Friday, June 10, 2005

Customer Service Excellence

In no other functional area is the old cliche "there are no problems, only opportunities" more true than in customer service. Research shows that when a company solves a problem that its customers are experiencing, customers tend to return the favor by becoming more loyal to the company than if the problem hadn't existed in the first place.

This and other interesting customer service insights is what Jonathan Byrnes, author of The Bottom Line column for the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge Newsletter shares with us in this article called "Nail Customer Service". You can follow the links in the body of the article to access other interesting pieces by Jonathan showing us, as his bylines promise, more "innovative methods for increasing profit from an existing business without costly new initiatives".

Monday, June 06, 2005

Don't Be A Marketing Day Trader

Many businesses pursue marketing strategies in the same short sighted, reactionary manner as yesterday's day traders. They never develop a marketing strategy. They do not consider the long term. They lack patience. And, like day traders, they receive the same dismal results. Steven Van Yoder suggests us that rather than chasing the latest get-rich-quick scheme, we take a long term approach and build our reputation first. He explains us how in his article: Don't Be a Marketing Day Trader.

Contributed by Steven Van Yoder.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Blog Writing Styles

Blogs have taken the web by storm. They have allowed all kinds of people, interested in the most varied subjects, to communicate and interact with each other. The posting styles that bloggers use can be very different, and I have identified two major styles.

Some bloggers seem to prefer short posts, usually a personal comment backed by one or more supporting outbound links. Others prefer long posts, usually more elaborate dissertations that may or may not include outbound links.

The short posting format is easy to write and read. Everybody with a strong interest in a certain topic will probably know of many good articles, citations, resources and products related to that topic. It is not hard to launch a blog about that subject, and steer readers in the right direction via regular short comments sprinkled with useful outbound links.

If done properly, this kind of format is conducive to turning a blog into a "hub" (a site that offers many useful outbound links). The drawbacks of this style are that the outbound links will send visitors away. Also, short posts don't usually get many inbound links and are harder to index by the search engines. This means that short posts will usually have trouble ranking very high. On the possitive site, if you post relevant comments regularly and send your visitors to useful resources, they are likely to come back often.

The second format, the long post, is usually an article about a specific topic. Instead of pointing readers to other resources, the post itself is the resource. This type of post is more difficult, since not all bloggers have the ability to write long, articulate, compelling pieces. Long, well written articles, tend to attract inbound links and raise the link popularity of the blog where they are posted, therefore they are more likely to rank high in the search engines. Long posts made of original content will turn a blog into an "authority" (a site that other sites in the same topical community link to).

It is not uncommon to find bloggers using both posting styles. In fact, I believe that the combination of short posts and long posts is the format that is best suited to make the blog more interesting and valuable for readers and search engines alike.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Nick Usborne's Web Copywriting Guide

Nick Osbourne is one of my favorite web copywriters (you can find some of his great articles in my website's archives). Nick understands what it takes to write effectively and persuasively for the web, and offers his readers a ton of value through his Excess Voice website and his Web Copywriting Blog. I highly recommend subscribing to his newsletter. In times like these, when dime-a-dozen newsletters are chocking our inboxes, Nick's is one of the few that are really worth reading. Fortunately for us, Nick is offering his new guide to Writing for the Web, a 35 page PDF document detailing the 7 biggest challenges faced by web copywriters, free of charge to those who subscribe to his newsletter. These are some quick links to some of Nick's best web pages:

Excess Voice Home:

Excess Voice Newsletter Archives:

Excess Voice Newsletter Subscription Page:

Web Copywriting Tips page:

I am sure you will find this information useful and that you will add Nick to your A-List of web marketing resouces.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Two Variables of Website Conversion

When you sell something through the web, to maximize results you must focus on two variables:

a) Traffic
b) Website conversion

The first variable, traffic, is closely associated with Click Trough Rates (CTR). Whether your source of traffic is a search engine, a link in another website, or a pay per click ad, you must focus on achieving high click through rates of targeted traffic (the kind of visitors most likely to buy your product).

The second variable, website conversion, is measured by the conversion rate (CR), namely, what percentage of your visitors convert into customers.

