Louisville Digital Summit 2014

If you attended the 2014 Louisville Digital Summit at Bellermine University and would like:

A copy of the presentation

A free, daily Facebook email training course

Or to reach out and have me consult with you

Simply leave a comment below with your email ( it wont be published here ) and I will reach back out to you.

Can You Scale With Your Internet Marketer?

I had an interesting conversation the other day with the CMO of a local company over lunch and they were raving to me about a new online marketing company they picked up to handle their web advertising.

Since I know just about everyone in the local Internet marketing space ( this is what happens when you pioneer a service in your hometown for well over a decade ), I inquired about the company they picked up and to my surprise, their name didn’t ring any bells with me. As I dug deeper into the conversation, what alarmed me was that this “new company” might actually be some kind of fly by night service about to pull the wool over my potential client.

I asked questions about this company:

1. What kind of clients do they handle now?

2. What kind of budgets do they handle for those clients?

3. Did they provide you references?

4. How qualified do you think they are to actually handle your account?

The CMO didn’t have what I would call “great” answers to those questions and a little more background checking should have been in order to find out more. It never ceases to amaze me how companies can jump head first into a partnership without doing their due diligence just because they got a “hot tip” or because someone at their office knows someone who knows someone.

What happens when you partner with someone that you barely know anything about and you want to grow past their limitations? Are you going to let them “learn” or educate themselves on your dime when that hurdle comes up? Wouldn’t you rather partner up with someone that not only has years of direct experience, but routinely handles clients that have million dollar budgets in the field you need help in?

The CMO was looking for help with Facebook advertising, something I have been doing since Facebook first opened their doors with their self serve system. If I were him, I would much rather take advice and get help from someone who can prove what they do with million dollar budgets and can help me scale my success, then hire someone that barely has a couple hundred dollars in unproven experience.

Small sample of a few of my Facebook Adverting accounts:

Account #1

Account #2

Account #3

Driving Traffic Is Only Half The Battle

Have you ever wondered why your site or marketing campaign is bringing you lots of targeted traffic, but you’re just not able to turn that traffic into the extra revenue you are seeking?

One thing I have noticed about Louisville web design companies is that many of them know how to initially set up a website for their clients but lack the foresight in helping their clients with their future online marketing campaigns. No, I am not talking about helping them with PPC or their Facebook page, but with their actual website and how their website can dramatically increase their conversions, revenue, and lead-generation goals.

I have been helping several companies with their local Louisville SEO projects, and almost all of them have asked me the same question, “How can I drive more leads/revenue into my site?” A lot of them simply think they can just drive more traffic to their site and that will fix their problem. While this sounds logical at first, the better method would be optimizing your site first and then driving more traffic to it once the site is optimized. Think of it like this, you wouldn’t crank up your air conditioning in your house when it’s hot outside while your windows are wide open, would you?

The hard part is, many of these same clients had a website built for them that they are not able to edit. Either their web design company has them “locked” into a system that is not user-friendly, or they simply have a system that is so grossly complex that if you make one change you have to edit several files and spend lots of time to make that one simple change.

I was working with one Louisville ecommerce company that was receiving hundreds of targeted visitors for their products every day. They were only converting maybe .30% (yes, only .30) of their customers. I devised a plan to help them convert more of their customers with ideas such as:

1. Capturing their email before the sale/before they left the site (to be used in a Louisville email marketing campaign.)

2. Install a live chat system to help customers that were on the site find the product they need.

3. Add in upsells and cross sells to the checkout funnel.

4. Change up the “calls to action” on their buy-now buttons and quote cart system.

5. Offering different payment options for those that would rather pay with Paypal or Google Checkout.

I had determined that these changes would result in my clients’ conversions being raised to a full six percent, which would result in a change of over 1,270,000 dollars in revenue per year for them. The problem? The web design company made it to where their site was almost uneditable. Making these changes would have resulted in hours and hours of programming because the clients’ code was not commented, locked down to a proprietary system, and encoded with source code encryption. Not only that, the web design company wanted to charge 300 dollars an hour to make these changes and had projected these changes (that only they could make) would take three months to implement.

Optimizing your site will provide you the largest gain in ROI that you will ever see, but if you do not include a knowledgeable online marketer in your site-planning projections, you will only end up hurting yourself and your business later down the road when it is time to ramp up your marketing campaigns.

If You Are Paying For SEO, Some Tips To Remember

I have had many clients in my time, and not all of them have been 110% “happy” with their previous Louisville SEO/Internet marketer.

