January 31, 2009

25 Random And Personal Things About Me

I've been tagged. (No, not one of those tags that naughty boys have to wear!) Normally my response towards tagging is: "Hey it's Saturday, I have important stuff to do like eating, sleeping and sharing time with friends and family; and you expect me to play tag?"  And that's the gist of what I told Diane Corriette when she skyped me to tell me she'd tagged me. But she's a great friend so I guess I'd better do as I'm told.  ;-)

Anyway, here’s how this one works:

Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a post with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose five more people to be tagged. You also have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you. To do this, you simply link to their blogs so that they know you responded to their tag.

You may include the above rules in your post so that the person being tagged knows them, too. You may also want to tweet your post to notify them on Twitter, too.

So here we go.  25 things you may or may not care to know about me, randomized:

  1. I've lost 5lbs in weight since Christmas.
  2. If you described me as young, free and single.. you'd get two out of three right.
  3. I've ridden all the way from John O'Groats the most northern point in Scotland all the way to Land's End the southernmost tip of England by bicyle to raise funds for a children's hospice. It was a journey of 942 miles; and it took 84 hours, several punctures, a couple of broken wheels and a very sore bottom!
  4. I had a lot of fun in the sixties getting to see The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other great bands at live concerts.
  5. I read at least one book every week, my favourite authors include: David Baldacci, Margaret Forster, David Frey and many others.
  6. My springer spaniel Muffin insists that I take her for a walk at least once a day.
  7. In my younger days I was a "Biker" and have owned an Aerial Square Four, a Norton Commando, a James 197 and a Triumph Tiger Cub together with several more modern motor bikes.
  8. I used to be heavily involved in Rally Sport, was licenced to International level and have navigated for championship drivers such as Russell Brooks.
  9. I love game fishing and I've caught Trout and Salmon on many of the greatest rivers in Britain.
  10. My music collection includes Eric Clapton, U2, The Rolling Stones, Whitesnake, Van Morrison, Coldplay,  Rush, Cream, Jethro Tull, Annie Lennox, Bob Marley & The Whalers, Pink Floyd, BB King, Led Zeppelin…
  11. I once stayed in the Salmon Leap Inn a local pub owned by Billy Connelly in Drymen, near Loch Lomond and spent a couple of hours chatting with him in the bar. The pub, I'm sad to say has since been demolished.. perhaps all the laughter was responsible?
  12. My favourite clothing designers are Armani and Hugo Boss. I wear Hugo Boss underwear. I love to shop at the Brown Thomas depeartment store in Grafton Street, Dublin. Shopping is thirsty work and is usually followed by several pints of the Dublin brewed Guiness which somehow tastes better than it does anywhere else.
  13. I was born on 13th August 1952 in Frizington a small west Cumbrian town on the western fringe of the English lake District.
  14. I'm allergic to walnuts but I love cashew nuts.
  15. I hope to be cremated when I die and it's my wish to have my ashes scattered in Wastwater in the hope I may in some small way clog up the Sellafield nuclear plant.  ;-)
  16. I used to have a small flock of Hedwick sheep but unfortunately they were lost during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001. They all had names beginning with the letter M..  Mary, Molly, Milly, Methuselah, Madge, etc.
  17. The first word I ever uttered was "Tess" the name of our next door neighbour's springer spaniel.
  18. My favourite flower is the "Gloire de Dijon" climbing rose, because it has a wonderful scent, a soft cream colour and it's a vigorous grower.
  19. The "Maison du Cygne" in Brussels is one of my favourite restaurants, I just wish it was moved to wonderful area around Neuhaven in Copenhagen where the busy evening atmosphere is amazing.
  20. I've met the Queen, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles and Princess Alexander on different occasions. Prince Phillip had a bandaged hand because he'd had a wart removed and shook with his left hand.
  21. My Dad, George Taylor served in the Northumberland Fusiliers during World War Two and was a policeman with the Cumberland County Constabulary for 25 years.
  22. My passport used to show "Cordwainer" as my occupation.
  23. I'm a member of the British Psychological Society and I'm qualified to administer a wide range of psychometric tests including OPQ, MBTI and HBDI.
  24. I always carry a small black notebook and a pencil when I leave my house, I don't like being unable to jot down my thoughts and ideas when they come to me. There's something special about catching ideas in the moment. That specialness seems to be lost when trying to remember the details when you get home.
  25. While running an online business allows a great deal of flexibility and freedom, and it's an exciting environment in which to work, I really miss leading and working with people, I miss the friendly banter, the deadlines, the joint problem solving and recognising and rewarding team successes.

Now, who shall I tag?
Let's see… Dana Willhoit, Andy Henry, Robert Puddy, Kevin Riley and Michelle MacPhearson

Filed under Gossip by John

Permalink Print 5 Comments

January 27, 2009

Is The Pen More Powerful Than The Click?

