The Death of McDonald’s! Not really, but very close.

Free McDonalds Gift CardLast quarter McDonald’s reported a 21% slump. In January the CEO steps down and the new one is slowing down on building new branches.

It happens all the time, and companies slump and come back. This is how business is. This is how the whole life is.

In case of McDonald’s though there’s something different.

When McDonald’s is mentioned you can not help it but visualize a burger, can you?

The problem is, burger itself is the reason, in my personal opinion, that McDonald’s is sinking the way it is doing right now.

Half a century ago people didn’t know any of what young school kids now know about saturated fat and cholesterol. This is when the burger fast food business had the suitable environment to flourish. Busy people, working moms with little time to spend in the kitchen, and cheap fast food they can pick on the way to work … what else could McDonald’s wish for?

Now things are different. The public is aware of the consequences of consuming unhealthy fast food. More and more people are pulling away towards healthier choices, which are also available in fast foods restaurants.

This last fact might in part explain the decision of Burger King to fuse with Tim Hortons. At Tim Hortons there are soups and other healthier alternatives to the once popular burger industry.

In my personal opinion, if the new leadership of McDonald’s wants to make through these tough times and stay around longer they have to focus on the “healthy food” line and advertise it like crazy.

The current emotional “about you” thing might not work long term if it does any good short term at all. The problem is not another burger competitor. The problem is the competition between burger and unhealthy fast foods at one side vs. the healthy alternatives that are growing and expanding to push the burger empire off the top it once dominated.

 

Free Gift Card Marketing | CPA arbitrage

This CPA arbitrage method has been around since I first used the Internet in the 1990s, except it wasn’t as developed as it is right now. This method is used to build lists of audience categorized based on detailed demographics, pushing the prospects through marketing funnels before they end up on a highly targeted mailing list.

I’ll explain it with an example so that it will be easier to understand because we all have seen this example. It’s the “free Walmart gift card” email that we all received in our junk mail folders. This free gift card is offered by many marketers trying to build a list of a special kind of audience. I’ll explain this in a sec, just bare with me a little.

The funnel goes like this:

An offer of a free Walmart gift card that appeals to a wide range of audience. The marketers hire CPA affiliates to get their offer in front of as many people as humanly possible. The value of the card ranges depending on who they want to target. Usually $50-100 gift card is used if they want to target realistic audience who will immediately spot the fraud in a $1000 gift card offer.
When a prospect responds to the ad they are asked an easy question that could be answered by selecting from multiple choices. This question is used as a shopping behavior classifier.

The prospect is then taken to a landing page that congratulates him/her for entering to get a free gift card and the landing page goes over the many “free” offers that could be filled by the participant in order to qualify for a free $50 Walmart gift card.
Usually the offers page has other CPA offers that pay anything between $12 and $30 for a free trail lead. Based on which offer the prospect will respond to they are classified according to their shopping interests and behavior.

So right off the bat the CPA arbitrage marketers are making money from those free trial offers on the landing page.
If they don’t respond to any thing they are taken to another set of offers that doesn’t require any credit card info (usually pays around $1-2 per lead).

Now the marketer has a list of people that he knows their demographics because before any cards could be sent to them they need to enter their shipping details. And here comes the interesting part.

The marketer has to deliver on the free gift card promise, or else. The FTC is waiting for any complaint and they will get the marketer no mater where he/she hides.

The offer page always has a fine print somewhere says that it’s a draw and the participants need to qualify for the draw by responding to some free trial offers. So once the prospect is done making the marketer some money already as a commission on generating leads for the free trial offers, they receive a message that they entered the draw advertised on the main free gift card offer page.

Do you remember the qualifier question at the beginning of this process of list building? This qualifier is an indicator of what the prospect might be interested in buying right now. And based on that they will be receiving emails promoting exactly what they expressed interest in. All of the other qualifiers are used to decide what offers to be sent to this particular prospect.

So the marketer built his/her own list using someone else’s offers to finance the list building process. Genius, isn’t it [grin]?

Smart Phone Apps – Billion Dollar Industry in it’s Enfancy

Smart phone and tablet apps is a crazy market, yet with only a few names competing on bigger shares. Just to give you an idea of how big this is, did you know that the company that made that angry birds game is now worth $2.25 Billion? Can you believe that? I wouldn’t pay a penny to buy something that doesn’t even exist! Yet this thing that doesn’t exist is worth $2.25 Billion for some.

