Traffic Wave Tutorial #2

I’ll use Thursday for this post to keep up with the momentum from yesterday.

We saw last time how to create our autoresponder. Now we need to upload our file that contains our free gift to our web space, and create an autoresponder message that provides a download link. You should also create a few more messages that are helpful, to start to build trust with your subscribers. I’ll leave that part up to you.

Uploading The File

You’ll upload this the same way you upload anything to your web host. You’re uploading a single file, so you could use the file manager on Cpanel pretty easily. A couple of things to watch for:

1) Don’t put the file someplace obvious. For example, at /gift/MyGiftName.zip. Otherwise people might be able to guess the location and get it without signing up for your list.

2) Put an index.html in the directory with the gift file. This prevents someone from seeing all the files in that directory. The index.html can just be blank, or can contain a link to your opt-in page, or whatever.

Creating The First Message

Make sure you know what the direct download link for your gift file is. If you put it in /gifts/MyGiftName.zip, it’d be http://www.example.com/gifts/MyGiftName.zip. Log into your Traffic Wave area and get back to the autoresponder you created, so that you’re viewing the Campaign Profile.

From the menu across the top of the profile, choose Letters and Create New Letter

You’ll get to the letter composition screen. The first bit to enter is the subject. Just beneath the subject edit field is a button that will allow you to add in the recipient’s name (at least, the name they entered when the opted in to your list) to the subject. I recommend using that to personalize this email a bit.

The body of the email is created using a typical WYSIWYG editor. One of the controls allows you to add in the recipient’s name, which I recommend doing for personalization. It’s the one that is labeled Custom Tokens.

When you click that you get a screen with various things you can add in. Most opt-in forms only ask for their first name and email, so Name is usually what you’ll want to add to personalize the message.

Type in a welcoming message to the new subscrber, and don’t forget to include the download link! Then click on Save This Letter, across the top of the editing window. You’ll end up on the screen that will eventually show all the letters you’ve written, but for now only shows the one. As the message across the top says, your new letter has been put into the Held area. These are letters that are not sent out as part of the normal autoresponder sequence (typically letters you broadcast to everyone at the same time, telling them about an offer, or new information, or whatever).

But you want this letter to be sent out immediately, so put a 0 in the # Days Delay edit field and click Submit Delay Changes.

Your letter is now all set to be automatically sent to subscribers as soon as they click the confirmation link!

Next we’ll look at getting the thank you pages created. We do that before the opt-in page because Traffic Wave needs those pages to exist before it’ll create the skeleton of the opt-in page.

Traffic Wave Tutorial #1

Last post I mentioned that I wrote an ebook for the Auto Pilot Cash Streams giveaway (as a reader, you can get it here without signing up for the giveaway: Link Cloaking 101).

As part of that whole process, I had to set up an autoresponder, opt-in page, custom thank you pages, the whole bit. After all, the whole point to giving the ebook away is to build a list of people interested in link cloaking. Capturing the names and emails in an autoresponder will allow me to send periodic emails to the list when new developments or products are available.

Since the whole process is fresh in my mind, I thought I’d do a series of tutorials covering it. That way those of you who haven’t been through it before can get involved in the giveaway with a minimum of fuss. This series does not cover writing the ebook, you’re on your own for that. If you want to get involved in the giveaway, and don’t feel like you can write anything, buy some PLR articles and make them chapters in an ebook.

Today’s tutorial will cover setting up the autoresponder itself.

I assume you already have an account at Traffic Wave. If you don’t have one, they have a 30-day free trial so you can follow along with the tutorial and get things set up before you decide if you want to pay for a membership. Personally, I see Traffic Wave and Aweber as being the two autoresponder services to choose from.

Note that the screenshots in the following are accurate as of today. Traffic Wave is continually upgrading its system and adding features, so the screenshots might not be accurate if you’re reading this in the future.

Create Your Autoresponder

Log into your Traffic Wave account, and select the Autoresponder Campaigns menu item (shown below):

Traffic Wave Menu

That will take you to the list of autoresponders you already have, which presumably is empty (if it isn’t, you probably don’t need this tutorial). There’ll be a list of options on the left (shown below). Choose “Create New Campaign” from that list.

Autoresponder Menu

The next screen will ask you for the campaign nickname and campaign description. The campaign nickname cannot have spaces in it, while the campaign description may.

Autoresponder Menu

Fill out the fields and click the “Create New Campaign” button. You’ll get a confirmation screen that talks about an email address. You won’t be using that email address, so just ignore that confirmation (shown below), and click “Confirm”.

Autoresponder Menu

You’ll next get the campaign profile screen. These fields will be filled out already, but you’ll want to change some of them.

Autoresponder Menu

The return email name defaults to your complete name. If you’ve written the ebook under a pseudonym, change this field to the name you used. You may also decide you only want your first name to show here. If so, change the field to what you want to show in emails sent out to the subscribers.

