If we planned everything in our lives, things would likely be smoother and more prosperous. Yet many of us fear that such planning would lead to a life of boredom. Instead, we operate by the seat of our pants and then struggle when things don’t work out as we had hoped. This worry, my friend, is what may be separating you from a thriving membership site and one that is as empty as, well, a dark alley after midnight.
Having a membership marketing plan is crucial to knowing how far away you are from your ultimate goal – and more importantly, it lets you know when it’s time for course correction. Without a plan, you’re at the mercy of all sorts of market forces and left to play catch-up when your efforts fall apart.
Fortunately, Internet marketing can be approached in a methodical way to meet your goals and avoid that dreaded sense of tediousness. As a membership site owner, you’re apt to have two primary goals when it comes to marketing: get as many members in the door and maximize your ROI with every dollar spent.
Although we’ll go over numerous ways to increase your membership traffic, there is one major goal: increase the number of visitors to your site. Once you learn how to draw attention back to your site, you know how to play the game and can begin to generate more potential for profit. The best part? This isn’t as hard as it sounds.
Think of an effective membership marketing plan like this: Landing a romantic prospect in a crowded bar or party. You have to have some good body language, you have to understand how to flirt. You have to be confident, and you have to have something that others find attractive.
As master those skills, you obviously can use them anywhere, not just at a party. Pretty soon, you begin to use your skills to seduce a potential person not just in a crowded room, but anywhere and with just about any personalit. You learn how to charm your way into the hearts of your audience, and that, in essence is the power you have to master to raise the interest level and drive traffic to your site.
For that, you need to learn the rules of connecting online, just like you would take the time to learn the rules of dating to increase your chances of success of scoring a date. Here are our 10 rules of landing a date – and, of course, of implementing a killer membership marketing plan.
Present An Authentic Image
In the past, a great membership marketing plan was about hype and flashiness. If you use this technique now in a culture that has grown jaded from over-commercialization, you will find people turned off instead of turned on. Authenticity is crucial to portraying the proper image in today’s online marketplace, particularly on social networking sites. If you lie about a profile or a product, you can be sure in today’s interconnected social sites that your reputation will be trashed in no time flat, and this affects both traffic and sales. If you want a cycle of trust, you have to prove yourself trustworthy first.
Think of it this way, you wouldn’t go out and try to impress a date with a fake job or pretending to be someone you’re not. Why? Because this strategy is easy to see through and it also has serious consequences if you do scam someone and they find out. After that, nothing you say is trustworthy.
Since trust is the engine for commerce on many social networking sites, you are better off being authentic these days rather than not. It may not be as impressive as pretending to be a millionaire, but it is far more believable and compelling. Learn how to write your story so that it engages a reader, by creating content that is authentic and magnetic and reflects exactly who you are.
Your Authenticity Impacts Your Ratings
When you are authentic, in your copy and your being, this will show up in the ratings of those who are reviewing your products or services. On the Internet, your ratings end up being the fuel behind your membership marketing plan. So, when you think authenticity, correlate to your reputation and realize that what you are trying to do is not to schmooze as much as to build a stellar reputation that gets A+ ratings across the Internet. This will assuredly drive traffic back to your site.
Your Personal Story
Once you are coming from a point of integrity, don’t be afraid to tell your own stories. Learn how to write content that draws people into you as a person. If you can get someone to take just a few steps with you on your own life path, you’re far more likely to find them walking all the way home with you.
This is where how you write is just important as what you write. That’s because when you are telling your personal story in person, we use our spoken word. Online, we rely on our web copy to get that same connection.
Imagine you’ve attracted someone’s eyes at a party and they have come over and introduced themselves, and yet your only option to respond is by writing a note. This is what it’s like in the online world. We don’t have the tools of intonation or pauses; we can’t use our hands to emphasize points or roll our eyes when a point becomes absurd. Which is why its’s important to flirt and engage our readers’ emotions when writing web copy.
