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 Secrets of Online Marketing
     for Offline Businesses

How you can use Interactive Marketing to:

           §   Get more leads

           §   Close more sales

           §   Build better customer

           §   And get more referrals

                       . . . Starting TODAY!

Brad Fallon, J.D.

Acknowledgments                                             iv
Introduction                                                vi

Chapter 1      Uh-Oh – You’re Further Behind
               Than You Thought                              1

Chapter 2      Fundamentals of Interactive Marketing        20

Chapter 3      The “Magic Formula” of Interactive
               Marketing                                    36

Chapter 4      To Increase Your Internet Effectiveness –
               Increase Your Number of Web Sites            64

Chapter 5      Search Engine Marketing                      87

Chapter 6      How to Promote Your Sites Online            131

Chapter 7      Data-Driven Permission-Based E-mail:
               The Holy Grail of Internet Marketing        149

Chapter 8      What’s Next?                                202


    This is a book about sales and marketing. To that end, I’d
like to thank Steve Savage who first taught me how to sell
and that “attitude is everything.” It’s also a book about the
Internet. I’d like to thank Robert Jetmundson who allowed
me to quit the best job I ever had to join the dot com world.
And Michael Reed, for proving that in business persistence
really does pay.
    My partner, Barry Trottier, one of the best sales people I
know – who happens to build software – and the inventor of
Just in Time Programming. And Garett Berg for holding
everything together and making it all possible.
    I would like to thank Timothy Glynn for research and
assistance with the original manuscript. Gary Appelbaum’s
editing talent was invaluable in completing what often
seemed to be a project without end. They both made
significant contributions; any errors that remain are my own.
    Finally, I’d like to thank my parents, Cliff and Jane
Fallon, for a lifetime of encouragement.

To Jennifer


    This is a book for people who own a business. Or people
responsible for bringing money into a business – sales and
marketing professionals. Is this you?
    If so, this book will help you create more sales – fast.
Very few businesses are taking advantage of the Internet and
online or electronic marketing like they should. If you do,
you will have a significant advantage over all of your
    This book could have been called How to Use Internet
Marketing to Crush Your Competitors. Because that’s what
it’s about – taking unfair advantage of the tools at your
disposal to surpass and eliminate your competitors who are
stuck in the relative Dark Ages.

                  The Rules Have Changed
It may be fear of the unknown that causes people to think
that online marketing can’t help their offline business. It
seems very complicated or expensive and many people don’t
know where to start. Or they have a nice web site and they
think they’re done.
    Bad news. A nice web site is barely the tip of the iceberg.
The good news is that this book will show you everything
you need to go from Internet “newbie” to experienced

Interactive Marketer in the time it takes you to read it. For
your business, that means
    §   More Leads
    §   More Sales
    §   More Customers
    §   More Referrals
Starting immediately!

                     Knowledge is Power
    The ideas and techniques contained in these pages work
equally well for small and large businesses, both online and
offline. But the focus is “regular” offline businesses.
Manufacturers, law firms, restaurants, consultants – you
name it. If you have a traditional business like this and
you’re ready to trounce your competition and take your
business to a new level, read on!

To your success,

Brad Fallon

Smart Marketing, Inc.
Atlanta, Georgia

                      The Internet –
Good News and Bad News for Your Business

Chapter 1

Uh-Oh – You’re Further Behind Than You Thought

Quick – when was the last time you received a telegram?
    Or, more to the point, have you ever received a telegram?
If you are under a certain age, you probably haven’t. In fact,
many younger people have never even heard of a telegram.
In today’s Information Age, with ideas and images
instantaneously broadcast around the world by satellite video
phone, this brief paper message hand-delivered by special
messengers seems rather quaint.
    But it was less than 50 short years ago that the telegram
represented state-of-the-art “instant messaging,” and
receiving one was an event. The story of how it became
irrelevant within such a brief span illustrates how quickly the
modern businessperson must adapt to an almost daily
procession of technological advances in order to succeed.

What Hath God Wrought?

Consider that it was only around 160 years ago in 1844 that
Samuel F.B. Morse tapped out the first city-to-city
telegraphic message, between Washington D.C. and
Baltimore. The first electronic message that read simply,
“What hath God wrought,” placed the birth of modern
communications technology in perspective. This question
taken from the Old Testament was an expression of awe at
their accomplishment. Man had molded a force of nature and
glimpsed the possibilities that still lay hidden within the
mysteries of his creation.
    These were possibilities that the backers of the fabled
Pony Express perhaps wished they could have foreseen,
especially when the explosive popular growth of Mr.
Morse’s invention, combined with the ever-expanding reach
of the railroads, forced the courier service out of business.
    Although the railroad is widely credited for opening up
the American West, the telegraph played an equally
important role. When the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill,
California began the Gold Rush of 1849, it wasn't the
railroad that carried the first news of the bonanza; it was the
    As is often the case with major technological advances,
many felt we had reached the limit of our abilities. But it was

only a baby step compared to the quantum leap of the early
20th century as the first transatlantic cables connected the Old
World with the New and made instant worldwide
communication a reality.
    One of the most dramatic early examples of this
profound new capability occurred in April 1912, as the
telegraphed message, “Titanic sinks in North Atlantic stop,”
flashed around the globe in a matter of seconds.
    This was an omen. Rightly or wrongly, tragedy and
telegrams became strongly associated. The 1916 flash of the
sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-boat hastened the
entrance of the U.S. into the First World War. During WW
II, telegrams represented millions of people’s worst
nightmares as they contained the news of the loss of their
loved ones overseas.
    But as telegrams fed nightmares, they also built dreams.
They relayed news of everything from births to weddings to
hot stock tips to arrival times of visitors and returning
    Telegrams also served as the fastest means of conveying
congratulations for significant achievements. When Charles
Lindbergh landed the Spirit of St. Louis at Le Bourget Field
in Paris, following his record-breaking solo flight across the
Atlantic in 1927, he was greeted by the largest single
collection of telegrams ever received by a private citizen.

    As with any evolving means of communication, the
telegram found different voices to connect with different
audiences. One of the more inventive results was the
"singing" telegram, delivered on birthdays and other happy
occasions. Perhaps this was the grandfather of rich-media e-
    Throughout the modern age, communications and
transportation have advanced at a similarly rapid pace. Just
as the telegraph gave way to the telephone, the railroads
stepped aside for the automobile, and the airplane, and the
jetliner. And the most successful businesspeople have always
been those who have been in the forefront of utilizing those
advances to conduct their business.
    So, as a businessperson, the question for you is this:

As you take advantage of modern transportation to
conduct your business, are you taking equal

advantage of modern communication technology to

achieve your objectives?

In short, are you fully utilizing the Internet to grow your
business? If your answer is “no,” you are, quite simply, not
making the most of the resources at your command.
    The purpose of this book is to show today’s business
owners and managers how to use the Internet to achieve

maximum success with minimum effort and expenditure. If
you are sure you need to learn more about web marketing,
we will answer your questions and put you on the “fast
track” of the Information Age.
    But maybe you’re not sure whether you are using the
Internet to your maximum advantage, and want to learn
more. E-commerce is still evolving, and the most common
question for those just jumping in is:

What are the current “Best Practices” for using the

Internet to succeed in your traditional business?

This book answers that question as well. To do so, I suggest
that most people change the way they think about the Internet.
What is the Internet, really? Let’s start at the beginning with
the following question:

When was the Internet Invented?

Ask most informed people this question, and they will tell
you how the Internet grew out of defense industry
communications during the 1980’s. I say they’re wrong.
Samuel Morse invented the Internet in 1840 when he
received a patent for his telegraph.

    By this time, Morse had already sent his historic
electronic communication by wire between Baltimore and
Washington D.C. And, after all, what is the Internet but
electronic communication by wire? Indeed, it was the “e-
mail” of the telegraph that put the “snail mail” Pony Express
out of business.
    In essence, people have communicated by the Internet, in
one form or another, since 1840. The principle is the same.
The primary difference is that bandwidth has gotten better.
    In 1876, it became possible to send the human voice by
wire, and the telephone became the new standard. Then we
learned to send voices and music electronically, and radio
became king. Then came the cathode ray tube, capable of
transmitting images, as well as sound, and television was
    Now, it’s 2003, and you can send video, music, news,
games, and pretty much anything you want by wire or even
through the air – wirelessly. Mr. Morse’s Internet has
become what was the stuff of science fiction not all that long
    But regardless of who invented the Internet, and when,
the bottom line remains that your business needs more sales
this quarter, or you need to make quota this month. And so
the question becomes: “Well, all that history stuff is really
interesting, but what does it mean for my business?”

    To answer that question, we come back to our previous
question: Are you using the Internet to your maximum
advantage, to do all you can for your business?
    For most businesses, the honest answer is “no.” Even the
biggest, most successful companies have been slow to catch
on to the massive capabilities of the Internet. Most small
business owners and salespeople, on the other hand, are
necessarily preoccupied in the day-to-day grind of trying to
keep their heads above water and, sadly, are completely
missing the increased opportunities the Internet can provide
any business, of any size.
    And that comes down to the real reason you are reading
this book. Are you a business owner trying to figure out how
to keep up in a tough economy? Do you need more leads and
more sales? Have you been wondering how to increase your
cash flow? Are you convinced there are better methods to
help you increase your closing ratio? Maybe you’re just sick
and tired of commuting, and you’re jealous of the 135,000 or
so people sitting at home making a nice living selling stuff
on eBay.
    In any case, if you want to increase your business or
drive more revenue, and you want some quick, reliable
advice on how you can use the Internet to capture more
leads, qualify more prospects, close more sales, and get more
referrals, then this book is for you. Just keep reading, and

utilize the methods I outline, and you can start making more
money, more quickly, and more efficiently.
    But to begin with, there’s good news and bad news.
Which do you want first?

First, the Bad News:

The bad news is that you’re probably much farther behind
than you think. I know this because I’ve sat in many
meetings with business owners, executives, sales managers,
sales people, and others directly responsible for bringing in
revenue to their organization.
    Typically, the conversation goes something like this,
with me asking the question:
    “How’s your Internet strategy going?”
    “Pretty well. We launched our new web site last quarter.
It’s pretty flashy, and everyone seems to like it. We’re
getting more leads, and we’re happy with the results.”
    Then, five minutes later, after I’ve mentioned just a few
ideas – basic concepts we’ll discuss in Chapter Two – they
aren’t as happy with the results any more. Instead, they are
stunned by how much more business – and revenue – they
could be bringing in online if they would just implement a
few key strategies.

    And I believe I can do the same for your company. I’ve
spent the last several years working with many types of
traditional offline (not “dot com” or online) businesses,
helping them do more with the Internet, and a great many of
them have benefited from using these strategies. Even if
most of your sales are already made online, you could
benefit from them, as well.
    But the fact is that I wrote this book for the millions of
small business owners, sales managers, marketing directors,
and even individual salespeople who:
1) Work in a traditional (offline) business.
2) Are responsible for bringing in new business, closing
sales, and increasing revenue.

Now, the Good News:

There is a “Magic Formula” for increasing your company’s
sales and revenues through the Internet. Implementing an
effective Internet Strategy is not rocket science.
Unfortunately, many consultants tend to throw around
jargon, statistics, and acronyms until you think it is a science
and that only the computer geeks in the IT cubicles can
understand Internet marketing.
    Most consultants excel at making it seem as though you
can’t do anything unless you’re a programmer, that you need

to know HTML, database programming, server technology,
etc. Then, there are the software sales people pitching great
ideas in which the Return on Investment (ROI) for modern
systems is so obvious you can easily be convinced you need
software applications that cost hundreds of thousands of
dollars or more. In essence, they all want to convince you
that there is no “Magic Formula” for effective, profitable
Internet Marketing – that the true path is steep, complex, and
costly. Fortunately, this is not the case.
    The truth, which I have discovered after investigating
and working with e-marketing implementations in many
different fields of business is that there is a Magic Formula –
a fairly simple combination of certain concepts that any
business (your business) can utilize to sell more and generate
more revenue, using the Internet, throughout all parts of your
sales cycle.
    Following this formula to generate an effective Internet
Strategy will help your company improve in all areas of
business, from generating more leads, to better qualifying
prospects, to improving follow-up, to closing more sales, to
getting more and better referrals. It’s not difficult, and the
best news is that, for the most part, once you implement
these ideas, the processes happen automatically!
    The purpose of this book is to explain this Magic
Formula, and provide you with the knowledge, ideas, and

specific action steps you need to begin implementing your
own Internet Selling Strategy immediately.
    I used to call this system “Automatic Marketing,”
because once you implement these concepts, many of them
run on “autopilot.” It incorporates a combination of web
sites, e-mail systems, and other tools that provide Interactive
Communication with real prospects and customers, and
creates a true “hands off” automated marketing system. The
beautiful part is that your employees and sales people don’t
have to raise a finger!
    Think about it. Your sales people, customer service reps,
account managers, partners, and managers can keep doing
exactly what they need to be doing while these remarkably
efficient marketing and sales systems are added on to your
present organizational processes. It’s like having a marketing
staff on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that never asks
for time off or salary!
    Furthermore, the Magic Formula Internet Marketing
system is not a “zero sum” game in which you have to
constantly re-engineer processes. There is no need to teach
old dogs new tricks.
    Incorporating automated Internet systems to your present
business structure often results in an exponential gain in
productivity; it adds impact and consistency to your sales
process, and benefits your sales people simultaneously and

instantly. In other words, it creates an online Interactive
Marketing department within your company that makes
conducting business easier, and improves your bottom line.

What is Interactive Marketing?

To fully appreciate the difference Interactive Marketing can
make in your sales and revenues, it is important to
understand the revolutionary nature of the concept. And the
best way to explain that is to define our terms.
    The best definition I’ve heard of “interactive” is: two-
way communication that occurs independent of time or
    Any time people speak face-to-face, they are engaged in
two-way communication, but they must be in the same place
at the same time. A telephone conversation is two-way
communication, but all parties must be on the phone
    However, the Internet has revolutionized the process in
which we interact by making possible two-way
communication without the necessity of the parties being in
the same place or available at the same time. In other words,
Interactive Communication.
    As you know, any successful marketing program requires
productive, two-way communication between the

salesperson and the customer. Before the Internet, this meant
arranging a face-to-face meeting, or speaking by telephone.
In either case, it involved juggling of schedules on one or
both ends, travel time and expenditures, and a lot of missed
connections – all of which meant reduced productivity and
profitability. Think about it: how many sales have you lost
because you couldn’t establish two-way communication with
the prospect until it was too late?
    As the Internet revolutionized the art of two-way
communication, it simultaneously revolutionized the art of
marketing, by enabling sales calls, responses, and even
transactions to take place without the familiar, often endless,
processes of traditional marketing techniques. In other
words, Interactive Marketing.
    As an example of interactive marketing, you can visit a
hypothetical web site of mine. When you arrive at the web
site, you announce your presence and interest by clicking on
certain icons and links. In response, the system automatically
sends you a personalized e-mail from me, which you open at
your convenience.
    If you respond, your e-mail is sent to my inbox, and I can
respond individually. And there it is; we are conducting an
interactive communication – at the times and places most
convenient for both of us. Especially for me, because my
computer acted as my proxy, enabling me to send you a

personal e-mail while I was actually out talking to another
    That’s efficient selling.
    Let’s look at this advance from an historical perspective.
Back in the 1840’s, Mr. Morse’s telegraph made instant
communication possible, independent of place. But the
power of the telegraph, amazing as it was, was limited by
two factors: it enabled only one-way communication, and the
user had to rise to the technology by learning to code (in this
case, Morse Code), or by depending on others to do so – just
like many business owners trying to get changes made to
their web site.
    Then, in the 1870’s, Mr. Bell’s telephone signaled the
birth of two-way communication, independent of place. Plus,
it was more user-friendly – all you had to do was talk. So the
telephone supplanted (but by no means replaced) the
telegraph. Still, you could only talk to one person at a time,
both people had to be on the line simultaneously and, since
the infant technology relied on manual connection, the
process could take forever, and was notoriously unreliable.
    Now, the Internet allows you to conduct two-way
interactive communication with literally millions of people at
a time. Not surprising that it has transformed the way
business gets done. And even less surprising that businesses
around the globe are spending billions trying to figure out

how to take advantage of this “new” communication
      So, now, the question becomes: What does the Internet
represent to your business, and what is the best way to utilize
      Some people see the Internet as a whole new way of
doing everything. (Many of these people led the dot com
charge and then whined the loudest when the bubble burst.)
Others see it as just a new generation tool, like a pneumatic
nail gun versus a hammer. They figure you just keep doing
business the same old way and eventually figure out ways to
use it.
      I say that sales and marketing people need to recognize
the Internet as the specific tool it is: the 21st century version
of the telegraph – an interactive communication enabler.
How are you going to use it to enable you to have a better
relationship with your prospects and customers?
      The key, of course, is to exploit its interactivity, to
expand your base of operations by conducting interactive
business relationships with an increasing number of people;
making more sales calls and following up with a higher
percentage of leads. Most of the rest of this book will show
you specific ways to do so – easily and automatically. I am
convinced that following its techniques can help increase
your sales exponentially.

    The key is not just to be interactive, but to think
interactive. You can tell your sales story to many people at
the same time all over the world, on their schedule. That’s
powerful. But it’s still only one-way communication. How
do you make it interactive? That’s where the exponential
sales increases come in.

80/20 Marketing

I keep referring to the fact that I believe that it is easy for
you to get “exponential increases” in your sales numbers
using Interactive Marketing. How? By looking at your
traditional sales processes from an entirely new angle, and
with an open mind, you can create very significant changes
in your sales results, usually with only a few small
procedural improvements.
    Every business needs more sales and more revenue. And
that’s why I wrote this book; your Internet Strategy table has
more money sitting on it – more leads and more sales –
waiting for you. You only have to walk over and pick it up.
    Of course, this assumes that you have the capacity to
handle an exponential increase in sales. Of course, for most
businesses, and certainly most sales people, increasing sales
as much as possible is the desired result. (Indeed, most of the

dot com bombs that went out of business suffered from a
simple lack of sales – not from a lack of cool technology.)
    However, if you increase sales to the point that the
workload is overwhelming and it causes nothing but
problems, there’s no benefit. Indeed, it could do your
business – and business reputation – far more harm than
    But if you increase your business to the point where you
have the freedom to conduct business according to your
original vision, and “pick and choose” your most profitable
clients, while leaving troublesome or unproductive accounts
behind, you have reached the optimum stage. And that is the
level to which Interactive Marketing can take you.
    The greatest communication tool in the history of the
world is just sitting there, mostly untouched, by the vast
majority of the small-to medium-sized businesses that
employ 80 percent of the American work force. If there were
a simple formula that would let such businesses take full
advantage of the capabilities the Internet has to offer, it
would undoubtedly make a big difference in their sales,
productivity, and revenues.
    As I stated previously, this “Magic Formula” does indeed
exist. I call it 80/20 Marketing.
    The name comes from the fact that 20 percent of your
marketing activities typically generate 80 percent of your

results. The secret is to identify that productive 20 percent,
ignore all the other clutter, and focus your efforts on the
things that make the most difference to your bottom line,
especially the things that can be:

    1) Easily implemented across the entire sales process
    2) Automated
    3) Easily added on to whatever you’re doing now

For example, if you hire a crackerjack salesperson, that’s
terrific. But if they are just marginally better than their
predecessor, that’s not nearly as good as helping each
member of your sales force close two more deals a month.
    Remember, it’s 80/20 Marketing, not 80/20 Sales.
Assuming that your sales force is already closing the highest
possible percentage of deals based on what they have to
work with, how can they close more? How can they get more
leads? How can they follow up with more prospects? And
how can they do it all automatically? That’s 80/20
Marketing. And here’s how to make it work:

    §   Focus on the few processes that make the biggest
    §   Think about the Internet in terms of Interactive

    §   Look to the Internet for its automation, and seek out
        ideas that you can appropriate as “add-ons” to your
        current Marketing techniques.

    There are a million different variations, approaches and
techniques you could learn from the Internet. This book will
present many of them, but it isn’t meant to be an
encyclopedia of Internet marketing ideas. Rather, it is
intended to help you immediately focus on implementing the
20 percent of your marketing activities that will bring in 80
percent of your sales.
    So let’s get right to it. You want more leads. You want
more sales. You know you can get more of both using the
Internet, but where do you start? Easy. Turn to Chapter Two.

Chapter 2

Fundamentals of Interactive Marketing

As we move on, let’s take a quick review of what we learned
in Chapter 1:

   §   Interactive Marketing hinges on two-way
       communication between you and your customers and
       prospects, independent of time and place.
   §   Your “Internet Strategy” refers to your action plan to
       implement an Interactive Marketing campaign
       designed to improve and automate the
       communication between you and your customers.
   §   Improved customer communications means that your
       interaction with your customers is:
       §   More personal,
       §   More frequent, and
       §   More relevant to the individual.

   For many businesses and salespeople, improving
communication means having any communication at all! It’s
amazing how many businesses conduct a single transaction
with a paying customer and then never – ever –
communicate with that customer again. Not to confirm the

customer’s satisfaction, not to keep them up to date on their
new products and services, not even to just say “hello” to
thank the customer for their business. What a waste!
    Most businesspeople are well aware of the universal
business dictum that it costs seven times more, on average,
to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one. But it is
depressing to see how many never make any effort at all to
keep in touch with the people who have helped keep them in
    Oh sure they’re friendly as can be if the customer calls or
returns to the store. But how many businesses – especially
small businesses – think about inviting the customer back to
the store themselves? The answer is: not enough. Customers
are very sensitive; they want to be appreciated and
remembered for their business. If they are not, the odds are
good they’ll do business somewhere else, leaving the
business owner wondering what went wrong.
    What too few businesspeople realize is they can create
and maintain this all-important customer relationship using
an Internet Marketing system that does the remembering for
you, and automatically sends personalized
reminder/greeting/promotion/ e-mails to your customers,
according to your schedule – all for less money than keeping
the lights on for an extra hour one day a week.

The Inspiring Story of Arnie the Florist

Here’s one hypothetical example of a traditional offline
business that’s missing the boat when it comes to marketing.
Arnie Oldschool owns a retail florist shop in a pretty good
strip mall, right next to a busy grocery store. Like most
florists, Arnie knows that 90 percent of his male customers
buy flowers at the last minute. He gets a good deal of
business from guys who are shopping in the grocery store
when suddenly they remember their anniversary, or other
special event, and stop in to buy a dozen roses.
    In most cases, they come in, buy the flowers and leave.
That’s it. Some may come back, but Arnie will probably
never see most of them again. But that was before the
    How difficult would it be for the smiling clerk to ask the
customer, “A dozen roses? Wow… what’s the occasion?”
    “It’s our 10th anniversary!”
    “Hey, that’s great. When’s the big day?”
    “Today, as a matter of fact.”
    “Congratulations! At least you’re one of the husbands
who remembered.”
    “Ha! I’ve come close a couple times, but I’ve never
actually forgotten.”
    “Good for you. Say, you have e-mail, right?”

    “Well, we could guarantee you never forget! What would
you think about being placed on our 100 percent guaranteed
list? We e-mail you a few days before your anniversary and
her birthday, and Valentine’s Day, so you’ll always be ready.
We do it for lots of our customers.”
    “That’s a good idea! A little reminder, eh?”
    “Oh, yes, some of our customers said we saved their
lives a couple of times. We can also tell you about our
preferred customer discounts and show you some birthday
bouquet options. If you want, you can just e-mail us back
with your order and the inscription, and we can deliver the
flowers on the right day or have them ready for you to pick
    “Sounds good!”`
    “Piece of cake. Here… let’s just jot down your name and
e-mail address, and your anniversary, and other important
occasions, and we’ll get you started.”
    Simple, right? And, simply brilliant! Think about what
has just happened. By providing good, friendly service, and
getting an e-mail address, Arnie has transformed what could
be a one-time sale into a customer for life!
    A few days before June 2nd, and every other date on the
list, Arnie (or, more accurately, Arnie’s computer) e-mails
the customer automatically. Arnie never has to tie a string

around his finger or otherwise break his daily routine. An
extremely effective Interactive Marketing technique has just
been added on to Arnie's regular schedule, and Arnie can
keep doing what he does best: selling flowers!
    If you think this will increase Arnie’s sales, you’re
correct. Assuming that Arnie has just 10 customers a day,
five of whom provide their e-mail address, Arnie will collect
around 30 addresses a week. After one year (52 weeks), he
will have a database of over 1500 e-mail addresses – each
with at least two significant buying events per year, or more
than 3,000 extra potential sales opportunities. And if Arnie
keeps up the good work, the database will grow by that much
or more every year.
    Not only that, but Arnie’s e-mail customer collective also
gives him these other important advantages:

    §   He has a great e-mailing list of appreciative
        customers to remind of Valentine’s Day and other
        floral-appropriate events.
    §   He can offer special promotions during slow periods
        to help increase business.
    §   He can offer steep discounts on overstocks or other
        special circumstances.