If you have tons of traffic, but no sales, it may indicate that something is wrong with the quality of the traffic you are attracting, or with the ability of your webpage to convert (maybe due to bad sales copy, unfriendly page design, etc).

I have found a very interesting and well written white paper titled Understanding Website Conversion Rates, that offers a thorough introduction to the subject of Website Conversion. It's author is Kevin Gold, co-founder of Enhanced Concepts, a traffic generation and conversion enhancement strategy company.

He has also written a series of two articles that talk about the issue of conversion in pay per click campaings, which are also worth reading: The Art of Pay Per Click - Part I, and Part II.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Lifetime Value of a Customer

This literally can be the most profitable thing you'll ever do for your business and that is to understand exploiting the actual value of your customer. It's been called the Marginal Net Worth and the Lifetime Value.

What is the current worth of one of your customers or prospects? It's the total profit of an average customer over the lifetime that they do business with you. That includes all subsequent sales minus advertising/marketing and your fulfillment expenses.

Let's say the average customer brings you $75 per sale. They re-purchase 3 more times in a year. Their average order amount is $300. On each $300 reorder, you make $150 gross profit The average life lasts 2 years. Every new customer is worth $975.

You reach the 975 by adding the $75 initial profit to the 3 other purchases each year of $300. Only $150 is profit, so $150 times 3 equals $450. If they do that for 2 straight years, that's $900 plus the original $75.

If this is our average customer and they're worth $975 in profit and it only costs you $30 through your advertising/ marketing expenses to get them, every time you spend $30 you receive $975 back.

You would be foolish not to increase your advertising/ marketing and promotional budget to produce as many of these $30 cost customers so you would spend $30 over and over and over again to get $975 back.

Theoretically, you could spend $975 to get that customer because you know they will come back and spend $975 and you will break-even. Of course, we don't want to do this. Remember, this is an average customer. Some will buy more and some will buy less This is an average number.

Now you "know you can spend up to $975. You could just as easily be spending 100% of your $75 profit just to get that first sale because that's just the first sale's profit, and you'll still end up with $975 over the next 2 years.

If you offered to give that $75 service for free and it doubles your customers, it "would double your profits over the next 2 years.

One in 100 business owners think about this You want to spend everything you can justify to bring in a customer as long as that customer costs you less than they earn you. If you can't afford to spend more than the entire profit from the first sale, remember you'll be making money just in a few months from them. Start out spending what your cash flow can justify. After a quarter or several months after their re-order profits come in, then you can step up your ad budget.

About the author Abe Cherian is the founder of Multiple Stream Media, a company that helps online businesses find new prospects and clients, who are anxious to grow their business fast, and without spending a fortune in marketing and automation. .

Web's #1 site to find "free resources to Plan, Build, Market, and Maintain your website":

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Does Your Site Deserve a Top Ten Search Engine Ranking?

New site owners are especially eager to achieve high search engine rankings quickly and usually have unrealistic expectations of what search engine optimization can do for them. Donald Nelson, owner of A1-Optimization, reminds us that the goal of a search engine is to pick the best sites in any given field, and suggests us to ask ourselves five questions to see if our site fits the mark:

1) Are you an industry leader?
2) Does your site look good?
3) Is your site content rich?
4) Is your site and authority site?
5) Has your site been around a long time?

To the degree that you answer "yes" to those questions, you will have more chances of search engine success. Read the full article.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Long Copy vs. Short Copy Debate

There is the camp on the hill that say “long content is better”. It’s never about length of copy, it’s always about whether you have communicated your offer to your audience effectively and answered their wants and needs. That’s all. If you can do that in one line then why write a saga about it?

There are some equally ridiculous theories about short copy and using embedded links within page content to get people to move through your website and be subjected to more short pages. People mistakenly assume that if I have to scroll down a page that it’s bad from a usability perspective. Let me ask those people, when was the last time you went to a website page you were really interested in and stopped reading because you had to use the scroll bar?

Read more about the Long Copy vs. Short Copy Debate in this interesting article by Steve Jackson, editor of Conversion Chronicles.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Improve Conversion by Cross-Linking Your Pages

One of the greatest challenges for online marketers is how to reduce the "bounce rate", meaning the percentage of vistors who leave your site without doing anything. The folks at the Conversion Chronicles noticed that by linking to four of their articles from the body of another article, bounce rates were reduced from 90% to 38%.

