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Month: October, 2007

The Art of Follow-up, Follow-through and Digging Wells

29 October, 2007 (23:38) | Business, Life | By: Nick Dalton

A week ago I attended the jvAlert Live conference in Long Beach. Typically you return from a conference with a head full of ideas and a pocket full of business cards. If you leave it at that, you have just wasted a lot of time and money on the conference.

My goal was to follow-up with every person I met at the conference within a week. This seems like a simple, and courteous, thing to do. But I’ve been amazed at how few people even take that simple action. In the past week I’ve received a total of 3 emails from other conference attendees. Two of them were from speakers – they obviously know the importance of follow-up. One email was a form email that literally began: “It was a pleasure meeting with you at [Event Name] in [City and State].” But maybe I’m just not a very interesting guy to keep in touch with…

One of the main benefits of attending a live event is to make personal connections that can lead to future joint venture deals. Even though the name of the conference is jvAlert you need approach new potential JV partners with tact. Here are some suggestions.

Learn something about your potential JV partner

Each evening when I get back to my hotel room I always write down notes about the people I’ve met during the day. It can be things like when their birthday is, or a shared interest that we discovered during our conversation. Mention some of this personal information when you contact the person again.

You should also sign up to any mailing list and blog RSS feed that the potential JV partner has. Read regularly to learn what topics are common, how often third party products are promoted, etc.

If you are really serious you can purchase a product, or join a coaching program if there is one. Becoming a customer will give you an instant relationship.

Offer to do something for your potential JV partner

Ask if the person has a product that you can promote to your list. If you have a very small list a better option might be to write a review of the product on your blog.

If you’re good at writing offer to write a guest blog entry for their blog. Make sure that you write on a topic that fits the blog.

Harvey Mackay has written a book called Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty. The premise is that you should become valuable to your network of contacts before you need to request something from them. Some people call this The Law of Reciprocity. It’s the same basic premise: if you do something nice for somebody without asking for anything in return, they will feel compelled to reciprocate the favor.

Do something unusual

Everybody in this business gets an avalanche of emails every day. Be different. Send a postcard or a handwritten note instead of an email.

If you want to send out a lot of cards you may want to use a system like SendOutCards.

21 More Tips

Darren Rowse at ProBlogger has a great post today called How to Pitch to Bloggers – 21 Tips. Most of the tips apply equally well when you’re approaching a potential JV partner. Highly recommended reading.

Follow-up

Even though you had a great meeting with somebody at the conference it is very likely that you’re not at the top of their priority list when they get back to the daily grind of running their business and catching up on all the tasks that stacked up while they were spending a few days at the event.

Send an email as soon as you get home thanking the person for a great meeting, include some information to refresh their memory of who you are, and a recap of your conversation.

In the daily deluge of emails it’s very likely that your first email will be put in the “I’ll get back to that later” pile. Send a friendly reminder. Be polite, but persistent.

If you show that you are persistent and that you follow-up, you demonstrate that you will do the same in a future joint venture deal.

Follow-through

When you say that you’re going to do something, make sure that you follow-through and do it. Your failure to do so will create a long lasting impression. Consistent follow-through will put you ahead of 98% of your competitors. JV partners will come back wanting to do more deals with you because they know they can count on your actions.

What have you done to follow-up on the latest conference that you attended?

Is it worth your time and attention to attend conferences?

22 October, 2007 (22:56) | Life, Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

The reputation of Internet marketing conferences is steadily declining. In many cases it’s for a good reason: you pay a lot of money in conference fees, travel, hotel, etc and you end up sitting through presentations that are just thinly disguised product pitches. So it was with some trepidation that I attended Ken McArthur’s jvAlert Live in Long Beach this past weekend.

Beforehand Ken said multiple times that his jvAlert Live event is different. It’s more like a family reunion than a marketing event. Ken even organized an online family reunion for old and new attendees. That all sounds great, but which event organizer (or affiliate promoting an event) would not say that their event is better? I’m known to be skeptical, and somewhat jaded, but I love being proven wrong.

