Internet Marketing 2016: an Odyssey

Make Money While Sitting on a Beach! All you need is a laptop and an internet connection. How I made 8000$ a day while traveling Abroad! You hear claims and stories like this every single day. Is it possible to turn on your computer and simply have it shit out money? The answer is complicated.

Internet Marketing...its a jungle out there

Yes there are people making a ton of money, but if you're just getting started its very easy to get overwhelmed. We live in a fast changing world technology wise, however not much has changed in human behaviour. We still buy from people we like, know, and trust. We still buy things for the same reasons. Once you understand that, everything will start to make more sense.

There are so many terms out there that it is very easy to get disoriented when you're first starting out. For starters there are your CTA, CPM, PPC, SEO, SEM, CPA,  Conversions, Impressions, Pixels, LTV, Affiliate Marketing, Email Marketing, and SMM. This is an attempt to try and help demystify the IM world for you.

Like a lot of people I was interested in the internet marketing lifestyle, the ability to live anywhere and make money. While in school for engineering I delved deep into different internet marketing forums, watched a ton of videos, and read even more books. Despite all this there were too many missing pieces of the puzzle. I found that if you listen to everyone you won't get anywhere as there are so many conflicting views and gurus out there.

Marketing is a lot like dating in many ways. You wouldn't go up to a stranger, introduce yourself and then ask them to marry you. It is first about letting people who know you are and what you're all about, and then building a relationship with them.

The first question to ask is: How are people making money?

While it seems like there are tons of ways to make money online, the truth is that business models haven't changed one bit. You need to add enough value so that people are willing to take money out of their wallet and give it to you. If you are still in the dark about how companies such as Google, Facebook, Snapchat and all the other social media platforms are worth so much money it is very simple.  Money will always follow eyeballs. Where people spend the most amount of time, attention, and mental real estate is where the money goes. Advertisers aka internet marketers will always flock to these platforms to sell their products and services.

Types of Marketing

Affiliate Marketing- In the affiliate marketing world there are people who live like absolute rockstars. Affiliate marketing is simply the act of selling somebody elses products or services and getting a commision from them. It is very easy to get started in and I would recommend checking out Clickbank, JVZOO, and Amazon associates for starters.

Content Marketing- Content marketing is based off the idea to provide value first and then sell later. You can get a good idea of what it is by reading the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary V. The whole idea is about educating your prospects on why they need your product or service. You probably follow quite a few content marketers already, here are a few that I follow: Tai Lopez, Grant Cardone, Gary Vaynerchuk, Ben Pakulksi, Elliot Hulse, Alex Becker. Content marketing is powerful and the people who get it right have large followings and celebrity status. In order to make money through content marketing its important to have, well, content first of all. People first must be interested in what you have to say. People in general want three things, to escape/entertainment, utility or practical usefulness, and social capital. The most important part however is having something to offer to your growing audience. This type of marketing works best with information products and affiliate marketing.

Email Marketing- Email marketing is a really powerful tool for internet marketers because you have much more control over it then Facebook or Google. You don't have to worry about some change in algorithm that will render your advertising useless and ruin your business. With an email list you can always make money assuming you have something to sell. While people tend to think that email marketing is decreasing in effectiveness ( which might be true), it is still making many marketers boatloads of cash. Email marketing is an important step in the IM sales funnel. In order to take part in email marketing you first need a list. You can either buy a list or grow you own. If you decide to grow your own list you first of all need to offer value to people and get them to "opt in" to join your email list. This is typically in the form of an ebook, a free report, newsletter, webinar, video, or free product. You will need to use an ESP or email service provider to send out your emails or else you risk getting banned if you use gmail for example. Some ESPs are Aweber, Mailchimp, GetResponse, and ActiveCampaign. These ESPs are useful because you can set up whats known as an AutoResponder that will automatically send out prewritten emails to your list over any set amount of time.

Search Engine Marketing- As the name suggests, search engine marketing is great because it is highly relevant to the people in search of a solution. Google Adwords works on a pay per click or a pay per impression process. An impression is simply anytime someone sees your ad. Pay per click is effective because it is so highly measurable. You can use pay per click as a science to test different headlines, offers, and ad copy.

