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Using eBay and Amazon to generate leads & grow your audience

If you’ve read much of my material at all you know how often I tout the benefits of “Growing Your Online Audience“, “Adding targeted prospects to your email lists” and “EXPANDING your online influence“. Efforts along these lines are crucial to building and maintaining long term success – and that’s not just my opinion. Virtually all established experts in the Internet Marketing arena would echo my sentiments.

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Perhaps you’ve heard marketing expert Dan Kennedy call your “list” your most valuable asset as a biz owner.  I agree, but I word my message slightly differently. I tell my students and clients that, “There’s no more valuable asset you can have than a large and ever growing list of people who both want to hear from you and who are also eager to do business with you.”

Obviously, the easier it is to connect with such a list of partners/prospects the stronger the asset. This is why I love email as a tool of mass-communication and customer relationship building.

…but this isn’t an article about email marketing.

This is an article about using eBay and Amazon to expand your online audience.

Also note,  there are countless strategies for expanding your influence & growing your “list” using creative online marketing tactics, and there are numerous articles on my blog on that very topic. In this article I’m going to focus on two of the most commonly used platforms for gaining the attention of potential prospects. Those platforms are:

eBay and Amazon.com

Here are my ground rules for any discussion regarding using eBay and Amazon as a marketing tool for list growth and prospect generation:

1. The rules are ALWAYS changing and out of our control – we all have to stay up to date (let me know if/when you find new relevant info and I’ll update this blog post!)
2. I’ll never intentionally encourage you to do anything outside of the established eBay/Amazon policies (nor have I ever done so)
3. In many cases the rules will be slightly confusing so proceed with caution no matter what the policies are
4. You owe it to yourself to squeeze every penny of marketing exposure out of your activities on Amazon and eBay WITHOUT breaking the rules

One of the best ways to do just that is to sell just about anything that is widely appealing to your target audience, and then while you have the attention of your prospects and customers you have an opportunity to invite those people to a mailing list. When they join your list it’s a chance to begin building a relationship with them over the long term.

This is exactly how I’ve built much of my online success in fact. Many of my most loyal partners and successful students were those who first found me on eBay so many years ago and elected to join my email mailing list. It’s put literally millions of dollars in sales through my biz as a result.

For nearly 10 years now I’ve done my best to stay on the cutting edge of what IS and ISN’T allowed in the arena of “pulling leads” from eBay and more recently on Amazon as well.

Here’s a summary of where we are now with both with additional details on each point in the video below:

On eBay

  • The eBay ‘about me’ page is going away (but it’s not a big loss in my opinion)
  • Profile pages are replacing ‘about me’ pages
  • Profile pages can include a link to your social media sites (Facebook for example)
  • This leaves you an opportunity to launch a FB group around your products. From there you can grow an email list etc. while you build a community!
  • You can automate the process of adding BUYERS to your email list on eBay

On Amazon

  • Amazon is FAR more restrictive than eBay when it comes to connecting with your customers
  • The only 100% legit opportunity there is to sell information (i.e. inexpensive kindle books) to help grow your niche audience

A video walk through of all of this:

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MORE IDEAS:

EBAY: Here’s a video I made that shows you how to give every eBay buyer the chance to join a niche specific mailing list post-purchase.  You can grow multiple niche lists this way on auto-pilot. The full instructional video with full detail on integrating eBay with your email list building efforts (using a service called Zapier) can be seen using this link.

EBAY: You ARE allowed to link from one eBay listing to another! This means you can sell a “high attention grabbing” product and link to a second listing such as an information product or big ticket item from within your popular listing. For example, if you are trying to sell a weight loss book, you might advertise a popular piece of exercise equipment on eBay and put a link to your book inside the eBay listing for the equipment. There are countless possible uses for this strategy.

How to drive traffic to your eBay and Amazon listings

One of the questions I get asked occasionally by new eBay and Amazon sellers is this,

“Jim, how do I drive traffic to my eBay and Amazon listings?”

That’s the wrong question.

There’s an inherent problem in that question that I’d like to expose in this blog post. This post is aimed primarily at “newbies” with stars in their eyes and big hopes for fast success.

If that’s you, the next paragraph is important for you to understand and take to heart and could save you a TON of wasted time, energy, effort and cash:

The beauty of Amazon and eBay is that the massive customer base is BUILT IN and all of those people are in a SHOPPING MOOD. There’s no need to ‘drive customers’ to your listings if you’ve picked the right products to sell.

If you picked the WRONG product or are trying to sell your own original unknown product and are left trying to “drive traffic” to it you are playing an entirely different and more difficult game.

While you may hear stories of people promoting their eBay and Amazon listings using SEO tactics, you won’t find me spending (wasting) much time on that type of strategy for newbies b/c it’s such wasted effort for nearly all people who try to do it.

The fact is, even if you start driving traffic to your products on Amazon or eBay from an external source (i.e. your blog for example), the number of competing products that Amazon and eBay display next to your offer will offset any advantage you may have had. You’d have likely been better off just selling the items on your own blog -something I also don’t recommend trying.