So, when people suggest that content is highly important on the Internet, it just simply can’t be over-rated. It’s the vehicle that will either take your sales prospect from mere flirtation (browsing) to taking some action that makes them more committed to buying either who you are as a person or your products. It’s also the vehicle that is scanned by search engines to decide whether your copy is worthy of being placed higher or lower on their results pages. That’s why when you write good web copy, it not only has to be personable, but also include Search Engine Optimization (SEO) methods that help drive traffic from search engines.
And, good copy isn’t just relegated to websites and search engines. In order to drive traffic to your site, you have to go to many other places on the internet where your potential visitors might be. Just like when you are dating, you have to get out to find people where they are before you can even get to the point where you can start to flirt with them. Except, in this case, you can do this from the privacy of your own home by logging in virtually. You also have to learn a little about how to flirt online to attract sales prospects. One of these strategies is commenting.
Red Power Tie: Like What You’re Wearing
When you first engage a person and try to make a connection, what do you say? Hopefully, you don’t open your mouth and start to talk about politics or religion. Usually, you want to keep it light and fun. You want to have something relevant to say and you want to tease them enough to get them to want to find out more about you. The same is true online and that’s what you are attempting to do when you comment on other people’s blogs, groups, social networking profiles, or websites. You are trying to engage them and employ a membership marketing plan, create a spark and curiosity, and then give them your phone number to be able to allow them to contact you later. In this case, however, your phone number will actually be a backlink to your site. The funny thing is that for search engines, you might be targeting that phrase for SEO by using “red power tie” as your keyword phrase, while the touchy-feely aspect has to show up there for humans to relate to also. So, sometimes, it looks a bit odd, but it all works out.
The Come On
Hopefully, you are getting the swing of this whole interaction as you strive to form your membership marketing plan. You’ve approached numerous potential sales prospects. You’ve put your best foot forward and even given them some references through your online ratings of your reputation. You’ve either flirted a little and left them wanting more through commenting or you’ve got them already on your site hoping to connect with you deeper. Now, you have to give them the come on: the sales pitch on your sales page by supplying a backlink.
The come on is all about self-promotion. You have to have a confident attitude and a little daring to ask for the sale. You are going to provide each encounter with your Internet digits, which correlates to a backlink to your website or sales pages.
Okay, you’re ready to close this mini-interaction. You have to ask for the call to action. It’s as simple as that. What good is it to encounter millions of people on the Internet if you don’t ask them to follow you home? They’ve gotten a good peek, and you might even try to tempt them with more articles, freebies, or the like to get them to click the link back to you home or sales page. However, if you don’t ask them to do it, odds are they won’t do it. Why? It’s human nature to want to have everything easy and to let other people do the heavy lifting. They’re usually really happy to have someone take them by the hand and tell them how they can benefit just for showing up. Make it fun, make it worthwhile, and make it obvious.
Where To Use The Rules For Maximum Effect
It’s not all about who you are and what you do. Often, the environment you choose to implement these social connecting rules has a lot to do with your success. To expand our metaphor, if you are looking specifically for women who can bear you children and want to marry, should you be attempting to connect with over 40 year old divorcees with several children of their own? Obviously, no. Most of these women are past their child-bearing years and are content with their own children. So, you would look to a younger demographic, if that was the target you had in mind. This way you increase the possibility of greater success simply by choosing the demographics carefully and limiting your efforts to an environment that can produce better results for meeting your goal.
Similarly, to increase traffic, you will have a natural connection with one demographic over another. These are the people you want to target to market. And, it all depends on the market niche you are trying to expand and engage more traffic within. While you don’t have control over who will ultimately be interested, you do know what you are offering and which online demographic this would appeal to. Use that knowledge to carefully target your efforts to the places that can produce the maximum results.
To increase your chances of scoring more traffic, you have to get as many people to view your copy with the backlink embedded within it. To do this, you will pick different places on the Internet that are relevant to your market niche or can be used to heighten your exposure to as many people as possible. These can be highly rated blogs, websites, social networking sites, groups, and directories. There are many other areas you can explore, but for the sake of this report, we are only going to go over a few areas to explore and work your online connecting magic.
