Is There a Cyberstalker in Your Future?

By Carl Weiss

Like it or not, the age of the cyber stalker is upon us.  Whether you are an employee, are married or have just ended a relationship, there are apps that make it all too easy for a third party to know a great deal of intimate personal knowledge about you.  Worse still is the fact that for a few bucks any cyberstalker can acquire a sophisticated array of software that makes it child’s play to track your location in real time and listen or look in on what you are doing and with whom you are doing it.    

Cyber-Bullying-Infographic (Photo credit: Social Media Max)
While this sounds like a plot for a sci-fi movie or novel it has become all too real for victims of this 
twenty-first century scourge.  During the past few months everyone from ex-boyfriends to a Seattle police officer have been prosecuted for spying on and/or posting sexually explicit photos of their former lovers online.  Even children have been portrayed recently in the media for using the Internet to cyberbully classmates with sometimes tragic results.

The bad news is that in spite of recent legislation that can impose serious jail time on cyberstalkers, this is a crime that is on the rise, currently affecting one in six women and ten percent of all men.  The good news is that there are steps that you can take to defend yourself in this all too wired world.

Is Facebook Becoming Cyberstalker Central?

The newspost that motivated me to write this blog is entitled, “7 Things You Told Facebook Without
Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr... Realizing It.”  Posted on April 29 by, the staggeringly detailed post details a number of creepy apps that are available to the general public that are designed to trawl through Facebook to guess your income, your location and your passwords, to apps that seek out men or women who have just ended a relationship or even scout the social net for revealing photos.  Like a virus, some of these apps are designed to jump from one post to another, burrowing into your list of friends in order to do the stalkers nefarious deeds.

Of course Facebook isn’t the only social net in vogue with cyberstalkers.  And not all cyber stalkers are interested in seeing your swimsuit photos.  A post from points out that Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare are now being used by burglars to zero in on vacationing families.  The article points out that not only do 75% of convicted burglars admit that criminals use social media to find homes to victimize, but they also admit to using Google Earth to case the neighborhood.  (Let’s see the neighborhood watch foil these hi-tech thieves.)

The problem with most people is that they post way too much information on social sites.  Everything from where you live to what you own is many times revealed in stunning detail (complete with photos).  Then you casually post the fact that you are going to be leaving on that two week vacation and let everyone in cyberspace not only know how long you will be gone, but you also share photos of you at the airport waiting on your plane to pix of your vacation in real time.  If this sounds familiar, then don’t be surprised if upon your return you find that your house and/or business has been rifled by thieves. (Heck why not show the thieves where you keep the spare key?)

The Technorati piece goes onto advise readers that if they don’t want to be victimized while on vacation they need to start by taking a vacation from using social media before or during any extended trip.  They also advise you to consider sharing your vacation photos after the fact.  The article also advises the public to advise their friends to avoid posting tidbits about them while they are on vacation unless it is to post the fact that you have just acquired a vicious watchdog.

You Always Hurt the One You Love

Even software that was originally purposed to protect those we love can be coopted into working for the bad guys.  A blog on points out the fact that spy software designed to help mothers keep tabs on their children has become popular fodder for those who wish to spy on others.

"We do have quite a large proportion of our customers who use mSpy specifically to catch a cheating spouse," mSpy communications director Tatiana Ameri told Komo News last year.

More illuminating is the fact that the article goes onto point out that there is an entire online realm that caters to those looking to spy on others.

"Digital communities have sprung up where individuals teach each other how to compromise cell phones to track victim’s whereabouts, listen to conversations in a room, take pictures, and read texts and email so that they can learn about their victim’s behavior on a microscopic level."

BGFJ0R (CYBER ATTACK) ...item 2.. Watching the...
Even Spies Have Girlfriends

The piece also goes onto point out that even spies at the NSA aren’t above using top secret surveillance tools to keep tabs on loved ones.  The program was so pervasive that it even had its own codename: LOVEINT.  The revelation of this peccadillo so incensed Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa that he petitioned the NSA to release information about LOVEINT.  The information revealed that at least a dozen of the NSA’s best and brightest were implicated in the program.

Of course for every spy there is a counterspy.  And in the age of cyberstalking there are a number of resources designed to help victims fight back.  While many of these sites provide checklists designed to help you avoid becoming a victim of cyberstalkers, there are a few that take a more proactive approach.  One of these is Tor Network, the same software employed by hackers, crackers, dissidents and whistleblowers to maintain online anonymity.