And boy was I wrong! The quality of the speakers and the attendees was outstanding and their accessibility was exceptional: I had lunch and dinner with world class speakers and Internet business legends every day. Yes there were product pitches at the end of most presentations, but only after some real and useful content had been delivered. Since the presenters pay their own way to the conference I think this was a fair trade-off.

It was a fairly small event, around 60-70 attendees, so I had a chance to speak to almost everyone there, from seasoned multi-millionaires to beginners who had not yet made their first dollar online. I learned something from each and every one.

I came home not just with the usual stack of business cards, but with real connections and real friends. I also came away with two million dollar projects, not just ideas (they’re a dime a dozen), but real projects. I’m starting work on the first project this week. It’s in stealth mode for now, but stay tuned to this blog for future announcements. It will democratize one of the remaining bastions among media empires.

Thank you Ken for inviting me into the jvAlert family!

An overlooked marketing opportunity that is free

18 October, 2007 (22:11) | Testing | By: Nick Dalton

We all want more traffic to our web sites and one way to achieve that is to get your links in front of more people. While there are countless ways to do this, here’s one that is overlooked by many marketers: Add a URL with a short marketing message as a signature on all your outgoing emails.

If you have multiple web sites a customer that you’re interacting with may not know about your other offerings. Since you already have a relationship with that customer that are probably more likely to click on your link.

But don’t take my word for it. Test it and track it. In a previous article I talked about adding tracking code to your email campaigns. Use the same approach for your email signature. Here’s an example:

<a href="http://DigitalSecurityReport.com/?utm_source=nick&utm_medium=email_sig"> Digital Security Report</a> - Are your valuable digital products available for free download?

In this case utm_source=nick refers to a specific email address which has this email signature. If you’re testing different signatures to see what converts better, you can differentiate between them with a third Google Analytics parameter: utm_content=1, utm_content=2, etc.

Keep in mind that different email clients handle HTML differently. So before you settle on an email signature send test emails to different email clients (Mozilla Thunderbird, Mac OS X Mail, Outlook) as well as web mail clients (Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, etc).

While on the topic of marketing using signatures – I’m sure that you have a signature that links to your web site when you post messages in a forum. But do you track those clicks other than by referrer? If you only rely on referrer then traffic coming from the various online forums that you participate in can easily be lost in the noise. With the technique above you can measure all the traffic from forums as a group (utm_medium=forum) and then drill down on individual forums (utm_source). Here’s my signature from the Warrior Forum (using Forum Code instead of HTML):

[url="http://www.TipsTricksToolsTechniques.com/?utm_source=wf&utm_medium=forum"]Tips, Tricks, Tools & Techniques[/url] for your Internet Business, Life, the Universe and Everything.

Why should you care about computer security?

16 October, 2007 (10:48) | Reviews, Security | By: Nick Dalton

Computer Security and Penetration Testing by Alfred Basta and Wolf Halton is the scariest book I’ve read since Stephen King’s IT. The book is published by Thomson and is used as a text book at many colleges and universities.

As a course text book it has exercises and hands on projects that describe exactly how to install and run computer programs that crack passwords, sniff network traffic, launching denial of service attacks, and more. Of course this is all done legally (”white hat”) and with the intent to educate and to teach the reader how to deploy countermeasures and improve their security.

Here are a few of the topics covered in the book:

  • Scanning Tools
  • Sniffers
  • TCP/IP Vulnerabilities
  • Encryption and Password Cracking
  • Spoofing
  • Session Hijacking
  • Trojan Horses
  • Denial-of-Service Attacks
  • Buffer Overflows
  • Programming Exploits
  • Windows and Linux Vulnerabilities

Like most security professionals I’m on the side that full disclosure is the best way to improve computer security. You should assume that the bad guys already have this information, and then some. Therefore I welcome this book.

Why would anyone care to target your little web site?

You’re probably not as passionate about security as I am. But is security just for geeks and federal three-letter-agencies? Why would anyone care to target your little web site? People with malicious intent couldn’t care less about your web site. As described in the book they use scanning software to detect computers that are vulnerable. Once a vulnerable computer is found, it is attacked and compromised, and then added to a bot network. This is all done automatically and you will probably not notice anything until you start getting complaints that spam is being sent from your server; or when your web server is shut off by your web hosting company because it is participating in a denial of service attack against someone else.

