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I was at the World Internet Summit (WIS) a couple of Sundays ago when it was held on the Gold Coast, an hours drive away from Brisbane (my home), on the coast of Australia.
Brett McFall, co-host of the WIS, was up on stage doing the last formal presentation of the event. During his presentation he had a diagram of what he does to make money online in its simplest form.
All subjects have a macro and micro view, that is a view from the very top, the “big picture”, and the micro view, which looks at all the tiny elements that go together to make up the big picture.
You can drill down most subjects to a near-infinite number of micro views, taking each element and breaking it down to its components and then doing it again to those elements. This can repeat until you hit base elements, at least according to science (metaphysics can take you a little further, but let’s not go there now).
Internet marketing is no different and Brett’s diagram of what the macro view of what he does inspired this blog post. I’m going to break down how Internet marketing works in it’s simplest form, so you know how people make money online.
Here it is…
I drew this diagram myself, so you better be impressed.
Step 1: Squeeze Page
Step 2: Email Follow-up
Step 3: Sales Page
This essentially is the macro view of a typical conversion process that makes people millions of dollars from the Internet every single day. I woke up today to a $497 sale of my Blog Mastermind course, which was generated by this exact process.
Obviously there is a lot more to actually making this work, so it’s necessary to add to the picture somewhat, and there are also many derivatives of the process. In its simplest form, this is all you need to understand and if you can grasp this, you have the keys to making a ton of money online.
If Internet marketing is new to you, that diagram might confuse you more than it helps, so here’s a little clarification.
Step 1, the Squeeze Page, is designed to capture information in exchange for an incentive, or an ethical bribe as it is sometimes called. You give me your name and email address and possibly some other contact details, and the right to follow-up with you via email, and I’ll give you something in exchange, usually information like a free report or email course.
You can read a more detailed breakdown of the Squeeze Page in my definition post – What Is A Namesqueeze Page?
Step 2, the Email Follow-up, refers to the emails you send to the people who signed up at step one. The usual process involves providing more information and a brief pitch about the product you have on offer. Follow-up emails are about establishing rapport and trust by delivering more value, conditions necessary before a purchase is made. This is often called the “pre-sell” stage. The emails also direct people to the sales page, where the final step of the process occurs.
Step 3, the Sales Page, is the last step in the conversion mechanism, presenting the final “pitch” for the product on offer, delivering information about its features, benefits and including many other psychological triggers designed to convince the prospect to buy. Sales pages also contain the transaction element, the part of the process where money is collected.
This basic three-step framework for success online is great, but we’re missing something crucial, what comes before it – Traffic.
Without some means to get people to visit the Squeeze Page nothing happens, the process can’t even begin. It’s all well and good to understand and to even create this process, but unfortunately most people don’t have an effective way to drive people into the machine that pumps out the money.
Traffic can be a complex subject and in this article I’m into simple, “macro” solutions, so let’s not go too in-depth here (there are many articles about traffic in my archives if you need more help).
There are basically three methods to build traffic -
1. You can buy it
Pay Per Click marketing is the most popular, most effective and the quickest example of this method. Banner advertising, text link advertising, sponsored reviews, co-registration leads and any time where you pay money to advertise, fall under this category.
2. You can build it
Any form of content production that attracts people from search engines, direct links between sites and word of mouth, is using this method. As bloggers, we rely on this technique, it is the foundation of my current business success.
3. You can borrow it
Affiliate marketing is the primary example of this method. This is a popular traffic method because it is very quick, the traffic can be very targeted and the cost is usually nothing – you pay commissions only when you make money.
You don’t see stores like Amazon.com or any “traditional” online retailer, using Squeeze Pages or long Sales Pages do you?
There’s a common argument, especially from those who hate the long form sales page and swear they will never buy from them on principle, that they are not effective because if they were, more “normal” stores would use them to sell online.
There’s some truth to that claim, but of course everything falls within a context so it’s never safe to be too rigid in your assumptions. Smart marketers use what works best and don’t exclude anything just because someone else says it doesn’t work.
