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Why you should NOT clean your elist

July 17th, 2018 by Bob Bly

The conventional wisdom has long been to zap people from your
email list if they have not responded to any of your offers
within the last 6 months — and especially if they have not opened
any of your emails within that time.

But now, a new study from MailChimp suggests you should not.

The reason?

MailChimp found that inactive subscribers, contrary to what many
believe, are far from worthless.

The MailChimp study shows that just because an online subscriber
is inactive does not mean he will remain so.

In fact, many inactive subscribers eventually buy again — even
after a year or several years of taking no action.

MailChimp says that, on average, about one-third of online
revenues from your elist will come from inactive subscribers — so
clearly they have real value.

Because keeping the inactives on your list is relatively cheap,
and inactives are 26% more likely to purchase than
non-subscribers, to me it makes good sense to leave people on
your list until they opt out.

Many of my readers have confirmed with me the value of inactive
names on their list.

BS says: “Yes, we just had one of our leads who ignored all of
our emails and phone calls for 7 months buy a product from us
today.”

JH comments: “Dean Jackson is as good as it gets with email. He
recently said the people who convert to some of his highest level
stuff have been on his list for 2 years.”

SB: “I convert customers who’ve been on my lists for 1,2,3,4
years later. This purge thing was partly started by the advice of
not sending to unopens.”

JL: “If someone raises their hand in terms of going to a workshop
or seeing me, we keep them on our newsletter until they cry uncle
or die. We get at least a few new clients a year that have been
on that list for years. There is gold in unconverted leads.”

KD: “I had one guy order a product, then two weeks later bought
another product. Week after that bought another. So I checked him
out. He’d been on my list for years but never bought before.”

AR: “I’ve had email subscribers who tune out for months at a
time… and then suddenly hire me or buy stuff I recommend.”

The major argument in favor of purging inactives is that having a
lot of them on your list hurts your email delivery rate.

Well, yes and no. There are two types of services providing email
delivery. The first includes vendors such as Constant Contact and
Bronto, where the bigger your list, the more they charge you.

These email service providers make more money from clients with
large lists. So they have no incentive to penalize you for having
a big list. And as far as I know, they do not.

The other category is services that give you an unlimited number
of email distributions for a fixed monthly cost, such as
1shoppingcart.

Since it costs them money to distribute … and earns them no extra
money to email to large lists … they have a motive for actively
encouraging you to drop inactive subscribers from your list, and
some of them do so.

That being said, I agree with JL: In my experience, there is gold
in unconverted leads. And I am really not into throwing gold in
the trash (or delete folder).

The other argument in favor of purging inactive subscriber names
is that their non-responsiveness brings down your key metrics
including click-through rate and open rate. JA comments, “If your
open rate is below benchmark despite having consistently good
content, there’s probably some dead weight in your list.”

However, low CTR and open rates are a problem mainly if you have
a boss or client judging you by those numbers.

But if you are an entrepreneur with your own internet marketing
business, the most important key metric to use is weekly gross
sales.

And as MailChimp and others quoted above note, continuing to
email to your inactives can boost what is arguably the most
important key performance indicator — revenue — substantially.

So what’s more important to you — good-looking analytics reports
… or money in your bank account?

It’s your call.

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Category: Online Marketing | 3 Comments » |

Ideas without action: worthless or valuable?

July 13th, 2018 by Bob Bly

My fellow internet marketer, the brilliant Ben Settle, recently
wrote that he doesn’t like selling his information to
“opportunity-minded buyers,” more commonly known as “opportunity
seekers.”

The classic opportunity seeker is addicted to business success
and get-rich-quick books.

They love to read, attend conferences, go on webinars, listen to
podcasts, and take courses.

They are “information junkies.”

Unfortunately, they are, for the most part, armchair students.

They enjoy learning.

Only, they never take any action, never do what is taught in
their study materials, never start a business, and never make any
money.

Ben says, “I do everything I can to persuade them NOT to buy my
stuff.

“I don’t want ’em around.

“I don’t want their money.

“And, I don’t want them wasting my time.”

When I read this, I emailed Ben:

“I used to feel as you do, for many years.

“But some people, I found, simply enjoy, as a hobby, reading
business books and taking courses.

“They just are interested in the world of it and also like
learning, but don’t actually want to do the nitty gritty work and
details.”

Why deny them their reading pleasure?

I don’t.

Statistically, if a thousand people buy your money-making
program, only 10% will read it all the way through — 100 buyers.

Of those 100 buyers, only 10% will take action and actually do
the thing the course teaches — 10 students.

Of those 10 students, only 10% will persist until they succeed.

In other words, 1 out of 1,000 “make it.”

Your numbers may be better or worse … but they will likely fall
roughly in this range.