If you have read any of my previous reviews you know that I’m a harsh critic and I rarely endorse other people’s products. This is a book that has my full recommendation. Your web master or IT department needs to have this book. Not on their bookshelf – it needs to be put into practice to be useful.

One of the book authors has a free newsletter called Secret2Security. When you sign up you get the first chapter of the book for free. Here’s the URL: http://networkdefense.biz/list/?p=subscribe&id=1

Guidelines on Securing Public Web Servers

15 October, 2007 (12:13) | Security | By: Nick Dalton

I just came across this very comprehensive PDF from NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). It’s a 142 page document that covers everything from securing the operating system and the web server to securing web content. This document is part of NIST’s Special Publications (800 Series) – documents of general interest to the computer security community. Highly recommended.

The guidelines are extensive but pretty high level. It mentions robots.txt and ensuring that search engines don’t follow certain links. But it doesn’t specifically address the problems of selling digital products through ClickBank, PayPal and other payment processors. To ensure that your digital products are not indexed by search engines and downloaded for free, I still recommend my Digital Security Report.

Why do Internet Marketers want your physical address?

12 October, 2007 (14:18) | Copywriting, Reviews, Testing | By: Nick Dalton

Most Internet Marketers live in the digital world where online advertisements and sending emails are just about free. But more and more you’ll come across marketers who insist on getting your physical mailing address.

It is no secret that most Internet Marketing strategies and tactics have been used successfully for decades in the offline Direct Marketing (DM) world. With email deliverability and click through rates steadily declining online marketers are looking for new ways to reach customers. Again, old fashioned DM comes to the rescue.

One of the Internet marketers who has been very successful in combining online and offline campaigns is Russell Brunson. If you haven’t done so already you should download his IM-Myth report and read it for inspiration. True to the message of the report there is a one time offer after you sign up for the free download where you are “bribed” to also part with your physical mailing address.

You have probably received dozens of emails from various marketers urging you to download the report from their affiliate link. Even though the report was free, Russel Brunson paid out $1 per download to the referrer. This list building technique was pioneered online by Scott Boulch and his Death of AdSense reports. (Note that this part of the campaign is over, my link above is not an affiliate link.) Of course Russell Brunson didn’t pay out over $50k just to build an email list.

Earlier this week the other shoe dropped with the launch of the 12 Month Internet Millionaire. This is a recording of a 6 hour coaching phone call Russell Brunson had with Vincent James about 1.5 years ago. I had never heard of Vincent James before, but he claims to have made over $100 million in 23 months. So he seems like a guy worth listening to. Here are some of the things you will learn from the 12 Month Internet Millionaire recording:

Memberships

  • Sell memberships to get access to wholesales or distributor prices. It’s much easier to sell an annual $40 membership than to compete on price with all the other companies selling the same commodity product.

Autoship

  • Get the customer to agree to locking in a discounted price and send them the same order every month. Make it sound like an exclusive club – a benefit to the customer. (Worked for dietary supplements.)
  • With monthly recurring billing people often just tell their credit card company that they don’t want to pay anymore instead of calling the seller. Then this will be a chargeback on the sellers credit card merchant account. If the chargeback percentage is too high you risk loosing your merchant account. To prevent this they included a cancellation coupon in the second or third shipment.
  • For information products you can sell a CD with interviews for $1 and then send the customer a new CD each month for $39

Direct Mail

  • There are three types of mailing lists, in order of responsiveness: buyers lists, subscribers lists from magazines and compiled lists from warranty cards, questionnaires, etc.
  • Check usage reports on mailing lists before you buy. You want to see a high percentage of customers who have continued to use that list over time.
  • Don’t waste your time on small lists. It takes just as much effort to test 1,000 names on a small list as it does for a large list. If the test is successful you want to have a large well to go back to for more names.
  • Use a list broker. It will save you time and effort, and it doesn’t cost you anything.
  • The best pulling envelope has a simulated handwritten address in blue ink, a first class stamp, a return address sticker, all on a standard OfficeMax envelope.
  • Postcards are good for offers of a well-known products and you’re solely competing on price. Or if you’re just driving traffic to your web site.