    §   He gets more referrals. Any of his customers who
        knows a co-worker who needs to buy flowers can just
        forward their last e-mail from Arnie.
    §   He builds customer loyalty; by rewarding existing
        customers with discounts and special offers, he can
        entice them to buy more often instead of constantly
        wasting tight dollars on inefficient ads to attract new

    All these benefits are easy to achieve with 80/20
Marketing. And there are many different ways Arnie can
implement his strategy. For example, he can arrange his web
site so a potential customer can: 1) link back from a timely e-
mail; 2) choose a flower arrangement; 3) enter a credit card
number; and 4) write the inscription for the card – all in one,
easy process.
    But even if Arnie doesn’t have a web site, he still has the
potential to automatically generate many more leads and
create potential upsells every day in addition to his regular
business. With a regularly updated catalog, shopping cart,
and credit card processing, Arnie can e-mail his customers,
collect their orders by return e-mail, and fill the orders with
the one additional step of contacting the customer for the
credit card number.

    You see, the specifics of how Arnie implements his idea
aren’t as important as the fact that he does actually
implement it, and immediately begin to gather and utilize the
e-mail addresses of as many happy, paying customers as
    That’s 80/20 Marketing. Arnie’s active, ongoing effort to
capture e-mail addresses clearly falls into the 20 percent of
actions he can take to get 80 percent of his results – in his
case, thousands of additional sales opportunities per year.
Exactly how Arnie utilizes his database of e-mail addresses
can, and will, change over time, according to his needs and
    But however his processes evolve, Arnie’s business will
continue to benefit. And, as Arnie Oldschool discovered, the
benefits of 80/20 Marketing all begin with learning to use the
Internet to establish and maintain consistent Interactive
Communication with your customers. Which brings me to an
important point:

E-mail is the Secret Ingredient of the “Magic


E-mail was the original “Killer App” of the Information Age.
It was the one feature you had to have – and still have to
have. E-mail was the siren song that first lured most people

online, and it hasn’t lost any of its appeal. In fact, it has
actually gained power in our lives, and has grown from a
flashy novelty to a full-fledged necessity.
    Today, virtually everyone has e-mail. Most big
companies spend millions trying to develop ways to use e-
mail to their ultimate competitive advantage, which has
benefited not only legions of users, but scores of consultants.
There are studies and articles on every conceivable e-mail
issue, from how often you should e-mail your customers, to
the pros and cons of rich media e-mail, and many others.
    But for most small to medium-sized businesses, their
Internet Strategy, even the simple concept of keeping in
touch with their customers by e-mail, hasn’t even gotten to
the launching pad, much less blasted off.
    It’s amazing how many businesspeople I talk to don’t
collect the e-mail addresses of their happy, paying
customers, and haven’t even thought of trying.
    Such cases are frustrating, especially when a normally
dynamic businessperson takes an atypical “wait and see”
attitude (read: dangerous procrastination). I usually tell them,
“Listen, the Internet is here. Your customers use it. Your
prospects use it. And if you want to increase sales, you
should be using it – and using it to the maximum extent –
starting now!”

    “If you keep putting it off, all the other guys are going to
be passing you by – and the longer you keep putting it off,
the farther behind you’ll be. I understand it’s hard to get
started, but this is [insert date]. Let’s not be sitting around
having this same conversation at this time next year –
because, by then, it could be too late.”
    I find it interesting that when I talk to business owners,
sales managers, and salespeople about Internet Strategy, they
always want to focus on appearances, or what their web site
looks like. There are important issues in that concern, but not
overriding ones. The key to your Interactive Marketing
strategy is not making your site look good, but using the
Internet – more specifically, e-mail – to increase sales.

It’s not about your web site.

When a businessperson proudly announces that the company
has a spiffy web site, I often reply, "It’s great that you have a
web site – and I can help you have an even better one – but
Interactive Marketing isn’t about the web site; it’s about
using HTML e-mail to send your web site to the right
person, at the right time, with the right offer."
    Let me reiterate: It’s not about your web site! After all,
how many customers and prospects are going there, anyway

– and how many other “spiffy,” flashy sites are they going to
visit before and after yours?
    Even people who find your site in the Internet sea may
visit it one time and one time only. What you need to do
while you have them there is capture their e-mail address so
that, even if they never come back, you can keep in touch
with them forever.
    Using HTML e-mail (more about this later) allows you to
send beautiful, professional-quality web pages directly to the
prospect’s inbox. It catches the prospect’s eye and attention
and thus provides a real head start on the Interactive
Marketing process.
    When you get a prospect’s e-mail address and follow up
(automatically) via HTML e-mail, it’s amazing how many of
them will e-mail back. As you well know, even a prospect
who is ice cold today could turn scalding hot a week, or two,
or 10, or 52 weeks down the road – and the business that
stays on top of the case by following up will be on the top of
the list when it comes to doing business. Remember:
customers like nothing more than to be recognized and
remembered – even if they aren’t buying at the moment.

Another Example: Restaurants

Every restaurateur who serves a regular lunch crowd should
send out a daily morning e-mail, complete with a mouth-
watering food photo and description of the day’s lunch
    I don’t know about you, but in our office, it’s the same
thing every day. Around 11:00 or 11:30, people start
thinking, “Where are we going for lunch?”
    The smart restaurant owner should e-mail his regulars at
about that time every day. The recipient would see a picture
of a daily special about the time he or she is getting hungry,
think, “That looks great,” and get even hungrier. Then, when
the guy in the next office asks as he does every day, “What’s
for lunch,” what do you think is going to be the first
    With this one simple marketing tool, the restaurant owner
can rest assured that his restaurant will at least be considered
as a viable lunch option. And if he has included a tasty photo
and description, the collective gastric juices will be flowing
even harder. On a daily basis, I like the odds of this
restaurant over any lunch spot that relies on chance for
business. Sure, your prospects may think of you by
themselves, but why make them?
    You see? Right person, right time, right offer.

    At this point, you may be thinking, “I don’t know if
that’s such a good idea. People already get so much spam,
they may not want to see my pitch. It might even drive them
    This may sound valid on first listen, but nothing could be
farther from the truth, especially when it comes to the type of
e-mailings I'm discussing here. Nonetheless, I’ve heard
similar reactions often enough that I think it’s important to
address the issue.

People do like to receive certain e-mails

It is certainly true that most everyone hates “spam”
(unsolicited commercial email, sometimes called UCE). But,
on the other hand, most people like to receive e-mails about
things that interest them from people or businesses they
    For example, I subscribe to several newsletters. Some, I
read word for word. Others, I skim or read occasionally, but
they pique my interest every once in a while, so I keep my
subscriptions current. However, if an extended period of
time goes by, and I don’t see anything of value, or they seem
more interested in trying to sell me something than in their
editorial content, I'll cancel my subscription.

      Many people – many of your customers – are the same
way. One of the basic tenets of “Sales 101” is that people
love to buy but they hate to be sold. When you give your
customers more opportunities to buy while providing
valuable content and information, they will be more inclined
to buy more often.
      Take the example of the restaurant owner above e-
mailing his daily “Lunch Report.” His goal should be to send
content as often as possible (daily, in this case) that is
beneficial, easy-to-use, and that works to develop a stronger
business-customer relationship. For example, he should put
the taste-tempting picture and description of the lunch
special near the top of the page so it shows up in the
recipient’s preview pane. That way, the customer can see
what most interests him or her: “What’s for Lunch Today”
without having to actually open the e-mail or even scroll
down to read it.
      In addition, there are many possibilities for using this
report to develop relationships with his customers. For
example, using a standard right hand column that changes
content daily, he could create a newsletter that customers
actually look forward to receiving by offering such features

    §   A link to a good Dilbert or other cartoon relevant to
        his customers
    §   A joke of the day
    §   A link to an interesting photo or article
    §   A quote of the day
    §   Special offers only to people on a “Preferred
        Customer List”
    §   Thanks to his customers
    §   More thanks to his customers, and a sincere
        appreciation for their business
    §   A Reservation Form
    §   A restaurant “Employee of the Month” story,
        complete with photo

    The restaurant owner will know the strategy is working
the first time a customer walks in and congratulates “Cheryl”
on being Employee of the Month. Cheryl beams; the
customer feels good; everybody is happy. The restaurant
becomes something more than just another business. It
becomes more like “Cheers,” where everybody knows your
    This type of mailing isn’t spam, which is usually
unwanted, intrusive, and irritating. This is a method of using
e-mail to create and maintain better customer relationships
through better communication. In other words, the savvy

business owner creates interactive communication which is
more frequent, more personal, and more relevant.
    Now, before we advance to Chapter 3, in which we
explore the Magic Formula, let me make one final point. The
hypothetical examples above involved two completely
different types of businesses, but you may still not have seen
the relevance of them to your business – say, a manufacturer
of custom windows, an independent insurance office, an
industrial door supplier, or something else.
    In fact, it doesn’t matter what kind of business you have,
because Interactive Marketing principles apply to every type
of business, regardless of size and target market.
    True, every business is different. But most every
business has several things in common. Every business
    1) Keep in touch with its customers
    2) Thank customers for their business
    3) Make special offers to certain groups of customers,
    e.g., biggest customers, customers of select products,
    customers who haven’t bought in a while, etc.
    4) Follow-up with 100 percent of business prospects,
    100 percent of the time.
    E-mail enables your business to do all of the above more
efficiently with less expense. But you’ve probably already
deduced all that and mentally jumped ahead. You’re saying,

“Yes, it all sounds great – makes perfect sense. I’d love to
implement an Interactive Marketing, but how do I make it
    Turn to Chapter 3, in which we discover the power of

Chapter 3

The “Magic Formula” of Interactive Marketing

    In 1897, a third-grader named Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a
letter to the editor of the New York Sun:

    Dear Editor:
         I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is
    no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's
    so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
                 Virginia O'Hanlon

    In one of the most famous editorials ever printed and re-
printed, Francis P. Church published a well-reasoned,
logical, yet sentimental response that included the famous
words, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” In this
legendary essay, Mr. Church confirmed the existence of
magic and the power of belief, even in our modern rational
    Today, many businesspeople are in somewhat the same
puzzled position as little Virginia more than a century ago,
although with a somewhat different focus. They have seen
evidence of the technological magic wrought by the Internet,
but have been told by some of their little friends that it is all

a sham, not worth the effort of trying to capture and utilize
its secrets.
    In short, these smart, often quite successful people have
told me that they are “overwhelmed” by the Internet. I know,
because when I have inquired as to why they have not
utilized the dazzling possibilities of the Internet and
Interactive Marketing to grow their business, they have given
me such lame excuses as:

    §    “It’s too complicated.”
    §    “I don’t know anything about programming.”
    §    ”All I ever get is spam, and nobody reads that
    §    “My brother-in-law put up a web site for us, and it
         didn’t really help our business.”
    §    “We spent a fortune upgrading our web site and it
         didn’t make any difference – except that we now
         have less money.”

    In essence, the story I get is that many businesspeople
who should be capitalizing on the marketing power of the
Internet are instead standing back and watching. Even
though the Internet is here and now, they still see it as
another kind of Santa Claus – a big, awe-inspiring mystery.
They haven’t the information to construct their own

informed opinions, so they listen to the conflicting opinions
of others, which only adds to the mystery.
    I can envision a modern version of Virginia O’Hanlon’s
letter to the editor of, say, the Wall Street Journal:

    Dear Editor:
        I am 45 years old. Some of my friends say this
    Internet thing isn’t worth much. Others say I need to
    spend half my net worth to “get out of the Dark Ages.”
    Please tell me the truth, is there a simple way to use the
    Internet to help my business?
                 V.P. Virginia

    Unfortunately, the answers to such queries may not be as
inspiring as in 1897, for the Internet represents a different
kind of magic than Santa Claus. But I've crystallized the key
elements of this very complex issue into a 30-second
summation – a Magic Formula, if you will. So I have good
news for our modern-day VP:
    Yes, Virginia, there is a Magic Formula for Internet
Marketing success. Here it is.

The “Magic Formula” for Effective Interactive


Consistently follow these five key action steps and you can
produce 80 percent of your sales results by focusing on 20
percent of your marketing activities:

    1. Have effective web sites that generate as much
targeted traffic as possible.
    2. Use your web sites to capture as many leads as
possible as a percentage of all site visitors.
    3. Actively manage the content on your web sites.
    4. Use a sequential auto-responder to automatically
follow up with all your prospects and customers.
    5. Use an HTML group e-mailer to send personalized e-
mails to each and all your groups of prospects and

    Of course, each of these five requirements is itself a
subject worthy of an entire book. But for our purposes here
I’ll narrow each down to the key elements. Again, I’m not
trying to turn anyone into a web programmer. Rather, my
aim is to focus your attention and actions on the elements of
these five key steps you need to formulate and implement an
effective interactive marketing strategy – today!

Magic Formula Key #1: Have Effective Web Sites
that Generate as Much Targeted Traffic as Possible

From a marketing standpoint, the general purpose of a web
site is for prospects that don’t know you to find out about
you. You can have a great looking web site, but if no one can
find it that doesn’t already know your company’s name,
there’s little point. This seems obvious, but there are many
businesses that obviously spent a lot of money creating their
web site, and you can’t even find their site on a search
    Fortunately, getting your web site to come up at the top
of search engines is probably not as difficult as you think.
And with modern pay-per-click options, you can generate
site visitors who are actually looking for what you sell for
much less than any other marketing channel such as direct
mail, trade shows, or other forms of traditional advertising.
    Indeed, the great thing about search engines is that once
your web site is coming up high on the search results, you
get absolutely free leads with little or no ongoing marketing
cost. So the ROI (Return on Investment) of your marketing
dollars is infinite! In Chapter Five, we’ll take an 80/20
approach to site traffic and search engines and tell you what
it takes to get to the top of them, as quickly as possible.

    In a nutshell, there are six key ways to increase your
number of targeted site visitors.

1. Increase your number of sites.

As I’ll explain in Chapter 4, thinking about your web site
(singular) is not 80/20 Marketing. Too many Internet
Marketers are preoccupied with the design of their single
site’s home page when they should be using their time and
energy to create multiple web sites.
    For example, if many of your customers are lawyers,
why not post a web site focusing on the specific needs of
attorneys? Or florists? Or restaurateurs? Custom targeting
each of your markets maximizes your visitor and lead
    More important, different sites with different copy will
come up in different search engines in different ways. Why
have just one listing in the search engines when you can have
many – and many more opportunities to be discovered?

2. Increase your sites’ rankings in the free search


Free search engine listings are the most amazing marketing
tool in history. With the aid of a well-placed listing, a 14-

year old who started a business on her mom’s home
computer can compete with seasoned businesspeople around
the world.
    The power of search engines can’t be underestimated,
and any business with real overhead and revenues should
take their power seriously. Search Engine Optimization
(SEO), which increases your rankings on search engines is
both an art and a science. It isn’t unusual for big companies
to pay SEO firms $10,000 or more per month to improve
their standings and thus their numbers of site visitors.
    The good news is that getting your site to come up high
in the search engines is not rocket science. Indeed, you can
outsource the optimization of your web site(s) for search
engines, but you can also do it yourself. In Chapter Five, I’ll
explain which 20 percent of site optimization factors will
yield 80 percent of your results.

3. Increase your sites’ rankings in the “pay-per-

click” search engines

Virtually all Internet-savvy marketers are familiar with “pay-
per-click” search engines, especially Overture and Google.
Not so for traditional offline businesses. However, the
benefits of listing your offline company in these engines may
be one of the best-kept online marketing secrets, especially

for local or regional companies. If you don’t yet know the
reasons why, the competition won’t clue you in, but I will.

4. Increase the online marketing of your site

There are many excellent, and cost-effective, ways to
increase the visibility of your site, and increase traffic. A few
examples include:
    §   Online ads
    §   Pay-per-click search engines
    §   Directories
    §   Other web sites
    §   Link exchanges
    §   Reviews
    §   Articles
    §   E-mail newsletters (yours and or others)
    §   eBay
    §   Newsgroups
    §   Chat rooms
I will discuss all of these and more in the remaining chapters.

5. Increase the offline marketing of your site

Now that you are angling for site visitors, it’s a good time to
consider going back offline to attract online visitors. If this

sounds like a step backwards, it is actually anything but. The
key to an integrated marketing strategy is just that – to
integrate all of your online and offline marketing initiatives
into an overall cohesive strategy.
    The process of “converting” offline marketing and
advertising into online interactive marketing prospects
allows you to build your database of prospects and begin
more relationships, more quickly. The idea is to promote not
only your business but your web site(s) offline, and produce
maximum lead generation for your interactive
communication system.

6. Use opt-in e-mail to drive traffic to your site

The pros, cons, and debates surrounding the issue of opt-in
e-mail could easily fill a book of their own. One man’s spam
is another’s pleasure – or nightmare, depending on your
perspective. Still, from a pure marketing perspective, there is
something magical about being able to send full-blown
advertisements right to a person’s desktop for pennies. In
Chapter Six, we’ll make an 80/20 examination of this topic,
and give you the fundamentals and secrets to make opt-in e-
mail work in your favor.

    Once you are successfully driving targeted traffic to your
web site(s), the game has just begun. Then, you have to
convert those web site “hits” into actual leads with which
you can begin a relationship. The higher your conversion
rate, particularly with people who are not “hot prospects”
right then, the faster your sales pipeline will build and the
faster your sales will increase.

Magic Formula Key #2: Capture as Many Leads as


You can look at any number of web sites and immediately
realize that they are not capturing as many leads as possible
– because most are not capturing any leads. The site
designers may have had lengthy discussions about the
placement of the navigation, or the home page colors, or the
copy, but they are still just swinging blind, because they
don’t understand what they’re supposed to be swinging at.
    The reason so many web sites miss the point of their very
existence is that the usually savvy businesspeople who build
them are looking at the product from the wrong perspective.
Too many business professionals fall prey to their own
lengthy experience; they tend to look at a web site within the
context of the marketing materials to which they are
accustomed: a slick brochure, four-color marketing

collateral, a billboard, even a TV ad. In short, they see a web
site as simply another vehicle for outmoded one-way
communication – not as an interactive tool.
    “The Internet is a tool,” they say. Well yes, but what kind
of a tool? Tools change as civilization changes, and people
working from a more traditional frame of reference don’t
always understand or appreciate the innovations. They may
consider the device as a novelty, or regard it with mistrust –
even fear. Think about it – if you showed a 17th century
village smithy a modern metalworking lathe, he would
probably have you arrested for witchcraft.
    This is the perspective from which many traditional
marketing professionals view the Internet. And so they lump
it in with the tools they know and trust; and there’s the
    You see, if you look at a web site as just another
marketing tool, like a brochure, a billboard, or even a great
sales letter, you’re missing the point. You’re only doing what
80-90 percent of existing web sites are already doing to get a
mere 10-20 percent of their results – looking at your web site
like a piece of sales collateral, or as a flashier print or
broadcast ad – and in so doing, you are wasting or ignoring
an enormous reserve of untapped marketing and sales

    A web site is not a nice little “leave behind” flyer for
customers to skim and toss. It is the basic building block of
the most powerful marketing communications system since
television – with the added advantage of two-way,
interactive capabilities. This means that it is quite simply the
most powerful marketing communications tool ever
developed by mankind. Any marketing professional who
ignores this truth does so at his or her own risk. And any
V.P. of Sales who thinks that this falls under “Marketing”
and doesn’t apply to them is missing the whole point – and a
tremendous opportunity to increase sales.

The Future is Interactive

Ask an anthropologist when civilization began, and you will
be told, “When people began communicating through verbal
– and especially written – language.”

    Communication is what the Internet is all about –
specifically, interactive communication. Communication is
the soul of marketing, and that is where you should focus
your attention. Ask yourself, “How can I get my web site to
encourage more interactive communication from all of my
visitors?” The success of your business lies in the answers.

    Most web sites fall far short of providing an effective
answer to this fundamental question because they miss a
fundamental point:

For most businesses, including nearly all traditional
“offline” businesses (the focus of this book), the optimal
purpose of a web site is not to make a sale, but to capture
as many leads as possible.

The mission of salespeople is to make sales. The Internet is
not likely to change that. The mission of your web site, if
you are properly utilizing it, is to begin relationships with as
many new prospects as possible.
    This is the central tenet of permission marketing, a
strategy mapped out in the 1999 bestseller of the same name,
by Seth Godin. (If you haven’t read Permission Marketing, I
would recommend doing so; it’s as relevant today as it was
then.) Although it’s a marketing book for the Information
Age, it is grounded in one of the oldest, most established
concepts of business: companies that communicate with
prospects on the prospect’s terms are more likely to prosper.
    The challenge facing your business is to enable your web
site and electronic communications to accomplish the
objective, as Seth writes, of turning strangers into customers
and customers into friends. Now, let’s figure out how.

    Here’s the situation: You’ve just spent a lot of money
and a lot of time putting a web site online. You’ve got a lot
invested in its success – not just the time and money, but
your credibility and reputation. In other words, this dog had
better hunt.
    Say that you get a nice little flow of visitors to the site.
That’s good. Maybe you’re already doing this. A certain
percentage of them actually pick up the phone and call a
salesperson to place an order. That’s great. But what about
all those visitors who didn’t? That’s puzzling. What’s the
    Well, maybe they’re just not interested. But that isn’t
likely; if they weren’t interested, why did they take the time
to visit in the first place?
    A more likely possibility for many prospects is that the
timing just isn’t right. Maybe they’re just starting to shop.
Maybe they’re thinking about changing vendors but aren’t
quite ready to make a move. Maybe they’re in a meeting or
in an airport, and just don’t have time to call right now. Who
knows? Do you really want to make your prospects search
your web site for a contact form while they’re late for a
meeting? Not if you’re thinking 80/20.
    Think about it, do you really want to say to every site
visitor, “C’mon, buddy – make up your mind. Are you in or
out? I’m not waiting all day – either you buy now or I’m

going to go make a sales call on this prospect down the
    Sounds dumb right, right? Then why do so many web
sites treat site visitors that way? If you don't believe me,
check out the web sites of businesses in your area. Many of
them probably look nice, have decent copywriting and cost a
bundle to build. But when I see them, I wonder what the
business owners were thinking. Probably something along
the lines of the following:

    §      “If they’re interested, they’ll call. They can also e-
           mail us if they want.” (Who wants to e-mail
  It’s certainly not very
    §      “If they’re not ready now, they’ll write down the
           URL to our site and come back later.” (Suuure they
           will. But even if the prospects were willing to do this
           extra, unnecessary work, why would a business want
           to make them?)
    §      “Any serious prospect will call or e-mail. So we’re
           not losing any serious prospects." (Maybe that’s true
           –today. But what about next week, or next month, or
           six months from now – why blow off someone who
           may become a red-hot prospect in three months?)

Things change; marginal prospects become hot prospects,
and vice-versa. And where will you be when the change
comes – long forgotten after one brief visit, or the
beneficiary of a steady business relationship, continuing to
build a mutually rewarding interaction that began the first
time a prospect visited your site?
    Worth repeating – and remembering:
    The value of the Internet is its capacity for interactivity –
two-way communication independent of time and place.
    If you force your prospects to make the decision to move
forward with your company right there right then while
they’re on your site, you will get some of them. But you’ll
undoubtedly lose many others. Think about going on a first
date with someone you would like as a romantic partner.
How would he or she react if you immediately announced
your intention for marriage and demanded an immediate
decision? In all likelihood, you would never see that person
again – and if the person agreed, you should probably have
serious doubts about his or her emotional stability.
    While forcing a sales decision on a prospect’s first web
site visit is not quite as radical as the situation above, it can
still alienate people and seriously limit your sales potential.
You must view your web site as an opportunity to begin a
two-way dialogue on the prospect’s time – not yours.

    In short, Interactive Marketing removes much of the
pressure of turning prospects into customers. Giving
prospects their space provides time for you to show you are
serious about gaining their trust and business, and gives them
the opportunity to make a buying decision on what they
perceive as their terms. Remember: you build good
relationships over time, based on effective communication.
    When it comes to Interactive Marketing, your web site is
where you begin and build business relationships, and you
want to carry on as many as possible simultaneously.
Therefore, your focus should be, "How can I capture as
many leads as possible?"
    There are many specific ideas and suggestions in the
chapters ahead, but essentially, capturing leads comes down
to a sufficient quid pro quo in the mind of the prospect. In
other words, you must convince the first-time site visitor to
give you his or her e-mail address in exchange for
something. The key question is, “In exchange for what?”
    Many people these days are suspicious and hesitant to
give out their e-mail address. But you can’t begin a
relationship with them unless they do. Of course, they may
be so enthralled with your web site that they remember to
come back when they become a hot prospect down the road,
but that is a chance you don’t want to take.

