Hey everyone, I had a thought…since Cyber Monday did so well this year, why not extend it through the entire month of December! So I have coined “Cyber-December”, I don’t think anyone else really thought of it already because it’s not coming up in Google. And since I’m all about hype and promotions anyways, I thought this concept so needs to catch on with online retailers!

Cyber-December means online retailers can offer really great sales, deals, and promotions all month long. People are busier than ever these days and don’t have time to go to the mall and who wants to deal with all those people anyways, when you can simply go online and get a great deal from whatever brand or site you want to. So all you online retailers out there, get your promotions ramped back up and start announcing deals all month long…those consumers are waiting!

Let me know your thoughts!

The Avalanche is coming, The Avalanche is coming, forget it, the Avalanche is here!

I fondly remember back to a conversation that I had with a Sr. VP of Sales at a leading newspaper roughly 5 years ago (who I was an Online Specialist for). It went something like this:

What do you think will happen moving forward with the newspaper, the magazine and the sites?

My response was “watch out because the Avalanche is coming”. What I was referring to was that with online audiences growing steadily and newspaper and magazine ad revenue (and readership) dropping like a stone, it was pretty clear that any irrelevant media source would be wiped out. It wouldn’t happen overnight but it would definitely happen, magazine by magazine, paper by paper, city by city.

“Readers” weren’t readers anymore, they’re now people. They didn’t like yesterday’s news or to be told what was happening. They no longer bought the media, they controlled it, they made the media, had voices and they reached out to places where they could be heard. They used to think we were nuts that we went to YouTube or Blogged, now it’s called things like User Generated Content, Tweets or Postings and these dark dungeons are now called Billion dollar companies. Imagine the pleasure I had back then in being a webhead. How much for a button thingy on the front page? how do I find Google on the web? I must have short man’s syndrome or something but it’s amazing now that people are living the dream – people read newspapers, people watch TV, people listen to the radio but people USE the Internet.

Now that we are USING the Internet we’ve taken media to an absolutely new level. That new level has been incredibly fun for my peeps, my fellow webheads. Before you put on your party hat and print your revolution t-shirt, stop and think for a second about something that this growth has created – Advertisers’ pain. They can’t find you anymore. They’re having difficulty learning how to speak WITH you instead of speaking AT you. Come on tidy demographics, can’t you just congregate at the local newspaper like you used to? It was so much easier when one phone call would buy media for millions of people in a specific demographic.

To make things worse, the economy has gone from “the challenge area” to the “Don’t lose my job at all costs” phase and now these Marketing Managers and agency folk are pressed to sell more products with each Marketing dollar spent. That’s right, selling products is important again. Pass the Rogaine, people are losing their hair out there. The avalanche is here and the snowboarders are winning! It’s ok, we’ll help them out right.

You never know, maybe they’re reading your blog right now, clicking on an ad and helping you make a few affiliate bucks.

Guest Post by: Mike Carney of MediaTrust

Great news for anyone in the Internet marketing world! Forrester research expects online spending by advertisers to be up a nice 11% over spends in 2008. A lot of this comes from the migration of ad dollars from traditional media to online media which is more measurable ROI-wise. Also, more consumers are choosing to spend money online rather than go to malls and stores, which is why more companies are shifting ad dollars into online spends. And, Forrester only expects online advertising to increase in the coming years, in fact doubling from it’s current levels in 2014. This is great for the online advertising industry. But it also means more agencies will try to jump into the space and offer services, some of which might not be very good or effective. Companies should put a great deal of resources, both staff and money, into building out their online traffic channels like SEO and affiliate marketing. Pumping money and/or creating a decent budget for SEO growth is always a good idea. Publishing lots of unique articles written for your website is a good way to increase your organic traffic. Spending money on recruiting affiliates and hiring good affiliate program management is another good way to invest in your future. There are a lot of dodgey companies out there, especially in the search engine management space, so be careful who you hire. Let’s hope online spending continues to increase.

Computers and the Internet have finally come full circle for the average American looking to make money through promoting products and services online. Blogging and site building has enabled many more people to earn money through affiliate marketing. I don’t know about save the economy, but affiliate marketing can definitely provide a means for more Americans to earn income online. Currently, there are several states that want to impose taxes on merchants with producing affiliates in those states, as is the case in New York. This can only be a bad thing and counter-productive to the growth of affiliate marketing as a vehicle for more people to earn money online. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of this happening, but people in their local states can protest and petition against this happening and get angry about it. It definitely has a negative effect on affiliates as merchants may choose to not working with affiliates in those certain states, which I don’t think is the answer at all. The merchants will just have to restructure their own margins to accommodate this change and make it work. The various affiliate networks seem to be stepping up and fighting this impending legislation more vigorously, so thats good. Everyone in the affiliate marketing world needs to mobile to fight this. The states are just looking for revenue anywhere they can get it.