Blogging as Part of Your Membership Marketing Plan
These are web logs (blogs) that are written by individuals that can have a wide range of topics and themes. The more popular a blog is, the more readership it has. The more readers, the more likelihood that it’s a great place to divert traffic to your own site and endeavors. You can build your own blog to highlight your expertise in a specific area, or you can visit other people’s blogs and learn how to comment authoritatively on them to draw traffic back to your site via a backlink.
Either strategy works well, and you can even choose to do both. Ultimately, having your own blog is a great way to have an intermediary space between your website and your social networking sites. These sites won’t let you link to sales pages and promotional sites, but will allow you to link to your blog. In addition, traffic you are moving off social networking sites is often turned off by being directed straight to a sales page. So, having your own blog helps to have an “in-between” space that keeps them present with you. And, there’s nothing stopping you from pulling your affiliate offers and own product offerings in your blog posts.
In addition, you will want to optimize your blog to allow the search engine to find your articles and scan them for keyword phrases. You can do this by researching keywords by using Google’s Keyword Tool to locate low competition, high-paying keywords. These are the keyword phrases more apt to drive traffic to your site as you stand a better change of getting high up on the results page when people key in that phrase into their query.
Finally, you will want to index and tag the blog posts with desirable keywords, not only for the search engines, but for your readers too. Add as many categories as you want and you can index your blog posts into multiple categories to help readers find what they want.
Social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Twitter are great ways to expand your social network of online friendships. You cannot do to much overt marketing on these sites as there are rules about commercial promotion. But, they are great places to find and engage a specific demographic without too much trouble. The sites generally do all the work for you and then all you to have to do is collect friends, and learn how to promote your articles, websites and products from their conventional marketing areas or from your profile. At the very least, you will learn how to scoop up many more people who are particularly interested in your market niche, otherwise they wouldn’t have bothered to have linked into you as a friend.
The key to drawing just the right demographic is the profile page. Try to fill it out as completely as possible and make it as interesting as possible. Use the spaces to website link areas to promote your other websites and online ventures. When you set up the profile, you have to use the rules of connecting as much as possible. You can use keyword phrases, but not to the extent that you can with your website as some of these sites will ban you for overusing SEO. Try to get other people to rate you by either sending you gifts, voting you up, or adding social comments to your profile. The more people you connect with and who you interact with, the higher your reputation on these sites. So, join groups, comment on other people’s profiles and links, and just simply join in the spirit of the game.
Now, you’ll want to take that traffic that you’ve captured and draw their attention away from your profile page back to an intermediary space, like your blog, or to your website. For that, you have to be a bit crafty as self-promotion is looked on rather harshly by the social networking administrators. If you look like you’re spamming the site, you will log in one day to find your entire account deactivated and all your friends gone. So, that’s the first thing you have to remember. Collect the emails of your online friends and save them offline so that you can start building a contact list and safeguard against a potential banning.
So, link your blog to your profile and set up an RSS feed into the profile where people can see a short synopsis of the first part of the post and click on to get directed offsite to your blog. That’s one way to start driving the social networking site to your websites and blogs, off the social networking platform. You can also update your status or add links for people to view on your profile. They can include links to your recent online projects.
Lastly, Facebook also has something called Social Ads where you can pay to advertise your website and products by buying an advertising campaign. This can be a particularly effective strategy in a membership marketing plan to get just the right people interested in visiting your site.
You can even learn how to bookmark all of the pages you post offsite to different social networking or news sites. When you bookmark them to multiple social networking sites, you get additional exposure, not just from your immediate circle of friends, but also from others who may recommend the same link too or rate it, like with Digg.com. This site has people voting for their favorite news stories, and if it happens to be something you posted, you will get a huge amount of traffic because Digg.com has a wide audience and is very user-friendly.
