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Archive for August, 2009

Mindless Gab on Twitter

August 18th, 2009 by Bob Bly

In one of my favorite TV cartoon shows Dexter’s Lab, Dexter’s dad tells his wife about her constant talking on the phone: “I can’t stand another minute of this mindless gab.”

I confess that this is often my reaction to social media, and in the most recent as well as past issues of his excellent e-newsletter on copywriting The Copywriter’s Roundtable, my colleague John Forde has indicated a similar sentiment.

He points to a study from Pear Analytics. It found that 40% of Twitter tweets are “babble” and only 8.7% have pass-alone value and news of interest.

The study concluded that “Twitter is a source for people to share their current activities that have little to do with everyone else.”

While this study is far from a condemnation of Twitter as an absolute time, it’s more evidence that Twitter is largely composed of mindless gab, yes?


Category: General, Online Marketing | 54 Comments »

What Sells Best Online: SEO or PPC?

August 17th, 2009 by Bob Bly

According to a new study by Internet Retailer, visitors who arrive on a site from pay-per-click (PPC) advertising are 50% more likely to buy than traffic generated by search engine optimization (SEO).

The study found that the average conversion rate from paid search is 2.03% vs. only 1.25% from organic search.

Visitors sent to web sites via e-mail marketing convert even better, at 6.9% — a figure confirmed in my own business after tracking the results from literally millions of e-mail messages.

Why is this so? The study did not speculate, but I have my own theory: the more the prospect knows about what he will be offered on the web site or landing page before he gets there, the higher the conversion rate.

E-mail gives you the most information about what to expect, so the conversion rate is higher. PPC ads have significantly less copy, so the prospect is not as clear on what is being offered, and conversion rate is less.

SEO has the lowest conversion because of the limited description displayed in the Google search engine results page (SERP), and also because most marketers don’t take as much care writing their description meta tags as they do their PPC ads and e-mail copy.

Source: SIPA Alert, 8/17/09.


Category: General | 201 Comments »

What About Bill?

August 15th, 2009 by Bob Bly

What would you do about Bill?

Bill B. e-mailed me to say he couldn’t afford my Internet marketing home study course.

Now, there are Internet marketing courses out there costing thousands of dollars.

Mine sells for less than $100, and the week Bill wrote me, I was offering a special discount, selling it for just $77.

So I recommended a less comprehensive ebook I have, which is a good beginner’s guide and sells for only $19.

Bill’s reply was that he would “really appreciate it” if I were to “donate” the book to him (as if he was a charity?) because he would not afford to pay for it.

When I asked him why he should get a free copy while thousands of my customers have paid $19 for it, he chastised me for being uncharitable, greedy, and only caring about making money.

“It’s okay if you can’t help,” Bill wrote. “One day you will understand why helping someone you don’t know feels good — more than the little money on your pocket.”

What do you think I should have done with Bill?

A–Give him the e-book. After all, it’s a PDF, Bob — doesn’t cost you anything.

B–Refuse to donate it. After all, it comes with a money-back guarantee — if Bill doesn’t like it (or even if he does), he can just ask for a refund and it will be free anyway.


If you picked “C: Other,” what would YOU do in this same situation?

Do you agree with Bill that I am a money-grubbing Scrooge?

Or was I more than fair with Bill, pointing him to the cheaper product instead of pushing him to buy the slightly more expensive program?

What say you?

P.S. Would Bill go to the GROCERY STORE and expect them to give him free steaks?

Does his dentist treat him free of charge?

Would he call a plumber and ask the plumber to “donate” his time fixing Bill’s broken toilet?

Why should I, as a writer, not get paid for my expertise and time, while everyone else Bill deals with gets paid by him?


Category: General | 77 Comments »

Stupid Beer Commercials

August 13th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Coors and a few other beers are boasting about how they sell “ice cold” beer.

But as comic Kyle Cease observes: “Isn’t how cold it is really up to ME?”

How cold the beer is has nothing to do with the brewer or the brand.

It is determined with Coors, as with every other beer on the planet, by whether and how long the customer puts the beer in the fridge, freezer, or on ice.

So why even talk about it as a selling point in the ads?

Coors Light promotes temperature as a selling point right on the can.

The can is illustrated with a drawing of a mountain. When the beer reaches “optimal drinking temperature” of 39 degrees F or lower, the peak turns blue indicating it is guzzling time.

But even then Coors has the whole temperature thing wrong.

According to an article in Wired (7/09, p. 24): “Beer loses its flavor at that temperature [because] it releases few volatile chemicals,” and your tongue’s ability to taste the beer is diminished.

“Luckily, with Coors that makes little difference,” the article concludes.

I agree with Cease. Coors promoting their beer as the coldest makes as much sense as Campbell’s saying its soups are the best because they are “piping hot.”


Category: General | 41 Comments »

Why New Media Evangelists Annoy Me

August 13th, 2009 by Bob Bly

When I became a copywriter in the late 1970s, direct mail wasn’t popular — considered an ugly stepchild of beauiful color magazine ads and funny TV commercials.

I never once tried to push direct mail on anyone or argue that it was somehow better than those TV and magazine ads, preferring to write sales letters only for companies that already wanted and believed in sales letters — a practice I continue to this day.

But today’s blogging and social media gurus are different.

They are not content to offer speeches, books, and consulting services to companies who want to try these new media.

The social networking evangelists feel compelled to stand on a soap box and proclaim to the world that Twitter, Facebook, and the gang are the greatest thing to happen since sliced bread.

