Even if I never stop to look at it, just being rid of the desire to do so will help keep my focus where it belongs: on the most important things in life.

Maybe you should consider doing the same.

As always, I invite your questions and thoughts in a comment below.

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Good Questions Versus Stupid Questions

no stupidity stop stupid behaviour no naivety brainless stupidly unprofessional foolhardy dumb mistakeLIE: “The only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask.” 

We’ve all heard that, but it’s not true at all. There are genuinely stupid questions that get asked out loud all the time. What’s the difference between a stupid question and a good question, and how can this affect your business? Let me tell you.

Ignorance Versus Stupidity

Most people think of a stupid question as a question they fear will make them sound stupid. Let’s say you’re in a room full of people who practice search engine optimization and they’re talking about “latent semantic indexing.” You don’t know what that is, and from the way everyone else is nodding it seems you’re the only one. You’re afraid to ask what it is because you fear it will make you look stupid.

But you wouldn’t look stupid — you would look ignorant, and that’s ok. If you’re ignorant you just lack information. Stupidity can be defined as willful ignorance — you don’t know and you don’t care to know. Not knowing is not a negative trait because you can learn. Refusing to learn is a very negative trait because it harms you and (quite often) the people around you.

Stupid Questions, Good Questions

That said, a question can be classified as stupid when the person asking it has no intention of finding or applying the answer to it.

For instance: “Why am I such a failure?” That question can be a good question, but it can also be stupid. If you ask that question and just go on with your life as-is, it’s stupid because it’s pointless. You had no intention of finding the answer and fixing the problem. You continue to be a failure despite having asked the question because you took no action.

If, however, you ask that question because you genuinely don’t understand what you’re doing wrong and you want to correct your mistakes, then it’s a good question. It’s a question with purpose, and finding the answer to it will help your future tremendously if you take action once you find it.

How A Good Question Becomes Stupid

car used salesperson selling old car as brand new truck salesman typical topic ok gestureThe best question can become a stupid question when asked of the wrong person. If you ask the bank clerk the best way to repair your car’s transmission, what are the chances that you’ll get a good answer? Virtually none. You should know this because they’re a bank clerk and not a car mechanic. If they really understood how to properly repair your car’s transmission what are the odds they would be working as a bank clerk?

I see this in Internet Marketing all the time. Rather than asking proven, successful individuals how to run a business online, people go to public forums full of wannabes that have absolutely no experience in running a successful business anywhere (online or off).

Any business-related question you ask of people like that is automatically stupid because it’s asked to the wrong people, and you should know they’re the wrong people because they’re wasting time on public forums — time that successful people would be using to build their business.

Asking The Wrong Person For The Wrong Reason

Why do people so often ask the obviously wrong person for answers? Because it’s “free”. If you ask a business question at a public forum, for instance, you don’t have to pay for the answer. If you ask your “computer expert” relative how to fix your laptop (even though for some reason they work at a grocery store despite being an “expert”), you probably do so because they’ll give you a “free” answer.

I keep quoting the word “free” because those answers are not free — they cost you dearly because they’re almost always the wrong answer (or at best an incomplete answer, which can be just as bad). Getting the wrong answer is often worse than getting no answer at all! In the long run it can cost you a lot more.

Why are doctors and lawyers so highly paid? Because the answers they give you are incredibly valuable. Your health, wellbeing, money or even freedom may be at stake when you go to see these professionals. Would you take advice about your health from your “expert” relative that works at the grocery store? Would ask them for legal advice? Of course not. That would be stupid.

Would it make any more sense to go to a public forum of people with no verified knowledge to ask those same questions? Again, that would be stupid.

So why would you go to a public forum full of people who have little to no experience in running a successful business when you have questions about how to run yours? Your financial welfare is at stake! It would be stupid to do so. It may appear to be “free”, but in the long term it’s anything but.

Success = Good Question + Right Person + Action 

superhero businessman looking at city skyline at sunset. the concept of success, leadership and victory in business.Success can be defined as asking a good question to the right person and then taking action to apply the answer to your problem.

If you’re trying to run a business online you don’t ask wannabes at public forums with no experience how to be successful. No, you ask an experienced businessperson with proven success, and when (s)he tells you the answer you immediately take steps to put it into practice. That’s how you become successful.

“No man is an island.”

