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Total Effective Online Marketing Plan
by David Gikandi

Everyone is looking for that magic formula that will propel his or her web
site to phenomenal success. Sooner or later, most people give up their
search for this mythical online marketing secret and accept a mediocre
level of online business performance that they know deep in their hearts
is not what it should be. But a few people discover the secret. As you
now will.

The secret is that there is no super-duper secret method of marketing
that will get you all the success you dreamt of. But there is a formula
which when done in totality, without taking any shortcuts, will multiply
your online business success many times over whatever it is now. The
ingredients of that formula consist of very basic and low-cost tasks that I
am sure you have heard of before but ignored or applied partially, as
most people do. The 'secret' is that you have to apply all the methods
correctly and in totality. You should spend 80% of your daily work time
doing this (or get someone to spend 80% of their time doing this for
you). This article might disappoint you initially because it pretty much
talks about what you have heard before, but please read through it and
you will be glad you did. It shows you the right way to use that 'old'
knowledge for great results. These results may not immediately come
crashing through in a few short days, but they will solidly build over a
few weeks and months to create a large stable and permanent success
base.

Before we look at the methods, let us briefly take a look at some items
or tools you need to gather for use. You need a collection of:

1. Signature files - these are simple text files, the electronic equivalent
of your business card and should be no longer than 8 lines long. They
carry your contact details and a quick intro to your business. Make a
few different ones and append one at the end of your outgoing emails
and postings. You can also use them to track the source of inquiries
resulting from your postings and emails.

2. Blurbs - short one-paragraph text pieces about your business or
related topic that you can post or paste to emails when required.

3. Reports - these are the longer version of blurbs, detailing your
business or any other related topic. Post these to selected places on
the Internet and provide them whenever required.

4. Newsletters - for a wide variety of reasons, it is very important that
you start your own newsletter and work at getting subscriptions. There
is a lot of information on the internet about how you can start, grow and
manage a newsletter, so I won't get into it. The only idea I would like to
give you is this: actively ask your current subscribers to forward your
newsletter to their friends. Offer a free gift that has true value to those
who forward the newsletter to 20 friends. Doing this will get you amazing
growth in newsletter subscriptions and sales! You can start one free at
www.listbot.com.

5. Banners - make sure you have professional quality banners of
different sizes. My favorite place to get custom professional banners at
an affordable price is www.buyabanner.com.

6. Press Releases - create professional press releases for everything
about your web site, from new product announcements to site changes.
Post them in appropriate places on the Internet and to press release
services.

7. FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions files. Create a few of these
about your industry or any other related topic. Make them in a
question-and-answer format and post them in appropriate newsgroups
and email them when necessary. They should not be blatant advertising
of your products but they should have your signature file at the bottom
and maybe a 'Created By...' line at the top to get you the recognition. A
well done FAQ can find itself copied all over the web and referred to by
thousands!

8. Autoresponders - if appropriate for your business, it can be a great
idea to get a powerful autoresponder that will be able to read incoming
email and automatically and instantly send out information files and
answers that are appropriate to the query. That way you can manage
thousands of email inquiries on time without any effort. Find one at
www.web-source.net/links/.

9. Articles - write a few good articles every so often that are related to
your industry. Contribute these for free publication in various ezines and
web sites (make a list of a few hundred sites and newsletters that can
take your article). This is one of the most effective tools in your arsenal
as it reaches thousands at one go, grabbing their attention for extended
periods of time. The article should not be blatantly marketing your
business, but at the end of it you should have your signature.

Now let us look at the methods that build success. Basically it works
this way: apply the above tools to each of these methods frequently,
daily where possible. It's that simple, but remember the key point here -
frequently, all the methods, daily where possible.

Incoming links

88.3% of people find new sites through links on other sites. The smart
way to approach this is to start a good affiliate program that pays a
commission to people linking to your site for sales, leads or clicks. I
highly recommend that you get any of these three affiliate program
management companies to run yours: LinkShare.com, BeFree.com or
CommissionJunction.com. These are the leading ones, with Link Share
being the biggest and most well known and CJ being the most affordable
but significantly smaller. The advantage of going with Link Share, for
example, is that your total affiliate program will be run by them including
check writing and reporting. You will get immediate exposure to over 1
million affiliates who use them, many of them immediately starting to
promote you, and people will believe in your affiliate program because of
the reputation Link Share carries.

