Do you recall the TV commercial at the crest of the dotcom wave? A dedicated band of staffers from an anonymous e-business gather around one computer. Their seated engineer dramatically clicks a key and launches their e-commerce Website. Frenzied jubilation quickly turns to silence as the staffers watch their site traffic grow from hundreds to millions.
The dilemma wasnt the abundance of traffic. It was the lack of sales this traffic should have produced.
And you thought having a million hits was a good thing. But what good has it done your site if no sales result from all those hits?
These are the issues James Maduk, author of 52 Secrets My Mom Never Told Me About Internet Marketing and host of Small Business Heroes Radio, knows small business websites are facing.
Maduk knows some secrets about Internet marketing. He agreed to share a few of his tips with us, including how to use event marketing, how we shouldnt waste time with search engines, and his thoughts on an e-mail marketing campaign.
Q: You use a Mimio White Board (www.mimio.com) online to do a 10-minute Webcast every Monday morning. It has a really high cool factor. Tell us more about that.
Maduk: Mimio White Board works with RealPlayer. I have a studio in my house where I work. By get in front of the white board, put on my microphone and its just like being in a classroom with me. As I write on the whiteboard, it visually streams out to you. The reason I like this is, it works great on dial-up modems. I had originally done video Webcasts, but ran into problems where people didnt have the appropriate bandwidth to be able to see what I was doing. With Mimio White Board, I get the best of both worlds where I can actually talk to people and they can hear and see what Im writing down on the board. Its a great way to learn.
One of the other things I think is great for small businesses is Ive done over 100 of these little courses and have close to 40 hours of content now. Those are all products that can be sold. Not only do I do a onetime education for my customers, but also it gives me an archive of my product that can continue to generate revenue.
Q: Lets talk about search engines. There are misconceptions about how effective search engines can be. Explain your philosophy.
Maduk: My philosophy relates specifically to small business. Because Im a small-business owner, I thought that when I initially started getting listed in the search engines that I would be flooded with traffic. In fact, thats not the case. One of the keywords I focused on was online sales training. If you go to Google.com, youll still find that I have a couple of sites listed: virtualselling.com and jamesmaduk.com are right at the top.
But I only get about six or seven hits per day from Google. Maybe I picked the wrong keywords or just barking up the wrong tree with my service. The bottom line is I didnt get the value or traffic that I thought I would get in a search engine. Search engines, for small businesses in general, are probably a waste of time.
Q: That flies in the face of search engine convention.
Maduk: What I mean by that is if youre going to spend time, energy and money you have to be sure that, if you do get listed, youre going to be able to get some kind of return in terms of qualified traffic people looking for you that youre able to convert into money or a customer. Its been my experience for a small business that this is just not the case.
Q: How do you suggest small business approach this?
Maduk: When I look at search engines, I have two strategies and these are all listed in my book. There are four major search engines and two directories. The first is I dont waste any time or money using any submissions software. I submit to a couple search engines manually on a regular basis. I dont really worry about it too much. The second strategy I use for search engines is pay-per-click and only when they pay off.
Q: Those are the sponsored link programs?
Maduk: Yes Overture and Google. I only use them for very specific sites that I have. Besides JamesMaduk.com, my collector site, I have twelve other sites which are mini-sites or direct sales sites. They are usually just one page and an order page. Their purpose is to sell a product or service. So for pay-per-click or sponsored link programs in search engines, Ill enter these sites because Ill know Ill get an opportunity to convert visitors into dollars and then I can measure how effective the campaign was.
Q: Ive learned you dont want to drive a lot of clicks, per se, because that will cost you money. Only drive clicks that will convert into sales.
Maduk: Correct. I wont do pay-per-click for my main collection site where all my information is. I dont want people to go there and for me to have to pay for it. Ill use another method like event marketing and press releases for my main site.
Q: How do you select words to use in the sponsors link program? Are they extremely targeted or product-specific?
Maduk: When I register new Websites, I use keywords and terms that are very specific. To carry that further, I register domains that are also very specific –
InternetMarketingForSpeakers.com or InternetMarketingForCoaches.com.
These sites are all direct sale, one-page sites.
Q:What are some of your secrets to getting consistent traffic to a Website?
Maduk: If youre going to offer an event on your website, do it consistently. Over time, youll develop a loyal following. Word-of-mouth always works much better in my experience.
Q: What is another secret?
Maduk: Im a big fan of e-mail marketing and, specifically, auto responders. For example, I have set up a series of 52 e-mails sent through auto responder that relate to my book 52 Secrets My Mom Never Told Me About Internet Marketing. If you put value in those messages, they get sent around quickly. The traffic to my web sites is consistent to the amount of e-mail Im sending out not on how much traffic is coming to me from a search engine.
Q: What is your philosophy with unsolicited e-mail?
Maduk: Anyone that does get e-mail should have requested some information from the person who is sending it. In all the e-mails I send out, I like to remind people upfront Youre receiving this particular e-mail because you requested to be on the newsletter. Its vital to always give people the opportunity to remove themselves each time.
For more information about James Maduk, visit his Website at www.jamesmaduk.com or www.internetmarketingforsmallbusiness.com. He is also host of Small Business Heroes Radio heard online and on regular radio in Canada.
The full audio interview with James Maduk can be heard at www.webtalkguys.com.
Dana Greenlee is co-host, producer and engineer of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show, a Seattle-based radio and Webcast show featuring technology news and interviews. The full audio interview with James Maduk can be heard at www.webtalkguys.com.