    So, generally, you have to give them something in
exchange for (1) their e-mail address, and (2) permission to
send them more information. Once you have both of these
things, you can begin an educational sales process –
automatically and personally – by e-mail, giving them more
and more information and keeping in touch, until they
become a hot prospect down the road.
    Typical quid pro quos include information, white papers,
free research, access to online demonstrations, drawings,
contests, requests to receive something in the mail, etc. Of
course, you should test different offers in exchange for e-
mail addresses. As you test and refine your processes – both
the offers and means of collection – your conversion rates
should increase. In Chapter 7, you will find specific
examples, ideas, and best practices for increasing your web
site conversion rates.
    Now, back to the Magic Formula. We’ve reviewed the
first two keys:
    1. Have Effective Web Sites that Generate as Much
        Targeted Traffic as Possible, and
    2. Capture as Many Leads as Possible

Magic Formula Key #3: Manage the Content of
Your Web Sites Yourself

You know the old saying: “If you want something done
right, do it yourself.” Well, that applies to your web site, too.
It used to be that unless you were a computer geek, you had
to rely on IT people to change your web site content – which
meant relying on their schedules, paying their prices, and
trusting their instincts, which weren’t always correct.
    But times have changed for the better, and content
management tools or software applications now enable non-
programmers to make changes to their own web sites, or at
least update selected pages of the site. The content
management industry is booming, and with good reason –
marketing and sales departments (never the most patient
people, even under the best circumstances) have gotten fed
up with the lag time between asking IT for a web site update,
and actually getting it done. It doesn’t do a company’s
interactive marketing efforts much good to run a cool new
promotion which is over by the time IT finds the time to
update the site.
    The applications that sprang up as a result gave non-
techies the power they sought to update web sites
themselves, quickly and easily. You need this power, too.
    Why? Because if you are making optimum use of your
web site – maintaining simultaneous interactive
communications with all members of a continually
expanding base of customers and prospects – you will need

to publish various materials online in order to keep your
customers’ interest alive, and keep the relationships dynamic
and thriving.
    Some effective examples of these materials might

    §      Special discount offers – sending a link to qualified,
           i.e., steady or large customers only
    §      Coupons with short expiration windows – to
           encourage the customer to act quickly
    §      Customer surveys – e-mail a link and award a bonus
           to those who click in and complete the survey
    §      Meeting announcements and directions
    §      Meeting results and group comments
    §      An “Employee of the Week” feature
    §      Proposals for customers
    §      Your business calendar or schedule

    In short, if you have the ability to publish web pages to
support your marketing or sales efforts whenever you need
or want, you would be crazy not to. It would be like
Superman not using his X-Ray Vision because he doesn’t
want an advantage over the villains.
    When you have content management capabilities, you
will be amazed at the number of great ideas that will spring

to mind. On the other hand, if you don’t have this ability,
you probably won’t be thinking about all the ways you can
update and improve your web site, and keep in touch with
your database, so your web site will remain static, gray,
faceless, and basically ineffectual.
    Here’s a good example of how easy-to-use content
management tools can make your web site more interesting
and useful:
    One college I know of implemented a content
management solution in which each Admissions Counselor
(the college’s name for their salespeople) was able to create
and publish his or her own web pages. If a prospective
student had an interesting or useful question about the
college, or college life, the counselor could make it the focus
of a new page and add it to the college web site for all future
prospects to see.
    Within six months, the college’s web site evolved from a
decent, but boring, 50-page directory to a robust, constantly
evolving site that included, at last count, over 1,100 pages of
information. Without the power and ability for the
salespeople to create and update their own web pages, the
college would have never been able to create this compelling
content. And if you don’t get the power of content
management yourself, you’ll never be able to use your web

site to take advantage of all the possibilities of interactive
    As with most such software applications, content
management solutions run the gamut in price as you add
features and capabilities – from as little as $100 to as much
as $250,000 for the software alone. I’ll give you some
direction to help you select the right application for your
business, and suggest some ideas for your web site. Using
these tools, you should be able to create a promotion, post it
online, and e-mail a link to your customers and prospects –
all in less than an hour.

Magic Formula Key #4: Use a Sequential Auto-


If you have not used this powerful tool before, prepare
yourself. It is the new frontier of Internet Marketing, and it
will skyrocket your sales.
    Generally, an auto-responder refers to an e-mail program
that automatically replies each time it receives an e-mail. For
instance, when you e-mail a company and immediately
receive a reply reading, “Thank you for your interest in XYZ
Company. We will do our best to get back to you within 24-
48 hours,” that's the work of an auto-responder program.

    The concept of the auto-responder has been around for
quite a while, and the technology is not rocket science, but
few businesses are taking advantage of this tool in the right
way. That’s unfortunate, because when used properly and
consistently, auto-responder e-mail provides a huge potential
for growth.
    The great advantage of the sequential auto-responder is
that it allows you to send a series of data-driven
(personalized) e-mails to prospects on a pre-set schedule. For
example, when a prospect enters his or her e-mail address at
a web site, the sender instantly receives an instant reply. That
is what an auto-responder does. The power of the sequential
auto-responder is what happens next.
    After the e-mail address is entered, it begins a series of
completely automated marketing messages that are
automatically sent at the pre-selected time. The system
automatically follows-up with every single prospect on a
pre-set schedule. Each e-mail is sent “to” each individual
prospect and is sent “from” an individual sales rep.
    Anytime the prospect replies, their e-mail is sent directly
to the inbox of the sales rep who “signed” the outgoing
message. Thus, the auto-responder conducts a productive
one-on-one communications relationship with every single
prospect, without any effort on the part of the sales people.

    The auto-responder follows up with 100 percent of the
prospects 100 percent of the time and brings the salesperson
into the loop only when a prospect shows he or she is really
interested by replying to one of the e-mails. Or, if the
prospects clicks on one of the e-mails, the proper sales
person can be immediately notified of this expression of
interest and follow-up with a personal call or e-mail.
    Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes – would you rather
give your business to a salesperson who has stayed in touch,
or the one who sent you a single e-mail and never followed
up? In essence, the sequential auto-responder is a marketing
dream come true. Imagine if no prospect ever “slipped
through the cracks.” Imagine being able to follow up with
100 percent of your prospects, 100 percent of the time.
That’s what happens when you properly utilize a sequential

Magic Formula Key #5: Use an HTML Group E-Mail

Program to Keep in Touch with All Your Prospects
and Customers

If there is one overriding theme I have tried to impart here, it
is that you can – and should – use data-driven e-mails to
keep in touch with all your different groups of prospects and
customers. But if you have been paying attention and are

already thinking about how to apply the magic of Internet
marketing to your own business, you will probably come up
with all the best ideas yourself.
    Just consider all the possibilities and benefits of building
relationships with your customers and prospects through
electronic communications, and the good ideas will just keep
    For example:
    §     Do you have overstocked inventory? For the cost of
          an e-mail, and much less time than doing markdowns
          or Returns To Vendor, you can take pictures of the
          merchandise, paste them in an e-mail with
          descriptions and prices, and send it to all your
    §     Did your Bed & Breakfast get a bunch of
          cancellations for the weekend, and you need to fill
          some of those empty rooms? Time to run a Weekend
          Special! Take a few minutes to create an e-mail and
          send it out to everyone in your database.
    §     Do you have customers who haven’t bought anything
          in a while? Make them an offer they can’t refuse by
          sending out a special discount coupon they can print
          from their computer and redeem at the store. Better
          yet, electronically deposit “funds” on their gift cards
          and send an e-mail inviting them to spend the “free

        money” they’ll get if they come in by a deadline you
The possibilities are as numerous as your business needs. For
example, I went to law school and every lawyer I know
believes they should be sending out a regular newsletter to
all their clients and business associates. The idea is a no-
brainer: keep your name in front of everyone in your market,
and reap the rewards of more referrals, more loyalty, etc. But
it’s not easy!
    Imagine being a busy lawyer trying to run a practice, and
taking it upon yourself to write and design a newsletter,
format it, get it printed, fold it, stuff the envelopes and pay
the postage – or pay someone else to do it all. The big law
firms have full-time people doing all of this. But the small
firms find it difficult if not impossible to keep up with large
firm marketing.
    Of course, this was all before the Internet made it
possible for even small law firms to send professionally
designed and formatted HTML newsletters to all their clients
– in different versions customized to suit all their different
types of clients. And this can all be done for the cost of
sending an e-mail!
    And this is only one example from one industry. You can
use HTML group e-mail in just about any conceivable way
to market your business to all your customers and prospects,

no matter what their particular needs. It’s the perfect solution
for targeting your general market, and any and all niche
markets, without having to leave anyone out of the big
picture, and without having to spend a fortune on a series of
customized printed materials.
    If you still haven’t begun taking advantage of the power
and versatility of HTML group e-mail to keep in touch with
all of your prospects and clients, there’s no better time than
the present to get started – before you fall farther behind.
    In a nutshell, this is the Magic Formula for effective
Internet Marketing. Just a common-sense combination of
modern technology and good business techniques. Once you
implement the Formula and start mapping out your
marketing strategy for increasing your interactive
communications with all your customers and prospects, the
magic works more easily and more effectively. And when
you put these simple tools in the hands of your salespeople, I
think you – and they – will be amazed at the results.
    Once you start putting your version of the Magic
Formula into action, send me an e-mail at, and tell me how it’s working for
you. I would love to hear your “war stories” of your own
business magic.
    If you would like to receive a current list and review
of recommended vendors of low-priced sequential auto-

responders and group email programs, just send an e-
mail to

Chapter 4

To Increase Your Internet Effectiveness – Increase

Your Number of Web Sites

A web site should be much more than a “Billboard on the
Internet.” It should be interactive and it should capture leads.
But the bottom line for an effective web site is precisely the
same as a billboard: It must capture attention, arouse interest,
and compel the prospect to take action. But first it has to be
    Imagine that you have a product to advertise to the
world, and your media was restricted to one lone billboard in
the middle of, say, Nebraska. What are the odds of it being
seen and doing its job? Like the physical world of all the
potential media in which you could advertise, the virtual
world of the Internet is a very big place. Limiting yourself to
one web site is like staking all your faith, hopes, and money
on that one billboard in the middle of nowhere.
    For a different perspective, imagine that an advertising
salesperson calls on a business owner and offers a great rate
for ad space in a popular publication. Imagine also that just
one additional sale would pay for the ad several times over.
If the ad is likely to produce sales, it should be a no-brainer
for the business owner to buy the space and run the ad.

    Thus, picture the surprise on the adman’s face when the
business owner says, “Looks like a great deal. It’s
affordable, and I really think it would bring in more sales.”
    “Great then,” the adman smiles, clicking open his pen to
write down the specifics, “do you want to run it in the next
    “Oh, no… I can’t do that,” says the business owner,
    “Why not?” asks the salesperson, in mild shock.
    “Well, we already have an ad running in the newspaper,”
explains the owner.
    “Oh, why didn’t you tell me you’re already running an
ad?” says the ad guy, with barely concealed sarcasm. “Of
course you don’t need another one.”
    Silly example, perhaps, but the business owner who
refuses to run more than one ad in one publication at one
time is limiting the exposure, and potential, of his business –
much the same as a business with only one Internet web site.
     It should come as no surprise that companies that run
the most mass advertising, such as diversified consumer
product manufacturers have many different web sites for
their products. For example, consider Procter & Gamble.
There is a site for Secret deodorant, another separate site for
Pampers, and so on.

    Or, suppose you’re thinking about buying a new
Cadillac, and you want to check out the different models and
options. You could eventually get the information you want
by going to the General Motors Corporate web site, but why
go to all the trouble of having to manually specify your
search when you can just go straight to to begin
with? You don’t want to waste your time, and GM doesn’t
want you to, either.
    Therefore, when you go to a major search engine, such as
Google, and search for “Cadillac,” the first result on the list
is – exactly as GM intended. The same holds
true for Pontiac, and Chevrolet, and every other GM model.
General Motors is a huge, complex corporation, with scores
of products. If were the only site they had posted, it
would cause general inconvenience for their customers, and
probably reduce their traffic. Consumer patience and
attention span are two notable casualties of the Internet
    At first, the example of General Motors may not appear
relevant for a start-up business, or a business just getting
onto the Internet for the first time. But remember: GM didn’t
get to be so big by limiting their options – or their
customers’. The more options (web sites), the easier it is for
people to find you – and do business with you.

    If you are trying to attract prospects to an Internet
business relationship, a one-web site limit is unnecessarily
limiting. Investing and reinvesting your efforts and resources
into a single web site is like buying the same ad space in the
same publication over and over, when your prospects and
customers read a variety of publications. Your time, money,
and energy would be much more effectively spent creating
and posting a series of smaller, targeted, sites focusing on
specific products, services, or prospects.
    Making improvements to the main web site is valuable,
of course, but if you are missing your intended audiences by
concentrating on a site they’ll never see, you might as well
use the money to light a big bonfire – it would probably
attract more attention.
    In short, you may find it more effective to develop and
post targeted multiple web sites rather than trying to cram all
your products and services into one big, unwieldy site. Let’s
explore some of the reasons, divided according to the type
and/or purpose of your site(s):

1. Product or Topic-Specific Sites

A web site targeted to a particular product or service is more
likely to be found in a search engine search for that product.
“Keyword density” is an important factor for most search

engines. For example, a site devoted exclusively to
“Sylvester’s Violin Strings” is likely to be deemed a more
relevant site by the search engines for “violin strings” than
one for “Vinnie’s Violin Works,” in which the topic of violin
strings is mentioned but is not the primary focus of the site.
    Prospects who arrive on your web site looking for a
particular product, service or topic are more likely to stay
and become a lead if they perceive that the site specializes in
a product, service or topic relevant to their search. Say
someone is having a problem with the IRS. He or she is far
more likely to become a lead at a web site that “specializes”
in IRS problems than at a general CPA site that mentions
“IRS problems” as one entry in a long laundry list of services
and specialties.
    The Internet is a big place, with many competing search
engines, each of which has different ways and means of
compiling and posting its results. You’re playing a numbers
game – and to win, you have to play the odds. The more web
sites you have out there for those engines to latch onto, the
more likely a prospect is to find one of them. It is literally
impossible to optimize any one site or page for all the search
engines. But when you continue adding pages and sites, you
can focus efforts on different keywords in different engines.
    Now don’t think that these strategies are only useful for
retail sales sites. On the contrary, business consumers are at

least as likely as general consumers to use the Internet as a
tool to research products and services.
    On the other hand, your prospects may not ever be
looking for your particular products or services. They may
be using a competitor and have no intention of looking
around until your company contacts them and informs them
of the availability, benefits and advantages of your
company’s offerings such as savings, convenience,
technological superiority, etc.
    You can use outbound, permission-based e-mail
marketing to “get the word out” to prospects who aren’t
looking for your products or services. For instance, a
restaurant owner can e-mail his menu and special offers to
thousands of people in his zip code who have never visited
his restaurant; and he can do it at a fraction of the cost of any
other direct marketing method – with completely measurable
    But, to get back to the strategy of creating multiple web
sites, what is the point of creating web sites for people who
aren’t looking for your product? Good question; here’s the
two-part answer:
    First, there is obviously no search engine benefit in
creating a mini-site for a product that has generated no
search requests. However, there is still a sales benefit to
having a targeted site because, once people arrive at your site

– by means other than linking from a search engine – it is
easier to explain and sell your product if the entire site
focuses on that product.
    In other words, say your company, which has a corporate
web site, is marketing a new battery-powered lawnmower.
When you create print ads, or distribute flyers at a trade
show, or make cold calls, it is much easier (and more
effective) to encourage prospects to visit" than to direct them to your
corporate site and force them to dig out the individual
product page. The domain will be much easier to remember,
and the product will sound more revolutionary and
important, if it has its own site.
    Second, it is also worth noting that some of the best
product-specific mini-sites consist of literally one page – but
often a very long page, requiring a lot of scrolling down.
While this may sound like extra work, the idea is sound: that
once your prospect is on your site to learn about the product,
you shouldn’t make her click anywhere else to get the full
     Think of it in terms of a direct mail sales letter. You got
the prospect to “open the envelope” – now capture their
interest with a strong headline and vibrant graphics, and lead
them into the body letter with powerful intro copy.

    Then give the prospect all the information they need,
right on that page. Use whatever works: pictures, statistics,
testimonials, etc., to keep their focus on that page and
product – because if they lose interest and click off, they’re
gone – probably for good.
    As direct response experts know, it is generally true that
the longer the sales letter, the better the response. If your
headline piqued their interest, and your opening paragraph
maintained it, you now need to provide sufficient – and
sufficiently convincing – information for the reader to keep
reading and stay interested.
    Unlike many other marketing applications, when it
comes to direct mail and product-specific mini-sites, more is
better – more pictures, more information, more testimonials.
If you do it right, and they are interested, they won’t be able
to get enough information.

2. Prospect-Specific sites

Another highly effective way to employ a product-specific
web site is to hone its already-narrow focus down to an even
sharper, more targeted point. For example, if you use
proposals to sell your products or services; why not put up a
prospect-specific web site for each individual proposal?

    Many progressive companies are doing just that. If there
is a significant proposal on the table, put it on the web, in
addition to distributing the traditional hard copies. Think of
all the advantages:

    §   Decision-makers at the prospect company can easily
        share the link (and perhaps the password to allow
        access to the proposal online) with co-workers in
        other locations.
    §   You can provide links in the proposal to other online
        resources, documentation, research/test results, etc.
    §   You can provide high-resolution, full-color graphics
        and photos, which can be viewed by everyone at the
        prospect company, without having to depend on the
        quality or availability of their color printouts. Don’t
        you hate when you provide multiple copies of a
        meticulously prepared color proposal to a prospect,
        which somehow turn up in the hands of some of their
        decision-makers as off-center, sloppily stapled,
        black-and-white copies?
    §   You can instantly make changes on everyone’s copy
        – anything from correcting a typo after it’s already
        “out the door,” to adding more data or examples, to
        modifying the price or content.

    §   You can provide an e-mail link at the top of every
        page, so any person reading the proposal can send a
        quick e-mail if they have questions.
    §   You can make an online pdf version of the proposal
        that’s “black-and-white laser printer friendly.” If
        someone needs another copy, they can just print it out
        – and it looks good!
    §   Online proposals show your company to be
        technologically advanced and efficient, and set you
        apart from the competition.

    So you see there are benefits to posting product-specific
web sites, even if your sales targets are not searching for
your product. Of course, the ability to do this is linked to
Key #3 of the Magic Formula: you must be able to manage
the content of your web site(s) or web pages yourself. Again,
with today’s technology and software, if you can use a word
processor or send an e-mail, you can easily create, change,
edit and publish your own web pages.
    So far, we’ve examined the benefits of narrowly focused
product or topic-specific web sites to attract prospects
searching for specific solutions, as well as reasons to create
such sites even if people are not using search engines to look
for your product. Now, we’ll look at how to use search

engines and topic-specific sites even when people are not
searching for your product.

3. Topic-Related Information Sites

As I said, many people are not using the Internet or anything
else to search for your product. Either they don’t know it
exists, they don’t know they need it, or they are already
being supplied by a competitor. But one of the great things
about the Internet (and Internet search engines) is that you
can use it to make prospects find you when they didn’t know
they wanted to, and create demand for your product, even
when none exists!
    Slightly spooky, perhaps, but surprisingly simple. It all
revolves around the basic capitalist concept of supply and
demand: find out what prospects are looking for, and give it
to them. With a little time, a little research, and a little
content (most of which you probably already have) you can
have many more interactive billboards posted strategically
around the Internet.
    Think of the advertising analogy: would you create and
run more ads if you had an unlimited budget? That’s the deal
the Internet offers. For the price of a domain name – around
$9.00 – you can put up yet another interactive billboard. If
you’re paying more than $10 for a domain name, search

“cheap domain names” in any search engine, and watch the
bargains appear. A good place to start is
    Each separate domain represents another opportunity to
snag prospects searching for something related to your
business and begin a relationship with them – automatically.
And, unlike print or broadcast ads, the site doesn’t appear
and disappear – it stays there forever.
    In my experience, even multi-million dollar businesses
usually have no clue about how many more new prospects
they could be attracting every week – online, automatically,
and on top of everything they are already doing.
    Remember: the Internet is fundamentally a
communications medium. If you want to utilize it to
establish ongoing communications with prospects, you have
to appeal to their interests.
    Here’s an example: My friend Kurt Mattson, from
Atlanta, is one of the country’s great life insurance salesmen.
Kurt has more business than he knows what to do with – not
necessarily because he knows more about life insurance or
makes more cold calls, but because he is one of the best
networkers I’ve ever seen.
    “Networking,” of course, means forming and
maintaining ongoing communicative relationships with
people, usually on a professional or civic basis. Networking
relationships are actually identical to any interactive

relationships; they begin on a basis of things you have in
common, and then expand in scope and depth. The primary
difference is that the intent of networking is not so much as
to make friends or find romance (although those things do
occur regularly), but to assist yourself and your network in
the areas of professional or social advancement.
    Kurt is a born networker – a networker’s networker, if
you will. Once he meets you, he won’t stop interacting until
he helps you increase your business. No matter what you do,
or what you sell, or whom you know, he knows someone
else you could sell to, or work with, or buy cheaper from, or
whatever else the situation merits. When he meets with you
to discuss financial planning, you can rest assured it will be
just one of the many conversations you will have that week.
    Kurt sells primarily to affluent business people, and he
makes far more sales than his competitors, not by just talking
up his products but by building relationships. He
accomplishes this by advising his prospects how to find what
they are looking for, how to meet their current objectives
and, in most cases, how to increase their business.
    In much the same way, your prospects are probably
looking for something online. Their quest may be for
something as simple as information related to the industry, or
as complex as integrated solutions to their business problems

or challenges. Or, they may be looking for something
completely unrelated to their business. It doesn’t matter.
    What does matter is that you can help them find
whatever they are seeking through your web sites, without a
prohibitive investment of time and money. One of the great
things about the Internet is that “billboards are free” (or, at
least, close to free). For the price of a $9.00 domain name
and a few bucks for hosting, you can put up as many
interactive billboards, focused on as many ideas or products,
as you can imagine.
    To get yourself going in the right direction, flash back to
Marketing 101. Ask yourself: What is your target market?
What kind of people are they? What do they do for fun?
What do they read? What are their interests? What clubs or
associations to they belong to? You might want to ask if you
can write a questionnaire for a prospect's e-mail newsletter or
web site and have them e-mail it out to all their members.
Perhaps you can provide an information site related to areas
in which they are interested.
    You get the idea. Think about what your target market is
likely to be searching for online, then make an effort to come
up in those search results. Finally, prepare a proactive stance
for those instances where you do come up in the listings;
provide free information, a loss-leader service, or any

relevant perk to begin relationships with people who are
likely prospects for your other products.
    Another excellent way to attract likely prospects is to
create a resource site on a topic or topics related to your
products or services. With today’s technology, nearly anyone
can master the procedure. You can make your site popular,
and invaluable, by inviting people (even competitors) to post
articles, post to message boards, lead discussions, etc. As the
owner of the site, you will earn 24-karat credibility among
those who visit the site.