And, they take pains to explain how social media is making all that “old hat” stuff — like TV commercials, radio spots, magazine and newspaper ads, and direct mail — obsolete.

To do so is foolish for several reasons.

First, your evangelist faith in the power of new media is largely unproven.

Yes, there is a growing number of success stories.

But these are still isolated.

New media is NOWHERE as proven as conventional marketing methods like direct mail and space advertising.

Second, smart marketers know it is not a case of choosing one over the other. They use any and all media that works, in combinations that get the best results.

But new media evangelist seem hell-bent on making their Kool-Aid pre-eminent and deriding all that came before.

Third, social media may be beneficial. But the metrics for it are nowhere near as strong and established yet (and perhaps may never be) for traditional direct response.

In social media, peple often make logical cases for why campaigns work (e.g., with 8,720 new blog subscribers, I am getting a lot of exposure for my ideas).

In DM, we KNOW the campaign worked or didn’t work (e.g., I spent $10,000 and generated $35,670 in sales).

So let me ask you….

If you are a new media evangelist, what compels you to be so contentious with and critical of us old-school direct marketers?

Why does what we do offend you on so many levels?

Do you think it’s more important to be trendy, hip, cool, and current … or (like us direct marketers) to make the cash register ring?


Category: General | 128 Comments »

Which Ad Pulled Best?

August 12th, 2009 by Bob Bly

A bank was offering home equity loans through direct response newspaper ads.

They tested 2 ads with different themes:

A — “Fix up your dream home at a competitive rate.”
B — “Fix things around the house that are bugging you.”

One ad generated 41% more loan business than the other.

Which do you think was the winning ad — A or B? And why?

Source: “PitchPerfect Message Strategy” by Barry Callen (McGraw-Hill, 2009).


Category: General | 205 Comments »

Can You Really “Get Rich Quick” on the Internet?

August 9th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Can you really get rich quick on the Internet without doing a lick of work?

That?s what SB, a subscriber, recently asked me.

He writes:

?Bob, what?s your take on the standard Internet guru shtick of the 4-hour work week??

He?s referring, of course, to all those hyped up, high-price ?how to get rich quick on the Internet? programs promising you can make millions working an hour a week.

What I told SB is this: it?s actually sort of true ? but with a big ?but.?

You in fact CAN make a lot of money selling information products online with very little work from week to week.

But that?s only after you?ve created all your products ? your Web sites ? and built your e-list.

And to produce all that is a ton of work up front.

Once it?s finished, you can indeed generate a steady stream of ?passive income? ? with a minimum of additional labor on your part — literally for life.

Passive income is money you make without actually having to work for it.

Listen: all my life I have made money with ?active income.?

As a freelance copywriter, I made (and still make) a handsome living.

But, I have to work for that money ? all the time.

Dentists have a saying: ?If you?re not filling and drilling, you?re not billing.?

Even in a highly paid profession like dentistry, there?s no passive income: you only make money when you work.

So you are always trading time for money.

With an Internet marketing business, once you have an e-list, products, and Web sites, you can begin earning a steady stream of passive income.

It?s thrilling to watch orders coming in via e-mail as you sit at your computer ? doing not a lick of work!

A few weeks ago, for example, I took my family to the beach for 5 days.

Since I didn?t work at all during vacation, my copywriting income for the week was zero.

But my online income was $6,103 ? because a good Internet marketing business runs almost automatically, whether you?re there or not.

You can make more money ? and have an easier life ? when you generate passive income.

And selling information products online is just about the best way I know ? aside from owning income-producing real estate ? of producing more than enough passive income to live on.

When your passive income exceeds your spending, you have essentially escaped the rat race.

By that I mean you no longer have to work, and you are free to spend your time as you wish.

Can this really be done?

I know I have done it, but I don’t expect readers of this blog to take MY word for it.

So … what’s YOUR experience with Internet marketing and “get rich selling information on the Internet” courses and programs?

Do these systems work? Can you actually make money with them? Have you in fact done so? Would you recommend them to others?

Or have you spent a lot of money on “get rich on the Internet” products only to be disappointed? Did these program promoters sell you a load of BS? Do you think everyone selling “make money online” are all hypsters?

Can you REALLY make a lot of money WITHOUT a lot of work? Or is it all a load of manure?


Category: Online Marketing | 114 Comments »

The Twuth About Twitter

August 5th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Twitter is a red hot topic at Internet marketing conferences today — touted as the next big thing in social networking.

To me, that’s difficult to reconcile with the fact that, according to a Harris Interactive poll, nearly 7 out of 10 Web users have never even HEARD of Twitter!

The poll found that only 8% of advertisers think Twitter is a “very effective” promotion tool.

An article in eMarketing notes: “While marketers and the media have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, the average U.S. consumer has not. And without broader consumer acceptance — not to mention awareness — it can’t be considered an effective marketing tool.”

The article concludes that unless more Internet users know about and use Twitter, “all the tweets in the world won’t make much difference.”

Do you agree that Twitter is just another over-hyped marketing fad of the month?

Or do you think Twitter is the greatest thing to happen to marketing since the Internet?

And if the latter, can you point to positive ROI from your Twitter marketing?

And by positive ROI, I DON’T mean “I now have 1,200 new Twitter followers” or “my latest tweet drove 878 new subscribers to my blog” or other soft metric nonsense.

I mean “Twitter generated online sales of X dollars” or “Twitter got me a new account with a $3,500 monthly retainer.”


Category: Online Marketing | 819 Comments »