Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I'm Still Pumped Up!

In the coming weeks, I've got a host of really powerful internet marketing advice and information to share with you.

A couple of weeks ago, I spent all weekend at the Internet Marketing Center's "Bootcamp" in London. It was an incredible two days. My adrenelin started flowing on Saturday morning, and I still haven't come off the ceiling!

I thought that I was "experienced" in many internet marketing techniques, but during the weekend, I came away with 30 pages of notes and 51 action points for me to implement (I've done four of them!). In future posts in "Marketing Sparks", I'm going to be telling you about some of the ideas I came away with - and I'm going to let you know about my experiments with them.

Amongst other things, I'll be covering:

- how you can use them to get high search engine rankings and drive traff'ic to your site (I've had a blog for 2 - 3 years and done little with it - that's going to change)
RSS - what it is, why it's easy to use, and why it's so powerful for marketers (I've dabbled with it, but not really seen its power until now)
Podcasting - again, what it is, why you should start using it and again, how it's simple to implement (I'm going to make my first "Podcast" in the next 2 days)

- what needs to go on your sales page - and where it should go (I'm going to be making major changes to my sales pages in the coming weeks)
Email - methods of ensuring your emails are delivered.. and read (I use some of them, others were new to me)
Affiliate marketing - if you've joined my affiliate scheme, you're going to see even more help from me in the future!
Search engine marketing - how to use Pay-Per-Click effectively and how to boost traff'ic from the "organic" search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN etc). Again, I found that this old dog can still learn new tricks. I'll describe them, and tell you how successful I've been

So, there's going to be some hot stuff in future posts in "Marketing Sparks", kicking 2006 off to a great start! And no, despite the source of a lot of this info, I won't be angling the material towards affiliate links to the Internet Marketing Center!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Building Content-Filled Websites - Update

After using ContentDesk for six weeks, I decided it just wasn't for me. The online software was a little clunky, I found it difficult to find enough articles for the niche site I'm building, and the user support was not ideal.

But what I have come across is a lovely bit of free software called "Orwell". It doesn't automate the site building very much, but it enables you legally to trawl article directories.

The trouble with the "scraper" type of software is that article directories are increasingly banning automated interrogation of their websites. And Google is getting wise to websites built of "scraped" content, and is rooting them out.

I came across "Orwell" through a fascinating report about this change in Google's policies, and you can only download "Orwell" from this report. I asked the author of the report is I could make it available for public distribution, and he said "yes".

So, if you want to experiment with "Orwell" for rapidly gathering a lot of tightly focused articles, download the report from here. It's in PDF format.

Inside the report, there's a link to the download website and (important!), the PDF also includes the software's unlock code.

With "Orwell", I managed to find about 80 articles on "cold calling" and "sales prospecting". With ContentDesk, I only managed half a dozen or so.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A shameful confession..!

I've been involved in internet marketing since about 1997, and I've been selling my own products for the past five years.

But it's only today that I've finally got around to setting up an affiliate scheme.

I hate to think how many extra sales I could have made if I'd set up the scheme years ago. I've known, from my conversations with other internet marketers, that the majority of sales in this market sector are made through affiliates.

Well, at last I've done the deed. Here's where you can sign up to become one of my affiliate partners:

I'm offering a generous 60% commission on the first product in the Scheme - my Newbies Starter Kit.

I'll be adding more products to the Scheme in the next few weeks.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Building Content-Filled Websites

There's been a spate of "article scraper" tools recently. These scour various article directories for articles, based on keywords, then stuff them automatically into a website template.

On the face of it, they seem to work well. I've built a 100-page site in less than 10 minutes: Management DataVault. But there are two problems with these systems:

  1. Some article directories are stopping the automated "scraping" of their sites
  2. There is evidence that search engines such as Google are able to detect and ban such sites.