Some of these unhappy clients just had unrealistic expectations no matter what anyone told them (i.e. wanting to rank for an ultra-competitive term in less than 10 days for less than the price of a nice dinner and a movie). Others just didn’t give their SEO campaign enough time to “set in” and work, and some clients just cannot be pleased.

If you are paying for SEO and not getting the results you want, here are some thoughts on why you might not be…

You are not listening to your SEO consultant:
Lots of times you are being told what we can and cannot do and in what time frame. You, however, insist on it being sooner, better, and easier than what we are telling you. If you know so much more than us (who you are paying), then why not take a crack at it yourself? We as consultants are up against not only all your competitors trying to rank for the same niche, but lots of times your competitors have more than one active SEO consultant, a longer history at being ranked higher than you, and just an outright better website than you. Also, we are trying to convince Google to change THEIR logic to favor your site over another site, all the while constantly tweaking and changing the standards we need to learn and follow at the drop of a dime.

You are not willing to work/help:
I get it. You hired a consultant to do this work and rank you higher. You do not want to do this or do not know how to do what you hired us for. That’s fine, but when we ask you for things we cannot do (maybe things like, changing your site navigation, adding more content, changing the URLs, etc.), we really need you to comply. I have one client I have worked with off and on for years and EVERY single time I ask them to make a change to their site, their answer is always, “Can’t”. You really limit what kind of results I can get you if you have a site that is not editable.

It is also not helpful when I have goals and tasks that are waiting on things for you to complete, but it takes you three to four months to complete them.

You wanted to be cheap:
Trying to cut corners when it comes to paying is always a bad tactic. If I give you multiple options for different packages that I can offer you and you pick the lowest one (which means I give your site less attention/time than if you picked a higher-end package), then you need to expect lower results. Sure, we talked about getting you to X position on Google and getting you X amount of leads, but when I give you the price for those results and the time frame involved and you balk and say you cannot afford that amount and decide to choose the package that is 50 percent less, then you should expect 50% less work from me every month. This also means that since I am working less hours for you per motnh, it will take longer to get the results we originally talked about. When I also present to you that we should purchase some paid links from other sites and you flat out reject the idea, then expect the results you wanted to take longer as well.

When I then see you on Facebook going to Disney World for two weeks, then buying a second million dollar vacation home, and have five new IT hires in your office when I come in to meet with you, I really have a hard time believing your excuse for “being a small company” that cannot afford the original price I gave you.

You forgot what my role was:
I am here to bring you traffic. Unless I agree to personally redesign your site or help you code a new ecommerce cart by hand, do not ask me to do that. If I do agree to help you with those tasks, realize that I will charge you for the new work and that the new work is also taking away time from me getting traffic to your site.

Also, you cannot expect your online marketer to “generate more sales” for you. We are here to get you more traffic and more leads. How you handle that traffic and those leads is entirely up to you. I brought the traffic to you; I filled up your lead cart, but I cannot make your customers love your product and spend three times more money on your product than what your competitor charges just to buy from you. I cannot RUN your business for you, and I cannot make your customers love everything about you. If you need that type of help, then I want to be a 50-percent partner and we can talk shop then.

Just because I got you number one in Google and raised your traffic eightfold, doesn’t mean the people actually like your products or that your business model is financially sound.

You just didn’t give it enough time:
Too many times, you expect results way too soon. Your competitors are trying to maintain the positions they are in, and many of them are trying to outrank you anyways. Google is also constantly changing their methods and ranking factors ( averaging 2x a day ). It is going to take time to correctly rank your site and also help you KEEP that position.

Also, every keyword and every niche is different. What it takes to rank first page for “blue widgets” is totally different than what it takes to rank for “red widgets”. None of us know what it takes off the bat. It takes research, testing, and data to find out what it is going to take to rank you for your keyword.

Finally, you got the result you wanted, and then didn’t want to maintain it:
Yep, I got you there when you wanted and where you wanted, and you thought to yourself, “Great! Thanks for the help, and I will call you if I need anything else,” and ended our relationship. That’s cool, I understand that once you got ranked you thought it was magically just going to stay there forever. I guess you didn’t listen to me when I told you that after you get ranked, you will need help to maintain that ranking so that when Google changes their algo or when your competitors get pissed and hire two or three SEOs to get their rankings back, you do not slip back to the third page of results again.

Your competitors are going to hire help to get their results back, and once you drop off, you are going to want to call me again to get you back to the first page. This time the work will be 10 times harder because I will have an uphill climb trying to now catch up to your competitors that have active SEOs working on their campaigns and building links like mad. Thanks for that!