Unlike the quote at the beginning of this post, “No man is an island” is a quote I can get behind, with a slight modification — “No person is an island.” Man or woman, nobody is successful all by themselves. We all need help to succeed. I’ve been running a successful business online for the last 12 years. I still ask questions, find the answers and apply them all the time. As long as you’re breathing you should never stop doing that.

So don’t be afraid to ask the “stupid” questions, because they’re not stupid if you’re asking the right person and intend to take action once you get an answer. In that case, ask away.

In fact, why not start right now by asking me a question in a comment below? I’ll do my best to give you a good, actionable answer.

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Price What You’re Worth (The Dangers of Underpricing)

Red wine. Glass of wine. Pouring red wine.I occasionally enjoy a glass of wine after dinner, but I know virtually nothing about what makes one wine better than another. So when I’m at the grocery store and looking at the wines, all I really have to go on is price. Like most people, I assume that the more expensive bottle must be the better bottle.

But is that true? Not necessarily. In fact, in one study a group of researchers swapped the labels of two bottles of wine, putting the expensive label on the cheap wine and the cheap label on the expensive wine. They then had two groups of people taste test the wine — one group saw the label and the price and the other group didn’t.

The group that thought the cheap wine was expensive consistently rated the “expensive” wine as being better than the “cheap” one. Not so with the group that didn’t get to see the labels or the prices.

Perception is Reality

The study makes clear what marketers have known for a very long time: perception is reality. If people think something is better they will often favor it even if the facts don’t backup the perception.

Especially when it comes to things they have little real knowledge about, people are inclined to assume that what costs more is probably better. Whether it’s a product like a bottle of wine or a professional service, the price often sets the expectation of value.

The funny thing about this is that if you asked people randomly whether or not more expensive products are always better, pretty much everybody is going to say “no”. But when it comes time to actually choose a product, people often buy the best they can afford (and sometimes more than they can afford).

Why?

The reason is simple: we know that higher price doesn’t always equate to better quality, but when shopping for products and services we have little knowledge about (like wine) we have no other way to judge quality! Especially when we’re buying products and services that are very personal and could affect our health, well-being or financial situation, people prefer not to go cheap if they don’t have to. It’s a way of limiting the risk that we’re getting an inferior product.

That’s why more people buy more expensive name brand medicine than generic, even though study after study shows that there’s no real difference between the two. Just in case the name brand is better, we tend to buy it if we can afford it because our health is at stake.

Underpricing Is Dangerous

expensive or cheap compare prices best value low cost or price for best value and top quality on a budget road sign arrow
These facts about human nature are why it can be dangerous to underprice yourself. If you’re out to sell a product or service, you want people to perceive it as being of high quality. Since people generally don’t have a lot of real world knowledge about the products and services they’re buying, price often greatly influences a person’s perception of quality.

This is especially so with professional services. People are looking to pay somebody else for the service because they don’t have the knowledge or skills to perform it themselves.

If you are selling a service and you underprice yourself, people will tend to think that the service you’re offering must not be as good as what your higher priced competition is offering. Some people are bargain shoppers and will buy from you just because you’re cheaper or because you’re all they can afford. If that’s your target market, fine, but if you don’t want to survive on thin margins you’ll have a real perception problem if you “race toward the bottom” just to be cheaper than the competition.

Crafting Perception

Judge law lawyer and Justice concept with a 3d render of a gavel on a wooden desktop with grey background.Of course, just setting a high price tag isn’t going to result in people flocking to you because they assume you must be the best. You have to backup that perception.

For example, let’s say you’re in the market for an attorney for your business. You see a great-looking professional ad for a specific attorney with lots of convincing reasons to give them a try. The hourly rate is high, but your legal issue is an important one so you make an appointment for a consultation. At this point your perceived value of this attorney is very high.

Now let’s say you go to the attorney’s office and (1) the office is a run down building and (2) there’s no secretary or legal assistant, only the attorney and (3) (s)he is driving a beat up old car and wearing raggedy clothes.

Would you still trust that this attorney is great? Probably not.

Do those 3 factors necessarily mean (s)he’s not great? No. It’s possible that (s)he is a fantastic lawyer and just prefers not to spend all of the money on an expensive office, employees, car or clothes. Certainly possible, but you don’t know that. You base your perception on what you know, and what you know is that a great attorney should be able to afford all of those things and it appears that this one can’t.