For several years, Tor, spearheaded by Tor Project executive director Andrew Lewman, has been tackling cyber stalking, working with domestic violence groups to set up countersurveillance programs to help victims evade online surveillance. The onion router can hide a victim’s identity long enough for them to research where to find help, and look up what data they can find about themselves without tipping off their stalker that they’re online, he said.
Remember that everything from your computer to your tablet and smartphone can be used against you.  Malware can be surreptitiously installed on any or all of these that can allow a cyberstalker to take control of the device even to the point of activating the unit’s webcam.  So aside from making sure you have one or more layers of software designed to detect and defeat spyware and malware also make sure that you don’t make it easy for cyberstalkers to get you in their clutches.  Never click on links or email from people you do not know.  Curtail your habit of sharing everything and anything about your personal life online.  Above all, be wary of posting any photos that could be used against you at a later date.
English: Rottweiler Head Deutsch: Rottweiler Kopf 
Hey!  Anybody want to see a picture of my new Rottweiler?

Carl Weiss is CEO of Working the Web to Win, a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can interface with Carl every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern when he airs his radio show on Blog Talk Radio.

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The American Dream Machine

By Carl Weiss

One of the many things that has  made our country great is  its dreamers, tinkerers and inventors.  The Internet itself is proof positive of the power of the American Dream.  There are millions of people with great ideas for new businesses, products or services. The one reality many share is that there’s a big difference between drawing an idea on a napkin versus actually bringing your concept to fruition.  This week we’ll discuss six key ways that the Internet can help you achieve the American Dream without breaking the bank.  

People tend to forget that the Internet as we know it is not quite 20-years old. In fact, back in 1994, 
English: www,domain,internet,web,net
there were only around 10,000 websites.  Fast forward to 2014:  more than 130,000 websites will be launched … and that’s just today.  This gives you an idea of the exponential online growth that has occurred in the past decade.  Many of the sites that currently grace the Internet are business-related, making the World Wide Web the ultimate destination for established businesses and start-ups alike.  But what’s even more incredible is when it comes to either boot strapping or building a business, there’s no single entity on the planet that’s more useful than the Internet.  Allow me to count the ways:

1.      Funding a Business   – Back in ’94, there were only a few methods most entrepreneurs could use to find the financial backing to get a new venture going.  They either dipped into their own savings, borrowed from friends or family, or dug a hole in their credit cards and prayed they could get their investment back before interest rates ate them alive. (Take it from me, since I self-funded my first Internet business. This latter method is not for the faint of heart.)

kickstarter logo
Today’s tinkerers, dreamers and entrepreneurs can secure startup funding at the click of a mouse by  looking at crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and RocketHub, among others.  The best part about these sites is they not only offer to help you start your business, but they do so without requiring you to give up any equity in your firm, or in some cases, even require you to pay back the investors. What a deal!

This form of funding has become so popular that there are now books and online video tutorials that show you, step-by-step, how to get crowdfunding to work for you.  An article by “Entrepreneur Magazine” entitled, “10 Top Crowdfunding Websites,” details the variety and scope of the industry.

In her book Cash From the Crowd, Sally Outlaw, founder and CEO of crowdfunding website peerbackers, reveals the secrets of funding your business with help from colleagues, peers, family, friends and even perfect strangers through a crowdfunding campaign. 

2.     Starting a Business – Before the advent of the Internet, there were really only two viable business models from which to choose: Brick & Mortar or Mail Order.  Both of these models were expensive to instigate, own and operate. The Brick & Mortar model necessitated scouting a location, site build out, purchasing inventory, furnishing and stocking the shelves, etc.  And all of which could take months, not to mention tens of thousands of dollars, to accomplish.  Keep in mind all of this had to occur before you opened your doors for business.  Even today, this is a high-risk way to go into business.

The Mail-order model, while eliminating the overhead associated with a Brick & Mortar, wasn’t without its own perils.  Back then, this business model required an entrepreneur to purchase and warehouse inventory, and then print and snail mail tens or even hundreds of thousands of catalogs in the hopes of generating sales. While some businesses today still use this model, more and more mail order ventures rely on the Internet to showcase their wares and process orders electronically.  This not only saves time and money, but it saves a whole lot of trees as well.

