June 17, 2009

Hello Lead Agent! Did you realize there are only about 200 more shopping days before Christmas? I can hardly believe that 2009 is already half over already. I just wanted to share a few words and thoughts with you to help you with your marketing efforts.

The State of the Economy

True, the economy is currently nothing to write home about. Certain areas of the country are affected much more than others, where Detroit comes immediately to mind. But how is this affecting circuit sales?

The telecom industry has not slowed nearly as much as other industries during the current recession, at least from my perspective. Companies are taking longer to make decisions in many cases, other companies are reconsidering switching carriers right now based on the uncertainties of what the future holds.

Then again, there are also many companies who realize that telecom is an essential part of doing business, and keeping those costs down only serves to help them and their bottom line. I am not seeing many companies ditching their T1 and replacing it with DSL or cable — if they do (imho) they might as well shut their doors now and avoid the frustration of prolonging the inevitable failure that will come with DSL or cable. It’s kind of like trying to put 50 pounds of potatoes into a 5 pound sack. No matter how many different ways you twist the sack and no matter how many angry phone calls they make to the sack manufacturer, it just ain’t gonna work. A 5 pound sack was never designed to hold 50 pounds of potatoes, in the same way that DSL or cable was never designed to do the same job for as many users as a T1 or greater circuit.

Despite the recent rash of really poor leads I have seen, there are still serious customers out there. The customers who currently have a T1 with some carrier where they have been paying $600 a month, and we can get them a T1 for about half that. The customers who are expanding their business (yes, there are some of those, even in today’s economy). Customers looking to consolidate phones and Internet access. Customers looking for more bandwidth for less money where that can be done with Ethernet or one of our carriers. Customers looking to replace all those interoffice point-to-point circuits with MPLS technology. Keep working at it, since the only way to lose is to quit.

Advancing Your Internet Marketing

The Internet is a constantly changing and evolving place and you need to keep up with what is going on. The promotion methods that worked two years ago and not nearly as effective today, but another method that worked two years ago is still very effective today. You need to understand where you can get the best return on your investment of time and effort as you continue to do your marketing.

With that as an introduction, I wanted to give you several things that have proven effective and as far as anyone can see, will continue to be effective for at least awhile yet, or at least in worst case will not become a negative even in the foreseeable future.

Blogs

The search engines, especially Google, loves blogs. In fact, the Google spiders almost get in each other’s way when they discover that new content has been posted on a blog. But that does not mean that a blog is the be-all end-all for your marketing needs, since a blog needs to be done correctly in order to maximize its effectiveness for its purpose.

It’s purpose? Yes, every site/blog has a purpose and there is zero sense in creating a site that either has NO purpose, or has so many purposes that a visitor cannot being to have a clue what the site is about. Your blog’s purpose is to drive qualified traffic to your SFT1 site.

Your best bet by a long shot for a blog platform is WordPress. WordPress has many more capabilities built into it than other blogging platforms, including TypePress, Blogger, and others. WordPress is FREE and can usually be installed for free from your web host’s cpanel interface (via Fantastico). Some notes about “best blogging practices”:

* Pick an appropriate theme. There are literally thousands of themes available that you can download and use, the majority of which are FREE. Pick the right theme and header graphic. If you are referring the visitor to a site about animal rights, it is obviously a faux pas to have a header graphic on your blog depicting fur coats. In the same sense, if you are referring visitors to your SFT1 site, a graphic depicting a log cabin kind of clashes.

* Edit your theme. Take the time to understand what WordPress can do with the theme you have selected. Why have a sidebar section titled “Blogroll” (which it is by default) with a bunch of links to some WordPress widgets and stuff — how does that help your visitor? You can RENAME your blogroll to be “Related Links” with links to your SFT1 site(s).

* Post frequently. Every time you make a post to your WordPress blog, it notifies the world (well ok, the RSS aggregators) that “yo, I have new fresh content, come and check it out”. Successful bloggers post content as often as daily, but I would say at least a couple times a week. It doesn’t have to be your version of War & Peace, but just something related to the topic, about 250-300 words in length. Check your spelling! Nothing screams “amateur” more than misspelled words.

* Setup Categories. You can have a category for “T1”, a category for “DS3”, a category for “Ethernet”, a category for “MPLS”, etc. You can make posts in each category separately, or designate a single post to appear in selected categories.

* Title Your Posts With Your Keywords. That should not be a news alert, but make sure your title contains your keywords.