So if you’re going to set your price high, you need to be sure that you’re backing up your high price with the perception of high quality as well. This should not be a game of smoke and mirrors. The actual service or product you provide should be high quality, resulting in a satisfied customer.

Real World Example: Apple Versus Android

Melbourne, Australia - May 23, 2016: Close-up view of Google Play Store on Android smartphone and Apple's App Store on iPhoneI am an Android person myself. I own a Samsung Galaxy phone. Although I think Apple makes great products (I’m typing this on my Macbook Pro), when it comes to phones I just prefer Android. Being a tech guy, I understand that the hardware and software in an Android phone is not inferior to that in an iPhone. In fact, in many cases there’s better hardware in higher end Android devices.

So why is the iPhone so much more expensive as a rule?

Because perception is reality. Apple has done a fantastic job of crafting the perception of their product as being better than the competition. Again, this is not smoke and mirrors. The iPhone is a great product, but is it better than a high end Android phone? From a technical standpoint at least, it’s not.

But if you asked the typical person on the street which they would prefer to own if they could afford either, what answer would you get? Aside from the occasional techy like me, I bet most people would prefer an iPhone if they could afford it. Perception is reality, and in the war of perception Apple is winning at this point. In fact, sales of Samsung devices is slumping this year while the iPhone is selling like hotcakes.

The Take Away

I hope I’ve made it clear that perception is everything when it comes to marketing your products or services, and why people tend to use price as a gauge of quality — at least initially. So set your price according to the market you’re targeting. If you’re trying to be the low cost leader of your market, fine. There’s money to be made there — just ask Wal-Mart!

But if you don’t want to survive on thin profit margins like Wal-Mart does, then you need to craft your market’s perception of you carefully. Price is one great way to do that, so don’t underprice yourself and by all means back up your higher price with higher value.

Oh, and in case you think this doesn’t apply to the “little guy”, my wife is an artist. For a long time she sold her artwork for what I told her was far too little money given her talent level. Recently I finally convinced her to raise her prices, and yesterday she sold a beautiful piece of her work for many times more than her norm to a local chiropractor. Perception is reality!

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions, so feel free to post them in a comment below.

 

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The Hard Truth Internet Marketers Need to Know

I have a hard truth to tell you that most successful Internet Marketers who market to other Internet Marketers already know. But before I tell you this hard truth, let me tell you about a recent experience I had.

Several months ago I created someRoulette and piles of gambling chips on a green table in casino. Croupier collects chips using stickthing that I and several other veteran Internet Marketers believe is one of the most powerful tools I’ve ever created. I used it myself and had amazing results and it has seemingly endless possibilities to be used in ways I had not even used it yet.

After having GREAT success using it for myself, I decided to release it to my list of Internet Marketers. Guess what happened? It bombed and many of those who did buy it complained about a variety of things. To be honest with you, I thought it would bomb, but it was just TOO good not to find out for sure and I legitimately WANT to help my subscribers succeed.

So WHY did this amazing tool bomb and why did I know that it probably would before I even launched it? Before I tell you this, I want to make sure you understand this isn’t personal. I want you to also understand I’m saying this to HELP those who are guilty of it (and they are MANY).

The hard truth, and I’ll use softer words than many others might use … the reason why the product failed is that most people trying to make money online are not really trying to build a successful business, they’re trying to hit the lottery!

Well, there it is. I don’t know if you’re guilty of this or not, but that’s the sad truth for most in this industry. That’s why they spend thousands of dollars per year and never see a profit, or even a return, on most, if not all, of their investments. It’s because they aren’t investments at all. They are lottery tickets.

Shiny object #1 didn’t give them the top-secret push button formula that pumped cash into their bank account with little effort.

Shiny object #2 didn’t do it either. Keep going all the way up the last shiny object.

Until a person decides they are going to spend time learning and spend money strategically in areas that will help them accomplish their business plan (yes, a “business plan” not a golden lottery ticket, AKA shiny object), they are bound to end up like the 90%+ of Internet Marketers who are playing the lottery and blaming all of the product creators and “gurus” for their lack of success.

With that being said, there are legitimate “done for you” opportunities out there. But they aren’t cheap and they rarely provide instant riches. These opportunities are usually passed on by the IM “lottery players” and only taken up by the very few serious-minded individuals who understand they are involved in business, not a lottery.