This is how this works: Let's assume that an article on your site talks about search engine optimization, and that it touches on the subjects of keyword selection, website architecture and blogs. You could then link to articles on your site that deal with those three topics from the body of the search engine optimization article.

This will give your visitors the option to learn more by following those links (as oppossed to just leaving your site). By doing so, they will delve deeper into your site and will stay longer, giving you more opportunities to educate them, develop trust, and lead them further into the persuasive process.

This technique also offers important search engine optimization benefits, as the search engines will follow the embedded links, add the linked pages to their index, and pass along Pagerank from the linking page to the destination pages.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Five Reasons Why I Like Blogs

Blogs are probably the easiest way to have a website. With blog software, it literally takes minutes to have a professional looking site up and running. These are the five things I like the most about blogs:

Blogs are easy to create:

You don't need expensive or complicated web editors or web design software to create a blog. Blog vendors offer you a variety of templates you can choose from. Most likely you will find among them one that offers the look and feel you're looking for. Your only web design expense may very well be to pay a graphics artist to design an attractive logo that makes your site unique.

Blogs are easy to maintain:

Blog software allows you to post online, which means that you won't need to bother with FTP software. This also means that you can post anywhere, not just from your own computer. You may be in a hotel room in China, and if it has an internet connection you can log in and update your website from your web-based control panel. Your blog's software will automatically move your most recent post to the top, while archiving older posts by date or by topic, so you don't ever have to bother to move web pages around.

Blogs are search-engine-friendly:

Since blogs assign each post an individual URL address, each of them will have it's own, separate web page. If you take care of making each post very focused on a specific topic and carefully choose the keywords that best describe your post (using them in the post title and post body), they will stand a very good chance of ranking well with the search engines. Also, since blogs tend to be updated regularly, search engines will crawl them often (search engines love fresh content), adding your new posts to their index.

Blogs allow you to interact with your customer base:

The best websites allow your customers to interact with you and give feedback. Since blogs offer you the option of enabling a "comments" field after your posts where readers can give you feedback, your visitors will not only be more inclined to come back, but you will have at your disposal an effective and inexpensive way to get to know your customers better.

Many great blog hosts are free:

There are several excellent services that offer blog hosting for free. The most well known of them is Blogger, a free blog service owned by Google. Signing up takes minutes, it offers many different templates and customization options, and also gives you the option of tying your blog with your Google Adsense account. That way, not only is the service free, but you can also make money. The downside to all these great advantages is that they have encouraged the creation of a huge number of me-too and low quality blogs that don't add value and hardly get any traffic. Don't fall into that trap. Before jumping to create a blog, remember that to be successful you must write about a focused and original topic, or offer a unique perspective on a common theme. In the end, as the cliché says, it all boils down to quality content.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Web Conversion Averages

Web design and search engine optimization efforts will mean very little if we are not able to convert visitors into customers. Website conversion rates vary widely, depending on several factors, like: kind of product, company's reputation, quality of web copy, web's usability, etc. The folks at the Conversion Chronicles have put together some facts and figures on website conversion that shed some light on the subject. They have also written a free Ebook with lots of useful information to help you increase your conversion rate (highly recommended).

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Why Do You Need Good Copywriting

While getting traffic to your site is important, it means nothing if your website doesn't convert. Other than having the right product for your target audience at the right price, the best way to increase conversion rates is with good copywriting. My two favorite copywriting authors are Robert Warren and Nick Usborne. You can find Robert Warren's articles in article archive page. You can also download his 10 page special report: "Ten Copywriting Blunders That Are Poisoning Your Website". I have also posted one of his most recent articles: "Don't Let Hyped Copywriting Destroy Your Business" on my website. Nick Usborne publishes Excess Voice, where you will find a new copywriting article in every issue. Previous issues of Excess Voice are archived here. Remember, whether your website's conversion objective is to get your readers to subscribe to your newsletter, fill up a form, ask for more information, or buy a product from you, your chances of success will increase significantly if you pay close attention to your web page copy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Choosing the Right Keywords