Life Time Value of Your Customer

  • In the direct mail world you have to know the lifetime value of your customers, because a good campaign will break even on the front-end offer. Therefore you need a series of back-end offers, which together make up the lifetime value of the customer. Since online campaigns are practically free you don’t have to be so stringent with calculating the lifetime value of your customers. But there is a huge upside and profit potential if you do.

Copywriting

  • Simple copywriting tips:
    • be excited about the product you’re about to write a sales letter for
    • tell a story in the first person
    • become an actor and get into the role of the target customer
    • use a swipe file
  • The four reasons why people don’t buy:
    • they don’t know your offer – you’re not very good at getting attention
    • the don’t want it – you’re targeting the wrong list
    • they can’t afford it or they can’t justify the price you’re at
    • they don’t believe you
  • A quick trick to increase the response rate once in a while: Run the usual ad that’s just breaking even and add a new headline above it that says this is the ad that we had to cancel last month since we sold out so fast.

Call Centers

  • To jumpstart your own call center script, call and order another successful product and record/transcribe the conversation with their call center.
  • If a call center charges 80 cents per minute and your script is 10 minutes, that means you’re paying $8 just to take the order. Offer a bonus for ordering from your web site to reduce the number of incoming phone calls and thereby reduce your costs.

Magazines

  • For magazine ads use an editorial style layout. Make it look like the magazine it’s running in.
  • Right hand pages have better response than left hand pages. Specify RHP when you place your ad, even if they can’t guarantee it. Place your cut out coupon in the lower right hand corner to make it obvious that the ad should go on a right page, since it’s difficult to cut out a coupon if it’s in the gutter.
  • For magazine circulation you should look at paid copies sold and preferably numbers audited by ABC.
  • Don’t waste money on brand advertisements; it’s just traditional institutional advertiser justifying worthless ads.

Competitors

  • When you find something that works run with it as fast as you can before people start knocking off your campaign and your product. Run all types of media in parallel.
  • If you find advertisements of knockoffs of your product talk to the magazine and pay to become the exclusive advertiser for your type of product.
  • Establish credibility over your competitors.

Expand What Works

  • Sell what’s already selling.
  • When you’re successful with direct mail, start magazine advertising to reach more prospects and then to radio and ultimately TV.
  • If you’re successfully marketing only on the Internet then you are not fully exploiting the market.

Testing and Tracking

  • Test the big things: headline, price, envelopes, lists.
  • Use different 800 numbers for every advertisement. That way you know how many orders each ad or list generated.
  • Alternatively have the phone operator ask the customer where they saw the ad.
  • For mail in coupons add a code to the address, e.g. a department code of CD6 could be Car and Driver June issue.
    If the coupon was cut out from a magazine you can just look at the back of the coupon to determine which magazine it came from.
  • For online order you can have a drop down where the customer selects which magazine they saw your ad in. But that is not so good for competitive reasons. Better is to have a different landing page for each ad.
  • Track the response for every ad for every issue and keep running them until they no longer make money. If your ad is really good it could be sucking out prospects faster than the magazine brings in new customer. In that case no amount of tweaking the ad will increase the response.

Technology

  • Here’s an interesting tidbit that blew me away: The customer database Vincent James used to run his $100 million dietary supplement business was Microsoft Excel with some add-on macros.

The 12 Month Internet Millionaire audio files are good if you want to listen on the go or in your car. But if you’re like me and you can read much faster than most people speak you will appreciate that a complete transcript is included as well. Unlike most audio transcripts that I’ve seen lately, this one actually seems to have been proofread, although there are some blanks where presumably the audio was skipping. However it’s way too verbose at 197 pages. Vincent James has a very conversational way of speaking and every “you know” is captured in the transcript.