So 999 have just bought for reading and learning pleasure.

And what’s wrong with that?

People read about and study all sort of subjects, all the time,
just for the intellectual reward and to find something that
excites and engages with them, and entertains them in their
leisure time.

That’s why we have public libraries, bookstores, and Amazon.

After all, no one faults me for reading books on physics even
though I am not going to become a physicist.

Like Ben, my greatest reward is the student who succeeds and
tells me about it.

But I have no problem with people doing what they will with my
books, DVDs, audio CDs, and training programs.

It’s their money and their choice, right?

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Category: General | 2 Comments » |

Is a hardcover worth more than an ebook?

July 10th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber AW writes:

“I read your recommendation on the sales book by author X. It
sounds interesting, but I am not sold on spending $40 on an ebook
— though I would for a hardcover copy of the book. Thanks for
sharing the recommendation, though.”

While I have great respect for AW and like her a lot, I believe
her thinking on this topic is wrong-headed.

The reason is simple: the value of specialized information
targeted at a narrow niche audience is enormous. And the value
is in the content, not the format of the book.

Louis L’Armour wrote, “Books are the building blocks of
civilization, for without the written word, a man knows nothing
beyond what occurs during his own brief years, and, perhaps, in a
few tales his parents tell him.”

My late friend, the great info marketer Jerry Buchanan, said, “A
book that instructs in some profitable field is a priceless
treasure. And if the bookseller offers it and you fail to assume
ownership, who will be the poorer, you or he?”

He also said that people who wanted to make money or start a
business and did not avail themselves of good books on the
subject were “starving to death with a loaf of bread under each
arm.”

The value of a how-to book is in the information between the
covers, not the covers themselves.

I am confident that the knowledge in the book I recommended to AW
could have increased her annual income by $10,000, which is a
250:1 return on investment — regardless of whether the book is a
PDF or paperbound book. Why would you pass up on an ROI like
that?

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Category: Writing | 7 Comments » |

Should you give “influencer bloggers” free stuff?

July 6th, 2018 by Bob Bly

“Influencer bloggers” are bloggers who claim that, with all their
social media connections and activity, they can give a service
business, product, or brand significant “exposure” in the
marketplace.

What many of them want in return are freebies, and not always
inexpensive ones. These include free meals in five-star
restaurants, free stays in nice hotels, free products, and other
freebies.

Well, in a recent social media flap, the owner of an inn in
Dublin slapped an “influencer blogger” on Facebook for asking him
for a free stay for a couple of days in exchange for her
influencer services.

He stated: “The sense of entitlement is just too strong … and the
nastiness after a blogger was not granted her request for a
freebie is giving the whole (blogging) industry a bad name.”

As a result, this innkeeper now bans all bloggers from his hotel
and café.

The offending freeloader in question defended what she did,
stating that social media influencer is her “job.”

She also said that her business model — blasting out positive
reviews widely on social media in exchange for free goods and
services — is a “collaboration” between blogger and business
owner.

She complained that the hotel and café manager didn’t understand
the social media world or how it works.

Well guess what?

He doesn’t have to.

Whether she thinks he is making a mistake turning down her demand
for free stuff, it’s his right to do so. Do these blogging
mooches really not get that?

The café manager shot back at freebie-requesting bloggers:
“Perhaps if you went out and got real jobs, you’d be able to pay
for goods and services like everybody else.”

It’s true that some companies routinely offer free samples or
review copies of products to TV and radio producers, newspapers,
and magazines.

The difference is that the circulation of the print media and the
audience of the broadcast media are strictly audited and
therefore no secret, but rather published so that anyone can see.

Most bloggers, on the other hand, don’t have verified audit
statements to prove their audience. You have to take their word
for it.

Also, bloggers can get downright militant about getting denied
their freebies, and victimize the offending business with nasty
posts and negative reviews — as if the business owner is
obligated to give away what he sells to anyone and everyone who
asks.

Writer Harlan Ellison calls this the “slacker mentality” on the
internet.

He says it sickens him. And I don’t love it, either. A sense of
entitlement? Absolutely. Justified? Hardly.

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Category: General | 3 Comments » |

When clients don’t follow your recommendations

July 3rd, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber KS writes:

“I’d like to be taken seriously for my experience and knowledge,
and yet I can’t seem to convince clients to do as I recommend.

“Bob, do you have any advice on convincing clients to listen to
your recommendations?”

KS may not like my answer, but the fact is clients will never do
everything you say.

HB, a famous consultant in the 20th century, once famously said:
“Only half my clients take my advice, and of those, they listen
to only half the advice.”

If you do the arithmetic, you see that only 25% of HB’s advice to
his clients — and he was a well-respected expert in his niche of
management — was followed.