One of the most important parts of search engine optimization is selecting the right keywords (the terms that you expect search engine users will type in the search box to find your page). I was thinking about this today when I saw a billboard of St. Pauli Girl beer in one of Miami's main highways. Around here, they call that brand of beer "La Muñequita" (or "The Little Doll"), in reference to the picture of the blond girl in the beer bottle label. The makers of this beer noticed that most of the hispanic population around here calls Becks beer "Cerveza Llave" or "Key-brand beer", in reference to the picture of the key on the label. So, they followed suit attaching the monicker of "La Muñequita" to their St. Pauli Girl beer, which should make sales among the hispanic market soar. What does all this have to do with selecting the right keywords for your web pages, you may ask? Everything. Selecting the right keywords is not about how you call your stuff. It's about how other people call it and how they look for it. To learn how to select the right keywords for your web pages you can read my Keyword Selection article, or for more help with search engine optimization in general you can read my SEO Tutorial.

Keeping Websites Simple

I've written often about the virtues of minimalist web design. What users want is content, good navigation and speed. Good web designers should know that the objective of a web page is not just to look pretty but to make sure that nothing gets in the way between users and their objective. This is especially important when the website's main objective is to sell something. Vincent Flanders, the author of Web Pages that Suck also advocates keeping web design simple (although I have to admit that he is much more entertaining than I am!) in these two articles: Everything I know about web design I learned in 1964, and Don't confuse web design with sex.

Monday, February 14, 2005

How to Get Links the Right Way

Patrick Gavin, from Text-Link-Ads has published an excellent tutorial that explains everything you need to know to get quality links to your site. As you know, links from other sites increase your link popularity and your site's chances of success with the search engines. However, there is a wrong way and a right way to get links. The right way is to make your link profile appear natural to the search engines. With the techniques that Patrick shares for free in this Link Building Tutorial you will learn how. While this tutorial was made with "link buying" in mind (after all, Patrick runs a link buying service) you can substitute the words "link buying" for "link getting" and the advice is equally valid.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Website Branding Tip: Use a Favicon

A favicon is a small 16x16 pixel icon that you can see on the left of the URL in the address bar of your web browser (Internet Explorer is still not very good at displaying favicons, but Firefox and Netscape have no problem). Favicons have become powerful website branding elements, to the point that many web users admit that, in their eyes, websites that don't have a favicon enjoy less credibility than those that do. There are some sites that have even created galleries of favicons where you can see many examples of favicons that other sites are using. To create your favicon quickly and easily I invite you to read my article on how to create a favicon.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Newsletters and Blogs

Newsletters are still a great tool to market your business and stay in touch with your customers. However, they are beginning to experience some tough challenges:

  • 50% of all measured email is considered spam. (Brightmail Probe Network)
  • 70% of all email messages will be spam by 2007.(Radicati Group, Feb 2003)
  • 10 out of 12 messages reviewed are considered spam. ( 10/19/04)
  • An average user now receives 42 unwanted pitches a day.(Jupiter Research)
  • Even opt-in ezines are being sent to the junk folder in record numbers by spam filters.
Blogs are emerging as the web tool of choice to communicate with customers. Debbie Weil, the author of the 'Beginners Guide to Business Blogging' gives us some good advice by recommending that we start using a combination of blog and newsletter to start introducing our newsletter readers to the blog format, and eventually to RSS and RSS readers.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

No-Follow Tag and Link Popularity

Google has decided to support a 'no-follow' tag for links originating in blog comments and signatures files. The measure means that getting easy links by posting comments in blogs will become a thing of the past and that webmasters will have to work harder to achieve link popularity. Read our take on the no-follow tag and its effect in link popularity.
Now that we're talking about blogs, you may want to check out 'Beginner's Guide to Business Blogging', by Debbie Weil. This is a concise, to-the-point and fun to read compilation of articles and links to help you understand the power of blogging for business.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Building Customer Engagement

Customer satisfaction is just the minimum; your goal is to engage your customers. Engaged customers assure a business of sustained and profitable growth. Learn the four emotional building blocks for an engaged customer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A Leadership Primer