The return email address defaults to whatever email you used when you signed up to Traffic Wave. I recommend changing this to an email address specific for the ebook itself. That way all replies go to that email address and don’t clutter up your main email.

The campaign title will show up in a few places, to change it to something that represents your actual ebook title. Do not click “Publish these letters”. Click “Submit Profile Changes”, and you’ll end up back at the Campaign Profile page.

Your autoresponder is now set up!

Of course, we still have some tasks to complete before we can use it. These include:

1) Upload the ebook to a directory on your domain, and create a first letter in your autoresponder with the download link
2) Create custom thank you pages to host on your domain
3) Create an opt-in page to host on your domain

Note that Traffic Wave does provide some default opt-in and thank you pages. I do not recommend that you use these! Not only do they look pretty generic, but you don’t get to put your analytics code into them, so you won’t get information about how many people sign up but fail to confirm, etc. Google Analytics in particular has goal tracking that will let you see at a glance the numbers for the funnel that starts at the opt-in page and ends up at the second thank you page.

The next in this series will cover uploading the ebook and creating that first autoresponder message.

Open Office Ebook Creation

I wrote an ebook for the Auto Pilot Cash Streams giveaway (as a reader of the blog, you can get it here without signing up for the giveaway: Link Cloaking 101).

It took a bit of research to figure out just how to create the PDF for the ebook, so I wanted to share the results of the research with you. That way, you won’t have to waste that time but can start writing your ebook quicker.

I decided to use Open Office rather than Microsoft Word, because Open Office has an export to PDF built into it. With Word, you have to install a printer driver, too. You can download Open Office and install it, or if you don’t want to install another program on your system, go to OpenOffice.org Portable to get a version that you just unzip and use.

The next step is to find a nice template to use. An ebook really should have some consistent graphics from page to page, not just be black text and white page. I used a template from the EZ Ebooks Template Package #5. It’s well worth the $4 for the templates so I didn’t have to fool with creating graphics myself (although I did end up needing to modify one of the images slightly, so it fit on the page better).

Note that the templates in the package are not templates in the Open Office sense. You don’t install them as templates and then create a new document using that template. Instead, you just open the template file like any other document, save it to a new file name, and then start typing in your contents. Each template has instructions in it if any of the images or anything needs to be modified before use. Pick a template you like the looks of, and get started writing!

When you’re all done with the ebook, use Open Office’s File->Export To PDF option to create a nice looking PDF from your document.

In later posts, I’ll go through the process of setting up your autoresponder, creating an opt-in form, and getting your PDF in the hands of your subscribers.

Auto Pilot Cash Streams Review

I’ve written before about giving away free stuff to build a list.

These days, it isn’t enough to just give away something free, you practically have to join one of the big giveaway events. These things have popped up like weeds lately, usually around some sort of holiday. Auto Pilot Cash Streams is a new one that will open its doors on August 1st. If you’ve ever thought about giving away something to build a list, this is a great opportunity to jump into the beginning of a major giveaway.

Auto Pilot Cash Streams works pretty much the same as the rest of the giveaways. Members sign up to each contributor’s list in order to download their product for free. Products do not have to be original, you can repackage a PLR product if you want. Remember that this is your reputation, so you do want something that’s useful, not just junk. But there are a lot of good PLR products out there, or you can write a short ebook as a way to get people interested in a product you want to sell.

Auto Pilot Cash Streams also sends out regular emails with offers in them to the members, two a week. Some of those members will purchase items through the offer, and if you referred them to the site then you’ll get a commission on the sale.

Build a list, and earn a bit, too.

Okay, so you’re thinking, how do I take advantage of this giveaway?

1) Join Auto Pilot Cash Streams as a contributor. This is free, but of course they’ll offer you an upgrade for a one-time fee. Read about the advantages and use your own judgment on the upgrade (for me, the ability to download all the gifts without opting in to any lists was worth the fee all by itself).

2) Set up an opt-in page to let people sign up to get your free gift.

3) Set up a one-time offer related to your free gift to earn a bit on these opt-ins right away.

4) Put your gift into Auto Pilot Cash Streams

5) Let people know about the site

Simple, right? Yeah, #2 and #3 are a bit tricky. The opt-in page can be done by anyone with a bit of HTML, or if you use a nice autoresponder service they might provide opt-in pages for you. The one-time offer is harder, and generally not something you’ll just throw together, since it involves payment processing. You could put something together with some of the free payment processing services I’ve reviewed recently, but the most convenient way of doing both #2 and #3 is using Rapid Action Profits. This tool not only builds your list and provides for one-time offers and payment processing, it also allows people to become your affiliates in exchange for a commission on the one-time offer.