Recently, I've taken the plunge and invested a large monthly sum to become one of the 400 Charter Members of "Content Desk". This is a huge set of resources which automates the process of building content-filled websites, but with a few significant differences from "scraper" software:

  • Articles are pulled from Content Desk's own vast directory of articles
  • The system can be automated so that new articles are added at regular intervals
  • Article summaries can automatically be posted to blogs
  • .. and quite a lot more

You can find information on Content Desk and its Chartered Membership here. Since membership is restricted to 400 people, I don't know if there are any vacancies when this entry is read.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Rich Jerk - Reviewed

There's been a lot of controversy recently about a guy who calls himself "The Rich Jerk". He's brought out this short (40 pages) eBook, claiming to reveal precisely the methods he's used to make in excess of $1 million every year for the past few years.

Some people reckoned he's a charlatan, others say the eBook is brilliant.

I had to see for myself. Should you buy it or not?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Skype - It's Not Hype!

I've seen a lot of hype about VOIP mechanisms in the past! But, after having used Skype for several weeks, I can definitely recommend it as a marketing tool.

It has a vast user base - 150 million downloads, I think - and there's usually about 3 million users online at any one time.

Like any popular system, Skype has attracted a lot of 3rd-party developers, and there's an increasing number of add-ons and plug-ins. This is where the marketing interest lies for me.

Today I installed "Skype Card" on one of my websites - look at the footer on any page on my TKA website The Skype Card allows my website visitors to contact me in a variety of ways (if they have the correct plugins installed). The Card even shows the visitor if I'm online with Skype (again, if they have the plugin installed).

My feeling is that Skype is going to get better and better. If you're not Skyped yet, then get it. And the service is free.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Update On Google's "Back Door"

I was right not to have invested any cash in expensive software to build the "sitemap.xml" files, needed for the fast-track submission of pages to Google.

I've found two free pieces of software which do the job - and even better, a free web service which produces the XML file in just a few minutes.

I'm now carrying out an experiment to see how fast I can get a completely brand-new website into Google's index. I'm making a video of this experiment and will be releasing it to subscribers to my "News Update" weekly newsletter. Like the web service, this video will be completely free.

You can sign up for the newsletter at any page on my Marketing Magic website

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Backdoor Into Google?

I got an email today, pointing me towards some software, which claims to be any easy way to get all the pages in a website listed very quickly in Google, using a "backdoor" method.

The software's sales page pointed me to a fairly new development - Google Sitemaps.

I've had a quick look, and seem the underlying principle.

Basically, you turn a list of all the pages in your site into an XML file, feed it to Google Sitemaps, and your pages then get into the Google index faster than any other way.

As I said, it was only a "quick look" I had today, and it seems fairly heavy technical stuff.

I'm not investing in the software which claims to make the job easy. But I will be digging deeper to see if I can use this new method. Read more at:


Sunday, June 19, 2005

When To Say No To Offers

Over the past six months, I have invested some serious (for me) money in buying digital goods.

  • Some have been information products which I think can help me to improve my skills
  • Some have been software items which I think will help me to do my job better / quicker / cheaper.
  • Many have been various types of rights to products which I think I can add to my portfolio.
I haven't wasted too much money of the first two categories. I've been fairly selective, and most of the info products / software items I've used and found useful. If they don't live up to their expectations, I ask for a refund. I very rarely do this, and when asking, I always explain to the vendor why I'm asking for a refund. It's only fair to them.

But where I do fall down big time is in the third category.

I have a butterfly mind. There - it's out; I've confessed!

Currently, I've got 1 product about to be launched, three in preparation, five waiting in the wings for me to look at seriously - and half a dozen which I can't ever see myself devoting enough time bringing them to market.

And I've spent quite a bit of money buying these half dozen products. I'm talking of $200 - $400 each.

That's serious money to me.

So why not learn from my mistakes. Here are my rules on when to say "no" to 'irresistable offers'..
  1. Does it fit in with my mainstream product line? If not, say no.
  2. Have I got the time to use it profitably within the next 8 weeks? If not, say no.
  3. Am I really enthusiastic about this product? If not, say no.
  4. Can I afford to spend the time / money developing this product idea? If not, say no.
  5. Is it going to improve my cash flow within the next 12 weeks? If not, say no.
  6. Do I trust the person selling this product to give me reasonable support? If not, say no.
  7. Is it going to lead me into new markets which have a reasonable chance of becoming acceptable within 12 months? If not, say no.
OK, I'll stop there. I'm sure that there are other "rules" which I could think of. Do you have anything else to add? If so, please comment on this article.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Personalised Web Pages

Personalised direct mail has been with us for many years. You know the stuff:

"Only you, Joe Bloggs, has been selected from the residents in High Street, Anytown, to receive this offer".

