Monthly Archives: July 2003

An interesting fact (of no particular use, but interesting nonetheless!)

I came across a news article this week that contained some pretty impressive statistics.  The article was covering’s second-quarter financial report for this year.  The figure that really jumped out at me was not the huge level of profits (almost $110 million for the quarter – that’s just 3 months trading!), but the number of registered users that the online auction site currently has – over 75 million!

If eBay was a country, it would be the 15th largest nation in the world!

Don’t fall into this trap…

One of the most common problems that people make when starting their online business is creating a website or product that people don’t want.

Sounds crazy doesn’t it?  But it’s true.  I have heard from several people in the past that have emailed me to say that they have built a site but despite having worked to get top search engine rankings, they are not making any sales.

Here’s the thing – it is no good having your website at the number one position on Google for the keyword ‘tomato soup’ if no one ever searches for ‘tomato soup’!

Therefore one of the most important things to do when you are considering starting any new website business is research – see if anyone actually wants what you are going to offer them. Think of it like this, if you wanted to open a restaurant you would do some research to see if the local residents wanted your restaurant and whether they would be likely to use it. If the local residents said ‘no’, then you wouldn’t bother opening would you?

Same process online – make sure there is a market BEFORE you create the product. There are various ways you can do this but one of the best is to use a fre^e piece of software called Good Keywords.  In a nutshell, you type a keyword or phrase into the software and it checks to see how many times in the last month people have searched some of the main search engines for that word or phrase.  It works very well and I have used it to rule out several website ideas in the past – ideas that would have involved me spending weeks of work building sites or writing ebooks, only to find that no one was interested in the subject matter!

You can download Good Keywords at no cost whatsoever from:

And don’t forget the other piece of advice that I keep banging on about – go for a niche market – just because 5 million people searched for ‘dvd’ last month, doesn’t mean that DVD’s are a good thing to sell.  Search Google for DVD and see how many search results are displayed – that’s your competition!  Daunted?  You should be!  With a bit of research you can find a far less competitive market that still has thousands of people searching for it every month.

The simple mistake that has cost me thousands of $$$$ (or ££££!)

I am going to share something with you this week.  It is a mistake that I made a couple of years ago when I first started building my website businesses.  It is a mistake that I have known about for over 18 months but one that I just ‘couldn’t find the time’ to put right (sound familiar?).  It is a mistake that I have now corrected and which has cost me thousands of dollars (or pounds) in lost sales.  I am going to share that mistake with you in the hope that you don’t make the same one…

About 2 years ago I remember reading a similar article to the one I am about to write.  I took a bit of notice, but not enough.  The article was about ‘sequential autoresponders’.  For those of you that don’t know, a sequential autoresponder is a piece of software used to send out emails.  For example, let’s say you subscribe to a newsletter.  You get an immediate email thanking you for your subscription and then the next day you get another email maybe suggesting that you join the websites forum.  Two days later you get another one offering you a discount on a new product and a week later you get another one which tells you about another product or site.  Get the idea?

The autoresponder software sends these emails out automatically, with no work required from the site owner.  Because of the way that the emails can be used to build trust and get subscribers coming back to the original website, autoresponders are pretty much guaranteed to increase sales.

Back to my story.  After reading the article a couple of years ago, I stuck an autoresponder on one of my sites.  I kept an eye on results for a week or so and didn’t see any difference in sales, so I took it off.  Looking back, the reason that it didn’t work was because I was hardly getting any traffic at the time and my follow-up messages were all wrong.

As my portfolio of websites grew, I always had this little voice in the back of my mind telling me that I should be using autoresponders, but because I now had so many web pages across so many sites, it would be a mammoth task to implement a new piece of autoresponder software, so I just kept putting it off.

Anyway, last month I bit the bullet and installed sequential autoresponders across 5 of my websites.  This meant changes to over 100 different web pages and also meant I had to write 15 sets of email messages (over 70 different individual emails!).  It took me just over 3 weeks of pretty much solid work.

BUT these changes have caused an increase in sales this month of over 20%!!  Just by using follow-up emails!  And that’s based on the first emails I have typed out – after a few weeks of testing and altering content etc, I reckon this figure could rise to as much as 30% or even 40%!

I have missed out on this additional income in a massive way over the past two years – do not make the same mistake!  Start using sequential autoresponders on your website today, even if it doesn’t seem like they are of much benefit.  It is far easier to get something like this installed on your site from day one, than to do what I did and try and implement it 2 years down the road.

Try something different

The Internet is all about trying different things and being innovative – it is often the ‘off the wall’ ideas that work the best.  I tried a new method of marketing a product last week and I received so many emails from customers/subscribers asking me to let them know how I got on, that I decided to make the results the topic of this weeks newsletter.

If you have only subscribed to the newsletter in the last week, then you may have missed the offer, so let me give you the outline…

I offered a package of over 300 website templates for sale and gave my subscribers the option of choosing how much they would like to pay for the package.  The normal price of the package was $37 and customers could choose to pay this amount or one of two lower prices.  Whatever they paid, they got exactly the same product.

Let me just say firstly that the package was worth every cent/penny of the retail price of $37 and I would have no issues in selling it for this price, so whatever anyone paid, they got a great deal.  What I wanted to see was how people reacted to this type of offer.

The results were interesting to say the least.  As you would expect, the vast majority of people chose to pay the lower price, a few went for the middle price and a few went for the normal retail price.  No real surprise there.

However, the interesting point to note is the percentage of people that actually made a purchase.  With a product such as this, I would normally have expected a conversion rate of around 1 – 2% (that is 1 or 2 sales for every 100 people that viewed the sales page), however the conversion rate for this campaign was over 4% – more than double what I would have normally expected the best result to be!

So whilst I made less per sale than I would have done if I had simply offered the package for $37, I generated more in total income as I made far more sales.

Possible reasons?

There are several and I am sure that a psychologist could enlighten me as to the various aspects of human behaviour that caused more people to buy, however, I guess the main reason is that people love a great deal and also like being in control.   From a marketing point of view, I think that the main lesson I will take away from this experiment is this:

‘Try something different, you might be pleasantly surprised!’

And if you decide to try a similar technique with your own products, let me know the results, it would be interesting to compare and I might be able to include details of your story in a future newsletter.