Online super-stores like Amazon, specialty stores like Zappos, or even smaller stores that sell a handful category specific individual products, tend to follow the traditional “e-commerce” model. The long form sales page isn’t applied, instead a shopping cart exists with product descriptions, customer feedback ratings and reviews, similar product listings, and so forth.
Today’s “product page” inside an e-commerce site draws on the same principles that the long format sales page relies upon, especially social proof in the form of feedback from people who have purchased that product before. I doubt though, that you will ever see a long, text-laden page used to sell your average pair of Nike shoes, it just wouldn’t make sense or fit the expectations of the consumer.
What you do see now at most well-constructed e-commerce stores are email opt-in forms and follow-up email processes, like newsletters and product recommendations. Although the structure might vary, e-commerce stores benefit from establishing a process that captures user information, builds rapport through frequent email contact points and relies on sales-page like triggers when it comes to making a sale.
Although the formats on the surface might not look the same, the principle for any online conversion process relies upon the same fundamental truths. The three-step process so beautifully expressed in my diagram above still applies, even if some of the elements are moved around and don’t look quite the same on the surface.
What your conversion process looks like depends heavily on what you are selling and how many other things you are selling along with it. For a store like Zappos it would be ridiculous to apply a long form sales page for every single shoe they have for sale.
If you are selling commoditized products, in other words you have a large product range of very similar products that aren’t differentiated heavily based on unique attributes that require a lot of words to distinguish, then a shopping cart is generally the best practice approach today.
Bear in mind e-commerce stores rely on traffic just as much as any web business, however often their traffic sources are much more focused on Long Tail breadth, rather than short tail specificity. In other words, their success is not dependent on sales of only one superior product, which could be the only product sold, instead they can sell fewer amounts of hundreds or even thousands of different products and do very well.
The strategy behind an e-commerce super-store like Amazon is about volume and choice, not specialization and superiority of a specialty product. Those last two elements can play a part of the selling process for any individual item, but Amazon, the store itself, represents thousands – even millions of items – and is not dependent on selling any single item for success. Thus the conversion model is different.
Also relevant is the type of product being sold. Some items are more tactile and require visual representation in order to sell. Information products are about intellectual content, and thus generally sell better if more copy (words) are used to describe it.
You must take into context what you are selling, what else you are selling around it, how customers expect to be sold a product like that, and of course, what performs best based on your own tests, when setting up your conversion process. When you haven’t got a clue, don’t reinvent the wheel, see what processes people in your industry currently use to sell products similar to what you are planning to sell, and replicate what works.
That being said, the Back End actually relies on the same conversion process as the Front End, the only difference is the type of product being sold and the perception of that product in the view of the customer. Emails are still used to build rapport and establish buying conditions, and a Sales Page is used to make the sale of higher priced, more specialty products.
In the case of e-commerce stores, the Back End doesn’t usually go much “deeper” in the sense of selling higher priced items to more targeted customers, instead they tend to move “horizontally” selling more products of a similar price and status.
For example, pitching a book on growing tomatoes to someone who already purchased a book on growing onions, rather than going deeper, selling a more expensive home gardening kit to someone who purchased a book on growing onions. The latter can happen too, if the store has the inventory scope and marketing sense to do so, but most e-commerce stores do not.
In my opinion information marketing is the best online business to be in because it doesn’t come with the inventory management challenges of an e-commerce store. What I teach and what I do is more relevant to those of you looking to make use of the basic three step process I laid out at the start of this article.
If you can set yourself up with a Squeeze Page, an email follow-up sequence and a Sales Page, and then drive some traffic to that process using blogging, Per Per Click marketing or affiliate marketing (or all three!), then you have what you need to get started building your list. Of course you also need a product to sell, but that’s not the topic of this article (Membership Sites are the best products to sell in my opinion).
If you’re just starting out today, think about what market you could begin to focus on and then go to work and build your first Squeeze Page. That is one of the best ways to begin building the foundation for a successful business and is a very quick momentum building step you can make literally in one day.
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