4. Replicated web sites

In addition to creating multiple web sites for different
products or topics, you can also easily increase the number
and strength of your web sites by replicating, or cloning,
multiple copies of a single web site.
    This strategy is common in the direct sales industry, in
which companies sell millions of dollars of product through
networks of independent distributors who often have little
formal sales training. In addition to the main company web
site, e.g.,, each distributor is given
his or her own replicated web site as a “sub domain,” e.g.,

    There are several reasons for using replicated sites. First,
a company with thousands of distributors can have (with the
simple addition of about 15 lines of code) thousands of web
sites. As the individuals manage the content on their own
web pages (Magic Formula Key#3), all the different pages
will be unique opportunities for the company to be found on
search engines.
    With replicated sites, each distributor can also advertise
and promote his own web site, rather than having to direct
prospects to the corporate site. This allows each salesperson
to capture e-mail addresses (leads) on his or her own web
site from the promotion activity that she conducts, rather
than having the addresses go into a common company pool.
    Replicated sites also allow personalized e-mails to be
sent automatically from each sales rep to each prospect who
signs up on his or her site. No more anonymous, “Thank you
for contacting XYZ Company. Someone will contact you
soon.” The prospect is recognized by name, which scores
brownie points for the sales rep, along with a real
opportunity to begin a business relationship.
        Finally, replicated sites make it possible for each
salesperson to practice content management on his or her
site. Salespeople can maintain their own contact information,
calendar, schedule, brochures, etc., and post notices,
promotions, invitations, or whatever variable information

they need to have at their fingertips to be more efficient,
responsive and successful.
    I find it interesting that, while such automated tools as
replicated sites have been common in the direct sales
industry for several years, they have yet to take hold in large
companies with traditional sales forces.
    Perhaps the direct sales industry took the lead because
they must sell their products through distributors who
usually don’t know a lot about selling. Companies with
traditional sales forces, on the other hand, give their
salespeople many things – base salaries, commissions,
bonuses, benefits, laptop computers – but not a web site,
which could actually be the most valuable perk of all.
    Think about it. How many companies, even large ones
with highly skilled, highly paid sales forces give their

    §   A web site
    §   The ability to manage their own web site content
    §   The ability to capture and automatically respond to
    §   The ability to follow up with 100 percent of their
        leads -- automatically
    §   A group e-mail program that allows every rep to
        establish and maintain an interactive communication

         relationship by sending data-driven (personalized)
         HTML e-mail to different groups of prospects and

    The answer is not very many – at least, not yet. Within a
few years, almost every salesperson will have the ability to
post data to his own web site, and will make extensive use of
that ability.
    Almost before you know it, replicated site technology
will transform the entire landscape of marketing; and the
idea of a salesperson not utilizing a web site and/or a robust
data-driven group e-mail program will seem positively
prehistoric – like a salesperson today who doesn’t use e-mail
or can’t receive a fax.
    Here’s a perfect example. After law school, I worked in
sales for a $2 billion legal publishing company employing
more than 600 sales reps. This company was a leader in
publishing technology, with a huge corporate web site. In
fact, the site was so large it was all but useless for the
purpose of selling to regional prospects.
    In response to this informational albatross, a friend of
mine created his own “replicated” web site. Of course, it
wasn’t replicated because he actually had the only one. It
contained a few simple pages highlighting the products

important to his prospects, plus direct links to interior pages
on the main corporate site.
    This move may have appeared presumptuous, but the site
proved to be exactly the kind of approach the company
needed. Soon, other sales reps and even corporate trainers
were using his little web site for both sales and training!
    Another time, this same company introduced an
important new product. The marketing department created a
beautiful HTML promotional e-mail for the product. (Good.)
They provided it to all the reps to send to all their customers
as a personal message from the person with whom the
customer had the relationship. (Very good.)
    Unfortunately, the company didn’t have a simple HTML
group e-mail program, and many of the sales reps could not
figure out how to send the HTML e-mail. In the end, the
company had to nix the star quality HTML and instead
provide a plain-text e-mail for the reps to send. (Not very
    It wasn’t really that long ago that many sales reps (along
with many other technologically challenged types) hadn’t
really figured out how to use e-mail. Today, e-mail has
become an important method for reps to answer questions
and conduct other correspondence, send proposals, and even
follow up with customers and prospects.

      In the very near future, this new generation of automated
tools, such as replicated web sites, will be just as common as
e-mail. These innovations represent extraordinary
opportunities for companies of all sizes, in all industries, to
exponentially increase the efficiency and productivity of
their salespeople, and they would be well advised to seize
these strategies of the future – before the future passes them

5. Non-replicated duplicate sites

Finally, consider the strategy of making many similar, but
slightly different, variations of your web site, and optimizing
each of the multitude for search engines.
      Non-replicated sites are like your previous single web
site in that the featured products and selling points are still
the same. But no one says you need to limit yourself to one
web site – so don’t! By making variations in the copy,
graphics, design, and even optimization, you can have as
few, or as many, web sites as you wish, each targeted to a
specific market or search engine.
      While it’s true that search engines disapprove and can
even ban “duplicate” web sites, there is no need to limit
yourself to just one. As long as the content, images, text, etc.
are different, there is no reason that you can’t promote more

htan one web site, particularly if they each deal with separate
issues, prospects, products, and topics.
    By way of example, consider the case of a plastic
surgeon I interviewed in Atlanta, who used to get quite a few
leads from the Internet. (Not surprisingly, many people now
research cosmetic surgery options and practitioners online
before they actually make an appointment to see a doctor.)
One of this surgeon’s key search terms was “breast implant
Atlanta,” and when a prospect conducted a search on Yahoo
using this term, he came up as #12 on the results list.
Normally, #12 is a pretty good position on a major search
engine in a major city. However, he felt it wasn’t good
    Then this surgeon engaged the services of a company
whose only business was to create literally 100 web sites for
each of their clients. They used software to automate much
of the process but, at the end of the day, each of the 100 web
sites looked different, read different, and felt different.
    No two sites were identical, even though the vast
majority contained the same five pages: Home; About Us;
Services; Contact Us, etc.
    For a fee of around $25,000 (around $250 per site; or, to
put it in perspective, less than half of what the doctor would
make for six additional surgical procedures over the life of
the web sites), the result was profound. Instead of just

coming up #12 on Yahoo, the doctor now comes up #7, #10,
#12, #14, etc., on different searches using different key
words. Bottom line: this tactic increased the surgeon’s
Internet lead flow (from free search engines) 20-30 percent
the first month his new sites were up!
    If you run a big business, and your leads increased 10
percent in a single month, a $25,000 fee may be a drop in the
bucket, especially compared to the jump in revenue. But
even if you’re a small business owner (or an individual
salesperson) and a $25K outlay is out of the question, the
strategy is still viable.
    You can economically employ the multiple web site
concept of being in more than one place at one time by
building additional web sites with search-engine-friendly
domain names like ""
    As we have said in earlier analogies, think of the multiple
web site approach in terms of effective advertising
techniques. It’s like running multiple ads in different
publications. Unless you have a pinpoint-narrow market and
absolutely no budget, there is no good rationale for running
just one ad in one publication at any one time. Doing so
severely limits (or completely negates) your exposure and
    By the same reasoning, there is no reason to have just
one web site. Multiple web sites are cost-effective (read:

cheap), provide access to different markets and audiences,
and can immeasurably expand your database of prospects,
leads and, finally, revenue. You simply cannot lose.
    To maximize the impact of the multiple web site
strategy, you should optimize each additional web site a little
differently than the last, and have a unique domain and
revised page copy for every site. You can’t always predict
which sites will do better, and where, but one thing is
certain: more web sites mean more opportunities.
    Finally, as discussed in the next chapter on search
engines, one of the most important factors to your ranking in
search engines, particularly Google, is the words contained
within incoming links to your site. If you control several
different sites you can link them to each other in certain
ways, increase your number of links, and literally control
your own destiny as far as your search engine rankings.

Chapter 5

Search Engine Marketing

How to Increase the Rankings of Your Web Sites in
the Search Engines

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: the search engine is one
of the most powerful marketing tools in the history of the
world. Perhaps that sounds a little overdramatic, but it would
be difficult to overstate the importance of search engine
    Search engines allow you to make immediate contact
with people anywhere in the world who are looking for what
you sell, exactly when they are looking for it. This is a truly
profound capability. And if you know how to make your web
site come in near the top of a prospect’s search engine
results, you’ve got a major jump on the competition.
    Unfortunately, though, most business owners are clueless
about what it takes to get their web site a preferable web site
ranking. Usually, they don’t bother to rectify the situation
because they don’t think it really makes much of a
difference. This is even more clueless. If they knew how
much a web site ranking can impact their business, they

would be doing whatever they could, as fast as they could, to
improve their placement.
    I have found that most businesspeople drastically under-
estimate the number of people who use the Internet to
research or find products and services, especially their
products and services. Even business owners who would
themselves use the Internet to research cars before buying
don’t stop to think that their potential customers are of the
same mindset, and go surfing to find the best product at the
best price.
    To illustrate, I recently met with an Atlanta attorney who
spends $10,000 a year advertising his practice in the “real”
yellow pages. During the course of the conversation, this
usually astute lawyer told me his clientele doesn’t really use
the Internet, and that Internet marketing wouldn’t be worth
his while.
    That made me think. Even if his assertion were true,
which I doubt, he would still be referring to his past and
present clients. And, as I explained, the question that could
come back to haunt him is not how many past or current
clients use the Internet to research their choice of an
attorney, but how many potential clients are doing so?
    As his expression made clear, he had no way of knowing,
because any prospective clients using the Internet would
never find him; he doesn’t even have a web site. All I could

do was hope, for his clients’ sake, that his legal adversaries
never caught him so flat-footed in court.
    This was a rather uncommon scenario, but the same basic
problem is very common among businesses that do have a
web site. I can’t even count the number of business owners
I’ve spoken to who have recounted a remarkably similar tale
of woe, which goes something like this: “We paid good
money for some guy to put up a web site for us a few years
ago, and we never really got much business from it.”
    Well, of course he didn’t get much business; in order to
get business through the Internet, people have to be able to
find your web site when they are looking for or researching
what you sell – an essential, but often-overlooked fact that
brings us to the all-important issue of Internet search
    As an example of the power of search engine marketing,
let me relate a situation related to that of our Internet-
ignorant lawyer, described above. This concerns another
client who happens to be an attorney. His name is Howard
Weintraub, and he is a former Federal prosecutor who now
practices criminal defense in Atlanta.
    Unlike the other attorney, Howard has had a web site for
several years and, while he has occasionally obtained new
clients through the site, he has never implemented a search
engine strategy.

    Howard recently told me he would like to get more
clients, and asked if I had any recommendations. I took a
page from Chapter 4 in this book (Multiple Web Site
Strategies), and suggested we create a new site focused
specifically on DUI cases – a situation in which people
would be likely to research qualified lawyers through the
    Howard agreed, and we went to work. We left his
original web site exactly as it was, created the new DUI site
and, as described below, got it listed in the search engines.
    Before we implemented Howard’s search engine
strategy, DUI cases did not constitute a substantial portion of
his practice. In fact, he averaged only one new DUI client
every three to four months. However, using simple
techniques, such as those I’ll discuss below, we put his site
up in the search engines on a Tuesday and, by the end of the
week, he had three new paid DUI clients – an average of one
per day. Howard, not surprisingly, was stunned.
    This anecdote highlights several critical truths about
Internet marketing:

    §   First, many successful businesspeople are completely
        missing the possibilities made available to them by
        the use of effective Internet marketing.

    §   Second, even though a business has an existing web
        site which produces few customers, this does not
        mean that their business cannot be significantly
        increased through an effective Internet strategy.
    §   Finally, even successful long-established businesses
        can experience significant, exponential, increases in
        business by means of an effective Internet strategy.

    The subject of search engines is complex and worthy of
an entire book in itself. Indeed, there are many good books
on search engine optimization, as well as a number of
excellent web sites with extensive information on the
subject. There is also a lot of misinformation, and widely-
held beliefs that just aren’t true. The mysteries of modern
search engines, and their secret proprietary algorithms, make
great fodder for rumors and crackpot theories.
    This chapter does not pretend to be a comprehensive
resource on search engines. Rather, its purpose is two-fold:
first, to give you a thorough overview of the basic
knowledge you need to get up to speed – the 20 percent of
the search engine concepts that will net 80 percent of your
results; second, to provide a step-by-step guide to dealing
with search engines, allowing you to get from Point A to
Point B as easily and efficiently as possible

Types of Search Engines

There are three different categories of search engine listings
for you to consider. They are:

    §   Pay-per-click search engine listings (e.g., Google
        AdWords and Overture, and thereby Yahoo, MSN,
        Excite, Lycos, etc.)
    §   Free search engine listings (e.g., Google, AltaVista,
    §   Directories (including general directories, such as
        Yahoo and DMOZ (Open Directory Project), and
        industry-specific directories, such as or

    There are over 165 commercial search engines, and each
utilizes different algorithms and formulae to determine the
rankings of its search results. As a result, the same sites may
appear near the top of a search one day and mysteriously
disappear the next.
    Such results tend to befuddle most laymen and business
owners who regard the concept and operation of search
engines as highly technical, complex, and random – in other
words, as something best left to the computer geeks.

However, the fact that search engines remain a mystery to
your competitors is good news for you.
    In truth, there are only a handful of search engines you
need to be concerned with – and you can make your web site
appear at the top of these engines, anytime you desire, on a
pay-per-click basis.
    Several years ago, you had to depend on trial and error to
get your site at the top of search engines. Today, with pay-
per-click search listings, you can create a brand new site
today, and have it appear at the top of major search engines
within 2-4 days, or in fifteen minutes on Google.
        For most businesses, pay-per-clicks on targeted
search results provide the best ROI (Return On Investment)
of any marketing effort. Unfortunately, however, the vast
majority of business owners are not taking advantage of this
phenomenal opportunity. Unfortunately for them, but very
fortunately for you.

Pay-Per-Click Search Engines: Read, Set, Overture!

You are probably familiar with most major search engines
(Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Altavista, Lycos, Hotbot,
Excite, etc.), and know how popular they are. But if you
think it’s tough to get your site to appear near the top of the
lists for these engines, prepare to be proven wrong.

    I have one word for those doubters among you: Overture.
    Overture, for the uninitiated, is a company that allows
you to create an account and “bid” on the search terms you
want to conjure up your site on various search engines,
including MSN, Yahoo, and Altavista.
    Within a few minutes, you can log on to,
create an account, and “bid” on the search terms you want to
bring up your web site. (For example, we wanted Howard
Weintraub’s DUI web site to appear whenever anyone ran a
search for “Georgia dui lawyer,” “Atlanta dui lawyer,” and
other related terms.)
    You submit to Overture a short ad or blurb that will
appear when your search terms are searched. All ads are
reviewed for legitimacy by Overture editors. For example, in
order to bid on the search term “Georgia dui lawyer,” your
web site has to be that of a Georgia attorney who handles
DUI cases – it can’t be the site of a non-lawyer or a real
estate lawyer.
    Once your ad and web site are approved, which takes
between one and four days, you are ready to go. Just click on
the bid box, and indicate how much you are willing to pay
for each click. All clicks are charged against your account,
which is prepaid by credit card.
    When you log in, you can see all bids competing against
yours. If you are one of the top three bidders, your blurb

appears at the top of the search listings whenever anyone
types in a search using your term on the applicable search
engines. (For a complete list of Overture partners, see
    In the case of Howard Weintraub, there were fewer than
a dozen lawyers bidding at all, and even fewer who bothered
to monitor and aggressively pursue their listings, despite the
fact that there are dozens of attorneys competing for the
business listed in the Atlanta Yellow Pages.
    Another great thing about Overture is their “Search Term
Suggestion” tool. When you log into your account, you can
use this tool to see exactly how many people ran a search for
any search term across all of the Overture partners in the past
calendar month – and thus, how many people are searching
for products or services you sell, or for information related
to those products and services. Then, using the “View Bids”
tool, you can see exactly how much is being paid for each
click on a particular term or terms.
    Pay-per-click listings on Overture are one of the most
profound marketing strategies available for several reasons:

    §   With one simple bid, your listings can reach up to 80
        percent of all Internet users.

    §   You only pay when people: (1) search for your exact
        search term(s), (2) read your product/service blurb,
        and, (3) click on and visit your site
    §   You can control exactly how much you spend on a
        per click, daily, or monthly basis.
    §   You can easily test different bid amounts for different
        rankings, ads, titles, and/or web sites.
    §   You can put up a new web site and see your listings
        at the top of major search engine rankings, literally
        within a matter of days.

    As of this writing, Overture listings are not only a
profound tool, but also a profound bargain. Of course, as the
word gets out and more and more business owners take
advantage of the opportunity to immediately rank their site at
the top of the major search engines, the bid prices will
increase – perhaps dramatically.
    The price you will want to pay per click on Overture will
vary, depending on what you sell, your average cost per lead
from traditional methods, and the lifetime value of your
average customer. However, for many businesses,
particularly those selling high-ticket merchandise or services
to a limited target market, it will be impossible to pay too
much for an Overture click, compared to the value received.

    When you begin bidding for a search term on Overture,
you may enter a “max bid” per click. At the conclusion of
the process, the top bidder is charged 1¢ more per click than
the runner-up’s max bid. However, the runner-up is then
charged at a rate of 1¢ more than the third place bidder.
Sounds fair, but when you think about it, it can leave a gap –
perhaps a significant gap – between the bid amounts.
    For example, if the high bidder bids $5.00 per click, the
second highest bids $3.00, and the third highest bids $1.00,
the “winner” will be charged $3.01 a click, while the second
place bidder pays a relatively paltry $1.01 per click – a $2.00
gap. Multiply $2.00 by the number of clicks, and you could
end up spending a lot more than is necessary. You must
monitor the bids closely to avoid paying a premium price for,
say, a #2 spot, when the #3 spot could be a much better
    In this vein, it might be worth your while to investigate
one of the inexpensive third-party software applications that
automate, and help manage, the bidding process. (Several
approved vendors are listed on Overture.) The software
automatically logs into your Overture accounts and
maintains your bids according to your directions.
    In my experience, keeping your result ranking anywhere
in the top three produces essentially the same results; the
success of your placement depends mostly on the quality of

your ad or blurb. On the other hand, though, after factoring
in your products, costs, conversion rates, and profits per sale,
it may be worth the effort to rank #1.
    For example, when I was the CEO of a company selling
enterprise software to a niche market, I bid whatever it took
to be #1 on all possible search engine rankings. If someone
was online searching for our type of software, I wanted them
to see our site, regardless of the cost of the click.
    For us, print ads or trade shows resulted in three-figure
per-lead costs. With Overture, we were able to get highly
targeted leads for anywhere from 10¢ to $9.00 per click. Of
course, many of those leads were unqualified, but certainly
not all.
    Since our specialty software had a very limited market,
we wanted to talk to any serious prospect; and since the
product sold for tens of thousands of dollars, adding even
one additional customer through Overture was easily worth
six months of mostly empty clicks.
    If you, on the other hand, sell low-priced items involving
common search terms, you may want to experiment with
different ads, sites, and bid amounts to ensure you don’t pay
too much. Luckily, it is easy to test variations of your listings
on Overture. You can get several different versions of ads,
and even web sites, approved. Then you can play with the
bid amounts and, therefore your rank, in the results on a real-

time basis. Any changes you make are reflected immediately
across all the search engines using Overture results.
      For most traditional businesses, however, the Overture
per-click price is an 80/20 issue, hinging on your needs, your
market, and the benefits you would receive. Here are a few
practical examples:
      Suppose you sell piano lessons in Atlanta. Using the
Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool, you can see that,
during the last month, 30 people searched “atlanta piano
lessons.” Granted, this is not a huge number of people, but
they are obviously motivated prospects and are worth talking
      And suppose that, as of now, there is no one else bidding
on the search term at all. This means your listing could come
up at #1 in normal search results in Yahoo, MSN, Lycos,
Excite,, etc. – and the price you would pay would
be the minimum 10¢ per click. You can’t even run a
classified ad or send one direct mail postcard for a lead cost
like that!
      Or, choose the example of “atlanta golf lessons.” In a
recent month, 125 people searched that term, and it has three
competing bids, of 25¢, 20¢, and 1¢. (The 1¢ means the bid
has been there quite a while, and was “grandfathered.”
Today, there is a 10¢ minimum.) In any case, you could bid

that minimum 10¢, which would put you in third place, and
therefore at the top of all Overture search engine results.
    Just so you don’t think the Overture system works only
for small businesses, consider the case of a business that is
anything but small: Atlanta Ford dealerships. There are many
Ford dealers in Atlanta, and all of them have web sites.
However, most don’t do very well in the search engine
rankings. Looking at Overture, we can see why.
    Using the Search Term Suggestion Tool, we can see that,
during one month, 341 people searched “atlanta ford dealer.”
Another 52 searched “ford dealer in atlanta”, and 27 more
searched “atlanta dealer ford ga.” That’s a total of 422
people searching the same product. If I represented an
Atlanta Ford dealership, I believe I would want to talk to
some of these people.
    You see that the demand exists. So, if you owned an
Atlanta Ford dealership, how much would you pay for each
click from someone using the Internet to research and find
your product?
    Before you answer, consider the fact that each Ford
dealer spends thousands of dollars every month on radio,
TV, and print advertising, all of which rely on the very slim
chance of attracting the attention of the right person at the
right time. Wouldn’t you think it was worth your while, and
a relatively low amount of money, to “preach to the choir” –

that is, demonstrate your wares directly to a finely targeted
audience of people who are already interested in buying
    Well, apparently, the dealers themselves don’t see it that
way. Would you believe that, at this time, not one single
Atlanta Ford dealer is bidding for the appropriate search
terms on Overture? Oh, there are a couple of national Ford
sites, and Priceline, but not one Atlanta dealer. And any
Atlanta Ford dealer that saw fit to take the opportunity could
be #1 in the rankings for the spectacularly low price of 13¢
per click.
    Perhaps the powers that be at these dealerships,
considering the big bucks it takes to run the show and foot
their advertising budgets, don’t think a mere couple of
hundred leads are worth worrying about. I doubt it, but even
if that were true, any salesperson at any of these dealerships
could easily create his or her own web site and get these
untapped leads themselves. If I sold Fords in Atlanta, that’s
exactly what I would do.
    You’ve probably figured this out already, but I think that
the regional listings service on Overture is one of the best-
kept marketing secrets in America. And, if you sell a
regional product or service, I very strongly encourage you to
go to and try it out yourself.

    The secret may not be a secret for long, however,
because the word about Overture is getting out. Everyone in
the search engine optimization industry, and nearly everyone
in Internet marketing, is familiar with Overture, so the
competition for many search terms is getting fierce. For
example, if your company sells “electronic medical records”
software to doctor’s offices, you are competing against every
software company in the country that chooses to bid.
    On the other hand, if you are an Atlanta dentist (over 500
searches last month), you are bidding only against other
Atlanta dentists, and there are currently only a dozen or so
practitioners bidding. You could be in the top three for
around $1 a click. Compare that figure to the price paid by
the dentist who markets through direct mail or traditional
    Regionally, you only have local competitors, and the
odds are that many of them are still not wise to the power of
Overture’s pay-per-click system. You still have time to beat
them to the punch, and the profits. If you are not already in
Overture, I would suggest you make your move – and make
it quickly.

Google: The Other “Must Have”

If you’ve been around the Internet for any length of time,
you’re probably familiar with Google. It may even already
be your favorite search engine – it certainly is for many. As
recently as the Oct. 2002 Nielsen/Net Ratings, Google was
the market leader, with 29.2 percent of all home and work
Internet users searching it at least once a month. This was
followed closely by Yahoo, at 28.5 percent, MSN at 28.2
percent, and AOL at 19.7 percent.
    In addition its high market share, there are two reasons
you should pay particular attention to Google. First, Google
search results are displayed not only at, but also
at Yahoo and AOL. When you run a search on both Yahoo
and AOL, the Google search results are the ones displayed.
Consequently, three of the top four search engines display
Google results.
    The second reason is that Google has a pay-per-click
program, similar to Overture’s, called Google AdWords. To
utilize AdWords on Google, you click “Advertise with us,”
create an account, pre-pay the initial click charges by credit
card, choose your key words, and create your ads. Unlike
Overture, it requires no human approval.
    As soon as you create your ads, they immediately begin
appearing on the right alongside the search
results. The top three listings also appear above the search
results in AOL’s “sponsored sites” section.

    This instantaneous posting makes Google AdWords the
fastest way to get your site up on major search engines, even
compared to Overture, which usually takes one to three days
before your listings are approved and can be posted.
    AdWords differs from Overture in several other ways, as
well. First, the placement of Google ads is not entirely
dependent on the bids; the popularity of the ad is also a
factor. Ads that are clicked on more frequently are assumed
to be more popular and, therefore, tend to appear higher on
the list. This creates a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy in that
ads that appear higher tend to get clicked on more often
anyway, which ensures they will continue to appear higher.
Furthermore, if your ad does not receive a certain click-
through percentage, Google removes it automatically and the
ad will not appear at all.
    Second, Google ads have a maximum per-click value of
$15.00. You click the maximum amount you are willing to
pay and are charged only a penny more per click than the
next high bidder – unlike Overture, which, as we’ve said, can
create substantial disparities in the per-click charges of
successive bids.
    Third, Google bills your credit card in arrears, after the
clicks are received. With Overture, you have to pre-pay an
amount into your account, against which the clicks are billed.

