Link Tracking – What I Use

What is link tracking and how can it benefit my business?

Link tracking comes off a little overly technical and might be intimidating to try, but it’s worth the effort.

In the simplest terms link tracking lets you post a link to the host service and then you are given another link that will direct anybody who clicks it briefly through the tracking system, then straight to the intended destination. It’s basically a digital pit-stop where the tracking service can gather information about whomever clicked on your link. This sounds ominous, but it’s really a simple and efficient way for a small business owner or social media buff to track who clicks on a link, where they came from, and the details of their visit. You can see where your hits are coming from and make more efficient use of marketing and advertising dollars and time.

My preferred service is usually, but there are some other good ones as well. Linktrack offers their basic services for free so that you can get comfortable with the general concept before you make any sort of commitment.
Photo by sookie
The fact that you can try it out beforehand makes it a lot less intimidating to those who are less than technically savvy, myself included. The basic, free service lets you to submit as many links as you want and track them real-time with visual charts and graphs. Each link is good for a week or one hundred clicks, whichever comes first and you can redirect the links at anytime during that week.

Lets say, for example, I’m having a party and I put the event up on facebook. People can ‘RSVP’, give a ‘maybe’ or a ‘no’ through Facebook easily enough, but link tracking lets me see how many (and who) bothered to click on the link (along with a slew of other information for each click). Linktrack has options and features available with their free service, but the premium accounts are definitely worthwhile. Upgraded accounts let you do even more to track your link and the clicks it receives. The interface is easy to use and getting to see who is looks at everything you post up on social networking sites is addicting. After using the web-based interface, I was able to see stats on every hit my links got. It was absolutely fascinating!

I’m a casual user and use their ‘personal’ level of access for social networking. The personal package gives me unlimited click-throughs and I can reset them back to zero as needed. I’m not a business owner, but I can see why they’re popular with that crowd as well.

Autoresponder Success

Email auto responders are responsible for approximately 30% of the online product sales from my information based web sites.

My typical auto responder follow up happens like this:

  1. Prospect signs up for the mailing list and receives a thank you email that day.
  2. A second email is sent the next day with a follow up.
  3. For the next month, we send emails on a weekly basis – always on the same day and time of the week. If this is when they were free to sign up, then they’re most likely free to read follow up emails.
  4. Following the first month, we go to bi-weekly emails.
  5. After that, we send out monthly until the end of the follow up series.

A lot of people ask me if it does any good to follow up for such a long period of time. Here are a few samples from the sales results of that site:

  • Joined 12/18/06, purchased product on 01/28/08, 405.97 days from signup.
  • Joined 01/07/08, purchased product on 01/25/08, 218.54 days from signup.
  • Joined 11/08/07, purchased product on 06/09/08, 213.95 days from signup.
  • Joined 08/19/07, purchased product on 02/19/08, 183.88 days from signup.
  • Joined 04/15/08, purchased product on 01/15/08, 90.59 days from signup.
  • Joined 11/13/07, purchased product on 01/10/08, 58.41 days from signup.
  • Joined 12/31/07, purchased product on 01/24/08, 24.07 days from signup.

Here are a few techniques I use to ensure successful campaigns:

  1. Pre-qualify the recipient. In order to collect emails, I usually do a product giveaway. The product should be directly related to what you’re selling. That way, you know that anyone who signs up will have a good chance of becoming a customer.
  2. Avoid stodgy subject lines. I try to use an email subject line like I would title an article – a three to five word description of what I’m about to talk about. I avoid things like June Newsletter
  3. Personalization – During the signup process I ask the prospect for their first name and include it in all of the emails that go out to them.
  4. Familiarity – I always try to write in a personal rather than formal tone. I find this more engaging and I think it helps to build trust with the reader.
  5. Offer something of value. I rarely send out an email that’s just a straight sales pitch. I find people are more receptive to reading the emails if they offer something of value. It can be a short and informative article, a free download, or a helpful tip.
  6. Pitch the product. Just because you’re a nice guy doesn’t mean you can’t try and sell your product. That’s what the autoresponder is for! Be sure to include a link to your product at the bottom of each email.

SEO is a Waste of Time

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is generally a waste of time in my opinion.  There are a few legitimate firms, but for the most part, it’s a group of individuals trying to game search engines, or worse just take your money.

Here’s what I do for SEO:

  1. I include all the page elements that are important to SEO – meta tags, title tags, image tags, header tags, etc.  These are by and large handled automatically by my content management system.
  2. I do a little bit of linking – I try to get with the top 10 or so sites on Google for my key phrases and get them to link to me.
  3. I use my existing sites and email lists to generate a bit of traffic.
  4. I occasionally post on forums, craigslist, or whatever I’m in to at the moment for some free traffic.

Here’s what I really do do for SEO:

  1. I add solid, original and valuable content to my web sites on a regular basis.  I take time to try and answer questions, and address the needs of my audience.  I do this for months, sometimes years on end.  I write from my own experience, and I list solutions that I have personally found from my own experience.

I listed the last one separately because it gets 85% of the results.  Funny enough, you won’t find a lot of people selling that one because it takes a lot of effort.