3.      Promoting a Business  – In ’94 there were three primary methods to promote your venture: Print, Radio and TV.  None of these models were particularly user- friendly or cheap.  Usually, in most towns, there was only a single newspaper and a handful of broadcast stations. This gave the owners of the newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations the ability to charge whatever the market would bear, thus pricing many would-be entrepreneurs out of the market before they could even get off the ground. 

English: eBay Logo
Then along came the Internet and sites such as Craigslist, eBay and YouTube were born that gave startups a whole new lease on life.  Not only have these portals become a success, they’ve become so successful that they actually threaten the viability of their more traditional counterparts.  (Craigslist has been cited as one of the prime reasons the newspaper industry has been in sharp decline, since the site offers classified advertising at low or even no cost.)

For small businesses, the advent of these and other websites have not only meant the difference between life and death, it means entrepreneurs now have a way to cost-effectively test and refine their business models.  With the availability of blogs, social networking, podcasting and video portals, which offer much of the same things as traditional print and broadcasting venues — only for free — now small businesses have a much better chance of creating a sustainable revenue since promotional expenses are much less than they were 20 years ago.

4.      Staffing a Business  – Hiring personnel is still something that causes many business owners to wake up in a cold sweat in the dead of night.  The costs associated with hiring, training, supporting and creating/equipping workstations for employees can be a daunting task for any business, let alone a startup with limited resources.  Back in ’94, with the exception of temps, there was little a business owner could do to contain the costs associated with hiring new employees.  Then along came outsourcing and the world became a business owner’s oyster.  Today, most businesses take advantage to outsource many tasks, from HR, to customer service, to IT, to clerical services, to bookkeeping, and even editorial functions. 

In a recent article from “Business Week” entitled “The Future of Outsourcing,” the practice of outsourcing jobs offshore has become a political hot potato since it is seen as big business’ way of eliminating high paying jobs that would otherwise be given to Americans. However, when it comes to small businesses, their consensus is quite different:

Thus entrepreneurs see a chance to turn around dying businesses, speed up their pace of innovation, or fund development projects that otherwise would have been unaffordable. More aggressive outsourcers are aiming to create radical business models that can give them an edge and change the game in their industries. 

Love it or hate it, outsourcing is a resource most small businesses could little afford to do without today. Besides, in our current business environment, it isn’t always necessary to take your outsourcing needs offshore.  In our current business, we use a number of US-based independent contractors for everything from web design, to writing and editorial tasks, to on-screen talent and more.  It’s been my experience that employing outsourced labor in the short term results in hiring a qualified full-time employee down the road. In many cases, this can mean hiring the same person that was employed as an indie. (Think of his/her outsourcing tenure as an “audition.”) Even better, it allows business owners the flexibility of generating occasional jobs for hire that can add to the bottom line without threatening the business’ viability.

5.      Sustaining a Business – Once you’ve started a business, you need to find a way to sustain and grow it. This meant the Small Business Administration (SBA) back in ’94.  While the SBA is still one resource that can be called upon to help fledgling businesses, it’s by no means the only one.  Today there are thousands of entities that are but a point-and-click away, which offer everything from business coaching, to business networking, to online marketing and more. 

There comes a time in every growing business when, as the owner, you "come to the end of your sleeve." Your business reaches capacity. Either your business has surpassed your skill set or your capacity, or both. 

What happens when you realize you’ve taken your business to the point where your acumen is no longer sufficient to take it to the next level? It used to mean incurring the expense of hiring high-priced consultants or employees that were a drain on the business.  Today, that’s no longer an issue, since there are a number of business assets online that can provide the knowledge you seek. Or you can acquire outsourced technical experts on a per-hour or per-project basis.

6.     Selling a Business – The best reason to own a business is to be able to sell the business down the road.  In the past, this meant hiring a business broker and paying a percentage of the sale price to a third party.  While I’m not saying business brokers don’t have their place when it comes to selling a business, they’re no longer the only way to go.  Just as the real estate industry has spawned a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) craze, there are a number of web portals that have sprung up whose primary task is to help business owners sell their firms.

Many business owners looking to sell their business don't realize they can use the internet to make the selling process go more smoothly. Online business-for-sale marketplaces allow sellers to reach a large number of potential buyers and provide resources for owners considering putting their business up for sale.

Sporting names such as,,, and, these sites can help you price, position, and sell your business, since they cater to business owners and buyers galore.  More importantly, even if you do end up dealing with a broker to sell your business, you’ll be a much savvier seller who better understands the process. That’s money in the bank.