No more money, no more clicks (although you can set a
feature to auto-bill your credit card).
    Google also allows you to set a maximum daily budget,
of your choosing, to help you control your costs. When you
exceed your daily limit, no more ads will appear until the
following day. Based on your daily limit, Google
automatically spreads out your ad placements throughout the
day. In addition, Overture has a $20 minimum monthly
charge, while Google has no minimum. Both Overture and
Google, however, provide detailed reports on what search
terms are getting clicks, and in what quantity.
    A notable quirk of Google is that the same search often
yields different results. Unlike Overture, you can’t compare
the bids on Google and, as we said earlier, the ranking order
is based not only on bids, but also on click-through
popularity. If there are bidders with similar bids and similar
click-through rates, their ads will rotate on successive
searches. You can see this process in action by running a
Google search, refreshing the page, and watching the ads to
the right appear in a different order.
    In general, Google ads and clicks are less costly than
Overture’s. Again, Google automatically lowers all bids to
1¢ above the next highest bid. When you create your ads and
keywords, a cost estimator informs you what the daily
charges are likely to be, based on Google records for those

search terms. And, of course, you can set your daily
maximum to any amount you want. I often just bid the full
$15.00 to try and get my ranking as high as possible.
    Finally, it’s worth noting that Google highlights the top
two ads on all their search listings with a color background,
which substantially increases their visibility and attention-
drawing power. The appear on top of the regular search
results, at the very top of the page. Usually, one or both of
these ads is a large, national Google advertiser. Often,
however, the top Google “regular” AdWords ads is put in
one of these enviable, top-rank positions.
    Of course, none of the ads typically get clicked on as
much as the actual search results. However, it is still
powerful that your ad can appear on the first page of the
Google results for any of your chosen search terms – and it
only takes fifteen minutes!

Other Pay-Per-Click Search Engines

While Overture and Google are by far the most important
pay-per-click search engines, there are several other good
ones you might also want to check into, if you have the time.
     Perhaps the best site for further listing consideration is
Looksmart (, because its listings are
included in MSN search results, as well its own.

    Looksmart requires that you pay a set-up fee and submit
your proposed ad for approval, which usually takes a few
days. The most significant difference from Overture and
Google is that Looksmart has no bidding process for
placement pecking rights; each client pays an identical per-
click fee of 15¢.
    Other pay-per-click search engines include,, – and there are
many others. In terms of 80/20 efforts, however, Overture,
Google, and LookSmart are the places to start.

Pay-Per-Click Strategies: Pay Attention – and Test,

Test, Test!

As with any marketing campaign, testing is one of the keys
to gauging the effectiveness of your pay-per-click listings.
The obvious line of reasoning is that if your listing doesn’t
test well, you may want to rethink your strategy.
    Fortunately, pay-per-click search engines allow you to
place your own ads at or near the top of major search engines
and immediately test the results. You can also use third-party
software to manage your listings, according to your
specifications – for example, checking your listings every 15
minutes throughout the day to ensure your listings remain in
the desired positions.

    On Overture, it is ideal to do this without revealing your
max bid to your competitors. Since Overture allows
everyone to see everyone else’s max bids, if your max bid is
much higher than the next lowest bid, your competitor can
bid 1¢ more than you, forcing you to pay a big difference
between your bid and the next lowest bid.
    When you use the software, however, you can tell the
computer how much you are willing to pay, and it can
automatically log in to your account and change your bids as
other bidders change theirs, without revealing how high you
are willing to go.
    The other advantage of using the software is that it meets
your goal of “automating” the e-marketing strategies. As I’ve
said, one of the keys to effective Internet marketing is to add
automated marketing methods to your processes, without
interrupting or neglecting your other business activities. If
you miss a sales call because you’re sitting around playing
with search engines, you’re obviously missing the point.
    That caveat expressed, here is the 80/20 checklist for
pay-per-click search engine placements:

    1)     Include as many different keywords as possible.
    Use the Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool to create
    a listing for every term relevant to your business.

2)     Create a different ad for each keyword or search
phrase. Make sure the ad title and the keyword search
term are worded identically. (i.e., if the search term is
“georgia dui lawyer,” use “Georgia DUI Attorney” for
the ad – not “Atlanta DUI Attorney.”) Of course, if you
want to cover all the bases, you should also create a
listing and ad for the search term “atlanta dui attorney.”
3)     On Overture, use your keywords in the body copy
of the ad. According to Overture statistics, ads that do
this get 40-50 percent higher click-through rates. Believe
it. The logic is sound; when someone goes to a search
engine and types in a particular phrase, they scan the
results looking for that phrase. Your chances of getting a
click are better if the ad contains an exact match.
4)     All search terms on Google are shown in bold on
the search results page, including the terms included in
the body of the ads. Therefore, if you use the search
terms in your title, the title of your ad will be bolded, as
well. You’ll find that many of your competitors don’t
take advantage of this feature. Don’t make the same
5)     Don’t waste ad space, especially on Google’s
smaller ads, with such overused, meaningless phrases as
“Click here.” Write ads with strong copy and good titles

    that jump out of the pack. Read lots of other ads to see
    6)     Test different ads for the same search terms. Don’t
    get lazy and just submit your ads and forget about them.
    You’ll find that some ads outperform others for identical
    search terms by a wide margin.
    7)     On Overture, use automatic listing management
    software. Click on Customer Support to see a list of
    approved third-party software vendors. Most offer free
    trials of their applications.
    8)     Think of other related topics that your prospects
    may be searching for. On Google, you can usually buy
    any search terms you want. On Overture, however, you
    may need to create a separate lead generation site to
    provide other information, so their ad reviewers will
    perceive your site as “relevant.”

    If you are not currently using Overture and/or Google
AdWords, the most important thing is to get started right
away. Most businesspeople are pleasantly surprised by the
results as their ads begin appearing at the top of the major
search engines. How about you? Write to me at and let me know.

    If you would like to receive an updated list of the top
25 pay-per-click search engines, just send an e-mail to

Free Search Engine Results: The Ultimate Return on


Getting your site listed on the major search engines is the
ultimate return on investment (ROI) for your marketing
dollar. For the incredibly low price of zero, search engines
allows people all over the world who are looking for exactly
what you sell to find your web site.
    When I say getting your site listed, I mean within the top
10 search results for the search terms you want. (This
equates to the first page of Google.) A ranking any lower
drops the effectiveness of the listing so sharply that you need
to refine your listing and ads until you come up higher. As a
rule of thumb, 90 percent of web searchers won’t look
beyond the first page and another other 10 percent won’t
look beyond the second. Maybe one out of 100 will ever
look beyond that.
    Also, Google should be your top priority. Again, Google
search results are displayed on three of the top four search
engines, including Google, Yahoo, and AOL.

    The bad news is that getting to the top of Google is not
easy. The quest for a good Google placement has stymied
many a webmaster, and even those that are successful are
soon dismayed to discover that their site has been knocked
down a few pegs – or removed altogether – the next time
Google indexes their site, or re-indexes the competition.
    For those of you who have never tried to get a web site
listed in Google, this chapter includes the 20 percent of the
activities you need to know (and follow) to get 80 percent of
the results:

Google Basics

Google is a “pure” search engine; it attempts to index every
page on the Web and rank them according to its own
formula, with more relevant results ranked higher. People in
the business of SEO (search engine optimization) refer to
such non-paid listings as “organic” search results. Of course,
the key question is: “what makes a site more relevant to
Google?” This chapter answers that question.
    Each search engine uses different formulae or algorithms
to calculate the ranking of sites in their listings. Taking this
into account, it is often a good idea to build different pages,
or even sites, on your relevant issues to optimize for different
search engines. Google should be the focus of your attention,

but many of the techniques described here are basic
strategies that will help improve your rankings in any search
    It generally takes four to eight weeks to get a site listed
in Google. Its spider, the “Googlebot,” re-indexes most sites
in the engine about once a month. On the other hand, many
of the most important factors for Google, such as outside
links to your site, will be added to Google all the time. (Also,
Google indexes some very popular, constantly revised sites,
such as CNN, much more frequently.)
    Google scores the relevance of each page they index
based on their own algorithm, as explained below. Note that
some of the factors affected your rankings are affected by
things you do on your own web site (“internal factors”), and
others are determined by web sites other than the site you are
trying to optimize (“external factors”).
    The factors Google uses to determine the relevance of
each site include the following elements, not necessarily in
this order:

    §     Page Title (the HTML title of your web page)
    §     Keyword Density (the percentage of words on your
          page that contain the search terms or “keywords”)

    §   Incoming Link Text (known as Page Reputation and
        based on the words used in the incoming text links to
        your page)
    §   Link Popularity (how many external links there are to
        your web page)
    §   PageRank score (a Google score based on the number
        of links that link to your page, as well how popular
        the pages are that contain the incoming links)

    Once you get your site listed in Google, there are various
strategies (such as getting quality sites to link to you) you
can employ to affect external factors and move your site up
in Google search results.

View Source on Other Web sites for Ideas.

One of the best ways to begin optimizing your site for
Google is to search for your keywords and look at the sites
that come up highest in the rankings. You’ll notice that they
usually have the search terms (keywords) in the title of the

The Page Title

The title appears in the top bar of the browser window when
you view a web page. Selecting the title of your page is the
most important aspect of web page design you can control to
affect your rank on most search engines, including Google.
Here are the most important things to keep in mind:
    First, your main keywords should appear in your title
with as little extra verbiage as possible. Many web sites use
the name of their company as the first words of the title. This
is almost always a mistake, because the site is not (or should
not be) trying to attract people searching for the company
itself, but a specific aspect of the company’s business, as
described in the keywords. Put the keywords first, and in the
most prominent position, in the title of every page.
    For example, if you are a dentist in Denver, don’t put
your name, or the name of your practice, at the beginning of
the title – use the keywords under which you want your site
to appear. For example: “Denver dentist – Brad Fallon,
DDS”, is far superior to “Brad Fallon, DDS – Denver”,
which does not even include the word “dentist” – a
disastrous omission in terms of your Google results.
    Second, pay close attention to the order of the keywords
in your title. The search term “dentist denver colorado" will
bring up completely different results than “denver colorado
dentist.” Plurals also affect the rankings; “atlanta georgia

dentist” delivers different results than “atlanta georgia
dentists.” When in doubt, use the plurals.

Choose your Keywords Carefully

    So how do you know which search terms (keywords) to
use, and in what order? Here are three good options:
    First, you can log in to your Overture account and use the
Search Term Suggestion Tool. If you don’t have an account
yet, you can use it free at Click on Advertiser
Center on the home page; then click on Tools on the main
navigation. This tool gives you an exact count of how many
people searched what keywords during the past calendar
month across all of the Overture partners’ sites. (Keep in
mind this does not include Google or AOL.)
    Overture’s Search Term Suggestion Tool provides
valuable information and is a great place to start your
research for the best keywords on which to focus.
Unfortunately, it does not tell you whether you would get a
better ranking by beginning your title with “Atlanta dentist”
or “Dentist Atlanta.” It also doesn’t tell you whether more
people search for “denver dentist” (singular) or “denver
dentists” (plural).
    One way you can get the information on these specifics
is to create an AdWord account at Google. If you have an

account, you can login and add the keywords you’re
considering. For any given search terms, Google will tell you
what the average rank for your ad is likely to be and how
many click-through’s you can expect at what cost.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you how many impressions
(total searches) you will get for your particular keywords.
But if you have other terms already running, you can get a
feel for the percentage of click-through’s you get.
    For example, if Google tells you that you can expect 20
clicks per day when you bid $5.00 per click with an average
rank for your ad of 1.2 (most of the time your ad will be first
and sometimes it will be second), you can divide 20 (your
estimated clicks) by, say, 3.5% average click-through rate for
an average daily search total of 571. Of course, if you get 5
percent click-through’s the total number of searches would
be lower.
    Unfortunately, Google doesn’t just tell you the total
number of expected searches per keyword, but if you put in
the terms “denver dentist” and “denver dentists,” for
example, it will tell you which one should expect more clicks
per day. So you can use that for your main keyword

Consider the “Competitiveness” of Your Keywords

    Another important point to keep in mind when choosing
keywords is that you might not necessarily want to choose
the most popular keywords. Sounds counterintuitive, but
think about it. It is quite possible that the most popular
keywords for your site are much more competitive than the
keywords which are not searched quite as often.
    In other words, suppose that your competitors are
slugging it out for the most competitive keywords, where it
might be more difficult for you to get in the top five or ten
search results. Rather than competing for the most
competitive words, you can start by focusing on the second
or third most popular search terms. If you are successful in
coming up at the very top of the less competitive search
terms you may wind up with more targeted traffic than trying
to compete on the most competitive keywords.
    WordTracker is a popular third-party tool for
determining the effectiveness of your search term keywords
in search engine rankings. This software application analyzes
your main keywords against those from hundreds of top sites
in the major search engines, and then identifies the best
possible keywords and search terms for your site and title.
     The WordTracker system guides you through the
process of choosing not only the precisely best keywords,
but also the best order in which to use these words – which is
equally critical to your site title’s effectiveness.

    Sound good? It is fast and efficient. If you want to see for
yourself, go to for a free trial.

Choose a Good Domain Name

One thing you can do to ensure that your product or service-
specific web site(s) ranks high in the search engines is to
place your most important keywords in the actual domain
name. Contrary to what many people think, Google does not
consider the keywords in the domain or boost the search
results of those sites which include given keywords in the
actual domain name. For example, www.georgia-dui- will not rank higher than in a search for Georgia DUI
    That being said, however, there are actually good reasons
to choose domain names that contain your keywords. As
outlined above, one of the most important factors for Google
rankings is the “reputation” of the page, or the words
contained in the text of the incoming links to your web page.
As other sites link to the page you are trying to position high
in Google, the fact that your keywords are contained in the
domain name may cause the webmasters to use those words
in the text of the links – and that is a big deal.

    In fact, other web sites may just provide a text link to the
actual domain name, e.g., on a directory listing, there may be
a link to your web site where just the URL is used for the
text description of the link. For example, under your e-mail
address it could say, “Web Site: http://georgia-dui-” If the incoming link uses the actual URL in
the text part of the link, then you derive a large benefit from
having your keywords in the domain name. But, and here’s
the trick, only if Google can tell what your words are. That
is, only if your keywords are separated by one or more
hyphens. Otherwise would be
found in a search for “georgiaduilawyer” but not for “georgia
dui lawyer.”
    You see, may not be a good
domain name for your business card or your URL, but it is a
great domain name for Google – as other web site link to this
domain – if they use the actual URL in the text link that
appears on the page. Indeed, you can even use two (or more
hyphens) if your domain names are not available. For
example, you could use if georgia- were not available, both of which are
preferable to because otherwise
Google cannot “read” the separate keywords.
    Also, if you can’t get the name you want with .com, try
.net, .org, .us, .ws, or .biz – they’re all the same in the eyes of

the search engines. Visit to see what
domain names are available and buy them for the economical
price of $9.00.
    Also remember that you can redirect domain names to
other web sites. So if you want to use for
your business card, letterhead, and advertising, you can do
that. But to optimize your web site for search engines,
particularly Google, it is important to use domain names that
include your exact keywords. At, you
can – and should – register all the domains you can think of,
both for current and future web sites, and to keep your
competitors from getting them. At only $9.00 per name, it’s
a bargain.

Keyword Density: Focus on Using Your Keywords

in the Text of Your Pages

When writing web copy for search engines, you must ensure
that it not only reads well, but also maximizes your
“relevance” in the search engine indices. Copy that is written
to please readers becomes irrelevant if you’re buried in
Google and not even a pack of bloodhounds could find your
site in the first place.
    The main factor here is keyword density. This refers to
how often your keywords appear in your site copy, as a

percentage of all words on the page. Generally, you want to
include your keywords early and often. For example, our
Atlanta DUI attorney would want to repeat that phrase
throughout the site copy.
    Note that this factor is not very important to Google
rankings. For example, there are many highly-ranked pages
that are all Flash, or one big image that is invisible to
Google’s spider. They rank high because of the incoming
text links, the Page Rank, and the title of the page.
    However, you still want to include your keywords in the
text of the actual page because it is more important to other
search engines, including Inktomi, the backbone of MSN and
Hotbot among others.
    You might not take this tack in normal advertising copy
or collateral materials; you would instead focus on your
products and services. However, search engine copy follows
a different logic. If you want to be found by people searching
for an Atlanta DUI attorney, you must ensure that the engine
will pick up on repeated references to those keywords.
    In the case of a large satellite city like Atlanta or
Chicago, you would also want to mention the nearby towns
and/or suburbs you serve within the body copy, because
many people might be searching for people in their particular
neck of the woods, and you don’t want your listing to be left
out of the search results.

    Different search engines look for different ratios of
keyword density within copy, and a percentage that gets you
to the top of some rankings might leave you lower on others.
For the latest research on what different search engines look
for, visit This is one of the best
resources used by serious SEO professionals to keep up with
the latest changes in search engines.
    Finally, you want the text copy on your site, with a high
keyword density, to appear at the top of your web page,
preferably before any images. Graphics look nice, but do
nothing to improve your search results. The higher you can
put your keyword-heavy text, the better. You should also use
headlines that contain your keywords in heading tags, as
close as possible to the top of your pages, and preferably
before any images.

Pay Attention to the Order of the Keywords in Your

Titles, Domain Names, and Site Copy

Word order is extremely important when listing on Google,
so it is a valuable exercise to research the most popular
search phrases of your target prospects. For example, are
they more likely to search “georgia dui lawyer,” or “dui
lawyer georgia”? Use a tool, such as WordTracker, to
categorize the most popular phrases and phrase structure.

Then write your copy with most of your keywords in the
“correct” order.
    Once you do your research, abide by the results – always
use your keywords in the correct order; make sure your titles
match your domain names as well as your incoming text
links. Use the exact phrases, and verify that the alt tags for
your images, also contain your keywords in the correct order.

Use Your Keywords in Your Navigation Links and

Links to Other Sites

Google also pays quite a bit of attention to keywords in your
own internal text links. So, as you link to each page on your
own site, use keywords in the text of the links. It is also
important to use text links, rather than graphic links, to link
the pages of your site together. Search engine spiders can
ready only text links, so only text links can boost your
relevance in the rankings.

Update Your Content Often

Fresh web site content is also more likely to be considered
relevant web site content, so you should change it at least
once a month – the same general schedule on which the
Googlebot generally re-indexes known sites. Sites with

frequently updated content are assumed to be more relevant
than sites that have remained unchanged. So when the
Google spider comes crawling, a fresh new approach can
help make sure it doesn’t stick your stagnant site at the
bottom of its web.
    Indeed, improved search engine ranking is one of the
benefits of following Key #3 of the Magic Formula:
“Manage Your Own Content.” If you are able to revise the
content on your web site(s) without going through IT or
using an outsourced webmaster, your reaction time to
changing market conditions will sharpen considerably, as
will your relationships with your customers and prospects.
Your site will improve, your business will improve and so,
not coincidentally, will your ranking on Google.
    Page Rank is one of the most important Google factors,
and the general rule of thumb is that the more pages in your
site the better. Indeed, bigger sites are assumed to be more
important and therefore more relevant for a given search
result. Also, as you add more and more pages to your site,
the internal navigation text links on every page will
contribute to the link popularity of all the pages linked. Of
course, your internal links will also increase your Page
Reputation (the most important factor), and you can perfectly
control the text of these incoming links! Managing your own

content, and adding more pages with perfectly chosen text
links, can significantly impact your results.

Special Note for Catalog Publishers

If your company has a catalog, Google can scan it in for free
and post it in their directory of online, searchable catalogs.
See, and go to “Information for
Catalog Vendors,” to learn more.

Meta Tags: All You Need to Know

Meta tags are text descriptions written into the HTML code
of your web pages. The text does not display on your web
page, but describes your site to the search engines for
purposes of cataloguing your site.
    There are two important types of Meta tags. The Meta
“description” tag is a necessity for you to include in your
site. Many search engines, including Google, sometimes use
it to describe your site in the blurb on their search results,
and it is what a searcher sees when they decide which search
results to click.
    On Google sometimes, and on other search engines,
always, the meta description tag is your only shot to describe
your site in such a way that it would make someone want to

click on your listing. If you fail to include the tag, the search
engine will grab some random text from your site, which
could result in garbled, nonsensical, or otherwise less than
ideal “sales copy” for your search listing. It could be a
serious problem, but it is easily avoided by including a
strong description tag.
    The other meta tag you need to be concerned with is the
meta “keywords” tag. You should definitely include a
keywords tag with your site, but be aware of some potential
issues associated with the tag.
    In the past, many people would include repeat their
keywords over and over in a long keywords tag, thinking it
would increase their site relevancy in the rankings. Even if
that were true once upon a time, it rarely is today. Repeating
keywords not only does not help, but some search engines
actually penalize your site for doing so. Therefore, you
should avoid repeating keywords, but always put your most
important keywords up front.
    In addition, you should also be sure to include any
common misspellings of your keywords in your tag (e.g.,
sexual harrassment for harassment, etc.). Sounds weird, but
people don’t always spell well, and an intentional error could
actually create some additional listings – with no

Keep Your Code Clean

    For best search engine optimization, always keep your
HTML clean and simple as possible. Many HTML editors
create superfluous, unnecessary code that can confuse search
engine spiders. Make sure your HTML, particularly the
beginning, is as clear and succinct as possible – and always
put your titles first. For example:

<title>Georgia DUI lawyers</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”Georgia DUI Lawyer,
Howard Weintraub, offers free consultation. Call and discuss
your options with an experienced Atlanta DUI Attorney
meta name=”keywords” content=”georgia dui lawyers,
atlanta dui attorneys, georgia dui attorneys, atlanta dui
lawyers, dui information, fulton county, cobb county, dekalb

    Most search engines allow meta tags up to 250 characters
including spaces and commas. But don’t think you have to

fill up the space with extraneous information; always place
your most important terms first to be safe.
    Also keep in mind that frames cause some of the biggest
problems with search engines spidering your site. Although
it is possible to use the <noframes> tage, many people
misuse this or fail to use it, and as a result, their pages are all
but invisible to Google. If you can avoid the use of frames in
your site, you may want to do so.

Google PageRank: The Key to Success with Google

One of the most important factors in Google result rankings
is the number of “quality” sites that link to your site.
PageRank is a term used by Google to describe the quality of
a site.
    Google ranks all sites they index on a scale from 0 to 10.
Sites with more sites linking to them are assumed to be of
higher quality (more relevant) for the same search terms than
those with fewer linked sites. Yahoo, for example, is a 9.
    Quality is often more important than quantity. So-called
“web rings,” or “link farms,” which cause a large number of
“non-quality” (low PageRank) sites to link to one another,
are useless at best, and actually detrimental to your results at
worst. This is why it pays to be listed in the Yahoo directory,
even though Google results are shown on Yahoo by default,

rather than in Yahoo’s own directory. A link from Yahoo
with a PageRank of 9 is a valuable link to your site.
    Another valuable source of high PageRank sites that can
link to your site is the Open Directory Project
( The editors who approve sites for this
unique directory are private individuals from around the
world. It would be well worth your while to get listed in as quickly as possible. Note that it can take awhile
to get listed in this directory, so apply as soon as you can at (Read the directions carefully on
how to submit your site.)
    You can also look for other major directories in your
industry, and get links to your site in their directory. For
example, many attorneys receive links through and Your industry
probably has significant directories as well.
    It is always in your best interest to get listed in as many
relevant directories as possible. Don’t forget about local
directories, either, like Even these
smaller directories usually have a high PageRank, so their
links to your site are more important. Plus, they can be one
of the most effective ways to target customers in specific
    You can see the PageRank of any site by going to and downloading the Google toolbar. The

toolbar attaches to your browser, and allows you to instantly
view Google’s PageRank score for any site you visit. It is
most advantageous to focus on getting sites with a PageRank
of 3 or higher to link to you. But keep in mind that new sites
may not be indexed yet, and as the other linking site
improves it will increase its importance to your ranking.

Cross-Link with Other Good Sites

Not surprisingly, one of the basic strategies of improving
your PageRank is to get other “good” sites to link to yours.
Typically, webmasters do this by e-mailing the owner of
another web site and suggesting that they link to each other.
This is why you see so many sites with a “links” or
“resources” page.
    As you link to other pages (using your keywords in the
text links), you get other sites to link to you (with your
keywords in their text links to you). As the number of sites
linked to you increases, you can expect to get a higher
PageRank score.
    If you’re interested in such results, but not interested in
becoming e-mail pen pals with other web site owners to
exchange links, there are companies that can do the work of
finding relevant sites to link up with yours – for example,
LinkageXpress (

    Finally, think about other relevant web pages that could
link to you. For example, you could visit a relevant
newsgroup and post quality content, such as answers to
commonly asked questions about your industry. As long as
the web site has a PageRank of 3 or better on the scale of 0-
10, any link counts. With each posting, you can link to your
web site with a URL in your signature line. Just be sure the
text link includes your ideal keywords in the proper order –
not just your company name.