Video Marketing- If a picture is worth 1000 words, a video is worth 1000 pictures. Its hard to understate how important video is in your marketing right now. Its the fastest way to gain authority,trust, and rapport with your prospects. Video sales letters are typically much more compelling than sales letters. Platforms such as Snapchat, Periscope, Meerkat, and Blab are exploding right now because of the power of video. You are also able to purchase clicks on Facebook videos almost for free.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)- This is just the process of creating leads and sales through different social media platforms. The idea is to capture leads from as many different platforms and get them on an email list to follow up with. Remember that you can't deposit likes into your bank. The main advantage of SMM is the ability to easily test engagement with different posts and images.

Network Marketing- Also known as multi level marketing, these are the companies that everyone thinks are pyramid schemes. They work on a simple model, you buy products and get money back, and you recruit people who also buy the products of which you get a tiny commision. Then the people who you recruit go out and recruit others and you get a tiny commision from them as well and so on. Some MLMs have great products and they can turn into excellent alternate sources of income given enough time. They are good for getting your entrepreneurial feet wet as they often teach important sales and marketing skills as well as networking. As a side note the only companies that are really pyramid schemes are the ones that don't have any products and only make money through recruiting people.

This post isn't meant to be a complete guide to every possible way of making money online but the following are a few tried and true business models that work today.

Licensing- Licensing is the key to the richest man in the worlds wealth. Bill Gates acquired MS DOS for 50,000$ and proceeded to license the software to every PC manufacturer- the rest is history. With licensing you can be either the licensor or the licensee. It is generally better to be the licensor and collect royalties, but fortunes are made as licensees as well.

Information Products- This is really the best business model out there. No matter how narrow the niche may be, in a world of 7+ billion people there is guaranteed to be atleast a million other people also interested in it. This gives you the opportunity to address their pain points and offer them solutions in the form of ebooks, home study courses, training videos, seminars, membership sites, you name it. The hard part is creating the product, after that you just need to develop your sales funnel and begin driving traffic to your offer.

Software as a Service (SaaS)- While I do not have much experience with selling software as a service, it is an excellent business if you have coding experience, or an idea and money to hire a programmer. Software is an even better choice than simply information products because it fulfills the 4 criteria of a perfect business: recurring purchases, automated sales, extremely scalable products, and no accounts receivables. If you have an idea for a software as a service but you don't have money, you might be able to work out an equity deal with a programmer.

Ecommerce- Selling products or services through one of the many online platforms such as shopify. This is one great way to start a positive cash flow business immediately. For example I love the tshirt business, this is a completely riskless business you can start for under 500$, in most cases much lower than that. Your success is only limited by your creativity here ( and you can even outsource that). Creating a tshirt business is as simple as finding a good graphic designer to make you a few tshirt designs ( typically 35-50$, make sure you pay per design and not hourly), creating a shopify store and putting the shirts onto it. After that you can start driving targeted traffic to your site using Facebook ads for 5$ a day.

Lead generation- Just like the name implies this involves generating leads either for your business or others. You can do this through either paid traffic or search engine optimization (SEO). Some entrepreneurs create directory websites for certain professions and charge businesses to be listed in exchange for people searching for their service. SEO is the practice of optimizing websites in order to show up on the first page of google, amazon, or youtube mostly. While it is beyond the scope of this post to fully explain it, here is how you can make money with seo. If you can rank a website high enough on google, you can approach businesses who are willing to pay if you bring them leads. The ideal business is one who makes a high profit from a lead so that it would be worth it to pay you between 500-2000 a month. Think plastic surgeon, dentists, real estate agents, veternarians etc. If you want to learn more about SEO I would suggest to check out Alex Beckers channel, and his website Source Wave. Paid traffic routes to take are primarily google adwords and adsense, facebook advertising, instagram, pinterest . At this point facebook advertising is one of the most powerful advertising platforms because you can get extremely specific with your target customers.

Freelancing- The idea of working anywhere goes well with freelancing. This is simply offering your services to others. You can go through a website such as upwork.com or you can do it the old fashion way, call up businesses and pitch your service. This leads to the question of what service can I sell? My advice is to first go and see what is being offered, common services include graphic design, copywriting, search engine optimization (SEO), paid traffic management, and many more. If you don't have any of the skills that are currently in demand, then I would suggest you go on a website like udemy or coursera and purchase courses in those skills and then go practice them. You can get cheap gigs on websites like Fiverr to help you hone your skills until you can start to charge a higher rate.

