Internet marketing is an ever changing target but there are some things that stay reasonably constant whilst others (usually the things that work “fast”) come and go.
A friend of mine asked me on Skype what my plans were for this coming year and this is a (much) longer version of that reply.
As you read this, keep in mind that we’re all different and that what works for me may or may not work for you.
With that in mind, I’ll start with some of the things I won’t be doing this year. Not necessarily because they don’t work but because my skill-set doesn’t fit with them.
Years ago, I dabbled with paid ads, usually with Google AdWords.
I followed the guidelines at the time and Google happily took money from my credit card.
But then they decided that some of the ads I’d run in the past – often linking directly to the vendor’s website – no longer met their guidelines. They conveniently ignored the fact that the ads met the guidelines at the time they were running and instead expected me to be able to change the vendor’s website to comply with the new rules.
Either that (on a scale of 1 to impossible, pretty unlikely at best) or not be allowed to use AdWords.
So I’m effectively banned from AdWords for life. Even though my only “rule breaking” has been breaking rules that didn’t exist at the time.
That means I’m also automatically excluded from running video ads on YouTube.
Bing are still happy to take my money, so are Facebook and quite a few other networks.
But the skills needed to run a good advertising campaign are too many for my liking.
If you want to go down the paid ad route, be prepared to find a good mentor and be prepared to lose money initially. That’s the cost of entry because it’s highly unlikely that your ads will make money at the start.
You’ll also need to become proficient at:
- Keyword research – for the keywords you want to show up for and also for any words that you don’t want included. These negative keywords are at least as important as the regular ones – back when I was doing ads, one of the products was a software download so I didn’t want to show up if the search query included words like free, nulled, hacked, warez, keygen or a lot of other words people use to search for software without paying for it. You learn fast just how many people are searching for those terms once you place an ad.
- Headline writing – most ads have really short headlines (AdWords has a 25 character maximum) which can be quite a struggle to get the right impact. There are also often other restrictions such as capitalisation (all capitals is usually no-go), punctuation and even certain words if they’re things like trademarks.
- Sub headline writing – this covers the two lines below the headline and in AdWords each of those lines is subject to a 35 character maximum. Not much space to get your message across.
- Landing page creation – if I was allowed to start over on AdWords, I’d make sure that all the pages I sent people to were under my control so that I could change them in the future to meet any new rules that don’t currently exist. The landing page is subject to a quality score that evolves over time depending on how people react when they reach it. Things like pop-ups and pop-unders have been banned for a long time but there are also things related to the content of the page that evolve.
- Umpteen other factors – I’ve only just scratched the surface of the variables that are involved. And I haven’t mentioned that the quality score will likely vary from keyword to keyword if you don’t also vary the landing page. You also need to figure out how to monetise your clicks as it’s almost totally certain you won’t get your money back instantly.
OK, there’s an outside chance I’ll use these during 2016.
But, again, they’re a different internet marketing skillset to the one I’ve got.
If you’ve not come across them before, solo ads are where you can purchase an email “blast” sent to someone else’s list and you’re guaranteed a set amount of clicks from that to your offer page.
What you do with those clicks is up to you but most people offer a free gift in exchange for an email address.
Some people offer a $1 product, knowing that they won’t necessarily get as many people onto their list but also knowing that the people they do get actually spend money. Most of the time, a buyers list is a much better – you can find out more about using the $1 product method to build a buyers list here.
That would work for me as I’ve got lots of products, some of which are priced at $1 and others of which could be changed to that for the purposes of building a list.
But if you haven’t yet got a product then you’d have to use the “traditional” solo ads method of offering a free gift and then gradually monetising your list. This page goes that in much more detail.
OK. Enough about what I won’t be doing
That said, you should do the same kind of analysis.
It’s a kind-of strengths and weaknesses analysis that you should be able to do if you’ve been involved in internet marketing for more than a few weeks.
Figure out which parts you enjoy doing and which parts you’d prefer to never have to deal with again.
If the “never again” list includes essentials then work out how you can outsource those parts.
Now onto some of the things I will be doing…
The message I sent to my friend had 4 different sections but I’m going to add one more to this list.
This will include unsubscribing from quite a few email lists.
Sure, it’s quicker short term to press the delete key. But add up all those milliseconds over the next 12 months and it’s better to click the unsubscribe link and – hopefully – the unsubscribe option (or be automatically unsubscribed). I get bugged by the ones who expect me to enter my email address or, worse still, some kind of Captcha. In those instances, I’ll flag them as spam in Gmail and let their filtering take care of the problem.
Which does mean that you need to be careful how your email company handle unsubscribes. If it’s not one of the biggies like Aweber or GetResponse then sign up and then go through the unsubscribe process. If it’s not simple, strongly
As part of my internet marketing research I seem to end up on quite a lot of lists – often if I promote a product, I’ll end up on their JV list. Which is fine if the sole purpose of that list is to announce new products, leaderboard stats, etc. But is a problem if the focus drifts and they treat it like a regular prospects list. Those I definitely unsubscribe from.