Next time you are not getting the results you are wanting from your Internet marketing consultant, think about what problems YOU are causing that are affecting your marketing efforts instead of thinking that your SEO consultant is at fault.

How To Get More Out Of Adsense

I am going to forewarn you, some of the things I mention could be against AdSense guidelines. Their rules change all the time, and you should always consult with them before following the advice of others.

I make a pretty good amount from AdSense each month. I set up my first true AdSense site sometime in 2005 and have enjoyed the passive income it brings me each month. I have now set up a ton of sites that use AdSense for income.

Here are some of the things I have learned since that time:

1. You must always experiment with your ads and content. I know that doesn’t sound “passive”, but once you get this down in your first couple of months, you can just leave it “as is” and collect checks.

2. Do blend your ads with your content. I try to always have a test where my content matches the same css (as close as possible) as my AdSense ads. I use the same font, same size, make the text color the same, the background color the same, etc. I even match the title of the AdSense ad to the color of my text links I am using on the site. You should still change it up and test it out to make sure your surfers are clicking as much as they can.

3. If you’re using black text on your site, try changing it to a lighter color like #333333 instead, also change your ad text to this color. The lighter color will almost always make your title of your ad unit stand out and “pop” more, making it more appealing to click.

4. I used to place my ad units right under the H1 and above the content, but since AdSense frowns on this, I now float left my ad units within my content. My content now wraps around the ad unit. Float left seems to work better than float right.

5. I almost always use 336×280 ad units. You should play with those and 300×250. Those have always worked out the best for me.

6. Only use one ad unit, regardless of what anyone tells you. Matter of fact, just test it out yourself and see where you make more money. What I have found is, the more ad units you put on your page, the more customers have to click. However, they could be clicking on the lower-paying ads in those other ad units. When you display one ad unit, you display the top-paying three to four advertisers.

7. Test out a 300×250 image unit ad next to a 300×250 text unit ad. You cannot place a normal image next to an AdSense ad unit, but you can set two AdSense ad units next to each other. Just make one image only and the other text only—same effect.

8. On the larger 336×280 test ad units, the URL of the ad sits next to the title of the ad. Both are underlinked. Try making these both the same color. The effect is, a same-color, lengthy, underlined piece of text that draws the user’s eye to it.

Hope this helps. I might post more on this later next week.

Top 10 Reasons You Are Not Getting More Sales

Here is a list of reasons I see most commonly with clients that are not getting more sales/growth out of their business.

1. You are not split testing.

2. You chose the wrong niche.

3. Your margins are too slim.

4. You don’t know your market well enough.

5. You don’t offer an advantage.

6. You don’t reinvest into your business.

7. You don’t network/listen.

8. You invest in the wrong people/tech.

9. You don’t have a plan.

10. You are not split testing.

I know I listed one of those twice, and that is for a reason. Most people are not split testing ANYTHING they do with their business when it comes to marketing or their business in general, and that is, by far, the biggest problem I see today.

“You are not split testing.”
Most people build a website and set up some Facebook/Google ads and spend a couple hundred dollars and get ZERO sales and then say to themselves that Facebook traffic must not be worth their time. Those same people never tested multiple images in their ads, multiple headlines, bid ranges, or even calls to action.

Too many people are not testing out all the variables and giving up way too early. It takes a smart person to even know what the variables are to begin with, how to change them, what to test, and then what to measure. The world is full of people willing to “do it once and do it one way” instead of testing out and finding out what the real problem is.

When you were learning to parallel park at 16, did you get it right the very first time you did it? Why should you think your website or ads are set up correctly then the first time around?

“You chose the wrong niche.”
Do you really think there are a ton of people online ready to buy your WalkMan that is specially designed for parrots? We can bring you traffic to your site, but that doesn’t mean you have a product or idea that can b grown.

“Your margins are too slim.”
Your margins could be slim for a lot of reasons. However, when you allow this to happen, you cut yourself at the knees and you also cripple your marketing department. Want to try paid marketing? You need to split test paid marketing a lot to make it bring in big bucks for you. If you’re running on slim margins you almost cut out any type of paid marketing that could be done correctly to help increase your customer base.

Want an affiliate network promoting for you? Affiliates like good margins paid to them. They only see the end user price, not the price you paid and are making on margin. They will not like the slim CPA (plus network fees and the fraud that comes with it) that you pay out from your already thin margin. Lots of them will abandon ship after a few weeks and promote some other offer that is making them a hefty EPC or CPA.