Likewise, figure only 25% of your advice will be followed,
meaning 75% won’t be.

And in some cases, client reasons for ignoring or going against
your recommendations are legitimate and the correct decision.

What are those reasons? I’ll give them for freelance copywriters,
though many may apply to you, even if you are not a writer.

>> First, the client may have already tried what you suggest,
often multiple times — and it did not work.

Not being on staff, you didn’t know this when you presented your
idea. But they did, since clients have a knowledge of their
efforts and results superior to yours.

>> Second, the client virtually always knows their industry,
product, technology, talent, and market better than you do.

>> Third, as Tom Peters said in In Search of Excellence, people
don’t argue with their own data. They may trust you to a degree.
But they usually trust themselves more.

>> Fourth, you get your fee no matter what. You risk nothing on
the project. On the other hand, it is the client’s money, not
yours, on the table. There is a limit to what they will risk on a
new idea or plan, especially one they do not fully buy into.

>> Fifth, no one knows everything or is right all the time.
Including you and me.

Biggest mistake vendors make: Getting all huffy and puffy,
arguing with the client endlessly, and not listening when the
client says “thanks but no thanks” to your idea.

Solution: Defend your copy or idea reasonably and briefly; then,
if the client still does not agree, acquiesce pleasantly.

Also: If you think the client’s way will kill results, say so
politely in a brief email follow-up — and save a copy so you can
prove you advised against their plan if it should fail and they
blame you.

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Category: General | 3 Comments » |

Why I’m content with the $29 sale

June 29th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber FB writes:

“Bob, just purchased an ebook from you with 199 pages of great
content.

“But why an ebook when you could have made this an ecourse and
sold it for far more?

“Did you sell far more copies at $29 than you would at a higher
price, resulting in greater gross revenues?

“I understand that creating an ebook is also faster and less work
than a course.

“I’m at the point of making this decision for myself. Thanks for
any feedback.”

My answer to FB is in 3 parts:

>>First, in info marketing or any other business, you should have
a line of products that are a mix of low, medium, and high in
price.

That way, you have something for every buyer — the frugal buyer
who thinks $29 is a lot to spend on information … as well as the
information junkie who buys $1,000 courses as fast as he can
click the Order Now button on his screen.

Also, many new customers prefer to “test the waters” of your
wares with an inexpensive first purchase. Then, if they like what
they get, they may go on to buy higher priced items.

>> Second is Fred Gleeck’s “Rule of 10,” which states that the
info products you sell should deliver value of at least 10 times
the purchase price.

It’s easier to adhere to this rule when selling an ebook for $29
vs. a video course for $2,000. Oh, you can do both. But the more
costly your product, the more difficult it is to deliver value
10X in excess of its price.

>> Third, FB is right: One reason I like ebooks is that they are
quick and easy to produce.

High-priced information products often have multiple elements —
including video, written guides, webinars, coaching, and other
components.

So they are more difficult and time-consuming to produce and
deliver. And for someone like me who runs a spare-time info
marketing business, and is not a full-time info publisher, that’s
a problem.

My solution: I do all my high-end info products with various
joint venture (JV) partners.

Splitting the work makes it possible for me. And it enables me to
offer my subscribers more in-depth training than I could do on my
own.

In joint ventures, I typically provide the content. My partner
handles everything else including production, order processing,
fulfillment, and administrative and technical duties.

Then we split the net revenues 50-50. Simple and it works for
both me and them.

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Category: General | 5 Comments » |

8 ways to stand out in a crowded niche

June 26th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber HC writes:

“I am an aspiring entrepreneur and would appreciate information
on best practices when it comes to positioning correctly in a
niche market.”

A decade ago, being in a niche market WAS your positioning. But
today, many niches are becoming so crowded, HC is correct in that
it’s smart to position yourself within the niche.

And here are a few suggestions on how to do it:

1–Acquire specialized education or training.

There are more and more writers in the science and technology
niche.

My colleague AD has a huge advantage over them because of his PhD
in chemistry.

I have a smaller but still significant advantage because of my BS
in chemical engineering.

2–Gain specialized experience on the job.

My friend EG and I graduated from the University of Rochester
together in the late 70s.

A few years later he was involved in a major SAP implementation
for a large corporation.

Soon after that, he became an in-demand consultant in the SAP
niche who could write his own ticket.

3–Narrow your position in your niche.

For instance, there are a lot of health care ad agencies.

But KS specialized by focusing just on advertising for
audiologists.

Similarly, my old high school friend GG became a practice
management consultant for optometrists only after a career as a
successful eye doctor.

4–Position yourself as a top expert.

My friend, the late HGL, positioned himself as a top direct
response copywriter by being an amazingly prolific producer of
articles, books, and talks on his top (direct marketing).