There are a lot of other email lists I get onto – often to see how the other person handles things, often to check out whether the freebie they’re offering is any good, often just to test things or even as a favour to another marketer when they want their list subscription process tested.
Sometime because the marketer has moved from Aweber to GetResponse (or vice versa) or uses one of those for their buyers list and the other for their freebie signups list.
Even my own lists where I’ve signed up to test them and not got round to unsubscribing myself so I get multiple copies of those emails.
Over time, all of those mount up.
Especially the same list under different email addresses so I end up deleting several near-identical emails.
So I’m going to have one of my periodic culls of my inbox, devoting maybe 15 to 30 minutes to properly unsubscribe (those minutes will likely be spread out over several days as the emails dribble in) rather than just press delete.
That kind of de-cluttering takes a bit of time but it’s once off.
The other de-cluttering I’m likely to do is on Facebook.
Over time, friends mount up and some of them just post gibberish. So I’ll quietly un-friend those to make my Facebook feed less cluttered with irrelevances.
Growing this website
This site is my main internet marketing focus.
It’s the one I add content to most frequently. That’s slowly (very slowly!) building traffic.
And I intend to continue adding content.
The main difference in 2016 and beyond is going to be the page size.
My last 19 posts have averaged about 923 words. That was dragged down a bit by two of them being about 600 words but when I was adding up the figures to put here I was surprised they averaged quite as low as that.
Anyway, my aim for 2016 and beyond is to write longer posts but less often.
The target is around 2,000 to 3,000 words per post.
So just over double to just over triple the word count I’ve managed in the latter part of last year.
There’s a fair bit of reasoning behind this:
- Google index words better than they index anything else. They’re more consistent to index and they lend themselves to being analysed by computer programs better than images or videos.
- Research shows that longer posts tend to stand a higher chance of showing up higher in the search results. Part of that is because Google has more opportunities to rank those posts for more phrases – I’ll have included lots of different long tail keyword phrases in this post, most of those won’t be on purpose and most of those won’t have anyone else targeting them either. That’s the nature of long tail searches and I think that more searches are being made with longer phrases, partly because there’s so much clutter in the results if people don’t do that.
- The more information I include, the more likely people will be to share my posts or comment on them. That’s not something I’ve encouraged too much in the past and I need to figure out a way to increase interaction because that’s something Google pay attention to when they’re deciding which pages to show for their results.
- By definition, I can pack more information into the post. That helps in a number of ways – you may get all the information you need from the post I put up (that’s fine by me), you may decide that you need more help (hopefully also figuring out the area you need that help in) or you may even decide to buy one or more of my products to help you.
What that means is that I’m going to have to re-learn how to create the content for my site.
I’ve been creating content at around 600 to 1,000 words for so long that it’s second nature.
But training myself to create meaningful content at triple or quadruple that length will take a bit of getting used to.
I’ll probably go back to basics and sketch out the sections I want to write about before I start typing (something that I haven’t needed to do on shorter posts for a long time).
For this page, I’d already done that because of the Skype reply to my friend.
But for the next few pages I create, I’ll come up with around 5 to 10 areas I want to write about and keep those handy as I’m creating the page.
It’s a simple way to create content and works for everything from content on your own site right the way up to full-scale books. You just need more headings and sub-headings if it’s a longer item.
Growing my membership sites
I’ve got several different membership sites – they’re shown on my products page, although at the time of writing this it’s not immediately obvious which ones they are.
The logic on membership sites is that you get paid regularly and can therefore create a more reliable income stream – regular internet marketing can be patchy with regard to income (although I’m working on smoothing that out for myself as you’ll see in a later part of this page).
Utilities such as electricity, phone contracts, hosting and autoresponders are all examples of membership sites.
They have the advantage that you pretty much need what they’re offering.
In other areas, including internet marketing but also including coffee samples, socks, regular purchases on Amazon and lots of other things, it’s much more discretionary.
That makes membership sites less predictable than I’d like although I’m hoping that will change as I grow the membership numbers.
There are several different types of membership sites:
- One off payment sites – these have the advantage that users aren’t expecting updated content every month as they’re not paying every month. They’re essentially a regular product that’s been re-badged as a membership site. I’ve done this for a self help product and need to remember to promote it more regularly,
- Fixed term memberships – anything from a few weeks up to a year or more. The content is often drip-fed over the course of the fixed term so that people have more incentive to last for the whole program. This kind of model has been working for years – well before it was on the internet or called a membership site. It’s an option I’m not currently doing but it does hold a lot of attraction so I’ll be thinking about how best to do that and then implementing it. I already cover quite a few topics in the internet marketing arena that would lend themselves to that. Chances are you could do the same in your niche.