Here is an oldie but goodie: Colin Powell's leadership primer. This is the list of his 18 leadership tips with an brief explanation of how do they apply to business. I believe that revisiting them briefly at the beginning of every day can really make a difference in the way you conduct your small business, ultimately increasing your chances of success.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Best Web Directories

Contrary to search engines, which use automatic programs to find, classify and index web pages, directories are lists of websites compiled by human editors, who evaluate the sites for quality prior to organize them in topic specific categories. Directories offer minimal traffic, since most web users rely on search engines to find relevant pages. However, directories play a big role in search engine placement, by increasing your site's link popularity and link reputation. As you know, links to your site from quality, authoritative sites, like good directories, are given significant weight in search engine algorithms, therefore, listing your site in a few quality directories will help your pages achieve high search engine ranking for relevant search terms. Brian Turner has written a great article that explains why it is important to list your site with quality directories, and offers an extensive list of the Best Web Directories. Listing your site in some of them (many of which are free) will increase your Pagerank and your chances of ranking high for relevant search terms.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Find out who your real customer is

Every day, on my way to work, I listen to this rock station. The two guys running the show regularly endorse some products, among them teddy bears from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. Now, at first sight, it may seem strange that a radio station that caters mostly to blue collar macho types goes around endorsing teddy bears. If we look deeper, though, it does make sense. Most women love teddy bears, but it's the guys that buy them for them. Sufficient to say that the DJs pitch the bears as "something that will help you get laid" (pretty raunchy, it's true, but very effective)... You can bet that all those truck drivers and contractors listening to the show are snapping up those teddybears as fast as they can get their credit card out of their pocket! The moral of the story is that the end user is not always our only customer. Our real customer is the buyer, the decision maker. If we forget to find out who is really buying our product, and focus our marketing on them, we may very well be barking at the wrong tree.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

301 Redirects and SEO

Whenever you change the URL of your pages, or register additional domain names that point to your main site (like when you set up and to point to, you will have to implement some sort of redirection. 301 redirects are the only kind of redirection endorsed by the search engines. I have just written an article on 301 redirects that addresses when to use them, why they are important for search engines and how to implement a 301 redirect. You can read it here:

Saturday, January 15, 2005

SEO and Copywriting

A common misconception in internet marketing is to have the expectation that SEO is all we need to be successful online. In reality, you need to do much more. Search engine optimization will give you traffic, but it is ultimately your copywriting that will make the sale. While it is very important to know how to write for the search engines, it is also very important to know how to write for humans, since they will be the ones making the purchase. There are some good resources out there for online copywriting. Some sites I regularly visit are Nick Usborne's Excess Voice (you can subscribe to his free newsletter), and Robert Warren's website (I just posted this copywriting article by him on my website). Another good copywriting resource is Kevin Nunley's website, where you will also find hundreds of bite-sized internet marketing tips across a wide variety of topics.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Branded Email Address

Every time I see a small business using an email address like: or I think: what a wasted branding opportunity! Email addresses with your ISP domain to the right of the @ look unprofessional. It is very, very easy to have an email address that reads You don't even need to have a website. Some time ago I wrote an article on how to set up your branded email address. If you are still using your ISP email address, you may want to read it and set up your own branded email address. Good luck!

Character Driven Marketing

"Much of modern marketing practice is superficial and artificial rubbish, motivated entirely by profits with little to no genuine regard for the people these profits are being harvested from. The general public are becoming increasing weary of these false messages and are starting to look for alternatives. The only kind of marketing, though, that truly engages the hearts and minds of your potential customers, and leaves them feeling cared for, satisfied and understood is based on a set of values that are obvious, but all too often forgotten - integrity, honesty and honour. These are the core elements of genuine marketing." Contributed by Tamara Lyster. Read her full article on Character Driven Marketing. Technorati Tags: , ,

Welcome to Resouce Box

This is my first post. I have just created this blog to complement my small business internet marketing site . Here is an interesting article about how your website design must project the right image for your business and reinforce your brand.


The most comprehensive and updated Search Engine Optimization ebook on the planet, by Aaron Wall. This book will teach you everything you need to know about SEO. Updated regularly with the latest search engine trends.

[ Learn More ]