I just learned that the 12 Month Internet Millionaire product has became the #1 best seller on ClickBank. This surprises me a bit, since this is definitely not a products for beginners – there are no step-by-step instructions. The products contains tons of good ideas that can give you inspiration for both your online and offline business. And if you enjoy reading and learning about marketing it’s definitely a good read. You can find more information here.

If you decide to look at the sales page I’d like to give you a warning: I think it grossly oversells the product. It has very little to do with Internet business and a whole lot with direct mail and other offline marketing techniques. If you are interested in the topics listed above in this post, then this product will appeal to you. If you’re just looking to become an Internet millionaire in 12 months, then this is not the golden ticket.

If you enjoy reading in-depth reviews like this one, please let me know in a comment below. And don’t forget to sign up to the RSS feed or the email notification list so you will be notified of the next one.

The Top 4 Writing Tips To Get Your Book Done

10 October, 2007 (09:42) | Copywriting, Life | By: Nick Dalton

I just finished writing a book: 101 iPhone Tips and Tricks. I didn’t follow Ken McArthur’s system, so it took me considerably more than 12 hours to write. Nonetheless, I discovered these tips along the way that helped me with writing the book, and most importantly finishing it.

1. Select a topic you’re passionate about

Writing a book is hard work and you’re going to spend a lot of time writing. So you’d better make it as enjoyable as you can by selecting a topic that you like. Sure you can write something just for the money – ghostwriters do it all the time. But your passion, or lack thereof, will show through in your writing.

Thinking about the money you’ll make from the book can be great motivator or an inhibitor when you’re writing. Robert Allen once said that based on his previous books’ performance he knew that he was going to make $20 (don’t recall the exact amount) for every word that he wrote. So to him it was a joy writing every word. Douglas Adams on the other hand knowing how much money he’d earned from the Hitchhiker series agonized over every word he had to write. Because if it was worth so much, people expected every word to be very, very good.

2. Schedule time for writing

Writing a book is a large project and as with any large project it’s easy to put off taking the first step or getting sidetracked during the project. Therefore schedule 2 hours every day for your writing. It’s hard to be productive for longer stretches than 2 hours at a time. If you’re on a tight deadline, schedule multiple 2 hour block during the day with significant breaks in between. But don’t stop just because your timer says your 2 hours are up if you’re in a groove and your writing is just flowing, Conversely, and more importantly, don’t stop before your 2 hours are up because you’re struggling with the words that day. Every writer struggles some/most days, and if you start making excuses for why you don’t feel like writing today, then you will never finish the book.

Find a time during the day when you’re most productive at writing. For me it’s in the morning after I drop off my son at daycare and before I read any email or get engaged in the daily work of running a business. Tim Ferriss prefers 12 – 4 in the mornings. Find what works best for you and stick to it every day. During this time slot you isolate yourself: no phone calls, no emails, no Internet, no interruptions whatsoever.

3. Research first, write later

The Internet is a great tool for doing research, but it’s also an endless well of information. Before you embark on a new chapter in your book do all the necessary research to gather the information you need for that chapter. Set at limit on how much time you’re going to spend on the research. When you’re done, disconnect from the Internet before you start writing.

If you’re constantly switching between writing and looking up things on the Internet you lose your focus and your writing mojo. Should you find that you need some additional information just make a note in your text to get the exact quote from that famous person, or to research a specific topic further. The important thing is to keep moving forward, to keep that text flowing.

4. Write rough, edit later

Don’t struggle to find the exact words that perfectly convey your idea. Write the first words that come to mind. Don’t worry about spelling or perfect grammar, just keep the words coming. When all the writing is done you will go through the text many times to edit, improve, proofread; repeat. That magic word you spent so much time finding and committing to paper may not work in the larger context.

One of my favorite words is automagically. Since it’s not a real word it should be used very sparingly. My editor pointed out that I had used it 13 times in my book. You only get that perspective after all the text is written and you go through it again with an editor’s mindset.

Speaking of my book…

If you have an iPhone you want this book. The iPhone is a wonderful product with a gorgeous user interface, but it’s a first generation product. This book will help you get around some of the rough edges, discover many of the hidden features and make you more productive. It is chock full of tips and tricks; I guarantee that you will learn something new.