If you cannot manage setting up a one-time offer, it’s still worth it to join and put an opt-in page together to build a list. Just remember that the list you build will be interested in the gift you are giving. If you provide a gift talking about affiliate marketing, don’t send offers to the list for golf ebooks. Keep your offers targeted, or you’ll lose the list as quickly as you built it.

Oh, and I do plan on trying to put together something to give away for this. Any topics you’re particularly interested in seeing my take on?

P.S. If you’re not interested in joining to give something away, you can still join as a contributor and promote the site to earn from any offers your referrals purchase. It isn’t necessary to actually contribute a gift to earn from referring others. If you go this route, sign up through this page, and then promote it in traffic exchanges. It won’t cost you anything, and might earn you a bit over time.

More Offline Marketing

I’ve written before about the potential of local marketing.

Things like billboards, postcard mailers, advertising on downtown benches, that sort of thing. There are wonderful possibilities to get your message in front of different eyes, and perhaps find a whole new audience for what you’re selling.

I recently got a postcard mailer at home claiming, “Receive $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000 Daily By Inviting People To Your Website…”, and it went on to list all the things you wouldn’t be doing. Things like selling products, pushing ebooks, calling people, or pretty much anything. Supposedly it’s all automatic.

I give the person who sent this out credit for thinking outside the box. They did a pretty good job with the postcard, the purpose of which is to get someone to go to a website. It turns out that they’re using a domain redirect, so that on the postcard they have a catchy, easy to remember website address. When you go there, it takes you to a popular gifting system’s affiliate link.

While most people who’ve been around much at all won’t touch gifting systems, using a postcard mailer to get to a less savvy audience is a fine idea. Someone with a website who isn’t involved with online marketing might just bite, and gifting systems are such that a fairly low conversion rate would still turn a profit.

I don’t recommend any gifting program, but this particular example shows how you can match a particular opportunity to a less skeptical audience by using offline marketing. Think about how you might be able to do the same for whatever your primary business happens to be.

To Write or Not to Write

There are a lot of people who want to earn online without actually creating content.

Maybe they think they can’t write well, or that they don’t know enough to write, or whatever. But they use traffic exchanges and safelists to send people to their affiliate links, and try to build email lists using list building programs, etc. Anything that doesn’t actually require creating content.

Creating content is one of the skills needed to do Internet Marketing properly. That’s important to understand, custom content is absolutely necessary. Sending junk traffic to an affiliate link isn’t going to make you much. Custom content provides value and builds trust, and is part of the whole process.

Now, you don’t have to create that content yourself. You can get fairly decent content created inexpensively online by checking places the freelancers hang out. People tend to avoid outsourcing content creation because of the cost. On a per article basis, content creation is pretty reasonable. But the sheer amount of content needed for even a reasonable sized mini-site makes the entire package expensive.

As a beginner, you have two options.

One is to learn to create the content yourself. Just start writing, and keep at it. You don’t have to post any of it, but you won’t build skill unless you start practicing.

The other option is to partner with someone who can create content, who needs the skills you do have. To find these people you have to network, and put yourself out there approaching bloggers who also seem to be in the beginning of their career. Ideally you’d pick bloggers in the niche you want content created for, not bloggers who are in the “make money online” niche.

How about you? Do you create content, or try to get by without it?

Designing An Effective Banner

There are plenty of places to put a banner advertising your blog these days, from Entrecard to Project Wonderful.

But what makes an effective banner? One school of thought seems to be that any banner that gets a click is best. This gives rise to the recent rash of banners featuring sexy young women, advertising blogs that have nothing to do with sexy young women. But isn’t that effective, if it gets someone to click through?

Not really. I’ve written before on this topic, such as the post “How Good Is Your Traffic?“, and “Qualifying Your Visitors“.

The basic concept is that traffic alone is useless (except in a certain situation I’ll discuss below). What’s useful is traffic that will convert (e.g. take some action that makes you money). You’ll make more profit with less traffic if that traffic is very likely to convert. Traffic also has a cost associated with it, in terms of server resources used, bandwidth, CPU allocation, etc.

So what you want is highly qualified traffic, not junk traffic.

An effective banner is one that gets clicks from people who are likely to convert, and convinces people who are not likely to convert to not click. That’s right, half the purpose of a banner is to convince people not to click on it. For example, if “converting” for your site means buying an ebook at $19.95, then put the price on your banner. That will convince people who think $19.95 is too expensive for an ebook to not click. The people who do click are more likely to buy, because they don’t see $19.95 as too expensive.

Effective banners are not misleading. They communicate exactly what the site is about, including using appropriate images. Using sexy young women (or men) on your banner is only effective if that’s what you’re selling (well, pictures at least…selling the real thing is illegal).

When you’re having a banner designed for your site, think in terms of both communicating what your site is about, and discouraging visitors who aren’t going to convert. You may have to do some work to think about what your typical customer is like. A survey of your existing customers, if you have some, might help.

