Monday, July 28, 2014

#1 Web Marketing Bestseller, Content Is Cash, Is Growth Hacking At Its Best

Growth hacker marketing or growth hacking is the latest buzz word for strategy that involves creativity, analytical thinking, search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, viral marketing, and some good ole’ fashioned direct response A/B testing. According to Wikipedia, “Growth hackers focus on low-cost and innovative alternatives to traditional marketing,” which is especially attractive to start ups and small businesses with smaller budgets as it follows a lean launch model.

There’s a successful strategy that has been used by business large and small for over a decade, is organic, and is proven:  The SONAR Content Distribution Model.

The SONAR Content Distribution Model TM, was developed by online direct response marketing strategist, Wendy Montes de Oca, MBA, and is the cornerstone of Amazon #1 Web marketing bestseller, ‘Content Is Cash: Leveraging Great Content and the Web for Increased Traffic, Sales, Leads and Buzz’ [Que Publishing, Paperback, ISBN# 0789741083].

Content Is Cash (and it’s SONAR Content Distribution Model) focuses on using core online content curation strategies and other high-performing inbound marketing through a variety of organic online channels: Syndicate partners and content networks; Online press releases; Network and social communities; Article distribution; Relevant and targeted posts in forums, blogs, etc. – during a specified time period, which creates search engine momentum, traction and increased presence.

According to Montes de Oca, “The book centers around a systematic, synchronized strategy of using great, original content that is ‘UVA’ (useful, valuable, and actionable) which business owners and publishers may have already created, then repurposing and distributing it to targeted, relevant locations on the Web, based on audience and business objectives”.

Content Is Cash has received praise from some of the most respected direct response marketers, publishers, and entrepreneurs in the industry including Michael Masterson, Bob Bly, Martin Weiss, Ph.D., MaryEllen Tribby, Marc Charles, Brian Edmondson, Conrad Hall, Dr. Jonny Bowden, and many more.

Says Montes de Oca, “The book has been embraced by consumers and colleagues alike. I think what resonates with people is this powerful, yet easy-to-implement strategy which leverages great content for virtually no cost.  Business owners and marketers are looking for free strategically creative ways to create visibility and website traffic for their business with maximum ROI.”

She concludes, “The SONAR Content Distribution Model works with search engines, not against it. The strategy has remained viable despite several Google algorithm updates including Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird because SONAR focuses on quality, relevant content. Content really is king.  Creating solid, original content will first and foremost provide valued information to readers and encourage bonding; but it can also help with increased website exposure and visits.  That increased traffic can then be harnessed for online product sales, advertising sales, and more.”

Content Is Cash is available at,, other book retailers and e-tailers world-wide.

For more information visit

About Wendy Montes de Oca, MBA

Ms. Montes de Oca’s diversified background includes nearly 20 years of experience in direct response and online marketing, media, publishing, financial services and law. She’s worked for renowned publishers and Fortune 500 companies.  Ms. Montes de Oca is an Internet marketing expert with a proven track record for both acquisition and retention efforts.  During her career, she has generated over $150 million in total revenues for various corporations, consulting clients, and her own consulting firm, Precision Marketing and Media, LLC

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pay Per Click Shockers and Secrets

Pay per click (PPC), particularly Google’s Ad Words, is a marketing channel that can produce profitable results for your business, whether your goal is lead generation or sales.

I have been managing PPC for businesses, as an in-house marketing leader as well marketing consultant, for over a decade now.

Though the years I have noticed many secrets to success that I wanted to share -- especially with business owners and marketers that haven’t tried PPC yet.

First, I’d like to clear the air about a big shocker… or actually a fallacy… that you need a big budget to run an effective PPC campaign.

You don’t. If you happen to have a large budget, your ads will be shown more and you can spread out your ad groups and test different types. With a smaller budget, you do need to be more judicious with your efforts. But if you market smarter, not broader, your campaigns can still produce positive results.