Also did you hear the news of that photo sharing app that facebook paid $1 Billion to acquire it, although the guy who made it couldn’t generate a single penny out of it?

Now that everyone is moving from laptop to tablets those apps are now getting an exponentially growing base of customers. Mobility now means a smart phone or a tablet. Laptops are now something from the past, unless you’re a grad student in some science discepline studying the tertiary structure of some protein molecule using some software that needs a huge storage space and a PC that runs ol’ windows.

This is a huge opportunity we’re talking about here. But is it only for nerds? Do you have to be some 4-eyed egghead mathematician to profit from this insanity?

Absolutely not. As an app business person all what you need to do is to have the idea for the app. Then either hire someone to code it for you and invest around $20 grand to get it super done, or get that software that Amish Shah is offer for under 1 grand and make as many apps as you want until you find that super winner.

If I were you I would go for Amish Shah’s program, especially that it comes with some super training and a marketing network of apps to promote yours once you make them. So .. make them first then … you know what I mean maaaan.

Anyways … here’s a free webinar about this huge opportunity and how to tap into it:

===> Click here to watch the recorded webinar

 

 

Trade-mark Infringement: A Crime, not a Marketing Technique

Among the numerous black hat marketing techniques is to register a domain name that includes a trade-mark and build a website about a related product that pays you commission per lead or sale. This is one of the black hat ways to get organic search engine traffic.

It’s easy to do, cheap to start, and can make you a lot of money, but on the back end it’s very costly. This high cost comes from the companies you infringed their trade-marks when they file a lawsuit against you, and they usually win such lawsuits.

I always believed in that and never accepted this advice from the gurus who promote this technique, but only today that I learned about one of those being sued not only for trade mark infringement, but also for teaching this technique to his customers who purchased his high ticket product.

I had never been in his position before, but from what I hear from those who’ve been sued by the same company before I really feel bad for him because even if he had his business incorporated and structured correctly so that he doesn’t lose everything for a lawsuit like this one, still there will be a lot of losses, usually in the 7 figure zone or higher, that could mean the end of many business out there with similar size.

The moral from this story is that black, and even gray, hat marketing techniques might work for a while then get you in a lot of trouble. They are not the best way to go if you want to build a business you can sustain for the rest of your life and pass to your family, or sell.

Play by the rules, and stay away from black hat stuff that could only get you in trouble, eventually if not soon.

The Future of Search Engines?

Search engine marketing is one of the most rewarding forms of marketing in terms of return on time and capital investment. Compared with direct paid advertising, where your traffic stops when you stop paying, search engine optimization is a work done today to keep working for you for some time down the road.

There is risk in the process, and it’s a big risk when the search engine giant Google decides to make a change that not only weeds out the low quality, meaningless content, but also harms some of the most content rich sites like article directories and the publishers who take their articles from article directories.

Being said, Google is not the only player in the game. Back in October 2010 Bing and Yahoo merged their search and are both now using Bing search engine. Also Bing closed some deals with third party search engines, that syndicate the search results from Google, to use Bing instead.

Now Bing accounts for 33% of the search activities on the Internet. That leaves Google, AOL, and all other search engines with 67% of the search.

Are tables turning on Google in the future? No one can tell, but obviously there is more to search engine optimization than Google. Yet, most of the search engine optimization services and information products around focus on optimizing for Google as if it were the only search engine that matters, and ignore the fact that there is another heavy weight player in the ring called Bing who’s gaining more share of the market every minute thanks to the new management of MSN and that of Google, who by the way took offices around the same time two or three years ago.

Google’s main focus now is mobile, which is by the way could be a big time bigger than computer Internet network. But the kind of service required for mobile is different and the same user could use both for different purposes. This means that search engine marketing is still a big medium for marketing and advertising, and it requires that search engine marketers keep working on updating their knowledge and techniques in order to maintain their existing businesses running.

I’d like to close with the fact that most of the content on social networks like facebook is meaningless and serve no value to the user. I mean that kind of I had that for brake fast and I love whatever. Yet, such sites got no harm from the new changes in Google’s algorithms.

I have no idea what’s going on, but I’ll be happy to hear from you if you have an opinion or news about it.

The Death of Article Marketing and Autoblogging

A few days ago Google announced new changes in the algorithms that should, according to Google, affect 12% of the search queries. The purpose of these new algorithms changes is to weed out websites with low quality that give a not so good user experience.

