Filed under: Facebook, Internet Marketing Tactics, Pay Per Click Marketing
Alex Lawrence (CMO of FundingUniverse.com) teaches an internet marketing class at Weber State University. (Marketing 4200). It’s currently in its second semester. In addition to teaching himself, Alex brings guest lecturers in to address topics such as online analytics, social media, and search engine marketing. His guest lecturers include entrepreneurs and marketers like Cydni Tetro (Women Tech Council), Patrick Bennett (Showroom Logic), Jerry Ropelato (TopTenReviews), Chris Bennett (97th Floor) and Dave Bascom (SEO.com).
When I taught internet marketing at BYU, I used a similar approach, bringing in experts to share their real-world knowledge about internet marketing subjects. I’ll never forget some of the presentations. One that stands out occurred shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit. A “local entrepreneur wondered what he could do to help out all these victims. His wife encourage him to put his web design skills to work, so he did. In just a couple of marathon days, he built KatrinaHousing.org, which within a week had attracted listings for something like 114,000 available rooms in homes all across the country.” (See 2009 blog post on Citizen 20 percent time)
My assignment both semesters was to cover PPC, email marketing, and affiliate marketing in 3 hours. Of course, that is impossible. It would be easy to teach an entire 16-week course on each of those three topics. Last fall when I taught the class, I assigned a few chapters from Seth Godin’s classic book Permission Marketing, 21 pages about using Google Adwords, and then we focused class time on dividing into 10 teams of 3 students each, assigned each team a domain name, and gave out $100 visa debit cards so each team could run their own Google Adwords campaign.
Two weeks ago I tried to cover some key points about email marketing and affiliate marketing in class, including a demo of Commission Junction’s amazing tools, as well as Google pay-per-click marketing. But this semester I decided to have the students run their first Facebook ad campaign using the $100 visa debit cards we got from Zions Bank.
The 10-day class project is now completed. I am reading reports from the 19 students who ran their first targeted ad campaigns on Facebook. I have been extremely impressed with how creative the students were with their ad copy and use of images and how quickly they learned from their assignment. Each student team tested multiple ads, so they were all able to say “this worked better than that.” Many were surprised at what worked best.
Today one student emailed me his report. He also said, “that was the coolest assignment I have ever done.” More than half of the students have expressed something similar. There is nothing like hands-on learning.
We recently hired the top student in Alex’s marketing class from last fall, even though he has an hour commute every day from Farmington. He proved himself in that single class project that he has the creative and analytical skills to be a major contributor at FamilyLink. We couldn’t be more excited to work with him.
What classes do you know of at universities or even at high schools where the best assignments are hands-on real-world assignments that really make a difference in the lives and careers of the students?
My favorite example is the experimental computer science course BJ Fogg and Dave McClure taught at Stanford in the fall of 2007 called “Create Engaging Web Applications Using Metrics and Learning on Facebook” (Course number CS 377W.)
BJ is a good friend, and if it wasn’t for him and my small investment in his startup company, I never would have attended the Facebook Platform launch back in May 2007.
During the semester 65 students created and launched 80+ Facebook apps, many of which went viral. Collectively these apps got more than 10 million installs and made nearly $1 million for the students during the semester. At the semester end presentation, more than 500 people showed up to see what the students had learned that semester. (Click here to view the slide show prepared by Dave McClure and Rob Fan.)
Please share any hands-on educational experience that made a difference in your life or career.
Filed under: Audience Measurement, Facebook, FamilyLink.com, Genealogy, Internet Marketing Tactics, World Vital Records
Yesterday we set two traffic records. WorldVitalRecords.com had more than 36,000 unique visitors–6,000 higher than our two previous best days, earlier in April. And We’re Related on Facebook had more than 105,000 daily active users.
One of the best parts about being an internet entrepreneur is how immediately your actions translate into measureable results. Our team members are working hard on search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing campaigns, and improving our affiliate marketing program. As each channel improves, the overall cumulative results are exciting.
When you have team members that have experienced the thrill of extreme growth in the past from how a web site was built or marketed and when they are hungry to experience it again, and know how to do it, then you have a great success formula. When you don’t have a team that has done it before, you have to inspire them by getting them to listen to or read about people who have done it before.