Old technique! But still effective.

Personalised emails are now also well established. I start my weekly newsletter, "Marketing Magic News Update" with:


.. and my autoresponder picks up from its database the first name of each recipient, and personalises it: "Dear Joe"

Again, not a cutting technique.

How about personalised web pages? There's a variety of techniques.

The simplest is one which gets a website visitor to enter their first name in a form. When they submit the form, the resultant web page is personalised with their name, wherever the webmaster chooses to insert the personalisation.

I've got a simple little PHP script which enables me to send out my newsletter to my subscribers which contains URLs such as:


Again my autoresponder picks up the subscriber's name from the database, and inserts it wherever I put a bit of code on the page.

There's also a third technique which works on any web page found by a search engine. It picks up the key words (or phrases) which the visitor used to find your page, and repeats them wherever you want - for example, in a headline:

Wanting to find keyword or phrase? You've come to the right place!

But do all these personalisation techniques work? I've yet to be convinced.

I'd appreciate your comments here on this.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Some Blogging Research..

At last - I've found a way that I can put this blog as a scrolling "news ticker" type of box on my websites.

I am now in the process of writing a short report explaining exactly how it is done. The method is very simple, and it's free!

My report will also be free, and I'll put a download link from this blog once I've completed it.

OK - back to writing the report..!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Good Service Is Appreciated

I experienced an excellent example of good service recently.

I decided to invest in some software called ClickBank Download Manager. Basically, it has high levels of security in terms of preventing online products from being stolen. It uses very sophisticated ways of protecting your download links, and it works with PayPal. These are the two payment processors that I use.

So, I downloaded the software, and installed it on my web server. It's very easy to install. The only server-side requirement is that it must have PHP installed (most Unix servers do). And, despite it keeping a record of previous purchases, it doesn't use MySQL, which I found surprising.

However, when I started to investigate all its facilities, a few doubts came into my mind about how well it would meet my needs.

So I shot off a list of 10 questions to the owner of CB Download Manager, Sam Stephens, and I got a detailed reply back within the hour. And Sam is in Australia, where it must have been very late in the evening.

The result of this excellent service: win-win. Sam kept the sale, and I've got a superb download protection system which I now understand a lot better.

If this type of product interests you, have a look at it:

Monday, June 06, 2005

Marks Out Of Ten For Your Website?

I had some of my websites "marked out of 10" this morning. I was quite pleased. They all get more than 8 / 10 !

The "marker" was SiteReportCard.com

Now what they are offering isn't new. But the way that they present the service is original.

Basically, they test any web page you give them, and it looks at broken links, spelling, HTML errors and so on.

It then scores each element of the analysis and gives you an overall score out of 10 points.

It's worth testing your websites from time to time in this way. Errors can easily creep in.

Incidentally, I found the site from a posting on The Internet Warrior Forum, probably the liveliest marketing forum on the Web. I visit it on a daily basis.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

A Sad Day For Internet Marketers

Yesterday I learnt of the tragic death, at the age of 34, of Corey Rudl, one of the world's leading internet marketers.

I've been an associate (although not a very active one in recent years) of Corey's "Internet Marketing Center" since 1999. I remember his first, very primitive, website; but his marketing messages rang clear and true.

His Internet Marketing Course was a world leader. It continues to sell in record numbers today, having gone through numerous updates. I am deliberately not putting my affiliate link to his course as a mark of respect.

Corey lived life in the fast lane, and he "walked the talk". He made $8 million a year online. He died as a passenger in a Porsche Carrera GT on the California Speedway in Fontana.

He was the same age as my daughter, with whom I'm staying as I write this entry. I have three granddaughters. Corey never had this priviledge.

My thoughts go out to his young widow, Tracey.

This is a sombre reminder that life can be short; money can seem to be important in the short term.

But in the longer term, spiritual matters seem to come to the fore.

