Sunday, January 25, 2009

Let's Have a Reality Check

You’ve found an online business, product or company that inspires you – great. You have taken all the necessary set-up steps. Excellent! You have launched your first campaign or two or three amid high hopes and, of course, passion. Couldn’t be better.

Now what?

Passion is essential, but what we are here for, after all, is results. Sales. Money coming in, and preferably a lot more coming in than what is being spent for all your projects and campaigns. How do you know where you stand as far as results go?

Operating an online business requires a good bit of learning, and it can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed. Sometimes something might slip through the cracks, especially when you’re new at it. One thing that cannot, and must not, slip through the cracks, is accountability. It is essential to know what is working and what is not in your online business.

It has been said that 95% of what you do will have no effect; the remaining 5% will make you wealthy. An online marketer must know where each of his efforts fits into that percentage – the 95% or the 5%. Then, those efforts that are in the 95% category should be immediately eliminated so the marketer can focus on and enhance the 5% group.

How do you know what is working?

If you post on message boards, there are several strategies you can employ. When you get a purchase from an ad on a board, provide a short form for the customer to fill out. You can ask them to provide the web address of the posting that they’re responding to. You might also be getting some unofficial feedback in online responses to your posting. Be sure you have any available feedback capabilities engaged just for the purpose of getting comments and other responses.

Another very effective idea is to start an affiliate program. Have a sign-up capability on your main website. An affiliate will run ads that attempt to entice a potential customer to come to your site to make a purchase. You will pay the affiliate a percentage of that sale as a commission. An affiliate program is a cost-effective addition to your business, since you do not have to pay for any ads an affiliate runs. It’s “free traffic” for you, and sales from this benefit both you and the affiliate.

Give sufficient attention to your affiliates’ results. This is simple: Each affiliate has their own code imbedded in their ads. Become familiar with what ads each affiliate is running. You may want to encourage all your affiliates to use the same ad or same type of ad as the ones your most successful affiliates use. In this way, everybody wins – all the affiliates garner more sales and make more money, which benefits you too.

Finally, any time you utilize a new strategy, it is critical for you to read traffic reports and sales results for that strategy. Is there a spike in sales just after you began the new strategy? This can be very telling. For example: Let’s imagine that, as a result of requests for more information from potential customers, you sent out a first copy of an e-newsletter. Note if there were suddenly more sales just after the e-newsletter went out. If so, then the newsletter was well-received, and you should consider making it a regular part of your marketing efforts. If there was no increase in sales, if the newsletter brought no appreciable increase in traffic or sales, it’s in the 95% group and should be discontinued.

To our greater success! Hoping 2009 is a “bullish” year for us all.

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