It’s a sad fact, but the many Internet Marketing product creators who specialize in shiny objects, but not so much great results, continue to do it, lining their pockets, BECAUSE the IM “lottery players” WANT those products. The same people who complain about those product creators and “Gurus” are the ones who pass on legitimate, powerful products, while making payment after payment for shiny object after shiny object.

Well, are you guilty? I sure hope not. But this is a hard truth and a sad fact. If you are guilty, rather than making you bitter, it is my hope that it makes you better.

There is a great deal of opportunity in this growing digital age, but those who will succeed are those who realize it is a business and not a lottery.

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4 Marketing Lessons From My Underwear

What can you possibly learn about Internet Marketing from my underwear? A LOT. So stick with me until the end. I promise you’ll be enlightened.

Ok, now let me help you make sense of what may otherwise seem like an attention grabbing headline.

You see, I’m a runner. Not what you would call a professional runner, just an exercise buff. I run at least 4 days a week, at least 4 miles each day. Sometime sprints, sometimes a jog, sometimes something in between.

While running, I almost always listen to a great podcast that I love called Stuff You Should Know. It’s fantastic: educational, entertaining and covers a wide range of topics that helps expand my knowledge of the world we live in.

As you might expect, this podcast has sponsors — advertisers. One of those sponsors is MeUndies.com. Their claim to fame is that they sell ‘the most comfortable underwear in the world’.

Now, I had never given a second thought to my “common”, Target-brand underwear. I never thought it was uncomfortable or lacking in any way. I mean, it’s just underwear. Who cares, right?

But as I’m running and listening to this podcast, the guys who run the podcast (Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant) pause to talk about their underwear sponsor. One of the guys (Chuck) says that he wears MeUndies now and can attest to the fact that they’re the most comfortable he’s ever worn. That they ‘whisk away sweat’ and never chafe or sag, etc. The bottom line — he loves them.

I hear these ads again and again, as I run multiple times a week and listen to the podcast every time. The first time I hear the ad, I ignore it (as most people would). The second time I ignore it. The third, the fourth, etc. Over and over I keep hearing how great these undewear are, but I don’t need underwear so I ignore it — or so I think.

Of course, being a marketer I am well aware of the fact that either 1) MeUndies sent Chuck some free samples that he can try for himself or 2) he’s just lying to support the sponsor. I don’t believe he’s just lying because I’ve listened to Chuck for years and he really comes across as a stand-up guy. He speaks what he thinks, and that always comes through. Although I don’t know him personally, he certainly doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that would lie for a sponsor.

Finally, after hearing the ads again and again and again, I decide to give MeUndies a try. Lo and behold, they are indeed the most comfortable undewear I’ve ever worn. Now I won’t buy anything else.

So what does my underwear choice have  to do with your online business? Everything!

Take a look at the four lessons my underwear-changing experience teaches you:

#1 – Create A Need And Fill It

Did I need to change my underwear? Has it really made a huge difference in my life? Was it something that I really had a problem with that I was desperate to solve?

No, of course not. It’s underwear.

But MeUndies has a very compelling message — especially for me as an exercise buff (I won’t go into detail of why undewear matters when you excercise a lot — gross!) Because their message is compelling, it created a need in my brain that hadn’t previously existed.

Being a marketer, I’m usually pretty immune to this because I know the tricks. But I’m also a human being, so it still works sometimes.

So make sure that the message you’re crafting to sell your products and services is compelling — so compelling that it can create a need in people’s minds where one didn’t exist before.

#2 – Repeat Your Message Again And Again

I ignored the podcast ad at least the first five or six times I heard it. But the more I heard it, the more it sank into my brain, and the more compelling it became.

In time, when I finally did need new undies, what did my mind naturally think of? The product with the compelling message.

The lesson here is to repeat your message again and again to your target market. Probably the best way to do that is to get them on your email list and repeat your message to them over and over. It takes time for people to come around and decide to buy. Don’t expect them to pull out their wallets the first time.

#3 – Have Trustworthy Individuals Provide Testimonials

I’ve been marketing online long enough to know that a lot of marketers (unfortunately) either bend the truth or completely mangle it in order to make a sale. I’m also not so naive to think that people aren’t willing to lie in a “testimonial” to help a sponsor that’s putting cash in their pocket.

Because I trusted Chuck as an individual, having listened to his podcast for years and come to “know” his personality enough to feel pretty positive that he wouldn’t lie to sell a product for a sponsor, I believed him when he spoke well about the product. I was more inclined to give it a shot because he said it was great.