11 Ways to Annoy People with Email

As a follow up to my post on automating sales with an auto responder, here are 11 ways to annoy people with spammy email practices:

  1. Don’t let me opt-out of your list. This is actually a legal issue. If you don’t have an opt-out method, you’re going to get shut down. Find a service provider who will do this for you – they’re not that expensive.
  2. Email me daily. The only people I want to hear from on a daily basis are my wife and my kid. Some days, not even them.
  3. Sales pitch me constantly. I know I signed up for an email list, and I recognize that you have a business to run, but can’t we talk about anything other than your amazing special offer?
  4. Use those pre-packaged marketing templates that look like everyone else’s. Actually, I like this one – it’s an easy way to tell which emails I can delete without reading them.
  5. Poor grammar. I also hate it when people type in ALL CAPS or use too much punctuation!!!!
  6. Send me generic content. You know – info about the weather in my area, local restaurant reviews, and other random stuff so you don’t have to type. I obviously get email, I probably have the internet too and I don’t need you to deliver it to me.
  7. Don’t include any contact information. What if I actually want to investigate you further? A little link to your web site goes a long way.
  8. Don’t have a web site. Why would I bother to invest in you if you’re not willing to invest in your own business?
  9. Don’t customize my email in anyway. You went to the trouble of collecting my first name, why aren’t you using it in your message?
  10. Write way too much. I have a limited amount of time in my day. Get to the point and have some respect for my time.
  11. Don’t include anything of value in your email. I hate when people send me stuff that talks about what they want from me without giving anything in return. Do you really not have a story or a helpful piece of advice you could share in your message?

Automating Sales with Auto Responders

I’m a big fan of sequential auto responders (the automated email programs that send a pre-written set of messages over a period of time). I like them because they automate part of the sales process and automation is good.

I use them to great effect on sites like my ITAR Compliance Training web site.  For this site, I give away a free product in exchange for email and contact information.  Once you sign up for the product, you’re placed in the queue for follow up.  I have about 11 emails written for that site, and they go out:

  1. On the first day
  2. On the second day
  3. On the first week anniversary
  4. Once week for a while after that
  5. Once every other week for a while
  6. Lastly once every month until the end of the sequence.

I’ve had prospects purchase the products almost 200 days after their initial sign up.  It’s just a matter of tickling the prospect at the right time and staying conveniently in front of them for when they’re ready to buy.

Total time to setup an auto-responder for this site: one afternoon.

Total cost: about $10/month.

Value of the auto responder: 30% increase in sales for a web site earning an annual five figure income.

Referral Partners

When you’re doing network marketing, you might hear the phrase “giver’s gain” being thrown around. Basically, this is the idea that people will respond to your referrals and goodwill in kind by sending you referrals. There’s a lot of truth to it, and it’s definitely something I believe in.

But what happens when you have nothing to give?

There’s nothing worse than running into a hot new referral partner who services your target market and has excellent potential to bring you business when you have nothing to offer them. Sure, you might have something for them down the road, but we all know that the longer you go without “making a sale” (e.g. securing the new partnership), the less chance you have of developing a long term relationship with them.

This used to happen to me a lot. I’d meet a new referral partner (not a prospect, but someone who was in a position to send me some business). We’d hit it off and would talk about what kind of business we could refer to each other, shake hands, and leave. I’d go back to the office and desperately look through my contact list hoping I could scrounge up an introduction for my new partner so that I didn’t lose their interest. Most of the time, my search came up cold and the referral partner was never heard from again.

Nowadays, I have a different strategy. I got together with a close friend in a similar but non-competing business. We discussed the situation and agreed to be each other’s “guaranteed referral”. Essentially, we would refer each other whenever we needed to score points with a new relationship. This would put us in good graces with the new partner while we found some more legitimate prospects for them.

So far, the new strategy has worked out well! Having a guaranteed referral in my pocket when I meet with a potential partner gives me the window of opportunity I need to keep my name in front of them while I dig up some legitimate leads and secure a mutually beneficial and profitable relationship.

The BIGGEST Risk in Life, is NOT taking one

And one last gem for the day, you may have heard this, but read and re-read this one, because we have all been faced with this, and have often times felt guilty about it later for letting it control us… ready for this dandy quote? “The BIGGEST Risk in Life, is NOT taking one!” Read that again! The last thing you want to be doing years from now is saying to yourself, I should have done this, or I should have done that, or if only I had done that… Just like NIKE has said for years and years, JUST DO IT!

Relentless Determination!

“Relentless Determination!” You must REPEAT THIS OVER, AND OVER AND OVER TO SUCCEED in today’s business climate. Whether you are in a start-up phase, 5 years into your business, or more… without it, you’ll die! You MUST have it! Further, another quote to go along with this is short, simple and right to the point, STAY Relentless! You must go over, around, or through the obstacle in front of you to succeed. As I like to say, if at first I knock on the door of a new prospect, or face a new problem and don’t succeed , then I MUST go over it, around it, under it… or if all else fails, BLOW IT UP!

The Shortest Rule in Sales

The Shortest Rule in Sales is just 4 words: “SHUT UP AND LISTEN!” Often we show up to a new prospects office or make a call to a new customer and verbally throw up on them! When in reality, IF WE HAD JUST kept our mouths shut and LISTENED, we would have let THEM make the sale themselves! EVERYONE wants to be heard right? Every wants someone to listen to them right? When you go to that new prospects office, or take or make that phone call to a new customer you must remember they are human… and often they want someone or anyone to hear them out! Because, their girlfriend or wife doesn’t listen to them, their boss won’t listen to them, their kids for sure don’t listen to them… and now you come along with your new service or widget to sell them and you TOO won’t listen to them! So, REMEMBER, TRY TO be quiet when the prospect or new customer starts talking… EVEN IF THEY TALK ON AND ON… let them talk. By doing this, YOU gain and create a BOND that no other rep/vendor/distributor [or whatever you are] has with them. Ultimately, they will tell YOU why THEY want and need your new product or service!