X-Ray Vision For Web Marketing

Seeing what others miss
How many small business owners really have an accurate description of their web market?

The reason this question comes up is because the vast majority of business web sites do not even speak to their market. In fact, the only people the web site speaks to are company people such as owners and managers.

We can all see the company clearly in any business design, but our market is not interested in our company. They have their problems and they have no need, right now, to know what wonderful people make up this business web site.

If our market cannot see how the web site is trying to help them then help is not there. If our intention is to build a relationship with our market then the help we offer needs to be the first thing our market sees. They love this and they want this and it is the best part of our marketing.

How do small business designs block their own market?
A good analogy is found when we meet someone that only talks about themselves. We get bored instantly when we realize they have nothing of interest to offer us.

I remember growing up as a young kid and with friends we would sometimes run into this older character that bragged about his rich uncle that had a Cadillac a block long and he had to take it to the airport to turn it around.

We weren’t fooled but we got a good laugh. At least he was entertaining even if he wasn’t helpful. And after the second time there was nothing new and we got bored by his bragging because this guy didn’t care who he talked to as he just kept telling the same stories.

Isn’t this just like a typical small business web site?
Not once on the page is there any recognition of who the web market is. Not once does the web site mention a problem their market experiences and the causes for the problem. Not once is there a sense that the web site cares about the market and wants to serve that market.

No, all that the web site shows is that the only interest is in selling us something whether we need it or not. That’s their story being told over and over.

The bottom line about customer relations
As small business owners we get in our own way and totally block any communication with our own market when we focus on our product or service. Nobody is interested in us talking about ourselves and what we have to sell.

Read any business home page and it tells you about the company and why you should be impressed with the company, but you cannot find a clue as to the market. Not even with X-ray vision can you find who the market is.

Our market wants to know how we can solve their problems and we totally ignore the issue while we talk about product features and benefits. We actually think that a product description is real content – but no one cares about our product description, in fact, no one even cares about our product until they know it really has a solution to their biggest problem.

How does it feel?
How does it feel when someone ignores you?
How does it feel when someone asks you to buy?
How does it feel when someone asks us how they can help?

The last of those 3 questions is what attracts us the most. It captures our interest and our curiosity. It is just like getting a free gift because that is what it is, and we are going to benefit by learning something we never knew before.

How did we get here in the first place?
How did we come to build such poor marketing web sites? We got here by listening to web designers instead of thinking with a business mind. Web designers paid a lot of attention to us and our business and it all felt good and so we thought we were on the right track. The end result is that our web site pays a lot of attention to our business and zero to our web market.

Lesson learned
We cannot let our web designer be the one to design our web site. All we want our designer for is to do the technical aspects of building a web site. It is our job as small business owners to figure out what our web market wants and how to serve them best.

Okay, so you want ideas on how to display your helpful information and a web designer could help if they forgot all about their trendy design packages. It is going to take something different in web design to put your helpful information first, but in bite size chunks.

Navigation for information is going to take some thinking. Hypertext lists may work. Paragraph intro with hide and click drop down information may work. Hover text with slide in info may work. The real job of a web designer is to help you find and use the best means of providing information to your market.

Seeing your market
I challenge you to go look at your home page, or any other business, and see if you can figure out who the market is. Almost all small business web sites fail to identify their market and you can’t build a relationship by saying, “Hey you, look at what we have!” But you might sell if your web site said, “Hey farmer Jones, would you like a fence post that lasts 100 years?”

How do you get X-Ray eyes?
To acquire x-ray eyes you just need to look inward, that’s where you find all your insight. It’s not difficult at all and if you’ve ever been caught daydreaming then you are using insight.

We need to pretend that we are the market. We are the homeowner with a leaky pipe, or the guy with a hole in his shoe. Whatever we sell we need to be that market and wrap ourselves up in the problem that this market has. If we don’t feel the pain then we can’t talk about it, and we want to talk about that pain and how we are going to solve the problem that creates the pain.

When we then put our eyes back on our own web site we can see through the filler we thought was real web content. We can see as our market sees and we will find lots of things in need of change.

Using logic and foresight
Analysis and logic can confirm, or it can contradict the feelings and insight you have about your market. I recommend using insight and if logic doesn’t back it up then toss out the logic.

Why toss out the logic?
The web does not work with factual data like demographics. Instead, web marketing works best with psycho-graphics where beliefs, habits, Likes & dislikes, and shared values play a big role in defining a market. These are intangible and emotional values that are difficult to back up with logic.