So whenever possible, get trustworthy people to give you testimonials about your products and services. Customers and clients are great for this, because they’re real people you’ve actually done business with in the past. Use their words and show their faces if possible. Make them real to your audience. It builds trust and helps sell your product.

#4 – Above All, Have A Great Product

This last lesson should go without saying, but it’s important. Let’s say I’d given MeUndies a try and it was not a great product — wasn’t even a good product. Would all of the other things the sponsor did right result in long-term success? No.

In fact, it would have hurt the reputation of every sponsor for the podcast. I’d be far less likely to believe Chuck the next time he talked about how great some sponsored product was. And I wouldn’t be the only one.

So no matter how good your marketing skills are, you need to apply them to a great product if you want to succeed long-term. That’s probably the most important lesson here.

 

Are you amazed at how much you can learn from my choice in underwear? Are you appalled that I would use it as a marketing lesson? Do you have any personal experiences you’d like to share?

I’d love to hear all about it in a comment. Please post it below!

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You’re ranking in Google, so what?

Millions of aspiring internet marketers have a particular problem.

forestfortreesIt’s called “not seeing the forest for the trees”.

What do I mean?

It’s very simple really. You got your sites to rank in Google, but you’re not making money, or getting subscribers. You’re not sure why.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about link building, quality content, legitimate site structure and so on.

Actually, I’ve been teaching about all those important topics on my regular webinars for many months now.

But there’s much more to online success than just ranking.

Yes, ranking is very important. But what does ranking achieve for you? Its purpose is to drive visitors to your site. When they get there you have to engage them, if you want to make any money.

Time and again I get some very basic questions from many, many people about how to do that. And it’s understandable that there would be confusion.

There’s a lot to learn and it’s easy to overlook something important.

Just like everyone else, when I build a site I’m sometimes too close to it to know whether I’ve overlooked something. Sometimes I need another pair of eyes to spot things I’ve missed.

Amin’s actually forced me to confess to some of my own site building mistakes live on webinars!  But of course I have several advantages, including these top three reasons.

  1. I have a huge amount of experience based on years of testing, testing, testing.
  2. I have trusted colleagues who are willing (very happy even!) to tell me when I’ve missed something.
  3. I can correct any mistakes pretty quickly.
So where does this fit in with your own sites?
If you’re getting visitors to your site and not making much (or any) money, most likely, you are too close to your own work to be able to observe it the way a stranger would.
What seems like a masterpiece to you might actually seem so-so to a stranger. It can even work the other way around – you might not like your site, yet other people do.

So who decides whether your site will make money? I’m going to let you into a huge secret – other people decide that, not you!

You can influence where you rank, as I’ve proved many times in the past. You can drive visitors to your site.

But ultimately beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

If your site isn’t right, you’ve thrown away all your hard work.

So how can you know whether your site actually fulfills the purpose that keeps Google happy? How can you know whether your site is truly interesting and effective for site visitors?

One of the best ways to do that in my experience is to ask other people who are not afraid to hurt your feelings.

This is not a popularity contest. It’s not about whether you’re a good person, or a hard worker.

It’s about whether your site  is effective.

familyprotectsPeople not to ask (generally) are your mom/dad/husband/wife/brother/sister etc. In most cases they’ll want to be kind to you and not hurt your feelings.

The people to ask are the people who will tell you the cold, bitter truth about your site. Even if it upsets you, it’s better to find out what doesn’t work, so you can correct it.

You need specifics, not generalizations.

I’ve had the “pleasure” of making all the mistakes it’s possible to make. I’ve learned to correct them, through trial and error and long experience. But I’ve also had the privilege of raw feedback.

Sometimes feedback is hard to hear. Sometimes it makes immediate sense. But it’s always invaluable!

So my recommendation to you is to ask other people what’s good and what’s bad about your site. Ask them what they like and what they don’t like.
perplexedbylistofchanges

Just be sure that they’re not so kind that they want to spare your feelings! Honesty really is the best policy, particularly for this!

In some cases you might only need to make a simple change to more than triple your opt-ins.

You might need to make only a small amount of effort to double your sales. And let’s be honest, the chances of any site already being perfect are pretty low! That means no matter how good your site is, an objective, independent view will give you lots of ideas for improvements.

Criticism can sting. Feedback can be hard to take.