Affiliate marketing truly is a vehicle towards earning income online by promoting various online retailers and websites. There are many supposed affiliate marketing gurus that novices come across, but they only want to sell you something themselves in the end by telling you how to make money through affiliate marketing. Stay away from anyone considered a guru! Affiliate marketing is very much about content, writing, and putting a heck of a lot of time in on your keyboard getting work done. I would venture to say that typing speed is one of the most important factors in how much content you can produce online. So I always recommend to work on becoming a faster typer. Doing a lot of reading online is also a good way to improve your own writing skills, which will help you craft better, more intresting content for your site visitors.

Blogging and blogs have really opened up the doors to many affiliates that struggle with creating their own sites in HTML. Now anyone can create a blog, put up the affiliate banners, and start writing. This is why I created the free affiliate site builder for the affiliate programs we manage. It allows you to get up and running with a .com or free subdomain site is under a minute. Everything is hosted for free and you can build as many site as you would like. There are other site building tools as well you can use like Synthasite. Once you are up and running with a niche site or blog, you can go to work adding articles and other useful/interesting information without worrying about building the pages in HTML and FTPing them to your server.

Content is one biggest part of affiliate marketing because sites with good content rank well in the search engines. Leveraging pay-per-click or PPC keyword marketing is also a great way to generate traffic to your site or in some cases directly to the merchants site, but more and more merchants are moving away from allowing that. So affiliates need to have their own niche sites or send the traffic to a dedicated page on their site which pre-sells for the merchant. A good pre-sell page can really help convince the consumer that they should buy from the merchant and maybe even promote a coupon code to increase conversion likely hood. Making PPC work is not easy at all but affiliates do make it work so it can be done successfully. I always recommend a very slow, controled experiment with about $100 to see how many sales occur and if any ROI is present. Testing out 100s of keyword niches in this manner may leave you with 20 or 30 that are profitable and can be run effectively to create a profit channel. Using PPC and organic SEO together is the best approach towards creating sustained long-term traffic and affiliate commissions. Make sure to make your site “stickier” by adding newsletter sign-up, Twitter follow, email this page, bookmark this page, etc.

Affiliate marketing is still a growing industry that is really seeing more interest due to the current economic crisis. As people look for way to generate additional revenue, they will be turning online. Affiliate marketing is the best way for the “average American” (I only mean that in the most general sense) to generate income by marketing products and services online. This industry needs to be supported and embraced in order for it to really flourish for more people. So yes I do think affiliate marketing can save the economy! This was more of a ramble than a well-constructed piece, so take it for what it’s worth. I’d love to know your feedback and thoughts! Happy Easter!

In a bold and seemingly smart move, Linkshare announced that they have inked a partnership with domain name giant GoDaddy.com to add affiliate tracking capabilities to GoDaddy eCommerce storefronts. This would seem like a really great idea because it will get more merchants involved in affiliate marketing and open up some new niches that affiliates can participate in. But, at the same time, it’s going to push a lot of clueless merchants into the space with most likely little direction. And what are the set-up fees and monthly minimums? If the program doesn’t grow very fast, the merchants will be in a state of bewilderment and confusion. I have seen many merchants whose affiliate programs, where ever they were placed, languished and didn’t grow. And certainly not reach their fullest potential that comes with good affiliate management. Another aspect is a lot of these Godaddy eCommerce sites aren’t brilliantly designed, so affiliates could be working their butts off with little to no conversions. Nothings worse than that! We’ll have to see what happens with this one.

There are many ways to generate business for your company, but what are the best ways to do so in the current ecomonic climate? Traditional media like TV, Radio, and Print are really struggling right now and will likely continue to do poorly at gain advertising dollars. “Branding” is out, and measurable ROI is in. Putting your advertising budget into online advertising is the way to go for a variety of reasons. Of course you have to do it properly so you can gauge the effectiveness of your online campaigns. Here are some of the best ways you can leverage online marketing to increase business.

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to grow your traffic and revenue. The great part about affiliate marketing is that it’s on a strictly performance basis, which means you only pay a commission when a sale or lead occurs. Affiliate marketing is still a growing and thriving industry so the more resources you put into it the more you will get out of it. But simply launching an affiliate program is not going to get you there. Your affiliate program needs to be managed properly, with the right techniques and methods. Most companies make the mistake of not allocating enough resources to their affiliate management or in growing their affiliate program. Personally I prefer the Commission Junction Affiliate Network for launching and managing large-scale affiliate programs. They have the most affiliates and best platform for management.

Search is another source of traffic that should always be improving and growing for your company. Putting resources and dollars into improving your SEO is always money well spent if you do it properly. There are many SEO firms that will vie for your business, but doing your on-site SEO internally is always the way to go in my opinion. Having a well-optimized website, with good meta-tags and on-page content is a must for maximizing your search rankings. Adding additional pages of unique content to your site, like articles and blog posts, is a great way to expand your organic SEO reach. Building out your site with more pages of unique content is a great strategy and something that should be done on a daily basis ideally.