We need to go with our emotions and intuition because they are the same tools we use when developing social skills, and our web site is sorely lacking in social skills.

Before we even think about connecting with social networks we need our web site to express its own social attitudes.

Insurance Agency Web Marketing Plans

As insurance agencies create their marketing plans for the upcoming year, many will focus on insurance agency web marketing as a key marketing driver to generate insurance agency leads. Web marketing is not merely a trend; it is a new way of doing business, and one which agencies cannot ignore. The days of agency growth from a purely referral driven perspective are gone, as more and more communication becomes virtual in nature, as networking moves from handshaking to internet surfing, and younger buyers embrace digital communication over face to face meetings.

Yet what does web marketing mean these days? According to Wikipedia, web marketing “refers to the placement of media along many different stages of the customer engagement cycle through search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), banner ads on specific websites, e-mail marketing, and Web 2.0 strategies.” This serves as a reasonable definition for our discussion, as we answer important questions relating to insurance agency web marketing: Let’s begin by identifying the key components of an insurance agency web marketing plan:

  • Agency Web Seminar Marketing
  • Blogging and Vlogging
  • Insurance Agency Website Design
  • Insurance eMarketing Campaigns
  • Insurance Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Insurance SEO (Insurance Agency Search Engine Optimization)
  • Pay Per Click (Google PPC, LinkedIn PPC, etc.)
  • Social Media Marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon)
  • Insurance Agency Telemarketing (augments web marketing)

Arguably, insurance agency web marketing always begins with a comprehensive insurance website redesign, unless the agency website was recently completed and is up to date. An insurance agency website must be graphically attractive, it should have current and compelling content, a blog (and vlog if possible), and industry news to mention a few important elements. Video is becoming increasingly more important as it provides a medium for the quick conveyance of information in a compelling and personal manner. Website video can also be leveraged on YouTube to further increase insurance agency internet presence. Vlogs, which are video blogs, can be very helpful to a website. Vlogs can be a talking head video, recorded PowerPoint presentation or even voice over photographs. They integrate the contextual power of a blog with the enhanced impact of a video or PowerPoint.

Content is king on the internet, and insurance agents should take great care in the creation of their website content. A graphically attractive website, short on content, will result in a sub-optimized insurance search engine marketing result, adversely impacting insurance agency SEO efforts and mitigating website stickiness and efficacy. These days, a key aspect of any insurance agency web marketing plan should include an annual review of website content. Further, the content should be of interest to both prospects and clients alike.

Social media marketing incorporates Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and StumbleUpon to mention just a few of the major opportunities, allowing agencies to dramatically expand their marketing reach. Social media marketing offers insurance agencies the ability to expand branding, share content, establish subject matter expertise and participate in discussions. There are many aspects of insurance social media marketing to consider. For example, a simple blog entry can be utilized in many ways to expand reach. A blog can be tweeted, reblogged, ePublished, and incorporated in a newsletter or eMarketing campaign. In this case, one blog is reused five times, though there are methods where one blog can be used ten or more times, dramatically expanding internet reach and enhancing cyber presence and insurance SEO. Why is social media marketing a critical component of an overall insurance agency web marketing plan? Social media marketing creates a cyber foundation for an agency to build upon. Ultimately, social media marketing, if used correctly, can become one of the key drivers for insurance agency leads. For the purposes of this article, we’ll add blogging and ePublishing to the social media marketing category since these are tightly interconnected. Blogs which are repurposed as articles can then be shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and StumbleUpon, helping insurance agency SEO.

Social media marketing along with insurance agency SEO help with organic search engine rankings. Another option is paid engine ranking placement otherwise known as PPC or Pay Per Click advertising. At the top and side of the organic SERP (search engine results page) are paid PPC ads. When an internet user clicks on one of these, your agency is charged a fee. These fees can range from under a dollar to $15 or more depending upon the competitiveness of the search term. For example, let’s say that your PPC keyword phrase is New York Business Insurance, and when someone types in that keyword phrase your PPC ad appears. Depending upon your budget and keyword phrase bid, you might appear on the top, and when someone clicks on the ad, you are charge a PPC fee, let’s say five dollars. The great thing about this is that the volume, efficacy and conversion ratio are really easy to track. The negative is, of course, that you are constantly paying out ad fees. Thus the difference between organic and PPC, and predicated on your insurance agency web marketing plan, you may have budget for only one or the other, or perhaps for both.