The bottom line is that when it comes to starting, funding, promoting, staffing, sustaining or selling a business, the Internet is the American dream Machine.

Carl Weiss is CEO of Working the Web to Win, a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can interface with Carl every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern when he airs his radio show on Blog Talk Radio.
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Working the Web to Win in the 21st Century

by Carl Weiss

Before the 1990’s businesses were relegated to using print, TV and radio to advertise their wares. Then along came the Internet in the latter half of the 90’s and suddenly businesses had a whole new lease on life, along with a new set of skills to hone.  Because when it comes to promoting products and services online, there is no such thing as one size fits all.  Far from it. 

Before the turn of the century webvertising was a bit simpler, due to the fact that it all came down to two things: a website and a search engine.  Back then, there weren’t any such things as blogs and social networks.  Video was something that was worse than useless, due to bandwidth considerations.  Web designers back then had to selectively choose images due to the slow loading speeds that dial-ups provided.  Too many images could cause a site to load like molasses, or even freeze the screen solid. 

Then came the development of broadband and suddenly it was a whole new ballgame.  With that ballgame came an entirely new set of rules.  Instead of relying almost exclusively on text, many sites began experimenting with podcasts and video.  With the advent of YouTube, where anyone can post and host videos galore, multimedia went from being an anomaly to being practically a requirement. 

Search engines as well began to capitalize on the multimedia nature of the Internet, with many of them adapting their search algorithms to take into considerations all the latest online offerings.  Several, most notably Google, went one step farther by developing their own brand of blog, social network and video portal.  This meant that website owners and optimizers had their hands full feeding all these additional mouths.  As a result, many sites that previously dominated the search engines were relegated to its backwaters.  It also meant that SEO was no longer SOP (standard operating procedure.)  Whether you choose to administer your web presence yourself or outsource the task, there are a number of factors you need to take into consideration if you hope to succeed.

1.      Geo-Targeting – One of the things that has changed in a big way is the ability to geographically target online ads.   Unlike in the early days of the web where global advertising coverage was the norm, today online ads can be directed to targeted regionally, state-wide or locally for both pay-per-click and organic search. 
2.      What is SEO Today? – When I hear people conversion about search engine optimization, I ask them to define the term SEO.  Before the turn of the century everything a search engine needed to determine who ranked best resided exclusively on the website.  Today, only twenty five percent of the criteria used for ranking purposes is contained on-site.  The remainder consists of everything from blogs and social networks to videos and podcasts.

The other thing that has changed in a big way is the acumen of search engine spiders.  Not only 
can the spiders read, they can understand how well your website, blogs and social posts are constructed.  They are also programmed to look at how often you post as well as how much engagement this content generates.  The only things they can’t understand are your images and videos.  This is why it is so important to make sure your alt tags are filled in and the text and tags used to wrap your videos is complete.
This is icon for social networking website. Th...3.      Blogging for Business – Blogs are without a doubt one of the least understood of all web assets.  Most people treat them as a bastard stepchild of the web, not realizing that blogs can not only achieve search engine ranking on their own, but you can also sell products directly on your blog.  Add to this the fact that well-written blogs can be far more engaging than websites since they change more often than your site.  (The average website is updated quarterly, whereas the average blog is updated weekly.)  I have known clients who literally generated more traffic and sales from their blog than they did on their site, even when their site had page-1 ranking on Google, Yahoo and Bing. 
4.      How Social is your Business? – There is a big difference between having a social presence and feeding your social presence.  If you hope to turn Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other social networks into a way to promote your business you need to understand a couple of things.  In the first place, social nets are all about telling as opposed to selling.  This means that for every attempt to display ad copy on your nets you need to deploy at least twenty pieces of information that would be of interest to your followers.  And by “information” I don’t mean ad copy.  The second factor is that social nets are all about your followers, not you.  If you provide them with useful information and prove that you are an authority in your area of expertise they will inevitably buy from you when they are ready.  However, if you rarely feed your nets or if you bombard your followers with ad copy then don’t complain that social networking doesn’t work.
Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
5.       Do You YouTube? – YouTube is another area that most businesses do not really get.  Look at it this way; If your local TV station told you they were giving away space for free TV spots and that they were looking for programming to fill air time, you would probably bust a gut to provide them with as much video content as they would accept. Then why is it that the world’s largest superstation is not on every business owner’s radar in a big way?  Not only does YouTube stream more video than all the other TV stations on the planet combined (4 billion videos per day), but they provide free hosting and broadcast, plus they are owned by the world’s most popular search engine (Google). 