Page Reputation – the Key Link to Google Results

    To recap, there are three main factors for optimizing your
site for Google:

    1) Page Title – the good news is that you can control
        this internal factor 100 percent on your own.
    2) Link Popularity – the total number of links to your
        site from other pages and the Page Rank of those
    3) Page Reputation – the text of the links that point at
        your site. This is a critical factor in Google’s ranking
        system, but is also one of the least understood
        ranking concepts, even among many webmasters.

    PageRank indicates how many other sites are talking
about your site, as evidenced by the fact that they link to
you. Page Reputation, on the other hand, indicates what they
are saying about your site, as evidenced by the text (label) of
the actual link to your site.
    This distinction is why extremely popular sites like only rank high for the “reputation” of their site:
“news.” Even though thousands of sites link to them, the text
links tend to contain the word “news,” not “travel,” or
“hockey,” or “dui lawyer.” Consequently, CNN comes up #1
in Google for “news,” but not for other terms.
    Essentially, there are two things you can do to boost your
page reputation. First, since Google counts your internal
links, make sure that the pages within your site that link to
one another use your keywords in their text links as much as
    Second, as you build outside “off-page” link partners,
encourage them to use your keywords in their text links. One
way to do this is to use the keywords in your domain name.
If the partner site has a resource page, for example, and they
list your site, they will be more likely to use your keywords
in their text description of your link.

Use Opti-Link to See Where You Are and Where

You Need to Go

    There is an excellent software program, called OptiLink,
that you can use to quickly analyze the sites in your
categories. By typing in the URL of a competitive site at the
top of your keyword search results, you can see exactly why
they come up high in the rankings – their keyword density,
the sites linking to them, the popularity of those sites, and the
words used in the links to their site. From that information,
you can tell exactly what you need to do to surpass them in
Google’s rankings!
    If you are trying to rank high in Google, this is one of the
most important tools you can use. You can get a free trial of
OptiLink by going to

Google Checklist

Here is a step-by-step summary of the steps you can take to
get your site ranked high in Google:

1) Immediately submit your site to Google; it usually takes
over a month to get indexed the first time.

2) Re-write the copy for your site, focusing on frequent,
excellent use of your keywords. Use your keywords in all

sections throughout the site. Pay attention to their “correct”
order, and use them in your domain name, titles, and image
alt tags, especially. This “keyword density” is a very low-
weight factor for Google, but it is more important for other
search engines. The proper keywords, however, are crucial in
the page tites.

3) Submit and get your site listed in as many “big” web
sites as possible, particularly Yahoo (if you can afford the
$299 it costs just to submit), and the Open Directory Project
at (free submission)

4) Consider the following software:
    a. OptiLink (free tial)
    b. Word Tracker (free trial)

5) Find as many other “directories” to link to you as

6) Post valuable content and contents in various related
newsgroups and forums. Always include a link to your site
with the keywords in the text of the link.

7) Find as many other industry-related sites to link to you as
possible. Make sure they use your keywords in their text

descriptions of the links.

8) Refresh, revise, expand, and improve your content as
much as possible, as often as possible.

Other Search Engines

    Like the other search engines we have discussed, Inktomi
( search results are used in several
different search engines, including MSN and Hotbot, so it is
often worth submitting to their search engine, which requires
that you go through one of their partners and pay a $39 fee.
    The good thing about Inktomi listings is that they
generally show up within three days, and any changes, such
as periodic content updates, can be re-indexed by the
Inktomi spiders within 48 hours.
    For more information, go to

Chapter 6

Good Ways to Promote Your Site, Build

Relationships with Target Prospects, and Create

More Business Online

    So now you have a web site. In fact, you have several
web sites. Now all you have to do is generate traffic, get
some hits, and wait for the leads to flow in.
    As we discussed in the previous chapters, one of the best
ways to get targeted site visitors is to improve your rankings
in the search engines, particularly Google. Naturally, if
people are looking for what you sell, your ability to optimize
your ranking at the top of the major search engines should be
your top priority.
    But improving your search engine ranking is only one of
the many ways to drive traffic to your site. This chapter
examines a whole smorgasbord of ideas that could work for
your business.
    As you go through the list, think about ways you could
adapt the techniques to your specific business situation.
Many of these techniques require that you actually get online
to run searches and do research. I can give you some general
ideas and point you in the right direction, but making them

work for your unique situation depends on your willingness
and ability to adapt them accordingly.
    In short, the most productive route is to do some research
to see what opportunities exist in your particular industry.
Then, create an action plan to exploit them – either by
finding people who are looking for what you sell or finding
people like those who but what you sell.
    If you find the right kind of people you can start a
valuable, ongoing relationship; it doesn’t even have to be
about business in the beginning. Later, after you’re
acquainted and already have a relationship started, you can
broach the subject of your products and services. Again, the
idea is to think about the process of turning strangers into
friends and friends into customers.


One of the most important actions you can take is to research
and get listed in every relevant industry directory you can
    Many industries support one or two major directories,
usually sponsored by trade groups or vendors. Trade groups
like to support their member companies by enabling
potential customers to “find a (dentist/car/whatever) in your
area.” It is also common for vendors to create similar

directories, either to endear themselves to their target market,
create advertising revenue for listings in the directory, or
    In the legal industry, for example, West Group and
LexisNexis, two of the largest legal publishers, operate and, respectively. Most state
and many local bar associations also provide directories of
their members by area of practice.
    As an example of the scope of research you must pursue,
if you are an attorney, don’t limit yourself to a listing in the
state Bar directory. There are likely other attorney-exclusive
directories in nearby cities or counties, or in certain areas of
legal practice. You get the idea – if you don’t do the legwork
to identify such opportunities, you will not be able to take
advantage of the additional markets they provide – and the
additional links to your web site that helps your rankings
with Google.
    By now, you should realize that there are crucial benefits
to being listed in these directories, above and beyond the
obvious potential traffic of prospects looking for your
specific products or services. Directories tend to become
“important” sites in the eyes of the search engines.
Consequently, as you increase your directory listings, you
will increase your PageRank (number of sites linking to
you), and therefore your rankings in Google.

    Remember, when you make any attempt to influence
your ranking by getting links to your site from directories or
other sites, always use a text link back to your web site, and
try to get the site linking to you to use your keywords in their
link – not the name of your company.
    Of course, this may not always be possible. But if you
have any control over your listing in the directory – which
you may well have if it is a paid listing – be sure to exert that
control to the best of your abilities. Also, remember that this
is one more reason to always select domain names with your
keywords – separated by hyphens. When you do so, any site
that links to you with the URL of your web site as the text of
the link will automatically include your keywords.

Get Published: It’s Easier Than You Think

Another reason to get listed in as many directories as
possible is that they often function as very economical
sources of good PR. Smaller directories are almost always
hungry for content to beef up their own site. For absolutely
no cost, you can submit articles that the directory owners
would often be only too happy to publish on their site.
    Of course, publishing such an article would not only
position you as an expert – far superior in the eyes of
directory visitors to all the plain vanilla listings – but would

also include another link to your site (a text link using the
best keywords, of course).
    As a content provider for a directory, you will probably
even find opportunities to send your article directly to all
regular members of the directory or to the site’s subscribers
in the member newsletter. As I’ll discuss in the next chapter,
e-mail newsletters are a key medium for any decent web site.
Directories should have regular newsletters, both for the
directory members they serve, and for the site visitors they
capture as they build their database.
    In the event the directory does not publish a regular e-
mail newsletter, suggest that they do so – and offer to do it
for them. If they don’t know how, or don’t have the right
software, you will be able to show them how easy it is after
reading the next chapter.
    On a scale of difficulty between brushing your teeth and
creating a PowerPoint presentation, publishing and
disseminating an e-mail newsletter is somewhere in the
middle. It’s a little harder than sending an e-mail but, if you
can insert a table in a Word document, you can handle it.
    Alternatively, if neither you nor the site masters want to
deal with the time commitment and logistics of the e-
newsletter process, you can easily and economically
outsource the entire project. Any student webmaster can take

the articles and blurbs you provide and produce a nice
newsletter in a couple hours once a month.
    Similarly, if you don’t have the time or the inclination to
do the actual writing yourself you can outsource that as well.
You have the expertise, experience, and relevant ideas for
your industry, and any competent freelance writer can
channel your direction into content. (If you want an idea of
the legions of freelance scribes clamoring for your business,
go to and search “freelance writer.”)
    Also consider that some of the best and most useful
newsletter content isn’t even in the form of articles, but
consists of short blurbs and links to articles, news, products,
research information, or other web sites.
    If you succeed at becoming the editor of a newsletter for
a relevant directory, you will open up many terrific
opportunities for PR and exposure to target markets. Of
course, many of the best directories already produce good
newsletters, but you will probably be pleasantly surprised to
discover how easy it is to get your content distributed to the
directory’s entire mailing list.
    Simply put your creative energies to work. Look at the
content they already have, subscribe to a variety of e-mail
newsletters for examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly
possibilities inherent in the medium – and get ready to take
your PR efforts to a whole new level.

Create Your OWN Directory!

If you don’t want to deal with the hassles of toeing someone
else’s editorial line, you can always take the entrepreneurial
route and create your own directory, built to reflect your
unique vision.
    Becoming an e-publishing magnate isn’t brain surgery.
You can start with something as simple as a $9.00 domain
name, $10.00/month hosting, and two or three pages of
content, and, voila! – you are the owner, publisher, and
managing editor of your own directory.
    As a practical example, suppose you sell industrial
equipment to plumbers. All you would have to do is create a
site (e.g.,[city].com). As you encounter
customers and prospects, talk up your directory and offer to
include their listings. As your site moves up in the search
engines, your customers and prospects will actually get new
business from your directory. When it comes to softening up
a prospect for a sale, there’s nothing quite like getting in
touch after giving them a new customer!
    Of course, you could go overboard with the scope and
content of the web site, but remember you are not
undertaking this project to break into the plumber portal
business. Keep in mind the 80/20 Rule, and focus on the

basics. Soon, plumbers will be calling and e-mailing you for
the opportunity to be included in your directory.
    It’s your site, so you call the shots when it comes to
pricing. You can have one price for non-customers and
another (free) for your customers. Or, you can make it a free
service to everyone to build traffic and exposure, but offer
higher (premium) placements to your customers.
    The idea behind this venture is to use your Internet
marketing knowledge and experience to deliver a valuable
service to your target market. If you create a product that
helps your target market get more business, you’ve
accomplished that objective – and more.
    You’re busy taking care of business, so you probably
don’t have time to continually explain to all your customers
why they should be keeping better touch with their
customers. But, by delivering a communications vehicle that
automatically improves their business, even without the
necessity for one-on-one interaction, you will gain a
reputation as a “trusted advisor” in your industry,
exponentially increasing both your exposure and credibility.

Use Directories to Establish Links with Other Web


By now, you firmly understand that the two keys to your
site’s rankings in the search engines are how many sites link
to yours, and what is contained in the text of the links to your
site. Ideally, you are using OptiLink to analyze exactly what
you have to do to get to the top of Google (Visit for a free trial). To make
these keys open the door to new opportunities you need to
get other site owners, webmasters, and site administrators to
link to you.
    Typically, you can accomplish this by sending a short e-
mail to the owner or administrator of the site asking if they
would like to exchange links. You’ll notice that many web
sites have a “Links” or “Resources” page, usually for this
precise purpose. Keep in mind that search engines pay more
attention to links from the home page or higher level pages
of a site than to links from pages buried in the nether regions
of a site.
    At any rate, your time will better spent sending link
exchange requests or suggestions to a specific person – not
just to “Dear Webmaster” or “Dear Web site Owner.” Often,
the contact’s name and even e-mail address will be listed in
the directory, even if this information is not made available
on their main web site. You can always look up the “whois”
information for that domain name online. Go to any domain
registrar, such as, and search for their domain

name. When it says that name is already taken, click on
More Information, and it will tell you the administrative,
name number, and e-mail contact for that domain.
    Even if you still end up having to send your e-mail to a
generic e-mail address, like “sales@” or “info@,” you could
still include the target person’s name in the subject line and
the body of the e-mail.
    For example, you could put “From XYZ Directory, for
Joe Smith” in the subject line, and “Dear Joe,” as the
salutation of the e-mail. That way, whoever receives the
general inbound e-mail is more likely to forward it to Joe. Of
course, in a small business, Joe may be getting all the
e-mails himself anyway, but at least yours is personalized,
and will be more likely to catch his attention.
    Once you have sent a few of these, you’ll see that it takes
very little time. Of course, you could always delegate the
task to an administrative assistant, an intern, or even your
teenage daughter. As you’ll see in the next chapter, there is
available very inexpensive software that enables you (or
your delegate) to quickly create a data spreadsheet, with
separate columns for contact names, e-mail addresses,
directory names, web site addresses, and phone numbers.
With one click, you can send any number of data-driven e-
mails, such as the following (the data fields would, of course,
be automatically replaced with the actual data.):

Dear <name>:
I saw your web site on the XYZ Directory, and was
impressed by its content and design. My company has been
in the business of such-and-such for over seven years. I think
it would be of mutual benefit if our web sites linked to one
another as a potential source of services.

As you may know, the more sites that link to yours, the
higher your site tends to come up in the search engine
rankings. I believe this exchange would represent a true
“win/win” proposition; it would cost neither of us any
money, and could help us both increase our business.

As I said, I think your site at <web site> is great. I believe a
link from our site to yours would be quite useful to our site
visitors, and that a link to our site would be equally valuable
to your visitors. Please let me know if you might be
interested in pursuing this potentially beneficial arrangement
of exchanging links.

Thank you in advance. I look forward to hearing from you.
Bob Smith
President, ABC Company.

    P.S. If you would just like to forward this to your
webmaster with your instructions, I would be happy to work
directly with him or her.

    Of course there are no infallible answers in terms of what
to say in your e-mails. As in any marketing effort, the key is
to test different things until you find what works. However,
you should keep the following guidelines in mind:

1) Keep your e-mails personal. Say something about
yourself, and show an interest in the recipient. You want to
appear to be a “real” person and fellow business owner, not
an automated program (which is what produces many
“personal” e-mails).

2) Make your e-mails long enough so that the prospect can
get a feel for who you are and where you’re coming from. A
one-sentence blurb (i.e., “Do you want to exchange links?”)
gives the impression that you really couldn’t care less, and is
much less likely to produce good results.

3) Send your message from a real e-mail address, and when
you get a reply, follow up as quickly as possible.

4) If you are sending such e-mails one at a time, try to put
in a little specific info about each site so the recipient knows
you actually took the time and effort to look at it. Again, you
want to confirm that you are an actual human being, and that
you actually care about establishing a relationship.

5) Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call. In most
categories, just a few incoming links from sites with decent
Page Rank can make a very big difference – if the text of the
links is exactly what you want. So it’s worth it to make some
calls to some other companies to make this happen.
Obviously, you’ll get better results by calling then just
sending e-mail to strangers.

How to Make the Most of E-Mail Newsletters

If you are not currently publishing an e-mail newsletter, I
have only one question: Why not? And one piece of advice:
Do it now!
    Maybe that is too subtle, but I believe that publishing
your own e-mail newsletter is a plan with no drawbacks or
caveats. The best thing about e-mail is that it is virtually free
and mostly automated; the only real work involves simply
putting together the actual e-mail.

    You should use e-mail on a regular basis to keep in touch
with all your customers, clients, prospects, and even vendors
(You never know when one of them will come across a hot
prospect for you. And when the vendor is on your mailing
list, he or she can refer you to the prospect by just
forwarding your e-mail.)
    Of course, an effective e-mail newsletter doesn’t
spontaneously appear along with the idea. You must take the
time and effort to ensure that your newsletter reaches its
potential. Here is a list of guidelines to consider:

    §   Invite your customers to contribute to your e-mail
        newsletter, and tell your other customers when they
        do; you could end up with a veritable network of
    §   Keep it businesslike, but maintain a personal, caring
        touch. Remember: the purpose of the enterprise is to
        build relationships. Toward that end, use your
        newsletter to as an opportunity to let your customers
        get to know you better – and vice-versa. Talk about
        new customers and new employees, use personal
        experiences, etc.
    §   Offer special subscriber-only discounts or

    §   Give it a sense of humor. Everyone likes to smile and
        laugh. It makes business – and life – easier and more
        enjoyable. Besides, who wants to maintain a
        relationship, on any level, with a humorless stick-in-

For a current list of quality, low-cost, e-mail newsletter
software vendors, send an e-mail to

Banner Ads

Banner ads at the top of pages on prestigious sites like
Yahoo tend to be, of course, very expensive. On the other
hand, they also tend to get a lot of attention.
    You can find a less pricey way to use banner ads by
running them at the top of targeted directories in your field.
Most banners are still usually sold on a CPM (Cost Per
Thousand impressions) basis, so a narrow-focus directory
will usually be more economical.
    The key with banner ads is to shop around and track your
results carefully – and to weigh the advantages, if any, of
running a banner ad for your business. If you run an average
small business, banners on large portals are probably not
worth it. Instead, focus your attention on other areas with

more obvious ROI potential, such as strengthening your free
search engine rankings.

E-Mail Newsletters

Purchasing ads in e-mail newsletters is often a worthwhile
investment. Newsletter readers are often fairly loyal fans – as
you may discover when you publish your own newsletter.
Placing ads in these newsletters is an excellent way to
capitalize on the good will created by the list owner, in much
the same way a talk radio advertiser benefits from the
endorsement of the host.
    Again, as you shop around, you will get a feel for the
price of different newsletters, based on the number of
subscribers and your placement in the pages. Choose the
ones most comfortable for your budget, that most closely
parallel your objectives and prospective audiences.


Another good no-cost way to get out the word on your news
and views is to participate in topical discussions on various
newsgroups, or post announcements on their message
boards. Your signature on each contribution can include your
e-mail address, as well as a link to your web site.
    When participating in such a forum, it is extremely
important to limit your discussions to the topic and subject
area listed on the message board or e-mail list. The last thing
you want to do is offend someone by interjecting
controversial opinions or going off on irrelevant tangents.
    Barring that, you will be able to participate in the
conversations while simultaneously introducing countless
prospects to yourself and your business. If you don’t have
the time to participate yourself, you can delegate the task to
hourly workers or even interns to scour the Internet for
relevant newsgroups, promoting your business.


Everyone knows eBay – it’s the grandfather of online selling
and an Internet legend. And, while it has developed the
reputation as the world’s biggest garage sale, it is also one of
the world’s greatest sources of almost-free advertising.

    If you sell anything that can be sold on eBay, by all
means, do it – and not just for the revenue from your
auctions. Instead, think of eBay as a way to advertise for
practically nothing and link people back to your web site.
Once they are on your site, you can sell them your products
and services immediately and/or capture their contact
information for future sales.
    The sheer numbers of people going through eBay make it
a marketing avenue worth considering for many different
types of businesses. Think about all the things you could
advertise on eBay that might appeal to the same people who
constitute your core product target market. With a little
creative thought, you might be able to use that appeal to
drive eBay visitors to your site, and onto your marketing e-
mail list.
    No matter what marketing channels you utilize, it is
crucial to keep close track of your results – identify what
works, what doesn’t, and what really works. And always
remember the first rule of marketing: Test, Test, Test! You
may be surprised at which headline, ad, or web site pulls in
the most prospects. As long as you keep testing and tracking,
you’ll keep improving, and your leads, revenues, and profits
will keep growing.
    Of course, there is a nearly limitless number of ways to
market your site online, but I think you get the idea: Explore

all the different possible strategies to publicize the existence
of your web site – and always remember that the purpose of
your site is to capture as many leads as possible. In the next
chapter, we’ll talk about what to do with the leads once you
have them.

Chapter 7

Data-Driven Permission-Based Automated E-Mail:

The Holy Grail of Marketing

    Regardless of what you sell and how you sell it, chances
are excellent that you could be doing more with e-mail –
probably a lot more. Almost everybody has e-mail now,
including your prospects and customers. The question is,
“What are you doing about it?”
    In terms of 80/20 analysis (focusing on the few activities
that get the most results), e-mail is one area on which almost
every business owner or salesperson should focus more
    Proper use of e-mail offers more bang for the buck than
just about any other business tool. For one thing, e-mail is
either free or as close to free as you can get. It also gives you
the ability to communicate one-on-one with your prospects
and customers in a way that is highly individualized yet
completely automated, at the same time.
    Some companies are catching on to the tremendous
untapped potential and possibilities of e-mail, but most are
lagging far behind. If you are in the former category, and
your competitors are in the latter, rejoice – now is your
chance to take advantage of the situation. The new customers

and business relationships you create now will be that much
harder for your competitors to lure away once they catch up.
    E-mail generally fits into one of two categories: sales and
customer service. Sales e-mail is used to prospect for new
leads and follow up on existing leads. Customer service e-
mail can be used to help automate your ordering and
shipping & receiving capabilities, as well as providing
service appointment reminders, and a two-way
communication conduit product for customer suggestions
and concerns, etc.
    All these factors fit into a strategy for improving
customer service, which, as we all know, is perhaps the most
important determinant of new and repeat sales. Less attrition,
more and bigger reorders, and more referrals are all
byproducts of good customer service.

E-mail Can Impact the Entire Sales Cycle.

If you want to increase your business, there are only three
ways to do it: you can either increase your number of
customers, sell more to each customer, or sell more often to
each customer. Effective e-mail strategies can help you do
all three of those things.
    Remember, every sale has a cycle. If you sell expensive
software systems, you don’t go on the first sales call and ask

for the order as soon as you sit down. You suggest a
preliminary procedure to the prospect, such as conducting a
thorough needs analysis. From there, you progress to
identifying their needs and, finally, satisfying those needs.
    Similarly, if you sell a product that requires face-to-face
communication to convince the prospect, don’t try to do it on
the web site. Remember that the purpose of a Web site is not
to make a sale, but to capture as many leads as possible as a
percentage of all site visitors.
    Providing compelling reasons for every visitor to call or
    e-mail on their first visit is valid, of course, but it is not
always enough. Some people who are “just looking” now
may become hot prospects down the road, but you don’t
have the time to let them get away entirely and hope against
hope they’ll remember you when the time comes to buy. The
prospect’s first visit may well be their only visit, and thus
may represent your only chance to capture the lead: their e-
mail address.

Try to Capture as Many E-Mail Addresses (Leads) as


An e-mail address is a key to your personal life; when you
give it out, you grant someone access – much like giving out
your phone number. Most people value their privacy, and

won’t give out such information, especially for marketing
purposes, without getting something desirable or useful in
return. The quid pro quo that you offer must be worth
something to the prospect.
    Some ways you can entice people to give you their e-
mail address (and possibly more information, such as their
name and telephone number) include:

    §   Free samples
    §   Free downloads
    §   Free anything
    §   Entries into drawings or sweepstakes
    §   Valuable information (white papers, etc.)
    §   Relevant newsletter mailing lists
    §   Entertainment (online games, etc.)

    Use your imagination to suit your business and/or
market. Contests, sweepstakes, drawings, and games are
always popular. You can run a contest and collect addresses,
for as long as you like. You could show a picture of a big-
screen TV and collect entries all year long. You could
capture many months worth of e-mail addresses by giving
away a big-screen TV once a year.
    Entertainment and involvement are the keys to willingly
extracting information from site visitors. Remember, we are

talking about Interactive Marketing. And, not surprisingly,
when you’re trying to begin the relationship with a new
customer, the more interactive the process, the better the

Marketing Meets Entertainment: Advergaming

Advergaming is the process of delivering advertisements
within the context of an online game. As consumers entertain
themselves with the game, the ads appear in the background.
In fact, advertisers are able to deliver ads the entire time their
prospects are playing – typically a far longer sustained
period than other advertising media.
    Some of the largest companies have discovered that
combining pure entertainment (online games) with
advertising can produce some amazing results. Pepsi used an
online car racing game – “Mission Code Red” – to launch
their Mountain Dew Code Red soft drink. Over 1 million
brand impressions were created during the first four weeks of
the promotion. At the end of the day, Pepsi deemed it one of
its most successful product rollouts in a decade.
    Impressive, but what does Pepsi’s custom video game
have to do with marketing your plumbing supply products
business, or your accounting firm? Well, actually, plenty.

