As an Internet marketer, your main focus should be on building trust with your prospects through "permission marketing"* instead of trying to make a one-off sale. You can certainly build a great website with good content and lots of ads and links to pages designed to presell your products and link through to the product sales pages. It is even possible to make a reasonable living this way, as long as you can drive sufficient amounts of targeted traffic to your website. But how much of the traffic drives off again without a trace, never to return? And how many of the people who do click through and buy the product return to you to buy again? If your site is well designed and targeted then it is quite possible that some people will return and buy again. But, how much better would it be if instead of trying to get people to part with their cash as soon as possible, you actually focused less on the quick sale and more on building a relationship with the customer? By focusing on your prospect's need for trustworthy advice you would stand a much bigger chance of turning your prospect into a life-long customer who trusted you, was eager to hear from you and bought your recommended products time and time again. Sounds great, doesn't it? Here is a list of the steps you need to take to move towards a method of marketing that places the customer's needs at the centre and turns the relationship into a dialogue rather than a shouting match! 1.
Focus on gaining people's permission for you to contact them about their needs. Do this by making a squeeze page (or several) and also by adding a form to each page of your website. Include an incentive for people to sign up, like a compelling free report about stuff they need to know but haven't seen elsewhere. 2. Link the form on your page to your autoresponder, which has been pre-loaded with a series of messages that will now go out to the subscriber.
3. While you might like to include a link or two to your products, don't over-do the sales at this stage of the game. Instead, remember that you have not yet won your reader's trust. What you have to do in the early stages is set up a dialogue and also provide useful services and recommendations. To do that, your email newsletters should be packed with useful information that is written in a lively and personal manner and focuses on the customer. Also, provide free resources, tips and information that are genuinely useful.
Don't be afraid to include links to sites other than your own - subscribers will appreciate your generosity and return for more. 4. From time to time make your subscribers a new opt-in offer. Give them a good incentive and require that they give your some more information that you can use to focus on their needs more closely. Those who opt in will be transferred from the first to the second mailing list. The customers on your second list are the ones who you have developed a deeper trust-based relationship with and they will be pleased to receive your product recommendations.
That is the list you make your money on in repeat sales and sales of your primary products and services. But remember, it is also the list you must look after most assiduously. The subscribers on the list have learned to trust you and building trust online with your customers is the key. If you are tempted to sell them short at this stage for a quick profit, you will soon find that you have succeeded in undermining your credibility and your hard work will have been wasted.
Remember, you are seeking to build a long-term relationship of mutual benefit, so don't muff it by succumbing to short-term greed. I have only described a couple of stages of this "permission marketing" model. Moving your customers "up the permission-marketing ladder"* is the key to success.
It does not have to be just a one-step move. You can implement several steps, each one moving the customer relationship to a higher and more personal level. This is where you can further categorize your customers through the use of sub-niches.
As you talk to your list and invite a response, you should also be prepared to place different responses on different lists at the higher level. With fewer subscribers on each niche list, you now have the opportunity to get to know each customer more personally and open up several lines of 1-on-1 dialogue with subscribers who are now repeat-buyers. Because they have moved up several rungs of the permission-marketing ladder you know a lot more about them and are now in a position to offer them exactly what they need, and they are in a position, based on experience to trust your offers and enjoy your mailings. They should be treated like gold-dust because you have won their trust and they are more than happy to hear from you and follow your recommendations. == NOTE *See Seth Godin's "Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends, and Friends Into Customers" (available on Amazon.
David Hurley is based in Japan and is the owner of http://grasp-the-nettle.com, which focuses on success mentoring for Internet marketing start-ups.