One group of websites that have been affected by these new changes are article directories like ezinearticles.com, because in spite of the efforts that they do on ezinearticles to keep their content unique and of high quality, still in Google’s sight it’s duplicate content. The only thing I can think of now is that ezinearticles is an article directory where marketers and authors publish their articles, and publishers go and pick the articles that suit their websites.The publishers copy the article as it is with it’s links and post it on their websites. That makes it a duplicate content.

So for those marketers who kept annoying you with the “duplicate content is a myth” thing I say: how are doing ;-)?

And there goes most of the efforts of Internet marketers who spent months and years writing articles and spending money on outsourcing to drive traffic and build back-links to their sites.

But that’s not all. Have you heard of the autoblogging business model? If not, it’s that you build a blog, subscribe to a service that scrapes content from allover the net, rewrite it sometimes, and post it on your blog automatically without your interference. You just worry about placing the ads and collect the revenue.

Now, thanks to the new algorithms, this model is dead. Really, thank you Google.

Thank you Google, because now it’s time for legitimate bloggers to take over and leave those autobloggers in the dust trying to figure out how to spam the system once again.

Now it’s your chance. Start a legitimate blog and start providing your own unique content about something you love and have knowledge about. Now you can take back what’s yours.

Is 2011 a wonderful year or what?

Facebook Viral Marketing: In Light of the Egyptian Revolution

If you have been following the news lately you’d be aware of the changes taking place in the Middle East, especially in Egypt and Tunisia, and currently in Libya and Yemen. The preparing for the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions was so powerful that it resulted in their dictators to be toppled in the matter of days, and obviously the Libyans are on the road to follow.

The interesting thing is that the preparation of these revolutions took place on the biggest, most visited website on the Internet today; Facebook. This example of viral marketing is one of the most successful ones to be studied and lectured about in the field of marketing as well as in the politics avenues.

The Egyptians started a similar attempt of revolution a couple of years ago called “the movement of April 6th.” and was aiming at general strike allover the country. The strike took place partially and the attempt failed to make any change. Later after the Tunisians tried their own version and it worked, the Egyptian found a successful example in front of their eyes to follow, and they did successfully this time.

The lessons that we as marketers should learn from the Egyptian revolution example are huge and might take quite some time and a set of websites devoted just to cover this subject, but for the purpose of this article I’ll only focus on 3 major lessons to come out with and apply in our marketing efforts.

1. Create a Front:

The Egyptians had this clearly manifested in the form of the people against the corrupt system. It’s “us” and “them” kind of segregation. This front creating made the supporters of the cause belong to the front and do anything at their disposal to defeat the “others”. That included spreading the word to their friends and relatives; commenting, liking and sharing of the stuff they wanted to go viral; reported the “others” comments as spam and got their competitors blocked from using facebook; collected related material and shared on the fan page of the front; and shared their support and, eventually, their celebration of success.

If you can follow this example in your campaign you’ve got a winner. Find a segregation, if there is not any make one and be patient. It might take a while, but after it takes off you can not stop it.

2. Social Proof:

Social proof is one of the psychological triggers used to convince people to follow your cause. The “movement of April 6th.” didn’t make it because it lacked the proof that this could work, especially that the Egyptian people were afraid of the brutality of their corrupt system in dealing with the opposition.

After the Tunisian example the atmosphere was different. They had the example to follow and the proof it could work because the Tunisian dictator was analogous to their own. “If the Tunisians could do it, so we can” the thought. That spirit was manifested during the clashes with the police and their tools. I remember one of the leaders, her name is Nawwara, was on the TV with Al-Jazeera telling the audience live on TV that “it’s only you who are worried because you are not in the middle of the battle, we have a high spirit here and are confident of our victory” more or less as some meanings might get lost in the translation.

Where was this spirit two years earlier when they used the same medium (Facebook)? The answer is that this time they had the example to follow.

So if you have real success stories, or if you thing your own story could be as inspiring as the Tunisian example, then share it with your fans on your fan page.

3. Persistence:

This one is obvious, but it’s worth to be stressed at. The Egyptians and before them the Tunisians faced threats of death and injury. In fact, hundreds were killed and thousands were injured in both countries, but the revolutions kept going until the survivors collected the freedom fruit.

And here I’d like to stop and ask you this question: are you here for fun or for a cause? If that’s a hobby that you want to make a few bucks on the Internet here and there then this model is not for you. It only works if this is the cause of your life. You gotta be cornered, like I was recently, in order to push yourself to the absolute limit and start racking thousands of dollars in revenue that could change your and your family’s life and future.