YouTube is much more than just a video portal.  It is a search engine, it is a social network and it is a free web TV station that can place your videos on page 1 of Google.  How cool is that?  Yet most businesses are not taking advantage of this free marketing powerhouse.  By taking advantage of it, I don’t mean having one or two videos on YouTube. What I am talking about is having dozens or even hundreds of videos on YouTube.  Better yet, why not start a channel that focuses on your business?  Don’t think that’s practical?  Think again.  We have shown all kinds of businesses from chiropractors to plumbers how 2-minute microcasts can be used to generate a following and turn their owners into rock stars.  Shooting 2-4 short videos each and every month isn’t all that complicated or costly.  All it takes is a little imagination to turn the world’s largest superstation into a business asset that’s hard to beat.
AngiesListSuperService20136.      Reputation Management – In years past it was all too easy for companies that produced slipshod       workmanship and poor customer service to remain below the radar to consumers.  As a result it was very difficult to judge a business’ reputation until after the fact, by which time it was too late.  With the advent of online reputation management all that has changed.  Today the emperor wears no clothes and it is simple for the public to find out how your customers perceive the quality of your company.  Whether they use Google Local, Yahoo, Angie’s List or any of the hundreds of sites dedicated to broadcasting reviews good and bad about a business, this is generally the first place that consumers go to check out a company with whom they have never done business.

That being said, many businesses have no system of encouraging satisfied customers to post positive reviews.  What this means is that for the vast majority of businesses, all there is to be found are negative reviews.  I don’t care how capable and courteous you are, as they say you can’t please everyone all the time.  So it’s a foregone conclusion that sooner or later you will rub someone the wrong way.  That someone (or even a wily competitor) can sully your reputation at the click of a mouse if you aren’t actively encouraging your best customers to submit positive reviews all the public will find are complaints.

One of the things we use to promote our business as well as those of our clients is to ask your best customers if they wouldn’t mind telling the public what they think of your services on video. By shooting a 2-3 minute interview and then cutting this down to 60-90 seconds not only will you have a powerful endorsement of your business, but while they are there you can then have them submit a positive review on Google+ that will go a long way toward helping you prove once and for all that you are the man or woman for the job.
7.      Who You Gonna Call? -  Obviously creating and distributing everything from daily social posts to weekly blogs and monthly videos takes time.  And time is something of which no business owner or manager has enough.  So outsourcing some or all of the above mentioned tasks is the path of least resistance for many businesses.  That being said, you need to be very careful who you allow to promote your business online.  While there are a number of legitimate digital marketing agencies, there are also thousands of shortcut artists that can do more harm than good. 

In past blogs, we have written about Black Hat tactics that can put your website 
Black Hat Thief
between a rock and a hard place.  It isn’t at all unusual for a search engine to delist or even black ball anyone caught using black hat techniques.  While it would take more than a blog to cover them all, the biggest red flag to watch out for is anyone who claims they can get your site listed organically with Google or any other major search engine within 30 days or less.  Depending upon the competition involved with any keyword or phrase it can take anywhere from four to six months or more to produce enough compelling content to leverage page 1 on any of the major search engines.  However, the results can be well worth the effort.

In short, with the exception of pay-per-click advertising (which takes an entire skill set of its own to employ successfully), there is no shortcut to online success. The only way of leveraging the Internet in the 21st century is to take the long view.  Just like your business, working the web to win takes time.  But it’s time well spent.

When he isn't surfing the web, Carl is Working the Web to Win, which is both a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, Florida and a weekly online radio show on BlogTalkRadio.

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Going Postal With Email

By Hector E. Cisneros

Most businesses spend tons of money generating leads and finding prospects on the internet. Internet Marketing is the norm today for any business looking to grow their customer base. But did you know that most businesses leave more money on the table because they neglect the customers they already have. Touch marketing is the best ways to make sure you stay top of mind with existing customers.  And the Internet is by far the most cost-effective method of touch marketing ever devised.  

However, providing the right level and frequency of touches can be either a godsend for generating more sales or a nightmare for scaring away your existing customers. In this episode we will explore the do's and don'ts of touch marketing and provide you with a checklist of best practices to make sure you rake in the cash while keep your hard-earned customers happy.