Sign up to my notification list on this web page. You can’t miss it – there’s a big hand pointing to it.

Are your email campaigns effective?

4 October, 2007 (21:53) | Testing | By: Nick Dalton

In the previous article we tracked how your visitors came to your web site from another site or a search engine. This article is about tracking visitors from your email campaigns.

Most autoresponder services like AWeber and GetResponse show statistics on how many emails were delivered, how many were opened and how many people clicked on a link in the email. These number are all good to know, but they don’t help you determine the ultimate results of the campaign: sales or other opt-ins.

With Google Analytics this is very easy to track

First you need to create the URL in a specific format. Google’s URL Builder Tool will help you with that the first couple of times, then you’ll easily recognize the format. Here’s an example:

http://www.TipsTricksToolsTechniques.com/?p=70&utm_source=tlm&utm_medium=email

  • The first part is your regular URL. You don’t have to setup a special landing page for your email campaigns with this technique.
  • utm_source is the source of the traffic. Select a name or abbreviation that is meaningful to you. In this case “tlm” stands for The List Machine, which is a service that for a relatively low fee allows me to send out three emails per week to 1,000 recipients.
  • utm_medium can for example be “ppc” for a pay-per-click campaign or “banner” for a banner ad campaign. Here I’m using “email” as it is an email campaign.
  • There are more parameters available, but these are the basics.

This is what the resulting data looks like in Google Analytics, under Traffic Sources > All Traffic Sources > Site Usage:

Email Traffic Sources -Google Analytics

As you can see the number of visits contributed by these two email sources, “yll/email” and “tlm/email”, is not very high for this time period. And the Avg. Time on Site and Bounce Rates are outright terrible. If you didn’t track and measure clicks from your emails, you would never know.

But what’s even more important than the number of visits is the Goal Conversion:

Email Goal Conversation Sources -Google Analytics

In this example I’ve defined a goal for Outbound Click which tracks clicks on affiliate links on the site. You would expect there to be a correlation between these outbound clicks and income, so this is a really important statistic to track. Here we see that the email sources fall even further down the list when we sort by goal conversion.

You can also track conversion rate over time. With this information you can see if your inhouse mailing list is starting to suffer from promotion fatigue and you can make corrections before it’s too late.

Setting up goals in Google Analytics and assigning Goal Values in dollars will be covered in a future article.

Is it worth it?

If you have ever tried any list service like The List Machine, Your Lucky List or List Dot Com then you know that the click through rates are very, very low. I typically send out excerpts of my blog posts through these services, so I’m not trying to sell anything. While this still gets pretty low CTR, I manage to get a couple of sign-ups per week to my email list or RSS feed from these sources. People who I would probably not have reached otherwise. And since I have automated the process it’s not any additional work for me.

If you have a more tangible cost for your campaign, for example if you paid for each of the leads, then it’s essential that you track the real results of the campaign, not just email opens or link clicks.

When JV partners send out emails on your behalf to their lists you should give them URLs that include these tracking parameters. utm_source can for example be their affiliate id. And you should also add a third parameter called utm_campaign which is used to identify a specific product promotion. Your affiliate tracking system should already track sales and associate them with the correct referring affiliate. But with these URL parameters you can also track non-payment events like people signing up to your email list or requesting more information.

Your action items:

  1. Add these tracking parameters to your next email campaign that you send out.
  2. Track and measure the results in Google Analytics.
  3. Use this feedback to improve your future campaigns.

The two most important web metrics for your marketing efforts

1 October, 2007 (13:15) | Search Engines, Testing | By: Nick Dalton

I the previous article you installed two different web analytics tools on your web site. Today we’re going to use the data from those tools to optimize your marketing efforts.

We all want more traffic to our web sites. There are numerous ways to attract visitors to your web site: article marketing, blogs, social bookmarking sites, PPC, link exchanges, etc, etc. Each one has it’s proponents (along with a product that they’re happy to sell you). But how do you know which one works for you? Using real data from your web analytics tools sure beats guessing or trusting the so called gurus. Here’s how.

