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May 10, 2010

The Essentialness of Online Marketing Fundamentals

If you’re a sports fan like I am and watch sports on tv, you’ve probably heard certain athletes being described as “fundamentally” sound.For example, Tiger Woods is always described as being fundamentally sound. That means the follow-through on his picture-perfect golf swing is always the same, and when he putts the ball he always keeps his head perfectly still, is in perfect alignment and makes solid contact with his putter. Those are some of the fundamentals of playing golf.

His amazing god-given talent notwithstanding, Woods greatness is tied directly to his spectacular consistency. He’s consistent because he’s not only mastered the fundamentals of golf, he consistently applies those fundamentals. That’s one of the reasons, he’s arguably the greatest golfer of all time.

NFL quarterback Peyton Manning is also described as being fundamentally sound. That means he displays proper footwork, and is always on balance when he throws the football. He looks off his receivers before he throws the ball, so that he doesn’t put them in compromising positions on the field. Those are some of the fundamentals of playing the position of quarterback.

And while many quarterbacks are fundamentally undisciplined and often drift away from the fundamentals, Manning follows the same basic routine each and every time.

He’s mastered the fundamentals of his profession. That leads to amazing consistency, and that’s part of why Manning is arguably the greatest quarterback of all time.

But what about online marketing?

Are There Such Things As Online Marketing Fundamentals?

In a word, yes. In fact, I’ve developed a simple formula I’d like to share with you that helps keep me on track. The formula is called ADCF. ADCF is an acronym for Attract, Desire, Close, Follow-up.

Let’s discuss the elements of the formula, one step at a time:

1. Attract

The key to attracting prospects to your website is effective promotion. Now there are a variety of ways that you can promote your website. You can do SEO, pay-per-click, ezine advertising, article marketing, social networking, video advertising, podcasting, banners, forum and blog posting, offline advertising, etc.

Which methods you choose to use are a matter of personal preference and budget. And despite all the self-serving opinions touting one method over the other, there is no such thing as a “best” marketing method. All of the aforementioned methods work. It’s just a matter of developing a comfort level with something that works for you.

2. Desire

After you get prospects to your website, your marketing materials must not only have the ability to hold their attention, it must also have the ability to create an overwhelming desire for your product, instead of having prospects click away after just a few seconds. The best way to build desire within prospects is with proven benefit after proven benefit after proven benefit.

Ultimately, you want to build so much value in prospects minds about your offer, that they’ll feel like they’re getting an incredible bargain – regardless of the price.

3. Close

The close is where you seal the deal – lay down the hammer, if you will. The close is also known as a “call to action.” Following are a few examples of effective closes:

  • Order today
  • Limited time offer
  • Buy now
  • Free gift
  • Free bonus
  • Supplies limited
  • This offer expires at midnight
  • We’re only selling 1000 copies and that’s it
  • This offer will not be repeated
  • Not sold in stores

When it comes to closing the deal, you are limited only by your imagination. The main thing is to ALWAYS ASK FOR THE SALE!

One last thing: You should always ask for the sale at least three or four times in your close. Why? Because society in general is naturally suspicious of advertising of all types. Because of that suspicion, people are psychologically predisposed to saying NO the first time you ask for the sale.

That’s why it’s so critical to ask for the sale numerous times. Ask at the end of your sales letter…in your p.s., in your p.p.s., etc.

4. Follow-up

After you make the sale, you should always follow-up with customers to say thank you and make sure they’re happy with their purchase, as well as offer them additional products. If a prospect buys from you once, she’ll buy from you again – provided you offer good value for the dollar. You just have to give her the opportunity to do so.

While we’re on the topic of follow-up, you shouldn’t just follow-up after the sale. You should also follow-up with prospects who visit your website, and don’t purchase anything.

This is critical because on average, 99% of visitors to your website will not purchase anything the first time they visit your site. In fact, it takes an average of seven contacts with a prospect, before you can convert her into a customer. That’s why effective follow-up is so crucial.

What Type of Follow-Up Is best?

Instead of capturing prospects e-mail addresses and sending them endless offers and propositions like so many novices do (which most prospects hate). Create an informative newsletter with helpful tips and advice, and allow prospects to subscribe to that. Include a brief promotional message in your newsletter.

The easiest way to create and distribute professional-looking newsletters is through services like Constant Contact, Vertical Response and others.

Is Your Copy Strong?

Even though it’s not part of my ADCF formula, copy is a critical element of successful marketing. What’s copy? Copy is the words you use in your marketing materials to sell your products or services.

Your copy must be compelling enough, from beginning to end to make prospects whip out their credit cards. This is no easy task, especially when you consider the fact that in most cases, your competitors are selling products that are exactly the same or similar to what you’re offering.

That’s why your copy must be above average, and expertly written. It must be better than your competitors copy. Give prospects a compelling reason to buy from you rather than your competitor. Otherwise, why would they? More importantly, why should they?

Your marketing success hinges on the effectiveness of your copy. Yes, your copy is that important. And if you don’t know anything about copywriting, I suggest you learn. Unless, of course, you have thousands of dollars to hire a copywriter.

On the other hand, if you don’t have thousands of dollars to hire a copywriter and would like to learn how to write effective copy, there are some amazing free copywriting resources on the Internet. One of the best is Brian Clark’s outstanding blog, CopyBlogger.

Also, I highly recommend that you Google master copywriter Michel Fortin and read his copywriting articles. Michel’s content is brilliance personified.

Test Your Marketing

Testing is also a critical element of successful marketing. You should always test your marketing materials, to make sure that you are obtaining optimum results.

Experiment with different headlines in your ads and sales letters. Tweak your website copy to increase conversion rates. You’d be surprised what a difference changing a few words here and there can make.

The easiest and best way to do this is with multi-variate testing software, such as Google’s Website Optimizer.

By the way, when tweaking your copy, don’t make wholesale changes all at once. Tweak a little bit at a time. For example, test different headlines and subheads first, before delving into the body of your ad or sales letter.

The reason for this is simple. If you rewrite all of your copy in one fell swoop, there’s absolutely no way for you to know which changes worked and which ones didn’t.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Anyway, those are the fundamentals of online marketing. And like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the main reason that Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning are so successful is the fact they’ve mastered the fundamentals of their profession. More importantly, they apply those fundamentals assiduously.

And if you are serious about marketing online and want to be successful, you must be just as assiduous in learning and applying the fundamentals of online marketing. Otherwise, you will waste needless time and energy just spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

David Jackson is a marketing consultant, and the owner of – Powerful, free marketing tips to help grow your business.