Web seminar and eMarketing campaigns represent a compelling outbound approach for agents. Agency webinars offer the ability to communicate on a high level with B2B prospects. eMarketing campaigns that offer educational content are much better received than insurance product offers or pitches. A long term approach to agency web seminar marketing can yield significant dividends, though it is important to note that eMarketing and web seminar programs can often take up to 6 months to establish a following.

Lastly, where and how does telemarketing fit in, after all, it is not technically a web marketing solution. Telemarketing, or in this case perhaps appointment setting is a better description, can be an important component of an overall web marketing plan. After all, these web marketing leads need to be followed up upon. If producers are busy with renewals, or if they only have time for warm prospects, the outsourcing an appointment setter can be very helpful to an agency’s overall pipeline building effort. For example, when doing an eMarketing campaign, all prospects who click through to an agency website and all webinar registrants should be called directly after the web seminar to ensure that the agency has taken advantage of their web marketing efforts. If producers don’t have the time to call, the calls should be done with a qualified appointment setter. After all, the primary purpose of any web marketing plan is to drive qualified leads into the pipeline.

Choosing the Best Affiliate Program for You

What makes an affiliate program the best choice for you? Could the best affiliate program simply be the one that pays the highest rates? Could it be the one that promises the easiest way for you to earn money?

In truth, none of those are correct. If you want to find the best affiliate program for you, here’s what you should do:

Find a Product or Service You Believe in.

All affiliates programs are selling products or services, but only a few of those may be the best affiliate program for you. To identify which one qualify as the best, review the products and services that are on offer then look for something that interest you. Interest is essential because it’s what motivates you later on to tirelessly write and advertise about the products or services.

Secondly, look for something that gains your trust. Take the time to research about the products and services that capture your interest. Are they made of good quality? Do they make empty promises or do they truly stand by their word? Check how the website advertises its goods: are they prone to using false or inaccurate facts and exaggeration? Do they provide excellent customer support and service?

When you find affiliate programs that qualify for both conditions, then one, some, or all of them might be the best affiliate program for you, but you can’t be sure just yet.

Also, don’t make the mistake of choosing an affiliate product or service by the strength of its commission rate. If you don’t believe in it, you won’t be able to market it effectively so there’d be no point to having a high commission rate if you can’t take advantage of it. Choose what you can sell; it’s as simple as that!

Find a Payment Mode that Appeals to You.

Where payment modes are concerned, you have to think about the objectives as well and which of them you’re likely to find it easier to achieve. There are presently two payment modes that are being used: pay-per-sale and pay-per-lead.

Pay-per-sale programs are ideal if you passionately believe in the products and services on offer and your website content actually matches your affiliate products and services.

Let’s say that you own a website about being an equestrienne. A good affiliate product to sell would be horse products because it’s something you can write about with firsthand knowledge and experience. Those are, in fact, the two most important determinants when choosing a pay-per-sale scheme: do you have the requisite knowledge and experience to write convincingly about what you’re promoting?

On the other hand, pay-per-lead programs are simply better for you if you don’t have enough time to constantly update website content about affiliate products and services. With a pay-per-lead scheme, you don’t really have to sell anything. Rather, you just have to convince your readers that it would be in their best interest to know more about the product or service by performing a specified action.

Lastly, the best affiliate programs always pay fair rates and do so on time. They don’t hesitate to reward deserving individuals, businesses, or websites and they’re always willing to lend a helping hand to their affiliates.

The Best Affiliate Programs Need Your Help to Get Better.

The best affiliate programs owe its success not only to its management but also to its hardworking affiliates. As an affiliate, it’s your responsibility to do your best in promoting affiliate products and services.

Firstly, don’t be satisfied with the links, buttons, and banners provided by your affiliate merchant. Invest in making your own advertisements about your affiliate’s products and services. Use a combination of text and graphics.

Research, research, research! Enroll in free affiliate marketing courses provided in the Internet. Read articles, join forums, participate in workshops and seminars and exchange tips with fellow affiliates.

Dedicate as much time as you can to promoting your affiliate products and services. Yes, an affiliate program is an automated business: it can operate without your help or supervision. The affiliate management software is able to keep track of sales and leads that your website generates. You don’t really need to lift a finger if you don’t have to, but there’s no harm in investing your spare time, is there? In fact, there’s everything to gain and nothing to lose so why hesitate?