Referrer

To know which marketing efforts are most effective we need to know where your visitors are coming from. In web analytics terms this is called the referrer.
In Google Analytics click on Traffic Sources -> Referring Sites -> Pie Chart and you’ll see something similar to this (I’ve hidden some columns for clarity):

Referring Sites Pie Chart

Here you will see which sites are sending you the most visitors. StumbleUpon is as you can see a very important traffic source and I think it requires a separate article to cover properly. (While you’re waiting for that article you can check out ProBlogger’s tips on StumbleUpon.)

If you click on any of the site names you will get a list of the actual URLs within that site that sent you the traffic:

Referral Paths

Click on a URL and you’ll get a link that says “Visit this referring link” and you’ll finally find out why this page is sending you traffic. However if you’re using StatCounter then there is a much faster way to get this information. Select Recent Pageload Activity and you will see a list of entries like this:

Recent Pageloads

The URL in green is the referrer, and if you click on it you will be taken directly to that page. Once I’m on that page I realize that I wrote a comment on Rich Shefren’s Strategic Profits blog and a lot of people are clicking through to my blog from it.

Writing thoughtful comments on other related blogs is one of my most successful ways to get traffic. According to the web analytics data above this strategy accounts for 4 of the top 10 referring sites.

But unless you’re selling ads on your site per impression then the number of page views is not the metric you’re most interested in. You should look at some of the other columns in this table ( Google Analytics -> Traffic Sources -> Referring Sites):

Referring Sites Table

For each referring site you will see how long they stuck around on your site. Social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit sent quite a bit of traffic as number 4 and 5 on the list but a majority of these visitors just viewed one page and then left again. You see that by a Pages/Visit number that is close to 1 and a Bounce Rate close to 100%.

Does that mean I should not waste my time on social bookmarking sites? Compared to the time it takes to write an attractive comment on another blog, just clicking on the Digg/Reddit link for one of my own blog posts is a breeze. And if just one of the many Digg drive-bys signs up for my RSS feed or purchases one of my products, it’s well worth the effort. We’ll cover how to track this in a future article.

Keywords

Search engines are a special case of referring sites. What we care about here are the keywords the visitor used to find your site. In Google Analytics go to Traffic Sources -> Search Engines and select a search engine. You will then see a list like this:

Search Engine Keywords

This is not a lot of organic search traffic as this is not the primary mechanism that I generate traffic for this site. But any free traffic is welcome. So what can we learn from this list.

  1. Four of the top five keyword terms are variations of “article submission software”. Do some keyword research to determine which variation gets most search traffic and then target those specific keywords in your SEO efforts.
  2. People type in the keywords “article submission” into search engines a lot more frequently than the others, and that is why it’s number two on the list. But this site is not really about article submission in general so most of these visitors bounce away quickly in search of something more relevant. This is reflected by the low number of Pages/Visit and the high Bounce Rate. In this case you have the choice of bulking up your site with relevant content for these keywords, or just ignoring that traffic.

An important factor of how much organic search traffic you’re going to receive is of course how well your pages rank. In StatCounter this is very easy to see. Go to Recent Keyword Activity and you will see a list like this:

Recent Keywords

Click on the link in the Query column and you will be taken to the search engine results page. For this particular keyword phrase it turns out that I’m #5 in Google. Cool!

Data is Useless…

…unless you take action on it. For the simple action of installing a web analytics tool on your site you will received all this useful data described in this article. Now you need to make use of it.

  1. Determine which traffic sources send most visitors to your site. Focus on these for your future promotion efforts. Don’t waste any more time on methods that do not result in any significant traffic.
  2. Examine the source pages that are sending you traffic. Identify patterns that work well, e.g. a brief comment with an explicit link to your site, or maybe a simple trackback. Look at headlines; what works what doesn’t. Do more of the “what works” category.
  3. Look at the keywords that are resulting in organic traffic. Are you already targeting these keywords? If not, do some keyword research to determine if they could generate enough traffic to be worth targeting.