* Setup Permalinks. In your WordPress Dashboard, designate that you want “custom” permalink structure, which would be “/%postname%/” (without the double quotes). This will take the TITLE that is in your post (which per the bullet above, contains your keywords) and use it for the posts in your blog. Can you see where the string “http://myblog.com/?p=123” has much less juice to give the search engines when compared to the string “http://myblog.com/saving-money-with-a-t1-line“? Do you see the difference?

* Your Ping List. From your WordPress Dashboard, click on the “Writing” link and you will see near the bottom a list of sites that you want to be pinged when you make a new post. The default single site there is Pingomatic. I would suggest changing that to include the following sites:

http://rpc.pingomatic.com/
http://api.feedster.com/ping
http://api.moreover.com/RPC2
http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping
http://www.blogdigger.com/RPC2
http://www.blogshares.com/rpc.php
http://www.blogsnow.com/ping
http://www.blogstreet.com/xrbin/xmlrpc.cgi
http://bulkfeeds.net/rpc
http://www.newsisfree.com/xmlrpctest.php
http://ping.blo.gs/
http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php
http://ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php
http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/
http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping
http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2

Make sure you don’t overdo it with your pings. If the ping aggregators start getting multiple pings from the same blog, they may consider you a spammer and ignore those pings. In this case, MORE is definitely not better.

Lastly, get your own domain name(s) for your blogs. There are many hosting services that for under $10 per month, you can host unlimited numbers of domains and have unlimited disk space. If your budget allows it and you want to have multiple blogs, spread out the blogs over multiple web hosts because that gives you multiple IP addresses that your blog links originate from. For example, I have some sites hosted with a host in Germany, a web host in Hong Kong, several in the US, so my target sites are getting “incoming link juice” from sites “around the world”, quite literally.

Now lastly again (really this time), I think it is worth the effort to indicate on your blog at the point where you refer people to your SFT1 site that this is not appropriate for residential users. The fact that they have a bona fide IRS-sanctioned tax-deductible HOME OFFICE is cool, but is not applicable for T1 or greater circuit more than 99% of the time. Remember, you catch what you are fishing for, and if your bait is aimed at residential customers, that is what you will get

Keywords – The Keys To The Kingdom

Hopefully I don’t have to tell you about the importance of keywords. In any link you use, you want to make sure that the anchor text has the keyword or keyword phrase that you want to promote. See the previous issue for more info about anchor text.

Google actually provides some tools for you to determine what keywords to use. If you go to:

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

You can enter your desired keywords (and probably have to enter a “captcha” phrase as well to make sure you are real and not a software robot), Google will give you a pretty good idea of the approximate volume of keywords. For example, using “T1 line” would yield a page like:

While you can’t tell the exact volume in many cases, you can determine that, using the example above, using the keyword phrase “t1 or t3 line” which yielded only 12 searches in all of last month, is probably not worth your effort.

Google helps further with a fairly new feature they are beta testing. Say you are searching from the main page at Google for the keyword phrase “t1 line”. The first page would look something like this:

Notice right above the first listing the link that says “Show Options”? Click that link. Now you will see:

Notice the link second from the bottom on the left that says “Wonder Wheel”? Do you WONDER what that is? When you click it, you will now see a graphical representation of the keyword you searched for, as shown here:

Kinda neat, eh? For your keyword phrase “t1 line”, Google is telling you that other searches that included the phrase “t1 line” and shown by the LINKS in the star-shaped graphical representation. Note I said those were links. That means you can click them to get more information. Clicking the link in the lower right for “t1 line price” comes up with the following:

Where Google has now allowed you to drill a bit deeper into that keyword to come up with even more keywords. You can continue to drill down, and in no time will discover LTK’s (Long Tail Keywords) which are keyword phrases with usually 3 or more words in them, but the beauty of LTK’s is that if they have sufficient search volume, they are rarely targeted by others or at least the competition is not nearly as steep for the LTK’s, giving you a much better chance to rank highly for it.

Summary

This newsletter went longer than I anticipated and I was also going to get into some other areas as well beyond blogs and keyword research, but I will save that for another newsletter.

I appreciate you and your efforts and look forward to continuing to work with those of you who are as serious about this as I am, so that we can both reach our goals. I appreciate your leads and your efforts with Telarus, and you need to know that I do take leads very seriously, since without QUALITY leads, neither of us make money.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions, comments, or suggestions.

God bless,

Jon Arnold
Telarus Senior Technical Consultant & Authorized Sales Agent
Office: 321-779-5238
Mobile: 321-223-5238