As far as traffic goes, think Quality, not Quantity.

Keyword Research – Traffic vs Competition

I’ve written a lot about keyword research before.

My post about How Good Is Your Traffic? and Qualifying Your Visitors both talk about why less traffic is sometimes better than more traffic. This goes against typical online wisdom, which holds that the more traffic you get the better off you are. This leads people to target the highest traffic keywords possible.

That’s a bad idea, for a couple of reasons.

High Traffic Means General

High traffic keywords are general keywords. They’re high traffic because they apply to a variety of search queries. For example, the keyword “shoe” gets more traffic than the keyword “red shoe”. But the more general keyword “shoe” includes people searching for “blue shoes”, “black shoes”, “dress shoes”, and even “free shoes”. The keyword “red shoe” is far more targeted, and likely to lead to a sale.

Targeting specific keywords is very important for increasing your conversion rate.

High Traffic Means More Competition

Usually, higher traffic keywords have more competition in search engine rankings. Lots of sites will be trying to rank well for those general keywords. Even the more specific high traffic keywords will have a lot of competition, as people try to monetize that traffic.

Competing in such an environment takes time, effort, and often money. Toss a web site up and do nothing else with it, and it will end up on page 20 of Google for competitive keywords. Do the same thing for a non-competitive keyword, and the site can end up on page 1.

Would you rather have a vanishingly small percentage of a large amount of general traffic, or a high percentage of a smaller amount of targeted traffic?

If you answered the high percentage of a smaller amount of targeted traffic, congratulations! You’re on your way to doing very good keyword research.

BlinkWeb Review

BlinkWeb is a new service that claims to allow anyone to build a web site through point and click technology.

BlinkWeb is a bit like Google Pages. The features of both are similar. You can create a multi-page site, choose a layout and template from their gallery, and drag and drop different components onto the pages. BlinkWeb has more features specific to Internet Marketers, though.

The components supported by BlinkWeb right now include a contact form, a guest book, Google Maps integration for showing where an address is, Google Adsense integration, and a custom HTML widget. You can also include paragraphs, a paragraph with an attached title, images, and a paragraph with an image embedded in it, along with doing a two column layout for part of the page. You can also easily add in video and Flickr integration.

The templates available are a bit sparse right now. You might find something for your niche, or you might not. The widgets available are also a bit sparse. They’re fine for basic sites, but you’ll have to use the custom HTML widget for anything more complicated.

One of the attractive points about BlinkWeb is that it offers a Sales Letter as a page type. These pages have a different set of templates, all modeled after typical Internet Marketing type sales pages. So putting up a simple sales page with BlinkWeb is very trivial.

Another type of page provided is a blog page. This provides the standard blog sorts of widgets and a sidebar. Of course, you can specify the typical SEO information, such as meta keywords and description, and the page title.

BlinkWeb is definitely targeted toward Internet Marketers. They offer a five day lesson in how to earn using BlinkWeb, which basically walks you through an overview of developing an information product and using BlinkWeb to create a sales site. They also provide a Facebook widget so you can promote your site on Facebook easily.

This is all free. So what does BlinkWeb get from it? In Day 5 of the lessons, they suggest you obtain a domain name instead of using a subdomain of BlinkWeb.com. The way you can use a domain of your own that’s built into BlinkWeb is to purchase web hosting from them. You get the domain itself for free, and web hosting at $1 for the first month and $14.95 a month after that.

It isn’t clear from reading the site if the $14.95 a month only covers a single web site, or multiple. I’d guess a single web site, and that they intend for online marketers to pay out of the profits from selling their product.

BlinkWeb does do what it says. Anyone can make a web site with it, although you might need to figure out what to put into the meta keywords, etc. And, you can do it for free, and get your web site up and running and perfected before you make a decision on whether you want to pay $14.95 a month basically to use your own domain name with the site.

The Magic Of Unsubscribing

Anyone who is interested in Internet Marketing is probably on a lot of email lists.

I’ve taken advantage of getting back from vacation to use that “unsubscribe” link on the bottom of a lot of emails that were waiting for me. I’d highly recommend this after a time away, since it’s a great opportunity to get some perspective on the lists.

Wading through hundreds of emails, many of them multiple emails from the same list, is a time when you can pretty accurately measure the ratio of content to advertisements in the list. Most lists are heavy on advertisement, and light on content. Going through multiple emails is also a great time to see which ones are all pushing the same affiliate products.

I unsubscribed from a lot of the lists I was on, and stayed subscribed only to those that were providing some decent content. One benefit is that it’ll take me far less time to process my email every day, now that I won’t have as many to simply delete out of hand.

Even if you aren’t going on vacation, I encourage you to put all those email list emails into a single folder for a week, and then go through them to see which ones are actually providing you value. Get rid of the rest.