Contest, promotions, and special deals are all out the window (or really limited) as well. If you have slim margins, you really need to optimize the traffic you have and you need to get creative… fast.

“You don’t know your market well enough.”
I can’t count how many times I have seen this. I have had business owners tell me their customers don’t do this or won’t like that. Specifically, I have had owners tell me promotions will not work with their clients. How simple is it to send out an email to your customer base and just ask them what they want?

I recently did this for a company that swore up and down to me for years that promotions will not work and are too gimmicky for their customers. I finally convinced them to let me send out an email to their customer base that was a survey of 15 questions about how their customers buy supplies for their businesses, and offered the customer a choice of a gift card, free lunch, or discount on their next order, and NOTHING at all for filling in the survey. We had an overwhelming response to the gift card and gained a ton of useful data on their customers they had never known. We also had a ton of people filling it out for free as well. Just ask your customers what they want if you want to make more money.

“You don’t offer an advantage.”
Why should a customer buy from you? Do you offer the same thing as the other nine websites on the front page of Google? Better yet, why should Google or Bing rank you higher than X competitor and give you more customers? With the growing influence of bookmarking and social circles, there is an immediate need for your business to stand out and not be in the same herd as the other websites in your niche. When you are a mover and a shaker, people talk, people share, and people want to buy from you. If you offer the exact same service/experience/and similar cost as your competitors, you’re just doomed from the get-go. I have one client that offers nothing exceptional from their competitors and they wonder why they are not growing at the rate they had expected. When you are like everyone else, the first responder to my needs gets the win.

“You don’t reinvest into your business.”
Even I have fallen for this one. Not reinvesting into your business causes it to fall in on itself sooner or later. You must reinvest in your people, in yourself, in your tech, and in your revenue streams. That service or product you offer today will not be as hot six months from now, and the traffic source you get your customers from will not be as plentiful either. Put some money back every month and reinvest into your business. Make sure you get retrained, go to tradeshows, expand out your business, hire new workers, and dominate new niches. If anything, just invest the money wisely if you cannot think of a way to reinvest into your business. Money making money never hurt anyone.

“You don’t network/listen.”
I don’t care who you are. You are not smarter than me. I am not smarter than you. If you think you know it all and don’t take the advice of others, you are going to fail at business very soon. There is a reason people like the President, Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, and even Tiger Woods surround themselves with people smarter than themselves on a range of different issues. It is not your job to know everything; it’s your job to get people who do know it around you, helping you. Find a mentor or a group of people that are doing what you wish to do. Ask them questions; hang out with them; plan meetings with them, and get their advice.

“You invest in the wrong people/tech.”
I have seen too many companies never get to where they should be because they don’t value their largest two assets: their employees and their technology. Taking your employees out to lunch, throwing them parties, and maybe giving them a ham at Christmas is nice, but for your employees, that doesn’t pay their bills. So when it comes time that they have a financial hardship, one of the first things they do is start job hunting for better pay and benefits. I can already hear some of you saying, “It’s not my fault they fell on hard times.” Well, it will be when they quit and take all their knowledge with them and now you have to scramble to find another worker, interview them, train them, get them to up to speed, and then repeat the same cycle over and over again every seven months. “It costs more money to find new customers than to keep them,” and the same holds true for employees.

Top talent is passing you up when you ask for the moon and back and only want to pay minimum wage salaries. I have seen this with at least five clients in the last two years. They want someone with a degree, who can speak four languages, knows how to program in eight languages, can get them to the top of Google in two weeks for ultra-competitive legal terms, and bring in an extra two million dollars in revenue a month… but only want to pay them $32k dollars a year. Did you know people at fast- food restaurants make up to $32k dollars a year? Did you know I can get paid more on unemployment than that? Do you really want to disrespect someone enough that can make a HUGE impact to your bottom line and yearly bonus with the same wage as someone doing nothing on their ass all day on unemployment?

Also, I see a ton of companies pay for an outsourced firm or cheap part-time worker to build their technology for them. Even worse, they hire an intern or someone right out of college desperate for a job but with no real world experience. They get heavily invested in getting their ecommerce store set up in ColdFusion, only to find out later they cannot change or grow their website when needed. They then have to spend triple the original amount to have someone sit down and go through the original mess and recode the site for them to meet today’s standards.