5–Create a distinctive or outrageous brand for yourself.

Example: Publisher and entrepreneur ML made outrageous TV
commercials in which he wore a jacket covered with bright
questions marks, similar to the Riddler.

6–Invent your own niche.

Author MH created his own niche by writing a book on it:
reengineering.

SG did likewise with “permission marketing.”

7–Be humble, honest, and deliver top quality at fair prices.

In certain niches, there are so many hucksters, you can stand out
simply by not being one of them.

8–Go technical.

If there is an area in your niche that is technical and a bit
difficult to master, study and master it.

For instance, there are more online marketing gurus than you can
shake a stick at.

But my colleague PM differentiated himself by specializing in
Google AdWords and becoming a top expert in pay-per-click (PPC)
advertising.

He is an engineer and told me he picked PPC as his niche
precisely because most other people found it a little too
daunting and technical.

Are there other ways to position yourself for maximum visibility
and success in your niche you think I missed?

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Category: Branding, Success | 6 Comments » |

Is this the end of writing as a profession?

June 22nd, 2018 by Bob Bly

In a recent issue, I talked about whether freelance copywriting
is still a viable profession.

So subscriber TK then asked me, “Well, what about regular
freelance writing?”

By “regular” freelance writing, he was referring to a variety of
things writers commonly produce to make a living — and that are
not directly related to selling or marketing, but rather, are
written to inform or entertain.

These can include: magazine articles … newspaper articles …
nonfiction books … novels … short stories … plays … poetry …
essays … comic books … TV shows … movies.

TK wants to know: Is traditional freelance writing doomed?

My Facebook friend RK is of the opinion that yes, there’s no
future in freelancing.

RK writes:

“There is so much wonderful writing on the internet, which is
free. Eventually, writing will be like musical recordings.
Everyone will have access to everything.

“You can find the books of the greatest writers of all time for
free on the internet. The greater the writer, the more likely you
can find copies that can be read for free, because people upload
things in order to share these writings.

“The world is changing–has changed–considerably. Many excellent
writers give away 200-page books for free–really excellent.
Digitization is creating an entire new world.”

Some years ago, I interviewed writer Harlan Ellison for Writer’s
Digest magazine.

I asked him if the outlook for freelance writers looked gloomy.

He answered: “Bob, in terms of money, condition of work, and
approbation, things are worse today than they were when we first
met in 1979. Life is a lot harder for writers now.”

Then I asked Mr. Ellison, “Do you directly blame it on the
internet.”

He gave a strong affirmative reply, criticizing the “slovenliness
of thinking” on the web as well as the “slacker-gen philosophy
and belief today that everything should be free.”

“These mooks don’t think of writing as craft or even an
occupation,” he said. “They think it’s some kind of dilettante
behavior. Much like their own lives.”

With all the sites publishing articles and short stories for
which authors are not paid, and which readers don’t pay to read —
well, what would you expect?”

Ellison again: “The amateurs ruin it for the professionals,
because they write for free just to get published.”

Just as free article and short story sites and blogs are
destroying the time-honored profession of writing articles for
pay, Kindle is destroying the traditional book publishing
industry brick by brick.

Back in the day, writing a book and actually getting it published
by McGraw-Hill, John Wiley, or another mainstream publisher was
something of an accomplishment.

But now, thanks to Kindle and Createspace, every Tom, Dick, and
Harry can instantly become a “book author.”

And when everyone is an author, there’s nothing special about you
being an author, right?

There are very few safe havens for freelance writers who, like
me, want to continue to be freelance writers and earn a decent
living at it.

One of these safe havens is direct response copywriting. Why?

Because the old adage that “everybody writes” — and can write —
is beginning to rear its ugly head again.

But those of in direct response know that in fact very few people
can write DR copy that makes millions for their clients and
produces clicks and conversions through the roof.

So areas where a piece of writing’s ROI can be measured down to
the penny still have high demand for writers … and limited
supply, because frankly very few people are good at writing
direct response copy that works.

Another way to survive and thrive in the downward spiral of the
freelance writing profession is to build a “platform” — a
combination of expert credentials plus a built-in audience for
your writings.

Example: Rachel Ray sells truckloads of her cookbooks. Not
because she is the world’s best cook, but because she has a
popular TV show.

Maybe you can’t get a network TV show right away, so start
building your platform on a smaller, more modest scale — anything
from a weekly column in your town newspaper to a 15-minute show
on a local radio station.

It’s not like being Dr. Phil. But it’s a start. And you’ve got to
start somewhere.

Plus, the more you build up your platform, the more likely you
are to be in demand as a freelance writer, have a loyal
readership, and have editors and publishers buy your work.

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Category: Writing | 10 Comments » |