Another site that is great for bookmarking your web copy is StumbleUpon. This directory has a social networking flavor. Although it works like a search engine, all of the submissions are done by users, not by a machine algorithm. People get to join each other as fans and rate your submissions. When people search they do so randomly within a category. The search engine serves up pages randomly too. So, the odds that your content will come up first is actually better than a search engine like Google that has a hardwired algorithm. And, StumbleUpon allows you to bookmark pages for other people to randomly “stumble upon” too. So, every time you add some content to your websites, blogs, or other activities, you can also choose to bookmark them on multiple sites like Digg.com or StumbleUpon. If people comment on your bookmark that can also drive attention and traffic to your site, so don’t forget to invite your friends.
Then, there are bookmark directories like delicious.com. This is a place where you can store as many bookmarks as you want and tag and categorize them for other people to view too or to search within category. You can even see how many other people found that particular page valuable by how many people bothered to bookmark it.
If you want to get the full power of bookmarking, don’t just do it yourself! Allow people who visit your site to bookmark your content too by supplying them with buttons to the most popular sites.
Online groups are sort of a cross between a good old-fashioned book club and a social event. However, they are more narrowly defined and usually created to discuss a particular topic only. That’s what makes them ideal for widening your circle of contacts in the right demographic and also to drive traffic from them to your website and other online ventures. What’s great about online groups is that you can easily tell how many people have subscribed to the group, thus you know how many eyeballs you can tempt into coming to your site. Obviously, the bigger the group the better when considering an effective membership marketing plan.
When you join a group, they are often moderated and won’t allow spamming. That means that you are joining to contribute to the discussion, and you should include relevant and worthwhile information for the others in the group. Then, you can set up a signature that gets added to each of your posts that does a little mini intro of yourself and also a link back to your site or blog. This is allowed, if you turn out to be a valuable member of the group. So, like the rules of connecting suggest, use content to add something of value to others so that they will see you as a good member of their group.
You will also want to set up informative profiles in a number of different groups you join. There will also be an area there to talk about your favorite websites or links. Use it to promote yourself and your other online ventures. This is another way to drive traffic to your sites.
In groups, you want to generally be perceived as an expert in a particular topic so that people will want to hear more of what you have to say. You will not only add posts of your own, but comment on many other posts as well. Don’t use very lengthy posts that are only for promoting your products. Don’t use very brief comments with just a link back to your site. Both of these activities can get you banned from the group as they are seen as spamming.
Also be respectful of the group’s policies on commenting and remaining on topic. You are somewhat limited to what you can post when the group is not your own, but when you create your own group (which anyone can do) you not only get the ability to promote your own products and services shamelessly without repercussions, but you also have a great way to build a contact list and start driving those people to other online sites you have.
Some of the groups that are online that you can investigate are: Yahoo! Groups, Google Groups, and Facebook Groups. Yahoo! Groups resembles a news group and has less bells and whistles than Google groups. However, it is hugely popular online and a great way to find audiences that might be interested in your particular market niche. Google Groups has integrated email and some nice features. Facebook Groups are numerous and topics range from the oddball to the political conservative. It all depends on your market niche as to what group you should join. Always seek to find the demographic that would be interested in your products and then establish a good presence there by logging in every day and spending 15 minutes on each contributing to the conversation.
Most of the strategies have involved writing comments, web copy, or some written material. Well, if you are better at in-person types of things, why not do a short video and then add it to YouTube? If it becomes popular and gets rated highly, it can become viral and you reap the rewards of massive traffic from one of the most popular sites on the Internet.
Of course, you have to tag and index it and add a short description, so you will still want to stick to the rules of connecting for that. This is a particularly effective strategy for a membership marketing plan when used in conjunction with some of the other strategies. You can point comments to your YouTube video to drive people from one area of the Internet to a video you’ve produced that has a URL link to your website or products at the beginning and end of the video. Always remember to use it for promotional purposes so that you reap the benefits of it when and if it does go viral.