    I’m not suggesting that you need to spend $100,000
developing a custom online video game to attract business. If
you read between the lines, you’ll see that the question is not
“How can I dazzle my site visitors with fancy graphics and
sound,” but rather, “How can I get my prospects involved or
interacting with my site so I can build a stronger
relationship?” And the simple answer is that you give them
information, or entertainment, or a chance to win something
cool, and they will give you their e-mail address and
permission to provide them with more information about
your product or services.
    I often think that the reason more businesses don’t do a
better job of collecting e-mail addresses from their customers
is that they don’t know what they would do with them if they
had them. Of course, the ideas are unlimited. To get your
creativity working, let’s think about “advergaming” and
suppose that you own a sandwich shop, and you’ve been
diligently collecting e-mail addresses from customers for the
daily specials e-mailing. Rather than just sending a coupon,
why not also send a trivia question? If the customer answers
correctly, you throw in a free bag of chips. If not, no harm
done – the customer still gets the regular coupon. And, hey,
there’s always tomorrow!
    Or suppose that you’re a dentist, and you want to give a
coupon for a free cleaning on a patient’s first visit, or 10

percent off a tooth whitening treatment. Don’t just give site
visitors another “Click here to get a coupon” link. You’re a
dentist! Give them an interactive “brush off” prize panel in
the shape of some big teeth – to see if they’ve won. If you
make it something the kids can do, their parents will think
your office is a great place to bring their children.
    As the visitor “brushes” the area with the mouse to reveal
the prize, they have become actively involved in the process
of trying to win. Everybody likes to win, and everybody who
enters the “brush-off” does win. And to claim their prize,
they must enter their name and e-mail address.
            Remember: someone is searching online for a local
dentist is probably comparing your site to several others. At
the moment of truth, you may only have one 20-second
opportunity to capture the prospect’s attention – and the site
that really accomplishes that is also likely to capture the
prospect’s business. It may not happen today, but if you
involve and entertain the prospect enough to elicit an e-mail
address and obtain permission to court his or her business, it
is more likely to happen somewhere down the road, sooner
or later.
    None of this requires expensive or difficult
programming. Interaction can be as simple as asking on-
topic trivia questions in plain text, and even for an action
page, like the “brush off” game could be concocted by any

decent Flash designer in just a few hours, for a couple
hundred bucks. The idea is to provide something more
inviting and rewarding than just words on a page.

How to Increase Conversion Rates to Capture the

Highest Percentage of E-Mail Addresses

    In essence, if you want a prospect’s e-mail address, you
have to offer value in return. Consider your target audience,
and consider what return, information, or prize they would
find interesting. Here are some other tips to capture more e-
mail addresses:

    1) Don’t require that a prospect fill out too much or all
of their contact information. Generally, the more information
you require, the fewer people will complete the form. In
many cases, the e-mail address alone serves the purpose. Of
course, the desired minimum is at least a first name and an e-
mail address so that you can personalize future e-mails.
    One of the core concepts of permission marketing is that
you strive to increase permission over time. If you go for too
much too soon, before you’ve had a chance to provide more
value, you risk not getting in the game at all. Generally, the
less information you require, the more e-mail addresses you
will get.

    In many cases, you should have both a simple e-mail
capture form, e.g., subscribe to our newsletter for additional
related information, and a more complete form to fill out for
people who want to win.

    2) State, clearly and specifically, that you value the
prospect’s privacy and will not share their e-mail address
with anyone else. Provide a link to your privacy policy.

    3) Make it easy for prospects to join your list. Put the
e-mail capture on every page; don’t bury it as an option on a
“Contact Us” page. You never know what point on what
page might convince someone to join your newsletter.

    4) Give prospects specific reasons to join your list.
Include a few quick bullet points with the entry box, and
another link to a page explaining the benefits in detail.

    5) Finally, consider making the option to join your list a
separate pop-up window. Many people hate pop-ups, but
there is strong evidence that you will capture many more
leads with a separate call to action than with an option on
your site.
    My personal preference is the “join our list” box, a pop-
up that only appears when a prospect leaves your site. This

parting shot gives you one final chance to focus 100 percent
on getting an e-mail address before the prospect leaves the
site – perhaps forever.

What Constitutes “Permission” to Send E-Mail?

Once a person has entered their e-mail address on your site,
most (but not all) people agree that you have implicit
permission to send them an e-mail. Certainly, if the e-mail
capture box stated, “join our mailing list,” you have received
explicit permission to send them your newsletter. But does
that mean you also have permission to send them offers for
other products you sell? Amazon and Sharper Image, two
online giants, say “yes.”
    Suppose a customer purchases one item from you online.
Does that mean you can send offers for other products?
Suppose you get the e-mail address of an offline customer.
Does that mean you can e-mail that customer product offers?
What about warranty information on a product the customer
already owns? Whatever your answers, you aren’t alone.
    Generally, you should know that “spam,” or Unsolicited
Commercial E-mail (UCE) generally refers to “bulk” e-mail
sent out to great numbers of e-mail addresses with which you
have had no prior relationship. Most businesses believe you
can send e-mail to your current customers, but some large,

image-conscious companies feel it should not be sent to any
customer who has not specifically opted-in to receive it.
    It should be apparent, then, that there are different levels
of permission. Of course, the best way to play it safe is to
ask, on any online order form, for specific permission to
send “future offers.” In my opinion, this goes too far, and
overly restricts your e-mail marketing potential. But, as you
know, choosing the right thing to do often depends on the
    Nevertheless, there are some general principles you can
follow to meet what should be your goal: maximizing your
e-mail effectiveness without alienating your customers. With
that in mind, here are some general guidelines on
determining if you have crossed the spam line:
    First, be on the lookout for complaints, particularly
complaints that you are spamming. You should have no
more than one or two complaints per 1,000 recipients. If two
recipients out of 100 complain to your ISP that you
spammed them, that’s bad. But if 100 of 5000 recipients
(actually the same percentage) complain, that’s a disaster –
perhaps enough to get your entire site shut down.
    Second, when you send is also very important. For
example, if you have a list of legitimate customers to whom
you haven’t sent a mailing in over three months, chances are

excellent you will get spamming complaints from some who
did sign up on your site but don’t remember doing so.
    Therefore, if you haven’t e-mailed your list in a long
time, send out a preliminary e-mail before the marketing
e-mail; remind your customers of who you are and when
they joined your list. Tell them you will soon be e-mailing
them a special offer but, if they prefer, they can remove
themselves (opt out) from the list.
    In this way, you can re-establish your relationship with
those who are still interested, and avoid annoying those who
don’t want to be bothered. It is unlikely that anyone will
complain but, even if they do, it is very unlikely for any ISP
to take action against you after you alerted those on your list,
offered them a way out, and didn’t even try to sell them
    This method also increases the quality of your list,
because it culls out those who do not want to receive your
e-mails. It also tees up your forthcoming offer mailing, and
may even create anticipation. People are much more likely to
respond to your offer if they were recently reminded of
whom you are and why they wanted to be on your list.
    The “opt out” option described above is a requisite tool
in maintaining good customer relations, and the effectiveness
of your mailing list. You should include it at the bottom of
every e-mail you send. Ideally, you should include a link in

the e-mail to a Web page on which recipients can enter their
e-mail address to opt-out.
    The opt out in many e-mails reads, “To be removed from
this mailing list, simply reply with the word ‘remove’ in the
subject line.” Sounds good, but it is insufficient because the
e-mail address you sent to may not be the address at which
they received your mail. Many people “forward” their
multiple e-mail addresses to another address, so they can’t
always tell which e-mail (especially a group e-mail) was
received at which address – unless you tell them. That’s why
it’s important, in your opt out instructions, to tell people
where you got their e-mail address, what address you sent to,
and how they can opt out of future mailings.
    If you follow these guidelines, you should be able to
build and manage your e-mails list without running into
    Okay, you have the prospects’ e-mail addresses, and they
have given you permission to mail them. Now the question
arises: what do you do with the addresses you have?

Data-Driven Permission-Based E-Mail, and the
“Holy Grail” of Marketing

E-mail is a modern marketing marvel; it allows you to
automatically, simultaneously, mail a personalized message

to every prospect on your list, at practically no cost. What’s
more, HTML e-mail allows you to send beautiful,
compelling, attention-grabbing graphics – just like your web
site – directly to the inbox of each individual prospect. And
that capability is far more important to the success of your
interactive marketing effort than what your Web site looks
    In other words, online marketing is often not about your
web site at all. As I’ve said, it’s about sending your web
site, via HTML e-mail, to the right person, at the right time,
with the right offer. Indeed, the right person/right time/right
offer conjunction is the “Holy Grail” of Internet marketing –
the ultimate quest of every marketer.
    The basic idea of permission-based marketing is simple,
and it works both online and offline. It is sending
information and offers to people at their request, and it is no
surprise that conversion rates are dramatically higher under
these circumstances.
    Moreover, the beauty of the Internet for creating
permission-based relationships with prospects is twofold.
First, the physical cost of the actual communications process
is a small fraction compared to direct “snail mail” and
telephone marketing communications. Indeed, the marginal
cost of each additional e-mail or Web site visitor is so low
that is practically zero.

    Second, electronic marketing allows you to experiment
with different approaches, and measure the results, far more
easily and quickly than offline marketing. The Internet is not
television; it’s not even a broadcast medium. It is a direct
marketing medium and, as such, you must (and easily can)
follow the #1 Rule of direct marketing: Test, Test, Test!
    From this perspective, the basic formula for interactive
marketing is simplicity itself:

1) Attract prospects to your web site.
2) Capture as many e-mail addresses as possible, while
conveying the understanding that you will be sending the
prospects additional information or offers.
3) Send a series of follow-up e-mails, customized for each

    And that’s it! And, once you master the basics of
interactive, permission-based marketing, you’ll find yourself
in a marketing mind-set that produces great new ideas and
approaches easily and naturally. You just need to break
down the process and determine how to maximize each of
the three steps, as it best applies to your business.
    First, how do you get the greatest number of prospects to
visit your web site?

    As we discussed in Chapter 3, there are myriad, highly
effective ways to promote your site and your initial contact
offer online: search engines, banner ads, eBay, PR through
other sites, newsgroups, relevant newsletters, and outbound
e-mail to legitimate opt-in lists.
    In addition to these online approaches, you can promote
both interactivity and your “may-we-have-your-permission-
to-tell-you-more-about-what-you’re-interested-in” offer
offline. All your offline advertising should include a call to
action, either to visit a particular web site or simply send an
e-mail to Remember: it’s not about
making a sale on the first contact, but about establishing a
long-term, permission-based consumer education
relationship, focusing on the benefits of your products to the
    For example, do prospects call your company to make
initial inquiries and ask questions after finding your listing in
the Yellow Pages? If so, you should train your employees to
get permission to send the prospect additional information –
by e-mail!
    The previous section dealt with how to capture as many
e-mail addresses as possible. The most simple and effective
answer is, of course, “Ask!” But how many web sites don’t
even ask for a person’s e-mail address? How many
employees answer a phone call from a new prospect and

don’t even ask for an e-mail address to send more
information? Unfortunately, the answer is: far too many.
    Part of the problem, I’m convinced, is that most business
owners wouldn’t know what to do with the e-mail addresses
of their prospects even if they had them. That’s the third step
in our simple formula: send each prospect a series of follow-
up e-mails. As you plan your initial offer, with the goal of
capturing as many leads as possible, plan your follow-up at
the same time. Create a series of e-mails to be automatically
sent to any prospect who “opts in” to receive more
    The best thing about planning such a strategy is that
today’s technology makes executing it fairly simple. If you
can use a word processor, you can even do it yourself. The
necessary technology (an e-mail sequential auto-responder)
is very affordable. As a matter of fact, even enterprise-scale
e-mail management programs are small potatoes in the
context of most companies’ marketing budget.
    In short, the ability to send automated, personalized
communications to all your prospects, all the time, is well
within your reach. And considering the tremendous power
this tool wields, you should reach for it without delay. Read
the next chapter and get ready for action.

The Sequential Auto-Responder: The Most Powerful
Online Marketing Tool Since the Web Site

The sequential auto-responder can provide your business
with almost unlimited sales and marketing impact. It allows
a company or an individual salesperson to send automated,
yet personalized follow-up e-mails to every prospect on any
number of mailing lists. There are many ways you can
integrate this tool into your marketing arsenal, but the key is
to think in terms of interactivity and personal
communication. Here is one hypothetical example:
    Dr. Patchem is a cosmetic surgeon with a practice in
Miami. As you can imagine, he has an army of competitors
in his target market. Many of them (including Dr. Patchem)
advertise in local newspapers and magazines, with an
identical goal: to convince local prospects for cosmetic
surgery procedures to schedule an office appointment to
discuss their options.
    Most of these practitioners have discovered that initial
office visits result in very high closing ratios. A face-to-face
consultation with the doctor is often enough to convince the
prospective client that he/she will be in good hands.
    The question, then, is, “How can a cosmetic surgeon get
more prospects to schedule an office visit,” – or, for the
purpose of this discussion, “How can a cosmetic surgeon use

a permission-based e-mail system to generate more
    To begin with, make sure all your ads and web site(s)
contain a strong call to action to get the process rolling. In
this example, you will probably capture many more e-mail
addresses if the call to action is not the explicit, “Call today
for an appointment.”
    Obviously, some people who see the ad will be mildly to
moderately interested, but far from ready to actually pick up
the phone and make an appointment. They are online
because they are researching. The goal is to make it easy for
them to obtain information for their research, in return for
their permission to send them additional information or
offers in the future.
    Next, create a series of follow-up e-mails, keeping in
mind that you can control (test) the content and timing of the
e-mails, and the name of the sender. For example, a series of
e-mails might look like this:
    When the new prospect visits the web site (or web page)
in search of information about, say, Botox, the landing page
should all be about Botox – written in clear language and
describing the information they can receive immediately in
return for their e-mail address.
    Once you have the e-mail address, you could send the
prospect a report, or a before-and-after photo library. Or, you

might prefer to e-mail a password, which would give the
prospect access to online before-and-after photos.
    Before and after photos might make an especially
compelling case for the doctor’s services. Actual photos of
actual patient results would certainly be of interest to a
potential Botox user, and it makes sense that the doctor
would not post the pictures all over the site. This represents a
perfect opportunity to create interaction and begin a personal
business relationship.
    For example, when someone clicks on “Before and After
Photos,” the accompanying copy could provide such
information as:

        Dr. Patchem has been offering Botox treatments for
    three years. He was one of the first cosmetic surgeons in
    the area to do so.
        Patients who have received Botox immediately look
    years younger and enjoy looking in the mirror more.”
        Dr. Patchem does not post pictures of all his patients
    on the Internet, but many have given their permission so
    that others can see the results of Botox therapy, and
    themselves make the decision to achieve such miraculous
    results. We appreciate the willingness of our patients to
    share their success stories with others.”

        If you are considering Botox treatments, just tell us a
    little about yourself, including your age, and whether you
    have had Botox before, and we will e-mail you a
    password to our online ‘Before-and-After Botox] photo
    library. If you would like to see these amazing pictures,
    please click here.”

    When the prospect submits the form, the system
automatically sends an e-mail containing the current
password. This e-mail should be sent “from” the person with
whom the prospect would discuss setting an appointment. If
the prospect replies, the reply goes straight to the inbox of
that employee, who can then reply personally.
    But then comes the best part. You can create, at one time,
a series of follow-up e-mails to be automatically sent, on a
pre-set schedule set according to the procedure in which the
prospect is interested. Of course, each e-mail is sent “from” a
real person, so that any reply from a prospect goes to the
inbox of the sender, who can then take the appropriate action
with the hot prospect.
    For example, the first e-mail, with the password to the
photo library, might be sent from the technical staff. It would
be sent immediately and would probably appear, to the
prospect, to be an automated e-mail.

    However, an hour later, another email could be sent from
the office manager, thanking the prospect for visiting the
web site, emphasizing the doctor’s experience in performing
the specified procedure, and encouraging the prospect to
reply by e-mail if he/she has questions or encountered any
problems with the password. This gives the prospect an
impression of caring professionalism, and already
demonstrates good follow-up and customer service skills.
    The next day, the prospect might receive an e-mail from
the doctor (plain text would probably be most effective),
appearing as though the doctor sat down and wrote it
personally. Imperfect formatting or even a typo could add to
the impression. In the e-mail, the doctor could thank the
prospect for her interest and compliment her for conducting
thorough online research. To that extent, he could attach a
recent article on the popularity of Botox treatments.
    You get the idea. Think about the different kinds of
prospects. A currently interested prospect, who has probably
visited different sites, will very likely be influenced to keep
Dr. Patchem in mind by this superior follow-up and
consistent attention. The initial series of emails gives a
strong, lasting impression of thoroughness, follow-up,
concern, and professionalism – which, of course, is precisely
the impression a medical office wishes to convey to their

    Competing doctors, whose very nice web sites were also
visited by the prospect, are put at a distinct disadvantage. In
fact, by the next day, the prospect has probably forgotten all
about them. And by the time the prospect decides to get
serious about getting the Botox treatments (weeks, or even
months later), the other Web sites are a long-forgotten
dream. Then, when the prospect receives another follow-up
e-mail from Dr. Patchem containing his latest newsletter and
success story, it may just be enough to make up her mind
right then and there.
    There are several reasons this kind of personalized yet
automated follow-up can increase your sales. First, without
some sort of follow-up system you only get the prospects
who visit your web site and are already sufficiently
motivated to make the call.
    In our example, some people may be using the Internet to
actually find a doctor and schedule an appointment, but most
are probably browsing – doing research to see if they even
want to find a doctor. Many members of that group may
eventually decide to undergo a procedure in the future, but
unless you have taken action to begin a relationship with
them, while they were on your site the first time, you may
never have another chance to communicate with them.
    Second, depending on your product or service, it may be
your series of follow-up letters that actually creates the need

in the mind of the prospect by convincing him or her of the
need for what you are selling. In general, following up and
keeping in touch with every prospect is very important – and
very smart – because you never know when a prospect is
going to become motivated to pick up the phone and call. In
many cases, however, you may establish a relationship with
the prospect on one issue and, over time, educate the
prospect on a different product or need.
    Third, if you “accept” business only from people who are
interested enough to call during the first visit to your web
site, you are on the same level with your competitors – that is
to say, on square one. On the other hand, if you used an
automated follow-up system to regularly communicate with
all of your prospects until they either buy or unsubscribe
from your list, then you build up a sales pipeline in which
none of your competitors even get to participate.
    On initial searches for your web site, you have to
compete against your competitors. But three months down
the road, if you are the only one following up with prospects
who were “just looking” on their initial visit, you don’t have
any competition when they get ready to buy.
    In summary, keep doing whatever you’re doing that’s
working, but add on a system that will help you generate
more leads and then follow up with 100 percent of your

prospects, 100 percent of the time. All the extra sales are, as
they say, icing on the cake.

Use Your E-Mail System to Keep in Touch with

Prospects and Dramatically Increase Your Number

of Referrals

You can use a group e-mail system not only to follow up
with prospects, but also to keep in touch with all your
customers. We all know that it costs much more to attract a
new customer than to keep one you already have, but few
businesses do a good (or even adequate) job of keeping in
touch with their established customers. At the very least, you

    §     Thank them for their business.
    §     Ask how you can improve your products or services.
    §     Keep them informed on industry developments.
    §     Offer to give their friends or associates the same
          great products/services the prospect is currently
          receiving, or has received.
    §     Send them “preferred customer” special offers.

    In short, there are probably very few (if any) businesses
that wouldn’t benefit from keeping in better touch with all

their customers. Group e-mail allows you to literally “reach
out and touch” everyone you’ve ever touched, on a regular
basis, forever, for almost no cost! Why in the world wouldn’t
you want to do that?
    Even if you get almost all of your business by word of
mouth or personal contact, it pays to keep in touch with all
those who can refer new prospects to you. For example,
given my legal background, I’ve talked with many lawyers
who would like to get more clients. And I always get a
chuckle when I ask about their Internet strategy, and they
reply, “We don’t have a web site. We get almost all our
cases by referral.”
    I always tell them, “That’s great that you get a lot of
referrals. I’m not suggesting that you stop that, but you are
missing a great opportunity to get even more referrals, and
even more business, by not making use of the Internet.”
    Indeed, generating personal referrals should be a primary
focus of almost any business. Referred customers are usually
better customers, because their business is based on the
opinion of someone they trust, and who trusts you.
    In fact, one of the benefits of using a group e-mail
program to keep in touch with all your customers as well as
all your prospects is that it carries a powerful potential to
increase your number of personal referrals.

    No one doubts that you would get more referrals if you
called every one of your former customers once a month to
touch base, remind them of what you do, and ask if they
knew of anyone who could use your services.
    Unfortunately, it’s seldom practical, or even possible, to
call every former client every month; and even if you could,
you would end up speaking more to voice mail systems than
to actual people. However, you can contact these clients
automatically – and deliver your message directly to them –
with e-mail. In fact, you can send a personalized message –
which counts as a personal communication – to virtually
every individual on your list with the touch of a button.
Here’s an example:

        Hi [first name]:

        Just wanted to touch base and see how you’re doing.
    How’s everything going? Give me a call and let me know
    what you’ve been up to.

        Talk to you soon,

        [Your signature]

    You get the idea. You can send short, plain text messages
that make each person on your mailing list think you sat
down and personally wrote an e-mail note. You could also
add a personalized sentence on top of your latest newsletter.
Or, you could send a more detailed letter recounting your
success with a recent client (gently reminding the client of
what you do), and asking him/her to forward your e-mail to
any friend or colleague who might benefit from your
      Most people hate getting spam. But, at the same time,
they appreciate when someone they’ve done business with
cares enough to keep in touch, thank them for their business,
and, in a professional manner, ask them to suggest others
they know whom you could help in the same way.
    Typically, the unsubscribe rates from relevant topical
newsletters and e-mail updates from personal business
associates are extremely low. If people have done business
with you, they generally appreciate your ongoing efforts to
stay in touch, and are only too happy to forward your e-mail
to a relevant prospect.
    No matter how you use your e-mail to keep in touch with
former and present clients and prospects, the main thing is to
do so, and keep doing so. It isn’t important whether you send
an e-mail once a week, once a month, or once a quarter. It is
just important that you do it.

E-Mail Follow-Up Works Equally Well in B2B


If you have gotten the idea that group e-mail is a tool
intended primarily for businesses that sell to individual
consumers, rest assured that nothing could be further from
the truth. Indeed, if you sell business-to-business (B2B), all
of these ideas are just as applicable and, in some cases, more
      Often, part of the difficulty of selling to large
corporations is getting in touch with the decision-makers.
Once you’ve gotten to them, and gotten their attention, it’s
imperative to take advantage of their “permission” to send
information and offers by immediately involving them in
your follow-up process.
      If you sell complicated products or services that require
an educated customer, permission-based education is just the
ticket. Identify the information that is most likely to be
useful to your prospects. You can provide white papers,
proprietary reports, and industry surveys in order to get them
to opt-in to receive more information.
      It’s amazing how many companies will spend tons of
money producing live online demonstrations of products or
relevant seminars, and then not send even one follow-up e-

mail to provide more information, or even try keep in touch.
They seem to feel that the interested, “hot” prospects will
rise to the surface, and that everyone else just doesn’t matter
because they’re not “good prospects.”
    This view of the sales pipeline is entirely true – under the
old rules of marketing. Back in the “good old days,”
commission-based sales people, if they were worth their salt,
had to “qualify” all their prospects. Time is a salesperson’s
most precious commodity, so it didn’t make sense to spend
time with unqualified or less-qualified prospects.
    Today, however, personalized automated e-mail enables
every salesperson in the company to follow up with 100
percent of their prospects, 100 percent of the time. No one
needs to slip through the cracks! A prospect that is, at best, a
marginal prospect today may become a hot prospect six
months or nine months from now. If the prospect hasn’t even
thought about you in that time, you’re back on your own
goal line. And, if your product is complicated or requires
buyer education, you might not even get in the game.
    On the other hand, if you captured the prospect’s
attention once, and then kept in touch through a curriculum-
based series of educational e-mails that kept the prospect
current on industry-related news, detailed news of benefits
that other customers are enjoying through your products and
services, and other useful knowledge, then you would have

an entirely different scenario. The prospect that wasn’t worth
the time may become your hottest prospect. Only by keeping
in touch can you make that sale.
    Fortunately, e-mail allows you to do this – easily and
cheaply. In terms of time, once you set up your automated
follow-up system, it takes more time – if any time at all – to
include your marginal, and even poor, prospects in your
mailing lists. In terms of expense, the marginal cost of
sending the additional e-mails to poor prospects is, for all
practical purposes, zero.