If profit is part of your goal, you are better off putting your energy into creating and finding products that have built in demand vs. wasting time trying to drive traffic to your listings.

My best guess is that the concept of “driving traffic to your listings” is something you read on a shiny object sales page somewhere. I can assure you that there’s absolutely NO strategy that exists to make this happen more often than every once in awhile. When it does work, it works for only the rarest of lucky sellers who are also tenacious risk takers and who are also willing to see it all vanish overnight on the whim of a Google algorithm change. (If you don’t understand that last sentence you should DEFINITELY stay away from any “driving traffic” strategies.)

I spend a great deal of time on my blog talking about SEO. My views used to be considered crazy, but now more and more experts are acknowledging that I was ahead of my time on this topic…and that I’m right! Read through the SEO section of this site or my blog for more detail. I promise you’ll never look at “driving traffic” the same way!

And I’ll repeat my foundational advice for this post:

If profit is part of your goal, you are better off putting your energy into creating and finding products that have built in demand vs. wasting time trying to drive traffic to your listings.

Please leave a comment – let’s talk about it…

No more “driving traffic” for me

You’ve heard it a million times. The secret to success online is driving traffic – without it you are sunk.

I say that’s nonsense.

I’m growing weary of many of the trends and terms associated with Internet Marketing including the the consistently misleading driving traffic myth.

Who wants to be driven anywhere?

The suckers (you and me) that have bought into the driving traffic hype have made a good number of supposed guru’s rich because, as wide eyed and willing guinea pigs just enough of us (not you or me of course) struck it lucky and kept the rest of us excited enough to keep digging for “traffic gold”.

Driving traffic has been sort of like the lottery in that respect. All the guru’s need is a few success stories to keep the masses emptying their wallets.

Sure, I use a few tools to help spread my message as efficiently as possible, but there are no magic buttons you can push to become a success online.

Here’s my theory:

Fewer websites matter now than they did ten years ago – and the list of sites that actually matter is getting shorter not longer. The skill of driving traffic is becoming irrelevant quickly.

That may seem like bad news, but it’s not if you are a using common sense in your online business efforts.

You don’t need a huge following or even steady stream of traffic to succeed online. It’s nice to have these things, but just like in the “real world” very few people achieve success using a trick or a secret tool.

I’m done being driven or driving anyone anywhere on the Internet and whether you realize it or yet or not, so are you – as is everyone else. The game is drying up.

Internet prospects typically know what they are looking for, and they go find it from sources they trust. They spend the vast majority of their “surfing” time on the same handful of sites. The wow factor of the Internet is fading. Virtually no one is randomly surfing from site to site looking for something random to purchase.

Banner ads, interruptions, and pushed/forced advertising of any kind is a dying institution online just as much as it is in the “real world”. As anecdotal evidence I have a serious question: Have you bought ANYTHING as a result of a Facebook ad? Advertisers are spending money every time you see an ad, but you aren’t clicking or buying are you? I didn’t think so (and that’s supposedly “cutting edge” – give me a break).

You may find this hard to believe, but I do VERY well in my businesses online while not relying on any of the traditional marketing and advertising tactics that you (and nearly all of your friends and neighbors) are already instinctually ignoring. My students and readers are taking the same approach.

Stop learning “traffic tips” and start building something real.

Some examples of what I teach and endorse currently:

1. Many success stories are as simple as deciding to hang out where the crowd is already hanging out (i.e. eBay, Amazon etc.) and giving customers what they already want and need. Getting an advantage here is easy. The crowd is ready to buy.

2. Find a little niche and delight your fans. You don’t need SEO, driving traffic skills or any other ninja skills in order to create great content and engage your fans. If you can get 10 strangers online excited about what you do, you are onto something huge – build on it by delighting them, engaging in conversation, and creating content to attract more followers. That’s not driving traffic or SEO – that’s being a leader.

3. Take your basic skills OFFLINE and help businesses apply the basics. (offlinebiz.com teaches you these skills)

Check out SilentSalesMachine.com for more ideas along these lines.

Let’s talk about it. Leave a comment using the link at the top of this article.

The Death of Google (1996-2012)

A bit dramatic perhaps, but if I’m right you’ll REALLY thank me.  I’m not foolish enough to predict the actual demise of Google, but they are changing dramatically right before our eyes and I think I can help us all win if we understand what’s happening.

My last article told you why I thought CONTENT was king and how to rank high in Google search results the right way. This article is my supporting proof to hopefully convince you I’m right.

My title could be a bit less dramatic, sure.  More accurately stated, this article is about the massive changes I see coming in Google search, and while I’m almost certain it will impact Google’s bottom line in a BIG way, I’m much more interested in helping you know what to do about it NOW to be in a great position as it starts to happen. Even if I’m wrong, I’ll have golden advice for you at the end of this article that will make total sense to you (I hope).

Summary:  This article is about how Google search will inevitably change very soon (I predict) and how to benefit from it starting now.