All the membership marketing plan strategies listed above rely on finding social areas that have lots of traffic that you can interest in your own backlink which is embedded in comments or posts. But, there’s no reason that has to be the only way you connect with people. There is still the obvious way of actually taking out classified ads and that way you can link straight to sales pages without any repercussions. You can even promote your product or service shamelessly in social networking sites like Facebook, if you use the classified ad section or buy Social Ads.
Writing a good classified ad that captures a person’s attention is still going to include the basics of authenticity, your story, and the come on, but here you have a little leeway to make it more upfront and daring. You want to include images and headlines that reach out and grab people and pull them into clicking on that link. Mostly what people see at first on a classified ad is the headline or an image. You can use the power of SEO to add some keyword phrases to the classified ad and hope that it is searched by search engines, but most will not be.
You want to be clever and maintain a lighthearted and brief ad that captures the imagination of anyone stumbling upon it. You will have to follow whatever rules the host site invokes, but for the most part they give far more freedom, particularly if someone is paying for the ad.
One site that is free to advertise on and is very popular is Craigslist. The only drawback is that you aren’t posting to the entire Internet with one ad. Each market is separated into geographical areas so you would have to post to every area if you wanted a wider market. However, it is ideal if you are trying to target a local market as part of your membership marketing plan.
Other sites that ask you to pay to boost your membership marketing plan are Facebook and eBay. In fact, eBay will only allow infoproducts (items that are delivered in electronic format over the Internet instead of using digital media like CDs etc.) to be advertised on classified ads now. So, in some cases you are limited to using classified ads instead of using auction listings to generate interest and traffic from other sites.
Writing Free Articles
Okay, it sounds odd that writing an article for free will help you to build up traffic, but it is one of the BEST strategies to use right now. The reason for this is that people are hungry for new and original content. There are many different article directories that rely on outside authors to stock their article directories. If no one submits a new article, the existing articles become stale and they lose their readership. In addition, many articles are written with keyword phrases that generate income for the host site as well as drive traffic to the articles and back to your site via the resource box. So, the more articles that directories accept, the more content and the more money they make. They also attract more people and you get more traffic when people read your articles and then follow the link in your resource box back to your websites.
While this is the best strategy to use, it can require someone who understands SEO and has a talent and flair for writing. If that’s not you, don’t fake it! You will only create a bad business image if you manage to publish poor quality content, especially if it shows up on multiple sites. So, hire someone to do the writing for you if you don’t have a flair for words.
You will want to concentrate on articles that are relevant to your market niche so that by the time someone gets to the author resource box, you know you have a potential buyer. Otherwise, they won’t bother to read the article, right?
Each host site may have different rules for the resource box. Some don’t allow you to link to sales pages, but will allow you to link to a blog or website, as long as it is not an obvious promotional page. Be sure to read the rules and follow them. This is one reason why maintaining a blog is a great idea when you need such an intermediary space to drive traffic and then pool it from there to your other websites and offers.
Other Areas To Investigate
Imagine writing one article and then having that article submitted to over 25 different sites automatically? People pay for this service because it saves them time and increases their exposure. There are websites and applications devoted to making the submission process as painless and quick as possible. As you develop a membership marketing plan, you want to take advantage of anything that makes your job easier. So, check out these services and use them.
If you choose to use podcasting as part of your membership marketing plan to attract traffic, you can easily find participants by searching Google. It allows you to submit to directories for free at one time. Imagine having to do the same thing one by one? It would take an enormous amount of time and effort and is thoroughly unnecessary.
A great way to syndicate your content, is to use TubeMogul. It will let you upload your videos to multiple sites, just like an article submitting service would do, except only for videos. And, syndication is one fast way to drive loads of traffic from numerous sites back to your own website. You don’t want to put up one video, one podcast, or one article and expect it to turn the trick. You need to use that article in various places and submit it to multiple sites, all with a backlink to your website or offers. That’s the way to take any strategy and multiply it’s power into the stratosphere.