- Until cancelled memberships – these are the ultimate membership site providing you can keep people subscribed. There are lots of schools of thought on these – some people suggest a low monthly fee on the basis that people are less likely to cancel, others suggest a higher monthly fee (anything from maybe $10 to $100 or more), others suggest offering people who’ve been in the program for a while a lifetime membership for a fixed amount. From a vendor’s point of view, this type of membership is probably the best but from a buyers point of view that’s a lot less clear cut. At the moment, this is the style I’ve been concentrating on but I’m having second thoughts as I’ll explain below.
The biggest negative from a buyer’s point of view on membership sites with an indeterminate membership length is whether or not they will still be interested in the topic and also whether or not they’ll get full value from it.
At a low amount per month that’s maybe not too worrying, which is why a lot of people suggest a monthly price below $10.
At a higher amount, it starts to become a considered purchase. Which makes the initial sale more difficult (you need to address that problem up front I think) and, in turn, explains why people often offer a $1 trial.
I’m thinking that in future I will focus more on fixed term membership sites. The content would be spread out over a number of weeks and at the end of the time the payments would stop. I will probably be experimenting with 4 week and 12 week programs as I think those fit in with most people’s time frames.
In my view, anything longer than 3 months is too far ahead and/or the end result seems too distant.
Of course, I could be wrong about that – testing will be the ultimate thing to decide which is best.
Logically from a vendor’s point of view there should be a second and probably a third and fourth (etc) membership product that people can move on to once they’ve completed each stage. Of course, that would assume that people had actually completed the stage 1 process (quite a big assumption) so it could well be that if the process involves several memberships back-to-back there’s an incentive for joining all of them for a longer period. That’s my current thoughts but those will likely change over time!
Growing my niche sites
If I’m completely honest with myself, my niche sites outside the internet marketing area probably make me a more consistent, lower “hassle” income than my internet marketing sites.
But I neglect them.
There are quite a few sites I’ve got with a decent amount of traffic that I don’t add content to on a regular basis.
There are even more that I only ever go into to update WordPress.
Which is daft!
I know what to do – exactly what I teach, which is add more content to the sites on a regular basis, create some videos on YouTube, add presentations to sites like SlideShare.
That plus maybe the occasional guest post on another site to get an extra link.
I even know the type of content that works best – top X lists with each product in the list described (positives and negatives) and a link to the product.
But it’s been several months since I’ve written a Top 5 (or whatever other number) list and posted it.
So part of my plan for 2016 and beyond will be to create more of that style of post.
I’ll couple it with an increase in word count – likely in excess of 2,000 words – and a small amount of promotion.
There are several advantages to creating niche sites:
- They’re subject specific and the niche can be as narrow or as broad as you like but each individual page on the site will drill down.
- Products can be weaved into the content quite easily, even if it’s just a long post like this one. I’ve done it on this page at fairly random intervals according to where the links seem to fit and that’s just as easy to do on a niche site.
- You can incorporate buyer keywords – “review” is automatically a buyer keyword so if you’re doing a Top X review page. And, yes, I keep using X rather than a specific number because the number will vary according to the product. If there’s really only one product in the market (Dragon Naturally Speaking for instance) then the review turns into a comparison with using a free alternative such as the speech to text that’s built into Windows. But in most markets there are at least 3 and often 5 or more products you could put into a list. Odd numbers seem to resonate better with people so keep that in mind.
Whether or not there’s less competition in a niche is subject to research. The trick is not to over-complicate things and not to pitch too high. For instance, it’s unlikely you’ll cover the whole of the weight loss niche with your new site. But you could start to cover a section of it such as Paleo or whatever the latest Hollywood fad is.
The same goes for other niches – Forex on it’s own is too big but scalping based on candle patterns would be slightly more achievable, although with the affiliate margins available in Forex even that is probably pushing it unless you either already know something about the market or want to share your learning journey with your site visitors.
That’s quite a good approach for some niches – it would work for a diet, fitness, forex or a lot of other markets and would have the added advantage that your target market would resonate with you as they’d be going through a similar learning curve.
Or you could create a niche site where you pitched yourself as more of an expert. That can work well.
So during 2016 I’m going to make sure that I spend more of my time on my niche sites with the objective of pushing their income higher.
Other projects I’m involved with
I’m not going to go into much detail in this section apart from to say that I have various other projects that I help with.
These take some of my time and I need to make sure that those projects get the time they deserve without taking over every available minute of the day.
You’ll have the same kind of time demands in your life, whether they’re your job, family, hobbies or whatever else.
What do you need to do next?
- Draw up your own list of things you want to work on over the coming weeks and months. If you need help with that, check out this free offer.
- De-clutter your world so that you’ve got less distractions.
- Make sure that you allocate sufficient time to do justice to the various things on your list. If you haven’t got sufficient hours in the day to do everything, apply the Pareto 80/20 principle so that you only focus on the top priorities.
- Make sure you actually do whatever it is you’ve promised yourself you’ll be doing. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re doing more than you actually are. Buddy up with someone to hold you to account if necessary.
- Get outside help if you need it – whether that’s a one-off session to solve a particular issue or a longer course on a specific area such as affiliate marketing.
Above all, make sure you do something near enough every day to take you closer to your target.