I’ll cover three things:

  1. The facts we know
  2. The only obvious conclusions I can think of as a result of these facts, and
  3. What you can do NOW to position yourself for traffic, wealth, influence and greatness as Google changes.

Not only do I think trends are in play to wipe out a chunk of Google’s cash flow (Billions annually as browser users “mature”), I also think that the famed Google search engine algorithm is in jeopardy of being increasingly irrelevant very soon for billions of search terms.  Even if these observations are well ahead of their time, I’ve got some golden advice for you anyway. If I’m right about the time-line though, I think you’ll be calling me a genius as early as a couple years from now.

Bold predictions perhaps, but see if you can find any holes in my logic.

We know these facts:

  • How Google Makes it’s cash: Google generates most of its revenue currently from Ads running via Adwords/Adsense etc.  If you search for “how to build a dog house” you’ll get paid ads mixed in with what Google thinks are the best sites on the web on the subject based on it’s complex and highly secretive ranking algorithm.
  • We are starting to ignore ALL ads: The WHOLE WORLD (especially online) is caring less and less about what advertisers have to say about themselves (paid advertising), and they are caring more and more about what other users and independent reviewers have to say. It’s an undeniable trend.
  • We (Google users) are getting smarter and we have opinions: Google users will learn soon (and most have already learned) that the “organic” or “unpaid” results on Google are where the true experts and most respected results are. Sure, paid search results are monitored by Google for “quality score”, but it’s still a game of who has the most money and time to put into writing creative ads. The paid ads do not reflect the quality of the business, knowledge of the expert or usefulness of the content behind the ad. In other words, for good reason we as consumers are caring less and less about paid ads even on Google.
  • Google wants us to rank content online and WILL increasingly respect our choices: Google recognizes the need to get end users into the game of “ranking” content, providers, businesses, experts and everything else.  This is why Google came up with the +1 system you see everywhere now. Those ranks will inevitably begin to mean more and more over time. How do I know this? Why else would Google allow us to “vote” on virtually every piece of content online if Google plans on ignoring our votes? I think we’ll see some anti-fraud measures added to the +1 system and Google will take the votes increasingly seriously over time. Sure, they may keep their “algorithm”, but just as with Local Search we’ll start to see the customer feedback really driving the ship. The challenge for Google will no longer be tweaking the algorithm, but will become preventing +1 fraud.
  • Ignoring consumer preferences and FORCING us toward paid ads would hurt Google: Any unbiased ranking system can not possibly allow “paid” positioning to be confused with “most popular” results. Sure, Google will still run ads, and sure, some people will still click, but who do you trust more if you are buying a book about building a dog house,  1,000 of your voting peers, or a slick ad writer?

The big question:

If I’m right, where are we heading given the above facts that I think are indisputable?

What will Google do as all these trends unfold and the changes begin to effect their bottom line?

Some of Google’s options once this loss of ad revenue scenario plays out (these are my theories only):

  • Start charging us a pay per use/membership fee to use Google (not likely)
  • Stop allowing us to vote on content and hope we’ll trust their super secret ranking algorithm forever instead – while also hoping that we’ll accidentally continue to click on and respond to paid ads (this option would almost certainly lead to Google being replaced by a better search engine that allows and respects our votes)
  • Google will find a way to snap up experts, top content producers etc. like they snap up small companies now and find ways to cash in on their content. Don’t think they’ll do it? That’s how they run YouTube now with “invitation only” revenue sharing. It won’t be Adsense either – that’s already “uncool” in most corners (and fewer of us will be clicking ads remember?)
  • Get a govt. bailout because they are too big to fail (joke)

Regardless of whether or not it plays out exactly like I’m betting it will the following advice is pure gold:

  • Create great content and post it all over the place online. Content will clearly RULE both short term and long term online. Any SEO tricks, built in a week websites, set-it-and-forget-it marketing efforts etc. will all DRY UP and be useless at an increasingly faster pace.
  • Actively seek the votes and support of your audience as you crank out high quality, low cost (or free) content.
  • Monitor your influence and take steps to increase it.
  • Engage with your audience. Be in constant conversation. Ask for tangible feedback and support from them.

What if you are not an expert at anything yet? Tap into this trend anyway by helping other true experts capture and share their great content online. I’m always looking for creative people with creative ideas that will expand my reach online and I’m willing to reward their efforts. I’m not the only one in that position either!

You’ll also find many “clueless” experts and content rich businesses in the world that could use help getting into position for the shifts that are happening. Convince them that content is king and then help them get it out there to their eager audience.

Author: Jim Cockrum+

How to rank high on Google long term

Want your sites to rank high on Google?

Here’s how:

Post the best content that other respected experts in the same niche willingly link to from their highly regarded sites.  Any other “shortcut”, trick, strategy etc. will ultimately fail you and possibly get your site punished in the ranking or banned.  Creating content that you could ultimately care less about is a waste of your time. Build something real instead.

Any questions?

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