I have run PPC campaigns with total monthly budgets of $1,000. I have run campaigns with total daily maximum budgets ranging from $25-$50. These campaigns brought in both sales and leads despite their limited spending. But they do require active management, strategic thinking, deep PPC knowledge, and refinement/optimization.

The PPC Tri-Pod
What is going to determine the cost and return of your campaign are 3 simple things I call the “PPC Tri-pod”, as it supports your entire PPC efforts:
1) Keywords
2) Creative (or banner ad, if it’s running on the display network)
3) Redirect URL
So in order for you to get the most bang for your buck with PPC you should be aware of a few things regarding the PPC Tri-pod:

Keywords. The more popular the keyword, the more cost per click (CPC) it’s going to have. So it’s very important to do your keyword research before you start selecting your keywords as you’re setting up your campaign.

I like to use The ‘lite’ version is free, but you can also upgrade to the full version and see more results and have more capabilities for a monthly fee. Google used to have their Keyword External Tool, which has since morphed into Google Adwords Keyword Planner. You need a gmail account to access this free tool.

Either of these tools will allow you to enter keywords or keyword phrases and then view popularity (actual search results) as well as what the average CPCs are. This is important for your keyword selection and bidding. You can also type in your ‘core’ or focus keywords and get additional ad group/keyword ideas. To help refine your search terms you can also choice broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, exact match and negative match.
If you pick a word that is too vague or too under-searched, your ad will not see much (or any) action. Impressions will either not be served, or if they are served (in the case of a vague word), it may cost you a high CPC. In addition, a vague keyword may not be relevant enough to get you a good conversion rate. Since you pay by the click, your goal is to monetize that click by getting an instant conversion. And conversions, my friends, will be the role of the landing page. I’ll talk about that more in a moment.

Creative. This is your text ad (or banner ad, if you’re running in Ad Word’s display network).  For Google to rank your ad favorably, and more important, for you to get the best conversion results possible – there needs to be a relevancy and synergy between your keyword, text ad and landing page. Google will let you know if you’re not passing muster by your ad’s page position and quality score. Once you carefully researched and selected your ad group keywords, you want to make sure those keywords are consistent across the board with your ad and landing page. Your text ad has 4 visible lines with limited character count:

Headline (25 Characters)
Description Line 1 (35 Characters)
Description Line 2 (35 Characters)
Display URL (35 Characters)

Your keyword must appear in your text ad as well as follow through and appear in the content of your landing page.

This will give you a good quality rank with Google, but also help qualify the prospect and carry the relevancy of the ad through to the landing page. Why is this important? It helps maintain consistency of the message and also set expectations with the end user. You don’t want to present one add and then have a completely different landing page come up.

Not only is that a ‘bait and switch’, but it’s costly. Since you’re paying for clicks, a great ad that is compelling and keyword rich, but not cohesive to your landing page will not convert as best as one that is. And your campaign will actually lose conversions.

Redirect URL. This is your landing page. Different goals and different industries will have different formats. A lead generation campaign, which is just looking to collect email addresses to build an opt-in email list, will be a ‘squeeze page’. This is simply a landing page with a form asking for first name and email address in return for giving something away for free albeit a bonus report, free newsletter subscription or similar. It’s got its name since it’s ‘squeezing’ an email address from the prospect. Some retail campaigns will direct prospects directly to their ecommerce site or catalog page  (as opposed to a sales page). Direct response online marketers will drive their traffic to a targeted promotional landing page.  Where it’s not typically a webpage where there’s other navigation or distractions that will take the prospect away from the main goal. It’s more streamlined and focused. The copy is not technical, it’s compelling and emotional, like promotional copy you would see in a sales letter. The anatomy of your redirect URL will vary on your goal and offer. It will take optimization and testing to see what’s working and what’s not. And that’s par for the course. If you’re testing, I suggest elements that scream and not whisper, such as long copy vs. short copy, or headlines and leads that are different themes. However, no matter what your goal, whether it’s going for the sale or the email address, you still need keyword consistency between all creative elements.