Another great way to maximize your online traffic is to put together partnerships with other ecommerce companies. By approaching other online merchants you can put together deals to promote each other’s website through mediums like: newsletter placements, solo emails, site placements, and other sponsorships. This can all be done on an affiliate basis, with each company earning revenue when actions occur. This takes a lot of business development, but well worth it when you get a good sized company promoting your offer to their customer database.

Perhaps the best feature of running online campaigns is the fact that you can track the effectiveness of each online campaign. Being able to see exactly how well or not well the traffic is converting from a particular source is invaluable at making decisions about how much to spend with that traffic source. This is where online marketing is better in this economic climate than traditional media. Also, most companies aren’t usually maximizing their SEO, PPC, or affiliate channels because of various reasons. But in this day and age more emphasis should be placed on maximizing all of your company’s online marketing channels.

All and all, I think companies should be putting the majority of their advertising budgets into online marketing. It has to be managed well and done properly to get the best results, and this may take some trial and error to get it right. Once you are maximizing your ad dollars on the Internet you can look for other online traffic sources to test out. You should always be looking for new campaigns to test on a very controlled basis. My advice: anyone trying to sell you a CPM campaign should be hung-up on immediately! Push hard for cost-per-sale or cost-per-lead campaigns and don’t relent. I look forward to your feedback on the issue of online marketing vs. traditional media.

Attention all marketing professionals in South Florda! March 11th, 2009 there will be a meeting of the American Marketing Association featuring a presentation and panel called: “Innovative & Creative Marketing Practices That Breed Success.” We hope you can come to the event so you can learn and interact with the tremendous panelists that will be in attendence. Here is the break-down on the event courtesy AMASouthFlorida.org website:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 Dania Beach

Our March General Membership Meeting will bring together representatives from International leader MTV/VH1 LA, Crispin, Porter & Bogusky, the top innovative advertising agency in the country featuring Burger King and Office Depot to speak on innovative marketing strategies that breed success in a good and down economy. The event will be held on March 11, 2009 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Sheraton – Fort Lauderdale Airport Hotel where these experts will share their insights on innovative marketing ideas and answer questions from attendees.

The panelists for this event include:

Sean Saylor, VP of Creative for MTV/VH1 Latin America. In this role, Saylor is responsible for managing the creative vision and creative services for each brand. He leads a team of designers, visual artists, copywriters, producers and audio engineers in Argentina and is responsible for creating MTV and VH1’s advertising, collateral materials, special events and contests.

Mason Reed, VP Account Director Burger King US with C, P & B (Crispin, Porter & Bogusky.) Mason has led a diverse group of clients at CP+B including Virgin Atlantic Airways, Slim Jim, method home cleaning products and Nike. He currently manages the US efforts for Burger King. Prior to his arrival at CP+B, Mason worked at regional shops in Washington, DC and San Francisco.

Lynne Hopkins, Former Office Depot (NYSE: ODP) Director of Marketing Communications, recipient of two Office Depot Innovation Awards, strategic planning & running B2B, B2C and national sales, re-positioned one of the top three market research firms globally (NFO/TNS-subsidiary of Interpublic Group – NYSE: IPG), developed the financial software products brands used by Wall Street and world-wide markets that was sold to Value Line NY. Lynne will discuss innovative marketing practices and dealing with transitions when it affects your own career in a down economy.

Moderated by Margo Berman, award-winning creative director, author of two books, and recognized leading advertising professor and a Kauffman Faculty Scholar at Florida International University.

Her first book, Street-Smart Advertising: “How to Win the Battle of the Buzz,” was picked as the June 2008 book of the month by Delta Sky Magazine and her two, 6 part webinars won a National Clarion Educational Reference Award. Her advertising book, “The Brains Behind Great Ad Campaigns” will be released in summer 2009. She is now working on her third book “The Copywriter’s Arsenal.”
Ms. Berman will lead panelists in discussing their overall marketing strategies for innovation and success on some of their top executed campaigns. Attendees will have time to ask questions and to learn how to develop their own successful marketing strategies that breed success. Attendees will also gain insight on solutions that work in any market and tips for dealing with transitions in the marketplace and with their own careers.

We hope you can attend this great event! Click Here to Register.

When you run an online business, or any business for that matter, you are inevitably spending money to acquire new customers. What you are willing to pay for each new customer is entirely up to your business model. Some companies can afford to pay up to $100 or more in marketing cost to acquire a new customer, depending on the value of the customer to the company over the life-time of the relationship. Every online campaign you run, whether it be search engine, shopping engine, email marketing, affiliate marketing, or even organic SEO will have a cost-per-acquisition attached to it. It’s advisable that you have a good internal tracking and reporting system in place so you can see the clicks and sales from each source of traffic to measure your “effective” cost-per-acquisition. I will attempt to touch on some of the more important aspects of a good cost-per-acquisition strategy.