You would have saved a ton of time, headache, and money if you would have hired the right person out of the gate and paid them their expected salary and then also paid to have the correct tech in place as well. I know one such small business that has wasted seven years and millions of dollars because they cannot keep employees and keep letting the wrong people handle their tech. The only thing worse than this is to hire three people to work on 1 task and think that they will get it done faster then one person working on the same job. So Much Fail, and yes, I have seen this with my own eyes.

“You don’t have a plan.”
I see this more with young or starting affiliates/business owners. They make a couple bucks, everything is put together on a string, and they hope for more profits as they burn through accounts at ad platforms and affiliate networks. You need to write out a plan and stick to it. Plans can change; goals can change, but you will never achieve anything without a plan or goal in mind. Until then, you’re just getting lucky and living for today. Having no future is one scary way to go through life. Having a proper plan sets a course for you and your business and helps ensure what decisions you make when you face hard times.

Put the effort into your business that it needs and treat it as such.

Adwords Account Banned? How To Get It Back

Tons of online marketers have found themselves at the mercy of Google AdWords and have either received a warning email about their account or had their account entirely banned for a multitude of reasons.

These same guys want to mull over and spend countless hours going back and forth with the AdWords reps to find out why they got banned and how to get reinstated. However, you’re just wasting your time if you are doing this! Why waste time going back and forth for weeks to not get reinstated, whatever the reason, when you could be setting up and future proofing more AdWords accounts?

Here is the easiest and simplest solution I have found:

Purchase a VPS (Virtual Private Server) that runs Windows.

Get a new credit or debit card.

Get a new email and AdWords account.

Make a new campaign. Never use the old one you got banned for.

Potentially cloak the new campaign.

Let me break this down a little bit more for you…

Purchase a VPS (Virtual Private Server) that runs Windows. (It should be around 20 to 50 dollars a month and less than 30 minutes time.)

There is much talk that Google can see your machine ID/Mac address and can also see that you’re using the same IP as your old banned account and use that information to ban you again. The solutions to this range from formatting your old computer, replacing the Ethernet card, or getting a new router, to just buying a new computer, getting a new ISP, etc… Do you realize how much money and how long that takes to do all of that? What if it doesn’t work? Fix the IP and Mac address problem by just renting a server for a couple of months from a hosting company that sells Windows VPSs. You will end up getting a server that you can connect to and it will look just like a Windows desktop where you can then get back into AdWords or AdWords Editor just like you did before.

Get a new credit or debit card. (Less than a few minutes’ time to call the bank and reissue.)

This is rather easy too. If you are banking so hard on AdWords that you want to go back to it after being banned, then call up your bank and tell them your card got stolen and you need a new one. The bank will then reissue you a new card with a new number. If you can, try to change the address on the account to your business address, your mom’s address, your GF’s address, etc. Why? Because there is some talk that Google will see the same name and address on the new card and try to ban you with that information. This is up in the air, but one sure-fire way to avoid this is to get a “business account” and have the bank issue the card to your “employee”, so now you have a new name and new number/card. Those of us with more than one home, have moved a lot, or own a business address, can also change the billing address as well.

Get a new email and AdWords account (less than 10 minutes.)

Resign up to Gmail, Hotmail, whoever, and get a new email. Then sign up to AdWords with the new email and new card from your bank through the VPS or new computer/IP you got. Let me make this clear…. NEVER use your new AdWords/credit card/email address on the old computer you got banned on and never use the old login/old card on the new VPS/account. Keep these separate at all times. Screwing up and cross posting will end up getting you banned.

Make a new campaign; never use the old one you got banned for. (It could take you a solid day to find a new host, grab a new domain, and make a new campaign structure.)
Google can detect if you’re uploading the same keywords/URLs/AdGroups/format from an account it banned. They can do this multiple ways, but the theory right now is, they can do hashes on your ad structure format and tell when someone is trying to bulk upload the same stuff again from a banned account. Do not use the same format structure. You are going to want to replicate the campaign, of course, but you are going to have to use:

A new domain and new URLs on a new hosting provider for tracking or landing pages.

New AdGroup and campaign names.

Reformat how you place KWs into the AdGroups and campaigns.

New ads and new wording in those ads.

Potentially cloak the new campaign.

I cannot get into too much information here, but there are ways to hide your true intentions from Google or any ad network if you think outside the box a little. I have a script I built myself that can help deter Google/Facebook/random ad networks from seeing your landing pages and even help deter other marketers from seeing them and ratting you out! I have not released it to the public, but I might one day. There are similar scripts on the market as well. No script can 100 percent protect you from being banned, but with the above information PLUS a cloaker, you can extend the life of your campaigns and also make new ones easily if you do get banned again.