What is Touch Marketing?

English: Oneupweb's direct mail piece offering...
Touch marketing is an ongoing system of correspondence that can be used to stay in touch with your customers and prospects on a regular basis. Like all of us, your prospects and customers have needs and wants.  What they don’t need or want is to be barraged with emails telling them to “Buy My Stuff.”  However, they are not averse to receiving information that provides them with value.  Using online touch marketing wisely allows you to stay in touch with them, achieve a level of rapport, familiarity, and ultimately gain their trust that can be turned into a sale when the customer or prospect is ready to buy. In the old days direct mail was the medium of choice for most marketers. Today there is a better way to reach out and touch someone

Touchy, Touchy!

There have been many studies carried out on this subject. When I was studying sales, we were always told that it took a minimum of seven contacts with a prospect before they would buy. Recently I have read that this number can be as high as 12 touches before the prospect is ready to buy. More importantly, there are other factors that affect the buying decision. For example; is the economy is slow, are the prospects flush with cash, or are they pinching every penny?  Has trust already established or is this the first time the prospect has heard of your company?  Do they have a real need or is this a discretionary purchase?  Deciding to buy something is influenced by a multitude of factors. Anything that you as a business can do to differentiate yourself, your product, your credibility as well as simplify the buying process will help move your prospect into making a buying decision.

What are the Methods a Business Needs to Use in Order to Succeed?

In the past, businesses could brand themselves and create leads. Most of these leads came from print advertising or phone solicitations. Let’s look at what the Internet revolution now provides to businesses big or small.
1.      Email Marketing
Email marketing is a superior form of direct mail marketing. It has a much lower cost, it is much faster and it can be sent in a verity of ways. This is not to say that direct mail doesn’t work 
Typical advertising mail
Typical advertising mail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
anymore, it’s just considerably more expensive. With email, you can send newsletters, email blasts, customer surveys to opt-in databases that you develop or purchase. It’s very important that you only use opt-in lists. There are severe penalties for spamming people with un-solicited email. Also, spamming is a quick way to get your domain name added to a black list which will hurt your reputation or even get your site shut down. I personally like using email newsletters. They can connect your clients and prospects to your blog, social nets and YouTube channel. You can include lots of useful information that builds your credibility and you can also add coupons and product specials on occasion to help build loyalty.
2.      Text Message Marketing
Again with text messaging you want to use op-in lists that you either buy or build. Text messaging is a great way to send text alerts like BOGOs, special sales and time limited offers. You can also create quite a buzz with contests and coupons. You can also increase the traffic to your website or business with text messaging.
3.      Social Media Marketing
The term Social Media Marketing is somewhat of an oxymoron, in that social media is not a direct form of marketing. It can contain pay per click ads and you can run contests in 
Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook media, but no one ever joined a social network to be sold to!  Social media is more akin to word of mouth marketing. Having said that, any business can run contests, provide product updates, offer coupons, and use customer testimonials to market their business or products.  Remember that social posts work best when customers and prospects repost your message. When you shout about how great you are it’s a commercial.  When your customers sing your praises it’s a testimonial.  Remember to post useful information. Again, focus on building trust and credibility as opposed to direct selling.
4.      Blogging
 Blogging is a great way to build your credibility. It can keep prospects and clients up to date on your changing business. Providing quality, relevant blogs is one of the best way to differentiate yourself and build your credibility. This one item will separate you from crowd. Why you might ask? Because writing quality blogs is a time consuming skill. If you don’t have the time or skill you can outsource this function and its return on investment can be as high or higher than pay per click advertising. Blogging helps with your Internet ranking, credibility, growing a following and growing your social nets. The key is to provide useful, quality, relevant infotainment in a multimedia format. You also must make sure that you grow your readership. This means you will have to invite people to read, comment and share your blogs and articles. If your articles are well written, in an evergreen fashion your blogs will also garner search ranking on their own. We have learned that creating an alliance with other bloggers can help with distribution.  Getting other bloggers to read your blog, comment on your blog and share your blog will only work if you also read, comment and share theirs as well. This can be a significant task in itself, but it can also pay huge dividends as well.
5.      Send Out Cards
Send Out Cards is a hybrid online service/direct mail service that is sold as either a standalone or MLM product. What’s neat about this product is that you can create a data base of clients and prospects online and then send them greeting cards, post cards, tri-folds, even gifts. More importantly you can create touch campaigns that you can plug a prospect into and educate them to move them through your marketing funnel. I don’t participate in their MLM program but I do love this product.
6.      YouTube
When most people think of YouTube they think viral videos. But YouTube is much more than that. It’s a social media platform, a vlog platform, (video blogs), it can be an educational medium, it can provide weekly updates and be your very own WebTV channel. Let’s face it, four out of five people would rather watch a two minute video then read two paragraphs about your product or service. What’s cool about YouTube is that its free, it has built in tools to help you create your videos and people can subscribe to your channel. You can even invite people to view your videos and videos are great content for your blogs and social nets.