So, what are you waiting for? You’ve got a fan page to build and a cause to work for. Get going.

 

Branding Advertising, Google’s Slap, and You!

My last post about bringing value to the Internet and making money while doing so has raised some questions, especially from those who are used to direct marketing and measuring results with targeted keywords etc. The fact is that there are changes that are happening around us and a new trend is building, and my last post was an adaptation to these changes.

In the past few months tens of thousands of affiliate marketers got their Adwords accounts permanently suspended and they were banned for life from using the program. Those affiliates are used to the targeted keywords and direct marketing results measured by direct ROI. And those marketers claim that they made Google when they switched from Overture (Yahoo’s PPC back in the early 2000s) and spent millions of dollars every month with Google to make millions in revenue for themselves and their families.

It’s also said on many blogs and seminars is that Google did that to cut the way on floggers, but it’s also in favor of large corporations. And this is the change in the trend of advertising on Google.

The current advertisers on Google’s Adwords, which includes search and content network (Adsense) has two new criteria that are different from affiliates:

1. They have the advertising budget that they must spend, and the return is not a direct matter for them because:

2. They are also interested in branding their companies names, perhaps more than in direct sales.

When you are after branding the keywords are not going to make a huge difference for you. All what you need from your advertising to be effective is to easily leave your name printed in the minds of the readers. With that in mind, it makes more sense to bid on cheap keywords that get a lot of traffic than on targeted keywords that get tons of competition and is consequently very expensive.

If you check any adense block on different websites from one location you’ll find that there are certain ads that are repeatedly appearing to you regardless of the content of the website. Those are after branding.

So if  you are providing content about the latest in the news, guided with Google trends, and with a some free press releases and articles submitted to article directories you can get a flood of traffic to your blog, and those branding type of ads will keep showing to your readers according to their location not according to the content.

I hope this article explains my last one a little bit and makes it make sense to you.

Article Marketing: Personal Approach

Article marketing has been one of the best ways to drive targeted traffic and to build back links to a website. In this article I’ll emphasize on the personal approach in article marketing and how this should be the way to generate good income on the Internet.

Actually I’d like to call from this article for a “revolution” in making money online against the teachings of the “black hatters” and the “loop-holers” so that we all make money on the Internet while enriching the web with valuable knowledge and life experiences.

Without any more delays here is the theory around which this method is built:

In the real physical world the best kind of investment is real estate. And the best of which is the one that generates residual income on monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. Examples are rented apartment buildings, vacation time share, and hotels. It’s the best in terms of the amount of work from your side in order to get this money. All of the work is done by the acquisition of the property and hiring someone to do the maintenance and collect the rent, and in case of hotels you hire a company to manage it for you and collect the money.

At the end of the day your property is still yours, and could be acquiring more value with appreciation, and you get to make stable residual income as long as you own it. If you need a loan to start another business you can easily get one because you can back it up with your property ownership.

So far so good, but how to do that online?

On the Internet there is a whole virtual world of property called “websites”. Yes, people buy and sell websites, and rent advertising spaces on high traffic sites, and there is a whole industry built on flipping domains and websites.

If you can control a website or a blog with high traffic volume you can rent advertising space for a certain amount of money that’s proportional to the amount of traffic and the kind of audience of your blog.

The beauty of the idea is that it’s easy to own such property because a domain name is in the $10/year area and a hosting could be as low as $1.99/month (All Inclusive Plan for only $1.99/mo). Even if you can’t pay for those now, you still can build a free personal blog on blogger.com and when you have the money buy a domain name for $10 and change your blogger blog settings to be on your new domain.

What do I Mean with Personal?

When I say personal I am not talking about the whole “you” here. Personal can also mean just one side of you. Maybe the one side you don’t want to speak about out loud with your friends and family who don’t understand you, or the most exciting experience you ever had in your life, or even the hobby that you have a strong passion for and have gained experience around it over the years. Anything you like, but just one thing, is what you can blog and write articles about from a personal perspective.

I know that you might be thinking that article marketing can not be personal and successful at the same time. Don’t jump to a conclusion yet. I have a plan for you, just be patient and keep reading.

Why Personal?

If you have been around the Internet marketing field for a while you must have been over exposed to the “keyword research” concept. There will be a little keyword research that anyone can master in a matter of minutes, and does not involve a lot of thinking because you will be doing it in a “personal” way. Here is how:

The best company to rent your advertising space to is Google through Adsense program. The program displays Google ads in blocks that you have already installed the ad code on.To be accepted by this program it’s easier if your blog is personal.