It seems that when you give away a pen, or other writing instrument, that's printed with your advertising message it's more cost effective than other advertising media.

According to a new research study conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), among businesspeople over age 21, revealed that advertising specialties out performed all forms of TV, radio and print advertising as the most cost-effective advertising medium available.

The average cost-per-impression of an advertising specialty item is $0.004, making it less expensive per impression than nearly any other media. According to Nielsen Media data, says the report, the CPI for a national magazine ad is $0.033; a newspaper ad is $0.0129; a prime time TV ad is $0.019; a cable TV ad is $0.007; a syndicated TV ad is $0.006; and a spot radio ad is $0.005.

Writing instruments are the most commonly-owned advertising specialty, followed by shirts, caps, bags, glassware and desk/business accessories.

The survey results reveal that..

  • 84% of people remember the advertiser on a product they receive.
  • 42% have a more favorable impression of an advertiser after receiving an advertising specialty.
  • 24% indicate that they are more likely to do business with an advertiser on items they receive.
  • 62% of respondents have done business with the advertiser on a product after receiving it.

The data would certainly suggest that having your business name, website and other contact details printed on speciality gift items could be a cost effective means of advertising in the right niche markets. Not as easy or as inexpensive to deliver to your target audience but clearly advertising that has impact.

Would you consider investing in speciality gifts as a means of promoting your business and building your brand?

Filed under News by John

Permalink Print Comment

January 26, 2009

Why Should You Target Longtail Keywords?

Longtail keywords are simply phrases that contain three or more keywords. In other words, longtail keywords are the typical phrases used in search engines by people looking for specific information. Therefore, these longtail keywords are much more targeted than the general or main keyword topic. Identifying the most popular keyword phrases used by your target audience is a critically important step in getting your links in front of the right people.

The primary benefits in identifying and ustilising longtail keywords are:

1. Since users who use longtail keyword searches are looking for specific information they are much more likely to be further along the decision making process. If your product or service has a close match with the longtail keyword being used by the searcher then they are much more likely to click through to your website and such highly targeted traffic is likely to boost your conversion rate.

2. Longtail keywords will usually have much less competition in the search engines and, therefore, will require less effort to rank. The prcision in your targeting will generally result in a higher click through rate and an increase in targeted traffic to your website.

3.  Since a longtail keyword phrase will contain the general one and two word terms too, in effect, you are also targeting those broad terms. Essentially, whenever you use a long tail keyword in a link or in your content, you will also benefit from the broad terms included in that longtail phrase and this will help your ranking for all the terms.

Clearly if you had a gardening site, it would be very difficult to grab a page one ranking for the keyword "gardening" with almost 65 million competing pages. However, if you drilled down into the niche and decided to set up a site for "Rose gardening for beginners" there are around 143,000 competing pages.

Have you embraced the longtail?

Filed under News by John

Permalink Print 8 Comments

January 23, 2009

Are You Selling Yourself Short?

If you are at all involved in email marketing, I wonder if you have considered the impact that your email subject line can have on your bottom line profits?

Common sense dictates that the decision to open an email is based on very little information.. the most popular email clients and webmail programmes will only show the sender and the subject. So, what you put in your subject line is likely to have a significant influence on your open rate.

This begs the question.. Are you testing your email subject lines?

Another factor to consider is what the potential reader will actually see. For example several of the top email providers limit the number of characters that are displayed in the subject line:

  • AOL, which is responsible for approximately 22% of the U.S. email market, limits subject lines to roughly 38 characters
  • Yahoo!, with 21% of U.S. email, has a approximate limit of 47 characters per subject line
  • Hotmail, which has 14% of the U.S. email market, uses word wrap to display subject lines on multiple lines, allowing approximately 45 characters per line

Therefore, 57% of U.S. email recipients see only the first 38 to 47 characters of a subject line when making the decision to open an email. Additionally, the growing reliance on mobile devices, and their smaller screens that display even fewer characters, affects this trend as well.

If you put a [firstname] type field in the subject line to personalise your message, then this limits your subject line even further. A firstname is likely to fall into the range of 3 - 10 characters and the first name is often followed by a comma and a space. So this is likely to leave only 30 characters for your subject, coincidentally the length of this blog posts title.

My own testing would suggest that shorter subject lines tend to get a higher open rate.

Do you monitor your open rates?

Have you spotted any differences between short and long subject lines?

Filed under News by John

Permalink Print 9 Comments

January 18, 2009

Are You Stuck With A Limited Audience?

I was talking to a friend yesterday and he was talking about her "Regular Blog Readers" and that sparked an interesting question. I asked her how much she thought her blog readership had grown during the last year.