Later news: There is now a memorial website for Corey where you can add your tributes:


Friday, June 03, 2005

Finding High-Ranking Link Partners

Pay attention! You'll need to concentrate on the next few lines..

Everyone knows that a website's Google rank is improved by having inbound links to it.

And a lot of people know that the higher the Google Page Rank of the site providing a link, the better the ranking of your site will be.

A few people even know that your ranking will be higher if the content of the site providing the link is similar to yours.

I've had a reciprocal links scheme for a long time, and I run it manually. But I'm getting increasingly choosy about my link partners. I insist on their home page having a page rank of at least 4. I reject sites with content that doesn't match that of Marketing Magic. By the way, if you have a website which meets my demanding criteria, and you'd like to exchange links, follow the instructions on this web page.

But I've been struggling to find enough high-quality sites to exchange links with. I know how important it is. But it's a question of time. I don't have too much of it to spare!

I've recently invested in a tool that has now started to save me a lot of time - and it is finding high-quality reciprocal link partners for my various websites.

I'm not going to take up space here describing exactly what it does. But if you (a) have a website and (b) are trying to get reciprocal links (and you should be!), then have a look at "Rank Retriever".

Full details are here

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

GoLexa - A Useful Tool For Webmasters..

GoLexa is an interesting site - especially if you are obsessed with website stats!

It combines a Google search with plugs into a range of other sites which provide website data. The GoLexa search results page gives you the click-through options for such info as:
  • Google PageRank
  • Alexa Rank and web traffic info
  • NetCraft's info on the web server hosting the site
  • Link Popularity on Google, MSN, Yahoo, AltaVista and more
  • Search Engine World's keyword and meta data analyser
.. and so on. Have a look for yourself at GoLexa

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Creative Commons - Getting Leverage For Your Articles

I've just added a new article to the Archives of my Marketing Magic website.

"Creative Commons" is a way of marking your articles to indicate whether or not other people can use your material, and under what circumstances. The website that gives you the appropriate code to add to your article pages has been around for a while.

What is new - and it's of importance to anyone who uses articles for marketing - is that Yahoo! has just added a way of searching for articles which carry the Creative Commons license code.

It's by Robin Nobles, and it gives a clear explanation of the benefits for anyone who uses articles for marketing. It also has step-by-step instructions on how to implement a Creative Commons campaign.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Payment Processors - New Developments?

ClickBank ("CB"), one of the leading payment processing companies and with a great affiliate payment system, have just announced that in July, PayPal ("PP") will be added as one of their payment options (in addition to the various credit card options).

This is interesting. I've been giving my customers the option of choosing either CB or PP to buy my products. This means that I have to set up, for each product, two payment links and two download pages. On the face of it, CB's announcement should be good news for me.

But is it? Yes and no!

Yes - it will save me time and, when I set up my affiliate scheme (coming soon), it will help me to avoid the complications of paying my affiliates when a customer pays through PP.

But there's two "no's":

  • I prefer people paying me through PP; their charges are lower than CB's
  • I get paid instantly through PP. The new CB scheme will mean that CB get paid instantly through PP. I still have to wait for my 15-day check from CB.
Hey ho - it's swings and roundabouts time again!

I've got some thinking to do :-)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

AdWords - Time To Get Serious!

I have to admit I've just been playing with AdWords as a way of driving traffic to my websites.

I set my AdWords account about 18 months ago, mainly as an experiment, and so that I could learn more about AdWords to advise my clients.

I selected just one of my products to promote, and set my spend as the minimum of £0.05 per click, and a maximum spend of £1 per day. Not exactly bank-breaking figures!

Just to show how little importance I've been placing on AdWords, it's been about 6 weeks since I went into my account to look at the stats. Then I did a few sums. Now I'm not going to reveal commercially sensitive figures here. All I'll say is:

AdWords Spend = x
Total Sales Value = 13 times x

.. and the sales for this product is into 4 figures over the past 17 months.