Tips And Tricks For Maximum ROI

Whether you have a big or small budget, there’s a few things I’ve learned over the years that help the overall performance of a PPC campaign. Some of these are anecdotal, so if you’ve seen otherwise, I suggest testing to see if it makes a difference to your particular industry.

Ad and Landing Page. In general, I have noticed that shorter, to the point, landing pages produce better results. And the rationale is quite obvious. People searching the Web are looking for quick solutions to a problem.  This means your creatives have to not only be keyword rich, but compelling and eye-caching. You have seconds to grave a Web surfers attention and get them to click. In the same essence, the landing page has to be equally relevant and persuasive, and typically shorter in copy. Keep in mind Google has many rules surrounding ad copy development. So write your text ads in accordance to their advertising policy.

Price Point. Again, in my personal experience, most Web surfers have a price threshold. And that’s items under about $79. When running a PPC campaign, think about price points that are more tolerable to ‘cold’ prospects, that is, people that haven’t built a relationship with you or know anything about you. They have no brand loyalty. They don’t know you from Adam. So getting a sale at a lower price point is an easier sell than a product you have that hundreds of dollars. Luxury items or items with strong recognition and brand loyalty are the exception to that rule. As a direct response marketer, I urge you to price test and see for yourself.

Campaign set up. There’s a few tactics I noticed helps with ad exposure, clicks and saving money. When you’re setting up your campaign you can day part, frequency cap and run ad extensions. Day parting allows you to select the hours of the day you’d like your campaign to run; Ad extensions allows you to add components to your text ad to help visibility and call to action such as location, site links, reviews and more; And frequency capping lets you set a 
threshold on how many times you’d like a given person to see your ad (based on impressions).

PPC Networks. It’s smart not to put all your eggs in one basket.  In addition to Google Ad Words, try running campaigns on other PPC networks such as Bing/Yahoo, Adroll (retargeting through Facebook),, (formerly, and Then see where you get the best cost per click, cost per conversion, and overall results.

I’ve only touched the surface here. There are more tactics and features that can help a PPC campaigns performance. So get yourself familiar with it, read up on the best practices, and don’t be afraid to put your toe in the water.  As with any marketing tactic, some channels will work for your business, and some won’t. But you won’t know unless you test. Just remember the foundation of success hinges on the PPC Tri-Pod. The possibilities are endless.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How to Create High Performing Sweepstakes for Lead-Gen Efforts

Republished from my latest article in Target Marketing:

OK, I know what you're thinking … viable leads typically don't come from sweepstakes and contests.
And when not done correctly, that's exactly right.
However, just as any online direct response tactic, this one is no different. Over the years, sweepstakes marketing has become refined through testing and targeting. And since the boom in social media, sweepstakes are more popular than ever.
But before you embark on this tactic, there are a few core concepts to know—as well as best practices.
The Precursors
It's important to get to know your list to help determine its value and how much you are willing to give away for a lead, such as:
  • What is your average conversion time (how long does it take someone to move from a lead to a buyer—30, 60, 90-plus days?)
  • What is the lifetime value (LTV) per buyer?
  • What is your average revenue per name?
  • What is your average cost per lead (CPL)?
Conversion Time. Monitor a group of new names (perhaps by campaign) who come on your file and see at what point, at what percent and for what dollar amount your leads convert to buyers. This will help you know how much and how long it takes a lead to convert. Let's say you have a pay-per-click campaign and, in the first 30 days, 20 percent of the leads convert and the average unit sale is $50. This shows you your time threshold for getting a sale. You'll know when to anticipate revenues and can manage your budget accordingly.
LTV. You take the total your buyers purchased: Let's say over five years, this group collectively spent $100,000, and divide that amount by number of buyers (let's say its 500). Your LTV is $200. This will show you the potential long-term opportunity for a buyer's worth, as well as the loss (if the customer leaves your list).
Rev Per Name. This is more for the current buyers on your file not long term, as with LTV. Take the total your buyers spend at 30, 60 and 90 days; and at each time point, divide that amount by the number of buyers. So let's say at 30 days, your newest names bring in collectively $10,000 and there are 1,000 buyers. That is a $10/rev per name. This will show you current buyer worth and your threshold for acquisition costs.
Cost Per Lead. When you're doing an acquisition effort, how much does it cost you per name? Take the cost of the media buy and divide by the number of leads that came in. This will tell you how much you typically spend to bring in a new name. Ideally, you want to keep you cost per lead much lower than your revenue per name and LTV. I like to hover between $5 and $25 CPL. CPLs will be different by channel. However, if you bring in a lead at $50 and you know, based on your list performance, that name will spend $75 in the first 6 months, you can afford to take an initial loss.
The Offer
What are you going to give away? The value of the giveaway should be something that won't be viewed as too good to be true by users as well, as one you can earn back (based on the aforementioned list criteria and in a certain time period). So knowing your giveaway threshold is important.
In addition to being realistic and appealing, the offer should also be relevant and interesting to your target prospect.
I've seen random sweepstakes offers on the Web, as I'm sure you have. One in particular, a publishing company, featured an offer: "Win a free iPad."
This makes zero sense to me in so many ways …
Unless this publishing company is uploading an app on the iPad with a free online subscription to one of their publications, I don't see the relevance for the end-user. This publisher will likely wind up with thousands of leads, but they will be unqualified, irrelevant people looking for a free electronic device and not in the other information products they offer.
Plus there's an out-of-pocket cost for the product and shipping of the product.
This, in my opinion, is typical of the "old" sweepstakes offers where little strategy and direct response knowledge seemed to go into planning the campaign.
However, one website I discovered in my research for this article seems to hit the nail on the head and offer something synergistic to their leads, as well as qualifies the lead for future potential sales via cross-sell and upsell efforts.
Take skin care company, DermagistOpens in a new window. Their sweepstakes offer is for lead generation, touts a "$200 shopping spree," and is featured on their website and Facebook page. The tactics they are using can be applied to most any industry.
Leads have to "register" by liking Dermagist's Facebook page, as well as post on Dermagists' Facebook page why they love the product. Winners are chosen monthly and given a promo code worth $200 toward anything in their store. No purchase is necessary.
What I Like …
The offer is ongoing, so it's a continuity of new leads (email addresses) coming in on a monthly basis to help build the list and offset any attrition.
The prize is realistic, targeted and qualifies the recipient based on relevant interest—it's appealing to those interested in skincare products and is a great way to get repeat and referral sales.
Leads have to "register" by liking Dermagist Facebook page, as well as post on their Facebook wall why they love the product. This strategy helps with social media engagement (boosting page "likes," visibility and credibility), as well as product awareness.
I also liked that on the website's sweepstakes registration page, last month's winner's name was posted. This helps reinforce contest legitimacy.
Location, Location, Location
Where you promote your sweepstakes is equally important for targeting and relevance.
There's the obvious, such as having a banner ad, header content or interstitial on the website's home page mentioning the promotion.
You can also promote it on your business' Facebook page organically (through fan page timeline and wall posts), through appsOpens in a new window, as well as through targeted ads and boosted posts, selecting audiences in the Newsfeed that are like-minded with your target customer.
TabsiteOpens in a new window has a variety of Facebook-friendly apps for contests and sweepstakes (photos, trivia and more).
A word of caution: If you are promoting a sweepstakes on Facebook, make sure to follow its guidelinesOpens in a new window or your campaign may run the risk of getting shut down.
Promoting it organically with search engine marketing is another tactic, such as with free online press releases.
And, of course, if your budget allows, you can promote your sweepstakes through targeted media buys (banner ads, email list rental) and pay-per-click. These costs should be factored into the overall campaign effort and cost per lead.
So when you start thinking about your acquisition efforts and how sweepstakes may be used, know that through the evolution of the consumer and Internet marketing in general, this is not your father's sweepstakes anymore.
Being a creative and strategic marketer will help you take this strategy to a whole new, high-performing level.
Add to Technorati Favorites AddMe - Search Engine Optimization