But I promise you, earning nothing from your sites after all your hard work is even harder to take!

askvisitors

Nobody to ask?

Well, you could always put up a survey on your site asking your site visitors. Only a small percentage will ever reply, but you’d get some feedback.
You just might be surprised at how others view your site!
Questions? Comments? Feel free to put it in a comment below and I’ll do my best to respond!
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Why Keyword Competition Tools Are (Almost) Always Wrong

As the creator and designer of a number of popular Search Engine Optimization tools, I have used (and regularly test) a variety of SEO tools and services in order to compare them to my own and see where I can improve (and, to be honest, where I’m beating the pants off the competition). This includes not only direct competitors to my own products, but also the “Big Data” providers in the SEO industry.

Great data is only great if you understand what to do with it. If you’re a beginner to ranking your site in Google then you need guidance more than a bunch of stats and numbers. This is where most of the SEO tools fail miserably. While the individual data points provided by these tools are often pretty good, when it comes to using this data to give you practical advice they almost always fall flat.

Take estimating keyword competition for example. How difficult will it be to rank in Google for a specific set of keywords? With all of that data at these tools disposal, you would think they would be pretty good at estimating that difficulty.

They’re not. In fact, they’re usually pretty bad at it.

Let me back this up by giving you an example of some keywords where these tools get it wrong. This example is a “long tail” (that is, a set of keywords that don’t get searched very often and contain 4 or more words).

Keywords: online acoustic guitar lessons

Difficulty rating from popular tools (scale is 0 to 100):

Moz – 50

SEMRush – 69

SpyFu – 56

KWFinder – 49

Difficulty rating from my soon-to-be-released SEO system:

Keyword Titan – 28

Notice the difference? The four popular tools shown estimate it to be about twice as difficult to rank for “online acoustic guitar lessons” as Keyword Titan does.

The reason why their estimates are so (incorrectly) high is because those tools appear to be averaging the authority of Google’s top 10 ranking domains / pages for the keywords. That’s a mistake, a serious mistake, and it’s where pretty much every keyword tool goes wrong.

You see, the true estimation of how difficult it will be to rank for a set of keywords in Google isn’t found in the strength of the top 10 sites ranking for the keywords — it’s found in the weakness of the weakest ranking site in those top 10 results.

That is, if there are 9 very strong sites ranking for a set of keywords and one weak site mixed in among them, that weak site is the true indicator that ranking in the top 10 for those keywords is not so difficult. After all, if it was difficult to rank for then that weak result wouldn’t be there, right?

Almost no other keyword tool gets this right. They always average the strength of the top 10 Google results together to come up with their difficulty estimations.

I designed Keyword Titan to be different. When you analyze a single set of keywords in KT you get what I call a “Snap Analysis”. Here’s the snap analysis for online acoustic guitar lessons:

onlineacousticguitarlessons

Notice the site ranked #9, acousticguitarlessonsonline.net. The site was clearly created for the simple purpose of ranking for a number of keywords related to online acoustic guitar lessons. It has a keyword rich domain name (I’ll go into detail in a future blog post about why that’s helping this site rank).

The TrustFlow of the domain and of the page is somewhat low (in case you’re not aware, TrustFlow is a respected measure of how much “trust” the links coming into a domain or page give it — the higher the TrustFlow, the more likely the domain or page is to rank in Google).

But where that domain really shows its weakness in comparison to the rest of the ranking sites is in the number of other sites linking in to it (the refdomains (site) metric). While all of the other sites have hundreds or thousands or more external domains linking into them, acousticguitarlessonsonline.net only has 86. Getting 86 quality links takes a little bit of time, but hardly qualifies for the “hard” ratings being given to these keywords by the other tools.

The relatively low external linking domains combined with its marginal TrustFlow causes Keyword Titan to give it a difficulty rating of only 28 (which is on the low side of “moderate” in Keyword Titan).

This same scenario plays out again and again any time I run keywords through the popular keyword tools. Because those tools use the strength of the ranking sites to estimate difficulty rather than looking at the weakest site in the results, they are wrong much of the time. That means that SEO professionals and beginners alike are making poor decisions about which keywords to target.

It’s not that these tools don’t have access to the same data that Keyword Titan does — they do — they just interpret it incorrectly. So the next time you’re trying to figure out what keywords you should be trying to rank for in Google, keep that in mind.

I welcome your thoughts and responses in a comment below.

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