Advertising- If you manage to grow an audience then it is possible to start earning advertising dollars. Lets take youtube for example. One of the biggest youtubers out there is PewdiePie, he started by making videos about video games and has since branched off into all sorts of different videos and his audience has grown tremendously. With 43.3 million subscribers, he is reported to make over 30 million dollars a year. Not bad

Reselling- Buy low and sell high. Reselling is another extremely profitable business. You can easily find products in China and sell them on Amazon.

This leads me to the topic of Amazon, which is a monster in itself and worthy of a completely separate post. Here is a brief description of the different opportunities available.

You have quite a few options to make money with Amazon, you can find products off of Alibaba for example, ship them to one of Amazons warehouses and advertise them on Amazon. They will ship the products to the customers for you and handle customer service. You can get into private labeling and develop your own brand on Amazon, it could be anything from supplements to toys. The next way is known as retail arbitrage, essentially these people go around to places like department stores, yard sales, and thrift shops to find inexpensive products that they can sell and make a profit on Amazon. You can publish ebooks through Amazon and you can also become an "Amazon Associate" which essentially is an affilliate marketer for them.

For more business models and general badassness check out the book The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ Demarco and The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

Branding Vs Direct Response Marketing

If you watch TV without a doubt you are constantly bombarded with commercials for stuff. It could be a Coca Cola commercial with a polar bear drinking coke, or a car commercial with someone driving through the mountains. These are examples of awareness building brand campaigns. They are designed to give you a good feeling about whatever the product is and hopefully you will choose to purchase that product at a later date. They usually don't have whats known as a call to action (CTA) and if you ask me they are a big waste of money. The golden rule in marketing is ABT- Always be Testing. With branding based ads you cannot reliably test, but with DR you can split test and measure every single element of your marketing funnel.

There is a better way, and it is known as direct response marketing. Like the name suggests, it is designed to make customers respond immediately.  The key difference between branding and direct response is that there is a measurable return on investment with DR. Advertisements are designed with an ideal customer in mind and they are always made with the benefits for that customer. For example perhaps you have a weight loss program, your ideal customer might be a 25 year old single woman who makes over 60,000$ a year and likes the show game of thrones. You even name her Anna. The more detailed you can make that customer avatar, the more you will be able to speak directly to them in your marketing. The old adage is "You want to enter the conversation they are already having in their heads" and speak to them of the benefits of your product rather than its features or the product itself. For example " are you tired of feeling self conscious about your body? Wow your friends with your new slim figure!". There are 6 commandments to direct response marketing and they are the following

  1. There must be an offer
  2. There must be a reason to act right now, aka urgency
  3. There must be clear instructions
  4. There must be tracking and measurement
  5. You must follow up
  6. Results are the only thing that matters.

My interest in direct response marketing really began when I read the book The Education of Millionaires by Micheal Ellsberg. In this book he describes the importance of learning direct response marketing as well as the art of copywriting. Copywriting is the name of the profession of writing sales letters, white papers, brochures, advertisements and in general anything that is designed to create a response. Not to be confused with Copywrite, copy is the name given to the words in ads. What really caught my attention with copywriting/sales letters is the profitability of it. The top copywriters can easily earn up $100,000+ as well as 15% lifetime royalities. If you are getting into internet marketing, learning direct response copywriting is an excellent skill to acquire. If you don't want to learn it be prepared to pay copywriters vast amounts of money to write sales letters and sales scripts for you. Michael Ellsberg suggests a way to teach yourself marketing by creating an alternate email and subscribing to a lot of the top marketers email lists. You can use that email as your marketing labortory by reading their emails and seeing which ones make you feel compelled to buy and breaking down their emails. Some people suggest to take sales letters and write them out yourself to try to get into the mind of the writer. You should try to develop your own writing style and way of selling, its very profitable.

If I had to suggest any one person to learn copywriting from, I would suggest Dan Kennedy. While there are many more greats like Eugene Schwartz, Gary Halbert, Dan is like the godfather of copywriting and many of the current superstars of direct response marketing can trace their lineage back to him.

The key as in learning every other skill is that once you learn the basics you must implement what you learn every day.

The Internet Marketing Sales Funnel

With marketing we aren't just targeting everyone. The goal is to only attract people who are highly motivated by your solution and turn them into repeat customers. There are three stages to an internet marketing sales funnel: Traffic Acquisition, Conversion Rate Optimization, and Nurturing Long-term Customer Value

Here is the basic theory of the marketing sales funnel.