Necessary Elements Needed to Build Your Audience

In last week’s blog, we talked about how a person can make pay per click pay big dividends. An 
English: A business ideally is continually see...
important part of that discussion centered around what is needed on a landing page to get a prospects to cough up their contact information. We believe using landing pages is the best way to build your very own opt-in touch marketing database. Contrary to popular belief is the fact that landing pages can be on any medium. You can add contact forms on social media pages, blogs etc… and most of the media I have discussed so far includes a way to capture a prospect’s contact information. Having said that here is a short list of items that every landing page needs in oder to work while at the same time helping to build your credibility.

Landing pages with the five elements –
1.      Contact Form – Make their name and email address mandatory, but their other contact information should be optional.
2.      Offer – Give them a reason to give up their contact information. An offer can be useful information in the form of a white paper, special lists, or an eBook.
3.      Phone number – You need to list your phone number in a prominent place.
4.      Address – Don’t hide! People need to know you’re a real business with a real address.
5.      Testimonials – Testimonials are very important. Video testimonials are best, but you can use written testimonials if they are copies of the original, showing letterhead, names etc…

Common Features of Most Email Systems

Ideally you would use several of these in conjunction to improve your odds of your message being read. It will also provide a degree of  synergy and added credibility when you reach out to a prospect or client in multiple ways. Whether you use Constant contact, Mail Chimp, iContact, or some other email marketing system, you need to know the basics of what is necessary to perform this vital task. Now let’s cover some of the basic elements every email marketing system needs to have. Here is a list that every email marketing system needs to have.
Databases- All mail programs need to be able to create and store contact information. The three above will allow you to create multiple databases. Many have tiered pricing systems based on the number of contacts entered. Many also provide free trials.
Templates’ – All of the programs listed above have built-in templates for newsletters, email blasts, invitations and the like. They also will allow you to create surveys to gauge customer/prospect opinions.
Forms – All the systems mentioned above come with built-in response forms and all will allow you to create custom forms. These forms can be plugged into your landing pages, blogs etc… as an embedded code.
Scheduling – Being able to set up a date to send your marketing messages is important. Most systems have some method of performing this function. The calendar system/scheduling function is what allows you to create a touch marketing program vs just a direct email piece.
Analytics – All systems need some method of measuring your success. You need to know how may were emails were opened, how many you added to your database/s, how many dropped out and which mail pieces are the most affective. These all provide some level of analytics.
Management - Editing and managing your database and email campaigns is very important. The greater control you have over your databases the more you can utilize them as effective marketing tools. Management is often spread out among multiple functions and is not usually housed all in one place. The three programs listed all have adequate managerial functions.

Automation – You need to have automation otherwise you will have to work at using your database. Of the functions needing automation, the one that is paramount is Opt-in/out functions. You want your prospects and clients to be able to add or remove themselves from the mailing list. This keeps you legal and keep your clients and prospect happy.

I can't tell you how much money online touch marketing has saved us over the years.  But when you consider that a first class stamp currently costs forty nine cents and that we send out thousands of newsletters and invitations out every single week, then were I to suggest using the USPS to deliver them, the only thing going postal would be my partners.

Hector Cisneros is a partner, COO and Social Media Director, based in Jacksonville, FL. You can connect with him on TwitterFacebookGoogle+LinkedIn, and YouTube. He is also the co-host of Blog Talk Radio’s “Working the Web to Win,” where he and Carl Weiss make working the web to win simple for every business. Hector is a syndicated writer for EzineOnline and is an active blogger (including ghost writing). He's a published author of two books, "60 Seconds to Success"(on sale at Amazon and B&N) and "Internet Marketing for the 21st Century,"which you can get free by clicking on the link at
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