Every company needs to be focusing on driving traffic to their website from a variety of online sources. Most companies find that pay-per-click traffic from Google, Yahoo, and MSN converts the best, however the acquisition cost from PPC search can be very high depending on your particular industry. Over the years, as more advertisers have jumped into the PPC fray, online merchant’s acquisition costs have continued to rise. In order to combat the rising costs of acquiring new customers, companies should focus on things like improving their ad copy and improving the conversion rate of their websites.

Improving website conversion rates is definitely the best way to lower your average cost-per-acquisition and make your marketing campaigns more effective, allowing you to spend more money and acquire more customers. Having on-site conversion optimization in place, that rotates in different variations of graphics, tag lines, bullet points, etc and measures the overall best combination, can yeild improved conversion rates and lower your overall cost-per-acquisition. “Tweaking” your website to make it more “sticky” can help you retain more of your visitors so you can re-market to them later, which will help lower your acquisition costs.

There are many ways to make your website stickier, so that you retain more visitors. Some of these ways include:
- Newsletter Sign-up Box – helps capture visitor data
- Email this page to myself – captures email data
- Email this page to a friend – viral exposure
- Bookmark this site – increases repeat visitors
- Print this page – allows visitors to print and save your site
- Referral programs – rewarding customers for referring others
There are definitely other ways to make your site a stickier site that I will discuss in another post in the future. Making your site stickier with added functionality is a great strategy for lowering your overall cost-per-acquisition and capturing more of your visitor’s data for future follow-ups.

As you grow your online business you are going to want to test and re-test different traffic sources, keyword groups, creative variations, ad copy, and landing pages. I highly recommend building an internal tracking system to handle and measure all of your campagins. When you are measuring the effectiveness of your online campaigns, you can test tons of new things every month, see which are working and which are not, keep the good campaigns and kill the rest. Always make sure you are getting the ROI you are looking for with your online campaigns by measuring the cost-per-acquisition. If the campaign is exceeding your acceptable CPA goals you can either kill the campaign or work a little harder to make your site convert better! I hope you liked this post, feel free to contribute your comments on cost-per-acquisition best practices. I look forward to hearing from you!

More love for my beloved Kindle from the NY Times:

More Readers Are Picking Up Electronic Books – NYTimes.com: “Amazon’s Kindle version of ‘The Story of Edgar Sawtelle ’ by David Wroblewski, a best seller recommended by Ms. Winfrey’s book club, now represents 23 percent of total Amazon sales of the book, according to Brian Murray, chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide.

Even authors who were once wary of selling their work in bits and bytes are coming around. After some initial hesitation, authors like Danielle Steel and John Grisham are soon expected to add their titles to the e-book catalog, their agents say. “

Good stuff. Here’s my outrageous prediction… the Kindle will develop as a platform like the iPhone (but all geared towards book nerds like me). Watch.

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Congrats to all the winners and congrats to ShareASale for being so awesome:

ShareASale Blog » ShareASale Performance Awards: “This marks the inaugural announcement of (to be) annual ShareASale Performance Awards.

While we reserve the right to add awards in the future, it was our goal this year to keep things pretty simple so we have designated 6 specific awards.”

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It puzzles me that “online ad spending” and “online marketing” are seen as one large homogeneous block by pundits and analysts.

Surely, this sort of thing is true for the Madison Ave crowd that relies on display and CPM advertising/marketing for their bottom lines:

eMarketer Cuts 2009 Projection for Online Ad Spend to Single Digits | Epicenter from Wired.com: “The revised projection data puts online ad spending at $25.7 billion in 2009 — a mere 8.9% over the $23.6 billion that will be spent this year and down from the 14.9 percent estimate it made only three months ago. In 2010 eMarketer estimates growth will barely return to double-digits — 10.9 percent — and that it will not be until 2013 before it hits 13.5 percent.”

However, what about performance marketing?

I have a feeling that as the economy continues to sour with no end in sight, performance marketing will increasingly be the “goto” for large companies and advertising agencies seeking shelter from the storm.

Nonetheless, I’m daily puzzled at why this isn’t happening sooner.

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Can’t argue much with this assessment from Razorfish:

Razorfish issues last rites for Web 2.0 – iMediaConnection.com: “‘Web 3.0 will be much more focused on business solutions and less on marketing communications,’ he says. ‘We’re at a point now where you take all of these tools — websites, search, mobile, targeted ads — and put them together in an integrated fashion.’”

Although, I’d throw in web3.0 will be all about Track. No, seriously.

Head over to iMedia to get the full discussion.