Traffic Acquisition: You start with an offer and an ad. You need to match your message and product to your market. You typically don't sell right away all the time as people are naturally skeptical (which is why content marketing is so powerful). The very first goal is to interrupt people and get their attention, this is a science in itself.

A side note about marketing> there is no such thing as a perfect ad, even the best marketers still have to experiment ie test until they get the highest converting ad, and then they can put more money into it once its ROI is proven.

Now that you have their attention with your ad, you need to get them to opt into your list through one of the previously mentioned methods in the email marketing section. The first step in conversion rate optimization is creating the best ad possible through split tests which converts into leads.  For example lets say you have a German Shephard training product, you would target people who are either actively searching for how to train German Sheppards, or who are interested in German Shephards.

Clicking on your ad will typically send the prospect to a landing page, sometimes called a squeeze page. These pages are designed so that the only option is to enter your name and email address or close the page, they should typically be congruent with your ads. There are a few good landing page companies that offer a variety of resources and templates to make the process easy such as LeadPages and Clickfunnels.

Now that you have their email address entered into your CRM software ( customer relationship management), you can begin sending them follow up emails with offers and upsells. As a general rule if you constantly send people sales letters they will block you. You should follow an 85/15 ratio for content to selling in your ads.

Congratulations you have your first sale. If you have ever bought an info product before you know what part comes next, the upsell. This is usually the right after the thank you message for purchasing whatever the first product was. These "back end" offers are where the majority of your profit comes from as an internet marketer. Back end offers are typically monthly subscriptions or higher ticket items, while front end items are usually low cost, free, or even "loss leaders".

Customers are 60-70% more likely to buy from you again then non customers. This might seem like its obvious but for some reason most people get this part wrong. They are always searching for new customers. The most important metric for marketers is known as your CPA and LTV, cost per acquisition and lifetime value of a customer. Knowing your CPA and LTV is how you can determine how much money you can spend on ads and still make a profit.

Once you have a customer your goal is to decrease your CPA and increase your LTV. The number one mistake most entrepreneurs make once they create a customer is neglect. It is your job to nurture that relationship and consistently follow up with them to increase the LTV of your customers. The primary way to decrease your CPA is through referrals from happy customers.

In Conclusion

There is so much to learn in the field of marketing that it is almost impossible to talk about it all in one post, but hopefully you have a better understanding of how all the pieces fit together now. If you have specific questions feel free to ask me, a great resource for learning more about marketing ( and anything for that matter) is the app Quora.

Marketing really is the difference between life and death for most companies, get it right and you will prosper, get it wrong and you are doomed to fade away into obscurity.

Until next time,

Ben

Glossary of terms

CTA- Call to action: Like the name suggests, this is usually a button that tells the customer what to do next, buy now, click here, download this.

CPC or PPC- Cost per click or pay per click: in short you pay every time someone clicks your add, these usually work on a bidding system.

CPM- Cost per 1000 Impressions: This type of advertising is decent for generating engagement with your offer and useful if you don't have a list. It is typically cheaper than CPC

SEO- Search Engine Optimization: Using different methods to rank on the first page of google.

SEM- Search engine Marketing: Using the tools of PPC and CPM to generate leads and sales.

CPA- Cost per acquisition: Determining exactly what it costs to find a new customer. This is always the most expensive part of running a business.

Conversions: Another name for making a sale or getting someone to opt into your list.

Impressions: When somebody looks at your ad but doesn't click it. On Facebook your ad may have 1 million impressions, but this doesn't necessarily mean that 1 million individual people have seen your ad. Your estimated reach on Facebook might be 200,000 which means that these people have had 5 chances to see your ad.

Pixels: Facebook uses whats known as a tracking pixel. It's a simple line of code that is copy and pasted into your websites HTML code that creates a cookie on the visitors hard drive. These are tracked and used for gathering data about your customers behaviour.

CTR- Click Through Rate: the percent of people who click on your ad. It is usually measured per thousand impressions. 15 clicks per 1000=1.5% CTR

LTV- Lifetime Customer value: the amount of money that a customer will generate over their entire lifetime with your. It generally comes from a fancy equation that you can go and look up.

 

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