Attack Trade Shows with an Automated E-Mail


How many trade shows have you attended? In my
experience, they’re usually marginally more useful than your
average Renaissance Fair. You visit a lot of different booths,
trade a few business cards, practice your golf putting, get
some free stuff, fill out entry forms to win some more free
stuff, find a few new products and services that sound pretty
interesting, and then go out to dinner. I’ve never won a Palm
Pilot in a trade show drawing, but I’ve entered plenty of
drawings to try my luck.
    It’s all fun and interesting and potentially useful, but by
the time you get back to your office and try to catch up with

the million things that have happened since you went to the
show, you usually can’t remember more than a few
companies off the top of your head.
    You know you saw a lot of neat stuff, but one would
have had to have branded its name and features, along with
the name and number of the company rep, on your hand to
remember it enough – or care enough – to pick up the phone
and call the rep of your own volition when you get back to
work. And, what is worse, the better the show, the less likely
you are to remember any individual booth.
    What a waste for all the companies who spend a fortune
attending this trade show. They spend money on the booth,
the personnel, the collateral, the promotional giveaway
items, and heaven knows how much on food, drink,
entertainment, and other incidentals – all in the hope of
getting as many leads as possible. And for all the good it
usually does, they might as well have taken the money and
gambled it away – which, of course, they are essentially
    The problem is that, at the show, they’re competing
against every company there for your attention. After the
show, however, it’s a different story. From what I’ve seen of
trade show follow-up, there’s not much competition at all –
and that’s when their bid for your attention would really do
them the most good.

    After a trade show, the exhibitors go back to work and
follow up on the leads they’ve gathered as best they can,
usually with salespeople calling the “hottest prospects,” as
judged by their brief conversations at the booth. They may
call the cooler prospects once or twice, and if they get voice
mail twice with no return call, that’s pretty much the end of
the story.
    Companies attending trade shows would be much better
served to think of the show as the initial interaction that
creates the all-important permission to send a prospect more
information. Far too many businesses focus more attention
on choosing the tchotchkes they give away to get leads than
they do to the follow-up system for staying in touch with
leads, and turning them into customers.
    An automated e-mail system should be at the core of this
follow-up procedure. It would be set up to send a series of
post-show e-mails to each prospect, originating from both
from the person they met at the show booth and their local
sales rep (assuming they are different persons). These
mailings are probably the last thing the prospect expects –
and the first thing they’ll remember when the time comes to
    None of this is rocket science. As I like to say, “It’s just
e-mail,” but it does need to be pre-planned and coordinated.

However, once it is set up, the cost of using it is very low
and the time it takes is almost none.
    Before the trade show even starts, you should know what
e-mails will be sent out to the prospects, and from whom.
That way, people staffing the booth can “tee up” their
follow-ups with all the prospects they meet. For example,
“I’ll shoot you an e-mail next week about that San Diego
project we did,” or “Nice meeting you, Bob. I’ll e-mail you
next week with a link to that demo site.”
    Then, when the e-mail actually goes out, it not only
refreshes the prospect’s recollection of the conversation, but
also verifies your professionalism and follow-through. Also,
the response to the e-mail is more likely to be positive
because the recipient is expecting it.
    If someone other than the prospect’s personal sales rep
was the contact at the trade show booth, you can tee up and
automate e-mailings from them, as well. The planning is
simple. Just have the e-mails written and programmed into
the system in advance of the show. Both the sales reps and
the booth staff need to know what e-mails will be sent, in
what order, and on what schedule. Then the booth personnel
can lay the foundation for the follow-up. Here are some
hypothetical examples:

        “Thanks for stopping by, Tom. Have a nice flight
    back to Tampa. Like I said, your rep’s name is Mark
    Jones. I’ll tell him to e-mail you next week with that
    article about our project in Orlando.”

        “You’re from Dallas? I think your rep is Chris
    Martin. I’ll have him shoot you an e-mail next week. He
    can give you a password for a free trial version. Plus, he
    knows more about our results with the local customers,
    so I’m sure he’ll be able to tell you about the results
    we’ve been getting in Texas.”

    Obviously, this kind of coordinated follow-up is very
different than the haphazard approach taken by most
companies attending trade shows. Usually, if you leave your
card at a booth that catches your eye, you may – or may not
– get a call. If you’re busy and don’t return one call, you
probably won’t get another one.
    On the other hand, if you get an e-mail, you can read it
and reply at your convenience. And if you do reply to a
follow-up e-mail, your reply goes straight to the sales rep’s
inbox, and the personalized communication system kicks in

    Having an automated e-mail system and an organized
e-mail program not only saves time, but accomplishes many
things at once:

    §   It ensures 100% follow-up, 100% of the time.
    §   It demonstrates good follow-up and professionalism.
    §   It generates real communication between company
        personnel and the prospect, enabling the prospect to
        “get to know” the company on a more personal level.
    §   It doesn’t rely on the booth “beating the competition”
        at the show. As long as the booth personnel get
        permission to send more information, their goal is
        accomplished, and the process continues.

    Try this little exercise in marketing muscle at your next
trade show: Bring all the slick brochures and giveaway
promo pens you can carry – prospects do seem to like them.
But more importantly, spend a little time planning and
implementing your follow-up e-mail system – prospects give
sales to companies that care enough to keep in touch.
    You work hard and spend a lot of money to attend a trade
show – the whole point of which is to make personal
contacts and begin new business relationships. Take
advantage of your contacts’ permission to send more
information, and actually do it! Send interesting, relevant,

automatic e-mails to all your new prospects – for free, and
for a long time to come.

Maximize Leads from Your B2B Web Site with the

Same Automated Follow-Up System

The trade show follow-up system we have just described is
very similar to the way you should handle leads from your
web site. Many companies try to capture e-mail addresses on
their web site, but few handle the resulting leads as
effectively as they could.
    Have you ever signed up to receive information on a web
site on which you are to be contacted by a personal sales
representative? Typically, it takes several days before you
are contacted at all. Most of the time, the problem is not with
the sales reps, most of whom are happy to call a lead as soon
as possible, but with the system, or lack thereof, which the
company has in place to handle the leads.
    If you ask the company’s reps, they’ll generally complain
that it takes literally days for them to receive their leads from
the web site. Considering the speed of today’s technology,
this is plain silly – not to mention self-defeating.
    Of course, a prospect should get an immediate automated
response, which provides relevant information, as soon as he
or she enters an e-mail address. Not just an impersonal,

uninformative, “Thank you for your interest. We’ll get back
with you as soon as possible.”
    If it’s possible to assign a sales rep, the selected rep
should send the prospect a personalized, yet automated, e-
mail. If you’ve only captured the e-mail address so far and
need more information to assign the lead to the proper rep,
then by all means ask the prospect to provide the information
you need to know to put them in touch with the person who
will be their primary company contact.
    If you do have the sales rep already selected, you could
send a fairly immediate automated response. This would
appear professional and provide relevant information, but
would also appear automated. The first business morning
after the initial submission of the prospect’s e-mail address is
a great time to send a plain-text e-mail that appears as if it
was just written and sent by the sales rep.
    This email is received after the prospect is done surfing
the Web and researching all the different sites he saw in your
category. Now, the prospect’s memory is refreshed, and your
sales rep was probably the first to get back to him – quite a
coup – even though the rep is actually still asleep or on
another sales call.
    Regardless of the source of the leads, this kind of
automated follow-up can be added on to whatever your sales

force is already doing, without requiring them to do more –
except handle the inevitable sales increases.
    Here are some good ways to help get more leads from
your follow-up e-mail program:

    §   Remember to mix up the e-mail originations. Some
        can be sent from the company, but most should be
        sent from the individual sales person. Perhaps one
        can be sent from the head of customer service, or
    §   Also mix up the look and “feel” of the e-mails, to
        avoid giving them an automated, de-personalized
        appearance. Some of your mails can be colorful
        company newsletters; others should be plain text and
        appear to be personally composed and sent.
    §   Always provide a way for the prospect to opt out of
        future company e-mailings, such as newsletters or
        general information. It’s less important for individual
        sales reps to include an opt-out box in every e-mail,
        but be sure they know where to submit e-mail
        addresses from people who ask to be removed.

    The key to effective business e-mail is to keep it
personal, relevant, and interesting. In the next section, we’ll
examine some ways to take e-mail beyond relevant and

interesting, into the realm of the really exciting. You’ll know
you’ve arrived when people not only open your e-mails and
read them – but view them many times, and even forward
them to their friends.

To Flash, or Not to Flash: Plain Text, HTML, Flash,
and Video E-Mail

Here are three of the best things about e-mailing your
prospects today:

1) Almost all of your prospects have e-mail; once you get
their permission to e-mail them, it costs you next to nothing
to do so.
2) Almost all of your prospects can receive Flash e-mails,
or at least HTML e-mail, and many of them have high- speed
connections, especially at work. This allows you to send
personalized, TV-like commercials, with full motion and
sound, directly to your prospects’ inboxes.
3) Most of your competitors are not taking advantage of
rich media e-mail, so you have a terrific opportunity to get
the jump on them.

    Years from now, who knows what it will take to get the
attention of a prospect. I’m not sure, but considering the

wall-to-wall competition for attention, I have a feeling it will
involve techniques and media that will seem drastic by
today’s standards. It is getting harder and harder to break
through the clutter. People are busier than ever, and
messages bombard them continually, from every nook,
cranny and angle.
    Yet even in the thick of the competition, few companies
are taking advantage of the opportunity to send state-of-the-
art, full-video e-mails directly to their prospects. If you are
looking for ways to capture attention, you need to look at
Flash, audio/video, and other rich media e-mail options. Like
the singing telegrams of yesteryear, rich media e-mails get
attention. Response rates measured by click-throughs and
sales are often much higher than normal e-mail.
    Several months ago, the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas sent
an HTML with imbedded video to its current customer base
of approximately 50,000 e-mail addresses. The rich media e-
mail company, H2F Media, designed an attractive HTML
page that included an embedded video promoting the
Venetian experience. The Venetian already had this video, so
H2F simply had to design the e-mail, embed the video, and
send it out.
    Such e-mails are capable of delivering different media,
depending on the e-mail reader and connection speed of the
individual recipient. For some people, the video would start

playing immediately, as the e-mail is viewed in their inbox.
For others, only the HTML image would appear. In place of
the video is a call to action to “Click here to play the video.”
Clicking opens an Internet browser window, so the Web
Page looks just like the e-mail, and plays the video in the
same area shown in the e-mail.
    At any rate, after the video e-mails were sent, the
Venetian was bombarded with reservation requests and
inquiries, and actually had to call in more people to work the
call center.
    The Venetian’s offer was for a special room rate for a
particular time period. Nothing spectacular, but sending the
offer with a full-video commercial right to the desktops of
prospects made quite an impression – and quite a difference.
    Normal e-mail response rates can be fractions of one
percent. In this case, the Venetian saw a 23 percent response
rate. And if you’re thinking that I mean that 23 percent of the
people who received the e-mail clicked through to learn
more about the offer, you’re wrong. Would you believe that
23 percent of the people who received this e-mail
commercial actually called up the Venetian and booked a
    For around $15,000 in total marketing costs, including
design, technology, and mailing, the Venetian brought in
over $500,000 in revenue! Now, that’s a return on

investment! (To see the example of this e-mail and others
like it, visit
    All in all, rich media e-mail is worth trying for almost
any business. For one thing, its superior quality instantly
differentiates itself from all the spam besieging your
prospects. It allows you to deliver a broadcast-level message
directly to each member of your target market, without the
prohibitive cost of multiple airtime slots. And, it can remain
with the prospect on a permanent basis, in the inbox, where it
can be viewed repeatedly and shared with other interested
    As a general rule, the more professional the design of the
e-mail, the better. On the other hand, sometimes a plain text
e-mail with good sales copy can be more effective than a
slickly designed HTML e-mail that looks like just another
big ad.
    With rich media e-mail, you get the best of both worlds.
First, it’s obviously a high-end promotion, which
communicates an indelible impression of quality. At the
same time, it delivers a show with its message, complete
with narration, full-motion video, and quality sound. In
short, rich media e-mail helps ensure that your message
achieves the three primary objectives of marketing: that the
message will be seen, that it will capture interest, and that it
will be absorbed.

       Part of the reason for large differences in success, or
response rates between marketing approaches is the
entertainment value of the media. This is confirmed by the
increased popularity and use of advergaming. In the same
way as advergaming, commercials can be entertaining – even
       Another major factor in the success of marketing
campaigns is the timeliness of the information. One of the
most valuable aspects of e-mail is its ability to capture and
report statistics instantly, and track important developments
in real time.
       When a direct mail campaign is snail-mailed to
prospects, it can take days to arrive, and weeks to evaluate
the results. With e-mail, the campaign arrives
instantaneously, and results are available immediately,
allowing you to track:

       §   How many e-mails were sent
       §   How many were delivered (how many bounced)
       §   How many were opened
       §   How many were clicked (and, for multi-offer e-mails,
           which links were clicked)
       §   And, of course, how many purchases were made

    This is all great and valuable, but the really fun part is
tracking how many of your “ads” were viewed more than
once. It’s a pretty strong indication of the power of the
process when you e-mail an ad and many of your prospects
watch it over and over. And it’s even better when your
recipients forward it to people they know, and spread the
word, like a virus. In fact, this phenomenon is known as
“viral” marketing – and rich media e-mail can help turn it
into a virtual epidemic.
    Can you imagine a direct mail postcard campaign so
compelling that your prospects take your ad to work and pass
it around the office? That’s pretty rare with traditional mail,
but isn’t uncommon with Flash and video e-mails. Like a
good television commercial, rich media e-mail often captures
attention because it is entertaining. As a result, it gives you
an opportunity to get your offer noticed – which is really the
    Finally, it’s worth noting that the cost of creating rich-
media e-mails is going down all the time. Flash, for example,
has progressed from unusual to ubiquitous. Consequently,
good Flash designers can be hired or contracted for less
money. The days when web site shops could charge – and
collect – outrageous fees from companies flush with venture
capital are long gone. High-end web design, Flash design,

and even custom web programming, are now readily
available at very reasonable rates.
     Furthermore, unlike printed materials or offline
advertisements, high-quality web design and e-mail creations
are one-time investments, but the materials can be used
repeatedly, and indefinitely. Consequently, the return on
investment (ROI) of many marketing projects is often not
only high, but as in the case of a lead from a free search
engine, or the cost of sending e-mail, it often approaches
     Even if your ROI is not infinite, it often starts out
extremely high and grows over time. You can create an
additional targeted web site, maintain it for next to nothing,
and use it continuously and forever – for practically zero
dollars. In the same way, you can build a high quality e-mail
ad and use it as many times as you want –forever. These are
two more excellent examples of the many powerful, yet
inexpensive, marketing tools of which most businesses are
simply not taking advantage.
     It’s a marketing truism that most businesses tend to
follow the pack, especially when it comes to selling. In other
words, most companies within an industry market their
wares in similar ways. Whether they are all trying to keep up
with their perceived Joneses, or simply just doing it the way

they’ve always done it, it is the rule rather than the
    In the same way, most businesses have been slow to
grasp the power and relevancy of online marketing for their
offline sales. Many successful companies still spend (read:
waste) tons of money on direct mail pieces that never even
reach the office of the prospect. With just a little effort in a
slightly different direction, they could be sending relevant,
captivating e-mail directly to their prospects’ desktops.
     As the saying goes, “He who hesitates is lost.” If you
hesitate to innovate in your marketing techniques, you can
lose opportunities to jump ahead of the competition – and
thus, lose sales. This is particularly true when it comes to e-
marketing. There is a plethora of remarkably effective new
products you can use, and directions you can take, which
your competitors are probably not.
    If you take action now to implement these systems, you
will collect the immediate and ongoing rewards of
significant increases in sales and new customers. And as you
use e-marketing to forge better and stronger relationships
with your customers, it will be that much harder for your
competitors to ever catch up.
    Often, one of the best things you can do for marketing is
to take off the proverbial blinders and take a good look
around outside your own industry to find ideas that are

working well for other types of businesses, and which you
can apply to your own business. Don’t limit yourself to what
you already know – look everywhere for new, effective

Human Intervention E-Mail – A New Twist on an
Old Idea

Assuming that e-mail is an old idea, here’s a new twist that
can make a big difference. I call it “human intervention e-
mail,” a term I coined in 2002 to describe an innovative
direction in e-mail we developed for some of our clients.
    Working with companies with traditional outside field
sales forces, we set out to attack a common offline problem:
telephone prospecting. Many sales reps use the telephone to
prospect, cold call, and set appointments with prospects. The
problem is that, as people become increasingly bombarded
with steady barrages of advertising and marketing messages,
it has gotten harder and harder for sales reps get their
prospects on the phone. (The irony of the technology we
have created to make our lives “easier” is that it has actually
contributed to a steady increase in the pace of life.)
    Consequently, a salesperson calling prospects by phone
is far more likely to reach voice mail – or be stopped by the
gatekeeper – than to reach the prospect. In fact, typically, a

salesperson can only reach the prospect on one out of ten or
even twenty calls – a five to ten percent success ratio. And if
you can’t reach the prospect, you can’t make the
    Of course, salespeople get stuck in voice mail for several
reasons. The prospect might be screening calls and
consciously choosing to avoid the contact. But the more
likely cause is probably bad timing. When the salesperson
calls, the prospect is in a meeting, or out to lunch, or on the
phone, or out of the office. So the salesperson has to call
again, and again, and may end up making 10 or 20 calls to
make a single contact.
    However, using “human intervention” e-mail, we
discovered that we were able to increase the salesperson’s
chances of actually reaching the prospect from five or ten
percent to 70 or 80 percent.
    Yes, you read that correctly. Salespeople using our
system were able to get the prospect on the phone seven or
eight times out of 10. The clear benefit was that cold calling
times were cut by more than half. Put another way,
salespeople set twice as many appointments in half the time.
For them, it was a night and day difference.
    We accomplished this by using e-mail in a unique
manner, in conjunction with traditional sales methods.
Specifically, we would send personalized HTML e-mails

from each salesperson to each individual prospect. As a
prospect clicked on the e-mail, the system would instantly e-
mail the salesperson – both at their normal e-mail address
and their cell phone. The instant notification would identify
the name of the prospect, the company, and the prospect’s
phone number. Salespeople who immediately called the
prospects as they were notified reached their intended target
an astounding 70-80 percent of the time!
    It makes perfect sense if you think about it. The
salesperson knew the prospect was not out to lunch, out of
the office, or in a meeting. Most likely, the prospect was
alone in the office, checking e-mail messages.
    But the best part was what happened with the
“gatekeepers.” When the salesperson called and the
gatekeeper set up the defense by asking, “What this is
regarding,” the salesperson was able to reply, “Mr. Smith is
on my web site right now trying to get some information,
and I’m calling to assist him.” That was enough to put the
calls through almost every time!
    What’s great about this system is that it works
beautifully, makes a big difference, and from the
salesperson’s perspective, is idiot-proof. When you get the e-
mail, just call the number listed!
    Again, this isn’t brain surgery technology; it’s just e-
mail. But please don’t use the feature in Outlook where you

can confirm the receipt of your e-mail. For many people, that
notice that pops up telling them that you are requesting a
“read receipt” indicates that you are “checking on them” and
it’s very annoying! “None of your business,” they think, as
they delete your e-mail.
    With the notification described here, it’s easy enough to
know that your e-mail was read, or if a link was clicked, and
the recipient never knows.

Integrating Sales and Marketing – and Technology

E-mail marketing is a good illustration of a problem facing
most traditional companies today. Everyone is familiar with
the traditional friction or conflict between marketing and
sales. Many companies find it challenging to coordinate the
efforts of the two departments to the point at which they can
operate synergistically. In essence, the marketing mavens
can’t understand why the salespeople aren’t closing more
leads, and the salespeople can’t understand why the
marketing department can’t produce more “good” leads.
    Today, this classic marketing versus sales conflict is
overshadowed by the necessary three-party integration of
Marketing, Sales – and Technology. The crux of the problem
is that coordinating Marketing and Sales is a piece of cake

compared to integrating both Sales and Marketing with the
Technology department – IT.
    The human intervention e-mail program is a good
example. Almost any decent-size company has someone who
could implement such a program in a heartbeat. But when
you have a situation in which IT talks to Marketing only
when the web site needs updating, and almost never talks to
Sales, it probably isn’t going to happen without an
    In many companies, even a simple task involving more
than one of these departments is a challenge. In a typical
scenario, Marketing comes up with a new promotion which
is over by the time IT gets around to updating the web site.
    Such missed opportunities, and the resulting rise in inter-
departmental animosities, are the rule, not the exception. The
challenge for companies today is not only to integrate all
their online and offline marketing into a cohesive, unified
message, but also to integrate cutting-edge technology into
both their marketing and sales processes. Given the fact that
sales, marketing, and technology people often come from
opposite ends of the Earth, it should come as no surprise that
formulating the idea is far easier than forging the reality.
    For example, not long ago, CRM (Customer Relationship
Management) was hailed as the ultimate panacea for
improved company/customer interaction. In theory, it would

provide companies with a “360º view” of their customers,
with which they would always know the status of the
situation, and be able to provide the proper customer service
at the right time. In actuality, however, industry studies show
that around 70 percent of all CRM implementations are
dismal failures.
    I point this out only to show that integrating technology
with sales and marketing is never an easy task. But that
integration still remains the goal. The good news is that, in
terms of 80/20 marketing, companies can get maximum
“bang for the buck” through the use of some very simple
technology initiatives.
    In practice, many companies that are spending millions
on sales force automation applications would be better
served to first put simple (and far less costly) technology
practices into effect, and into the hands of their salespeople;
practices such as:

    §   Additional targeted web sites for lead generation
    §   Sequential auto-responders for automated 100
        percent follow-up
    §   Replicated web sites and content management tools
        for each salesperson
    §   Search engine optimization

    §   HTML newsletters and rich media e-mail, sent
        directly to each customer and prospect from each
    §   Human intervention e-mail

    CRM and sales force automation are worthy goals, of
course. The wrench in the works is that the ROI projections
touted by the system sales reps are often overly rosy,
downplay implementation realities, and ignore systemic
challenges that can’t be ignored.
    On the other hand, simple tools – like proper use of e-
mail – can be fully implemented for next to nothing, pleasing
the CFO. And the measurable results in terms of increased
leads, sales, and revenue will please not only the CFO, but
also the CEO, CMO, and shareholders – not to mention the
Marketing, Sales, and IT people.

Chapter 8

What Next?

We have covered a lot of territory, discussed a lot of ideas,
and considered a lot of sound advice. Where do we go from
    If you are serious about making the “Magic Formula” of
80/20 Interactive Marketing perform its miracles for your
business, the first place you should go is directly to the
starting line. As they say, there is no time like the present to
make it happen.
    First things first: do you have the technology? Do you
have the people to implement the technology? If you answer
“no” to either or both questions, start your research. Hit the
Internet, call your contacts, do whatever it takes to get the
best you can afford.
    For an updated list of various vendors, education
materials, and free advice, you can start by visiting my web
site at Or send an e-
mail to
    From the discussion of automated marketing
technologies throughout the book, you should have a general
idea of what sounds good to you, and what would work best
for your business. The hardware and software will not come

free, of course, but the prices are coming down all the time,
and there are many levels of equipment available for any size
business. Whatever the cost, anything you spend
implementing an interactive marketing strategy is likely to
be paid back many times over –and probably faster than you
    In the case of software, you should probably check out,
depending on what applications interest you:

    §    Content management tools
    §    Search engine software such as OptiLink
    §    E-mail newsletter and list management software
    §    Sequential autoresponders

    People are not as easily assessed as products, but you
should certainly be able to find the right ones for your
purposes. At the very least, you will need the services of a:

    §    Webmaster
    §    Copywriter
    §    Flash designer
    §    Web programmer

    You don’t have to hire full-time employees unless you
are in a company that is creating a new full-tilt e-marketing

program and need to staff up. Outsourcing is common, and
the freelance market has many talented professionals waiting
for your call. You can hire on a project or temporary basis
and, if the results warrant, retain the option of taking them on
full-time in the future.
    To see a current list of recommendations for vendors
from everything from web design, to search engine
optimization, to e-mail software, visit You may be
asked to enter your email address. J

And, Finally…

It is never easy to make a business successful. It usually
requires a lot of time, a lot of work, and sometimes a little
luck. However, with the techniques, tools, and tricks we have
covered, I believe you have a head start in gathering
prospects and customers.
    Communication is the key to business success, and
Interactive Communication is the wave of the future in
today’s business world. The technological breakthroughs of
the last few years have made it possible for you to add
effective new systems on top of the processes you already
have – without adding on extra work. If you take advantage
of these astounding new opportunities before everyone else,

you can make your business grow at the speed of thought.
You’re only limits are your imagination and your willingness
to take action and get started.
    Good luck, and let me know about your success stories.
E-mail me at


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