Another reason is that we want to make money while enriching the Internet with your knowledge and experience. It’s YOUR touch that’s needed here for two reasons:

1. The audience gets more easily attached to a personal blog than to a corporate website. This means more loyal visitors to your blog.

2. You can be referred to as an authority in your subject by name. Names are easier to remember than urls or brands. It’s also easier to credit you for any content copied from your website even if the copier don’t do so. Your audience will know and your job of getting their host to take them down will be easier.

Most importantly, a personal blog complies with all the TOSs of advertising companies as far as I know (not a guarantee though).

Where is the Article Marketing Part?

It comes after you blog about yourself, your passion, your hobby, your education, your political or religious views, or anything you want to blog about. There is no keyword research here. All what you are doing is that you are spelling your guts out on the web.

This blog will be your personal website where people who want to know more about you can come and visit, like your friends on facebook and twitter.

The article marketing comes after you have a few posts on your blog, got accepted by Google adsense as a publisher, and you are ready to receive traffic to your blog to read your content first, and to see the ads second.

This blog will be your signature everywhere you go; in your email, on the forum signature, in your social media profiles, on your personal cards … everywhere.

The article marketing will not be marketing at all. It will be a contribution from you to the Internet society with your knowledge, views, experience … anything you like. And your signature here is no exception from the above list.

How to Do the Article Marketing:

Here comes the technical part which involves keyword research, but it has nothing to do with keyword tools. Here is the plan:

1. Go to Google Trends and find out what is the buzz about now. See if you can write about one of the top 10 hot searches or topics. If yes blog about it on your personal blog.

2. Go to ezinearticles.com and rewrite what you had on your blog in a formal way and publish it. Your bio box will include your personal blog and a few words about you as an author.

3. Do that daily if you can. Some days you’ll not find something you can write about. Take what you wrote yesterday, rewrite it and publish it elsewhere, like Squidoo.com, HubPages.com, GoArticles.com and AcrtilesBase.com.

The above plan takes 30-60 minutes at most if you are blogging about something that’s part of your personality. I mean you are not going to need a lot of research to come up with a 300 word article about something you love.

The kind of people who will visit your website is the “general audience” type. This means that a lot of “branding” advertising will show up on your blog. The beauty of “branding” advertisers is that they don’t care about immediate direct response and they do have the budget to burn. All what they care about is getting their name in front of as many eyeballs as they can, which is what they will get from your blog visitors.

To keep track of who visited your site, where they came from, what did they do on your site, how they exited your site, and how long they stayed there you can install the code from statcounter.com.

Let’s all focus on providing the valuable content and money will follow.

Are you with me?

Who Needs Web Hosting?

Quite frankly everybody needs web hosting. Hosting companies know that and they are expanding in their infrastructure of servers, software, trained candidate, and marketing arsenal because they know they’re into something that’s getting more valuable than gold was in 1800s.

Web hosting is not only for businesses and celebrities anymore. The need to have a good, reliable, and secure web hosting is expanding at the same, or even higher rate than web hosting services themselves.

All businesses need web sites to expand their customer base to the cyberspace. A small business needs web hosting just as much as a large incorporation does. A website not only helps with local brand recognition, but also can be responsible for direct sales whether through a shopping cart or simply a phone number.

A simple family album can be hosted on a server instead of your personal computer. Instead of having to send your photos to your family and friends attached to an email you can upload them to your online photo album and share the link. Free services like Google’s Picasa can do the trick, although free is not reliable and involves a lot of work to backup your albums in case the moody giant decides to shut you down.

Professionals in the entertainment industry and sports need web hosting for their news and their fans to show their support and love. This is what fuels the pros to give more, and through the interactive platforms like blogs and forums this is just getting better than ever. This  interactive platform needs to be hosted on a server somewhere.

But celebrities are not the only people who need presence on the Internet. Professionals in all fields need Internet presence to make it easier for their businesses to reach out to more customers. It replaces the old fashion portfolio, CV, and resume.

And since we mentioned CVs and resumes, a link to a website that talks about yourself and your achievements could be more convenient that attaching large files to your online job application.

Even a student needs a web hosting for storing notes, projects, papers, study material … etc. Most institutes provide this hosting for free and some students are now aware of it and are using it.

Everybody needs a web hosting. So, the whole world is the market. You only need to tailor your message to fit with smaller groups of prospects in order to get more sales for your hosting business.