So, what have I been doing wrong? Here's a few things:

  • I haven't been tracking the conversion rate from the AdWords clicks. I think that most of the sales have come from this route, but I have done a few other things to promote this product.
  • I haven't experimented enough with different wording with the ads. OK, I've got a variety of ads for this product, but I haven't seriously tweaked the ads continuously to keep on improving the click-through rate.
  • I haven't seriously been using AdWords to promote the raft of other products I have for sale. OK, I tried AdWords advertising on one other product, but dropped the campaign after the sales barely covered the ad costs. Yes, it was in a highly competitive keyword market, but there's plenty of other products where the competition is lower. Heck, if I can achieve a 13:1 sales to ad cost ratio on just five other products, this will have a serious and positive impact on my bottom line.

So now I need to spend some time on using AdWords for at least three other products. I've got some great tools I can use, the main one being Adwords Analyzer You really ought to have a look at this, not just for AdWords campaigns, but as a powerful tool for finding just the right keywords to use.

And I need to be prepare to commit more cash (both a higher daily limit, and a higher cost per click) in the short term.

I also need to use AdWord's conversion tracking script, so that I really know where my sales are coming from.

OK, that's confession time over! Now it's time to get to work.

Oh yes, and if you want to know which product I've been promoting with AdWords, it's a superb headline generator tool. And the headline is the most important part of any communication message!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Missed Opportunities?

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a neat utility called "Search Automator". It's like a browser on steroids - enabling the user to carry out a huge range of search tasks. I won't try to describe them - visit the site, and watch the video.

Anyway, when I first found the site, they were in the process of selling the product to another company. As a consequence, you couldn't buy Search Automator - you could only download a trial version, which I did.

There were no signs, when using the software, that it was a trial version.. no nag screens, no indication as to the length of the trial period.

So I kept on using it, and was very pleased with it. Then, today, it suddenly stopped working. Fair enough, although I would have appreciated some warning. All that popped up when I tried to open the program was an "alert box", which said "Thank you for trying Search Automator".

Now, here's the marketing error - there was nothing to indicate where or how I could buy the product. What a missed opportunity!

I revisited the site (guessing at the URL), and the new owners had obviously taken control. Now you can buy Search Automator ($50) as well as downloading a trial version. And here was error number 2..

I clicked on the "Free Trial" button. It led straight to the download file. Again a missed opportunity. What the owners should have done was to set up a page to capture the user's name and email address before they could download the trial version. Then they could have followed up after a period, reminding the user just before the trial period expired where they could buy the product.

A final error, another missed opportunity, is the lack of an affiliate program. Search Automator is an ideal product to sell via the affiliate channel.

So I won't make any money by sending you to the site :-(

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Scrollers And Affiliate Classrooms..

Two marketing aids have caught my eye over the past few days..

You've seen many of these around the web - little boxes that scroll text across or down a small window. Often, they are used as news tickers and the like. I've actually got one that gives fresh marketing tips every day: Marketing Tipster.

But a new scroller device has recently come to my attention: Scroller Controller. This allows you to include images as well as text. And you can even incorporate an RSS feed. I shall definitely be looking at this in more detail over the next few weeks or so.

Affiliate Classroom:
Many, many people struggle to earn pitifully small amounts of money by acting as an affiliate for another business. Yes, the rewards can be substantial if you (a) work hard at it and (b) know how to work it.

No-one can teach you how to work hard! But affiliate marketing skills can be acquired.

There's no shortage of eBooks and the like which claim to show you how to make a fortune as an affiliate. They often don't deliver!

But I've been having a look at a new resource: Affiliate Classroom. This is a members-only website, and the material in the "classroom" is the highest quality I've ever seen.

You can test drive it for $1 and at the same time, get their members-only newsletter. Have a look at it here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

How To Make Voice Mail Sell For You

With most people having voice mail systems installed at their desks, there's a chance that when you try to get through to a prospect, you'll get through to an answering machine instead. Here's how to turn this sales curse into a sales blessing.

Judging by the messages that most sales people leave on my voice mail system, it's clear that many sales people regard this as a 'dead call'. All they do is leave their name and number, and expect me to call them.. without there being any incentive for me to do so.