She had a quick look in her AWStats control panel and went very quiet. The truth was that her readership was alomost the same size today as it was in January 2008. She was blogging to the same audiences over and over again.

We then began to discuss how she could break out of this limited pattern and expose her audience to a much wider and yet still targeted audience.

We discussed a few things that she could do to get in front of people who are interested in the topics that she writes about..

  • Identifying blogs on related topics and posting constructive and positive comments.
  • Creating a Twitter account and building a network of people who are enthusiastic about the topic.
  • Identifying and participating in forums devoted to the topic.
  • Submitting her blog to suitable directories.
  • Making sure that her blog's feed was submitted to the most popular RSS Directories.
  • Adding suitable plugins to encourage her readers to bookmark her posts.

So, take a look at your stats right now and see if you are growing your readership and then think about what you can do to get a wider exposure.

If you benefited from this post please click the "Share This" icon and bookmark this post on my Favourite sites: Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Del.icio.us.  Thanks! ;-)

Filed under News by John

Permalink Print 6 Comments

January 15, 2009

Truthfully Answer These Questions & Increase Your Profits

If you were managing a multi-million dollar corporation you'd have a team of accountants and bean counters providing you with all manner of statistics and financial statements. After all, you'd have to account for your actions to the shareholders.

That's why I'm often puzzled to see so few people pay attention to the performance data for their own businesses

When considering your own business, do you know the answers to the following questions:

  • What's your subscriber opt-in rate for each of your ezines?
  • What's the current sales conversion rate for each of your websites?
  • What is the percentage refund rate for each of your products?
  • What proportion of potential buyers abandon your shopping cart without making a purchase?
  • What is the lifetime value of each customer?

Improving any one of the above figures by making even small changes to each part of your sales proces will add to your bottom line profits at little or no cost.

Whatever your advertising cost, measured in hard cash or hours of time spent, you can get a better return on your advertising spend if you improve what happens on your website.

Let me share an example with you..

Lets assume you make 30 sales of a $27 information product every month and 12% of the people who get as far as the shopping cart bail out without completing the purchase.

Let's say you add an Exit Survey to discover the main cause of that shopping cart abandonment.

Your Exit Survey results reveal that most people who don't complete the purchase are worried about the security of their personal information.

To allay their fears you add extra text on your order page explaining the payment process step-by-step, showing them exactly what to expect, and you reassure them that their data will only be seen by a very reputable payment processor.

OK, that small tweak could very easily halve the number of people who abandondon the cart.

That small change will generate an extra 22 sales every year and add $594 to your annual sales revenue. For what.. a couple of hours of your time?

I recommend that you start paying attention to your numbers. It's much more effective to invest a little in optimising your sales process than spending more money on advertising.

Filed under News by John

Permalink Print 2 Comments

December 31, 2008

Get With The Process

Sometimes we should just go back to the basics. It's easy to allow our businesses to evolve over time in a piecemeal sort of way rather than as part of a predetermined strategy. Some time ago I created a flow chart showing one of my favourite online business models. It still works, I still use it in a number of niche markets and you are welcome to copy or adapt it to suit your own specific needs.

As the New Year begins tomorrow, I hope that the above flowchart helps you to build a successful and profitable online business.

Filed under News by John

Permalink Print 5 Comments

December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas

I'm just about to head of to spend Christmas with my Son Mark and his family. I hope you have a great Christmas too..

Filed under News by John

Permalink Print 1 Comment

December 23, 2008

What They Don't Tell You About Writing Great Headlines

I did a little last minute Christmas shopping yesterday, one of the shops I visited was WH Smiths.. they sell stationery, books magazines CDs and DVDs.

The magazine stand is huge, there are literall thousands of them all vying for your attention.

So, what is it that makes you pick up a magazine? What is it that prompts you to eventually buy that magazine?

Well, colour certainly comes into it, as does the layout of the front cover. I'm sure that the editors invest a lot of time in choosing what they believe will be the right photograph for the front cover.

But, at the end of the day, it's the headlines that have the greatest influence.

Let's face it, we buy magazines primarily for the articles.. and the only way we can identify what's inside is by looking at the headlines.

So, the next time you find yourself with headline writer's block, take a stroll to your nearest magazine stand. I'm sure you'll find lots of inspiration.

Filed under News by John

Permalink Print 1 Comment

December 19, 2008

Affiliates Have Never Had It Easy.. Until Now!

I don't believe that anything to do with Affiliate Marketing can really be described as "easy". Like most other business models, it takes work.

However, I do think that it's possible to make things simple, straightforward and easy to use.

If you're at all interested in affiliate marketing as a business model, then you MUST check out the Instant Affiliate Website it's free and if nothing else you should watch the video. (I'll apologise in advance for the absolutely dreadful header graphic!)

Filed under News by John

Permalink Print Comment
Register Login