So with your affiliate program in place you can now contact the
webmasters and site owners of heavily trafficked sites in your industry -
resource sites, sites selling complimentary products, directories,
newsletters, clients, even competitors - you will be surprised at what
you can get! Offer them a special affiliate commission package (with
Link Share you can customize your commission rates). Give them
banners and promotional text. Maybe even offer a small discount to their
clients - that will help them promote your products. Make a contact list
of as many sites as you can daily and contact them and follow them up
until you get the deal done. Start with a few hundred. All they would
have to do is recommend your products or site to their customer base
by placing your links, banners and reviews on their site and newsletter
or mailing list. It is a very easy job for them, but one that will earn them
a guaranteed commission of 10 - 20% through an affiliate program that
they can trust. Considering that some sites have mailing or customer
lists in the tens or hundreds of thousands, plus online visitors, this will
work very well. Again, use your tools here to the maximum effect.

Search engine and directory positions

84.8% of people find new sites through links on other sites, but in terms
of sheer numbers, this is the leading provider of traffic to most sites.
Note that it says 'position'. A listing on a search engine or directory
doesn't count for much, unless it is positioned well in the eyes of search
engine users. Otherwise a search engine listing just gets lost among
the millions of other pages on the engines. Only the top 10 to 30 links
returned for any given search count - the rest is almost always ignored.
Positioning is the easiest and most affordable yet most evasive and
misunderstood method you can use. There is a lot to learn about this,
especially if you want to do it manually. For most sites, the search
engine traffic makes or breaks their success and it is very important to
know how to work well with them. Using software tools, you should be
spending some time every day tracking, improving and managing your
positions.

Friends

64.7% of people find new web sites through friends. On your site, make
it easy for people to recommend your site, product, page, special offer,
or article to their friends. Add some scripts that make it a one-step
process at any page for the visitor to enter their friends' email addresses
and send a quick but effective recommendation. Make a nice letter that
will go out with the recommendation. If you want advanced features in
your recommendation feature, use a customized CGI script. To get
many more recommendations, offer the person making the
recommendation a chance to win something for his or her effort. You
can use www.recommend-it.com or find a script at
www.cgi-resources.com. This is probably the only method that doesn't
require your daily or frequent review and attention.

Printed Media

62.6% of people find new sites commonly through the print media -
advertising, press clips, articles, whatever. Identify magazines,
newsletters and journals around the world that could have an appropriate
audience. Then give them your articles, reports, blurbs, etc. build a
database of journalists that you contribute these items to. Send out
press releases to publications and writers. Use a press release firm for
best effect. Again, this is a method you should be using frequently. If
you have the budget, you can also do display and classified ads where
appropriate.

Newsletters and Mailing Lists

These are really underrated, yet so effective. What you need to do is
find as many lists and newsletters as possible that are related to your
business. Yes, that will get you a lot of email every day but it is worth it.
Read the postings and respond to them when you can, preferably daily,
using your blurbs, signatures, FAQs and articles. Many lists have
thousands of subscribers and by becoming an active contributor to a
number of them you will be getting exposure to thousands of focused
prospects for free - very powerful yet underrated. Make sure you do not
become overtly commercial in your postings - just let your signature do
the work of directing the reader to you for business. Your actual posting
should be a helpful bit of information, not advertising. You can find lists
at www.listz.com and Yahoo.com's categories.

Newsgroups and Forums

Newsgroups are under-estimated by most. Yet over 20% of Internet
users use them at least once a week. Forums are like newsgroups, the
most popular being the forums on AOL and CompuServe. Subscribe to
all the newsgroups and forums that are related to your industry. You can
find them at www.deja.com, www.listz.com/news, and by joining AOL
and CompuServe. Read new messages regularly, daily when possible,
and reply to them using your arsenal of signatures, blurbs, reports and
FAQs. Just don't be overtly commercial in your postings.

Other Things You Can Do

There are obviously many other ways you can promote your online
business. You can learn a lot of tricks by visiting successful sites and
seeing what little gimmicks and techniques they are using and copying
them. Depending on your budget, industry and audience, you can get
into banner advertising, offline advertising, promotions and contests,
coupons, selling through auction sites like eBay, classified ads on AOL
and CompuServe, sponsorships, and much more. You might want to
buy some good books at Amazon.com on online marketing for a
thorough look at many of these techniques.

The Bottom Line

The Internet is a complex place and concentrating on just one marketing
idea will not get you any long term, huge gains. Your best bet is to
follow the time-proven strategies we have talked about in their totality,
daily. And this marketing should consume 80% of your daily work time
(or get someone to spend 80% of their time marketing for you). I
guarantee you that if you spend this time daily enjoying yourself as you
get into the things we have talked about, your traffic and online success
will grow to amazing proportions! It is a time-proven 'secret' success
formula.


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