What a missed chance! Here's a chance for you to get over a clear, concise sales message, without being interrupted! Always have one ready scripted, so you're just waiting for that voice mail announcement. Here's a few hints for a script:

  • Make sure that it's got some clear benefits with which the prospect can identify.
  • Give the prospect some evidence of other people enjoying the benefits - if you can mention a well-known name as your customer, so much the better.
  • Make your message a little mysterious. Give enough information to want to call you - but not too much.
  • Give your telephone number clearly, at least twice in your message (no-one likes replaying voice mail).
  • Give them a date and time when "I'll be waiting for your call" Sound enthusiastic, without going over the top - and speak clearly at all time.
  • Don't forget to mention the prospect's name clearly, at least once.
So, get your script ready, and wait eagerly for that first voice mail response!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A New Angle On Blogging..

"In the middle 1990’s everyone started talking about needing a website. Now, the new 'must have' is a web log or blog", says this week's guest writer, Kevin Eikenberry.

Yes, "blogs" - "weblogs" - are certainly fashionable (they're like an online diary, if you didn't know). But Kevin puts a new (to me) spin on the subject. What he homes in on (and it's almost a footnote to his article) is the networking power that blogs bring by the fact that other people can comment on your blog entries.

"By writing regularly", says Kevin "(my goal is 4 entries or “posts” per week), seldom does a week go by that I don’t add someone to my network or use what I am writing to make a new connection with an existing or potential Client."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Call Me Paranoid But..

I've been a professional Webmaster for 10 years now. And you won't believe the mistakes that I've made in the past. I've been preyed upon by:

  • Spammers: I put numerous 'open' email addresses on my websites. And I've been spammed to hell since then. Just 10 of these email addresses have had 250,000 sp.am emails in the past 12 months.
  • Affiliate Commission Thieves: I've been promoting other people's products as an affiliate for many years. And my commission levels were so low that I thought I'd been poor in my prom.otion. Wrong! 'Commission Hijack Thieves' had been stripping out my affiliate links and substituting their own.
  • Website Content Thieves: I've been very fre.e and open putting articles and advice on my Marketing Magic website, and some villains have been 'framing' my pages and making it look as though my content was their content. And there's been even worse content theft.
  • Product Download Thieves: I've been making some very good value sales offers, only to find that thieves have been by-passing my payment system and stealing the products that I've been selling.

Hey, don't get me wrong.. I'm not accusing you of any of these crimes! I'm just having a general moan about these rogues.

But I've done more than just moan. As H.G.Wells (or was it Richard Burton?) said in "War Of The Worlds":

Slowly, surely, I've drawn my plans against them

I've fought back. And I'm winning. I'm using a range of tools which enable me to take control of my online security. Now I have:

  • Put a contact email address on any web page, without it ever being harvested by the spam bots.
  • Set up special affiliate links to any of my affiliate programs - in seconds - which prevent affiliate hijack thieves from stealing the commission which is rightfully mine.
  • Implemented various devices which reduce (note: just reduce, not eliminate) content thieves stealing text and images from my many websites. You can never prevent content theft 100%, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
  • Stopped the download thieves dead in their tracks. No longer can villains get their hands on my products without paying for them.

Yes, full-strength paranoia! But do you blame me? Now you can share my paranoia! Introducing..

Web Protect Pro
I've now developed tools to enable any webmaster (or webmistress) to get the same level of online security that I enjoy. They're being sold as a package: "Web Protect Pro", and I've tried to keep the package at an affordable level.

It's likely that I will be adding to this package over the coming months, and existing customers will get free upgrades.

You can view all the details of Web Protect Pro here

My usual satisfaction guarantee of course applies!

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles...

"A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Starts With The First Step" - ancient Chinese wisdom!

Thus starts the first posting to the new Marketing Sparks blog. I've been half-heartedy running a blog for a couple of years now, hosting it on one of my own servers, using "Grey Matter" as the blog engine.

But I never really had the enthusiasm to post frequently. Maybe with its new host at Blogger.com I'll be a little more diligent.

So, what's Marketing Sparks going to contain? Quite a variety of marketing and sales support material, I hope. There's going to be the latest editions of my "Marketing Update" newsletter, some product recommendations, maybe, and certainly some marketing tips and tricks.

Most importantly, it's going to be spontaneous!

To receive the Marketing Update newsletter by email, just visit any page on my Marketing Magic site