My personal observation is that the vast majority of people that work in most companies have never experienced anything like the rapid real-time success of a massive internet marketing campaign that they personally helped launch, or a melt-down of servers caused by publicity or viral marketing from something they personally helped build. I remember watching a few product and marketing managers in the early days of MyFamily.com go through a personal transformation when they personally designed or launched a feature, or a marketing campaign, that brought in huge numbers. They were never the same again. From that point on, they wanted to do it again and again, and avoid as many meetings and as much bureaucracy and red tape as possible. They wanted to be on a small dedicate team focused on rapid development. They wanted to experience that thrill again.
Most people I have worked with over the years are willing to spend a lot of time in meetings, or in planning, or in writing 20-page MRDs (marketing requirements documents), rather than spending most of their time building a site or actually launching a marketing program. We have a high concentration of experienced and hungry team members at FamilyLink.com, so we are optimistic about the future.
A good description about the difference between a traditional business with its long-term planning cycles and a fast-paced internet company comes from Meg Whitman, who joined eBay after a successful career with Hasbro, Disney and Proctor & Gamble. In the book Net Entrepreneurs Only, on page 179, she describes the radical difference. I blogged about this in 2004.
Everyday we use Omniture Site Catalyst to run our online marketing programs. But we are also looking at our public Quantcast numbers every day. Recently we were able to figure out how to place a Quantcast pixel on our Facebook application so that we can get credit publicly for the Facebook users that are using our We’re Related application every day.
Our Quantcast chart for the FamilyLink.com network of sites now looks like we must be on the verge of a server "melt-down" — and we’ve had people ask us about this. But in fact, we’ve had a ton of Facebook traffic for months now, and it is only just now showing up on our public chart. And the good news is that thanks to Amazon EC2, we are scalable as far as the eye can see.
After another two weeks of Quantcast tracking our actual usage across all of our properties, it appears that our network will break into the ranks of the top 1,000 web properties in the U.S.
It takes about 2.1 million unique visitors per month to be a top 1,000 web site or property. We’ll soon be in the company of prweb.com, looksmart.com, and stanford.edu in terms of unique monthly visitors. To break into the top 500 web properties, we’ll have to reach 3.3 million monthly uniques.
I remember going to Fall Internet World in New York City back in 1998 and first running into Media Metrix. At their booth they had a list of the top 500 web sites at that time, and I was thrilled to see Ancestry.com on that list. I remember later, after the successful launch of MyFamily.com with its meteoric viral growth, and after our acquisition of Rootsweb.com, that our network of properties broke into the top 50 in reach, and our reported monthly page views put as at #19 for all US internet properties. Imagine that–a top 20 internet company based on page views!
It is clear from those early days that genealogy sites and tools for connecting families have huge potential. With the right business model, partners, and the right team, a company in this space has tremendous potential. It’s no wonder, to me, that Geni.com reportedly got a $100 million valuation on their Series A round last year. They are still, of course, trying to grow into that valuation, but they are showing steady growth. The family tree and family social networking space is hot. It has huge potential. The big question now is which of the many various companies in this space will execute well enough to survive and to attract enough customers to become viable. Our team is quite confident that we can make it. We have a number of team members who have experienced the thrill of victory before and are hungry to experience it again.
As I said in my previous post, We’re Hiring. If you have been a part of a fast-growing internet company in the past and are interested in joining with us, please contact me and send me your resume. It’s going to be a really fun ride.
Filed under: Advertising, Genealogy, Internet Marketing Tactics
A fun and potentially rewarding web site for genealogists is being announced today. GenealogyPays.com features a trivia puzzle that someone will solve for a cash prize of up to $30,000. But in order to solve the puzzle, visitors will need to keep returning to the site to uncover new areas of the puzzle that have been purchased by advertisers.
So many genealogists have invested all their spare time and money on family history over the years. Now one of them gets a chance to win it all back!
Advertisers win because large numbers of genealogists will find this site not only fun (and possibly addicting, as visitors will want to be the first to solve the puzzle) but also one of the best sites for discovering new genealogy sites. Just look at the initial slew of advertisers. I think Dan Lynch, the founder of GenealogyPays.com, will end up selling links to virtually all the major companies and societies in the genealogy industry, because no one will want to be left out of this site that has so much traffic potential.
I hope to have our FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com ads live by next week, well before the formal July 1st launch of GenealogyPays.com. Dan is a close friend of mine, but he is making me pay for my ads just like everyone else! He knows I won’t be able to resist getting in on this very interesting online promotion and watching new visitors discover our genealogy web sites all year long.
Filed under: FamilyLink.com, Internet Marketing Tactics, Search Engine Optimization, Social Networking Watch, User Generated Content, World Vital Records
If you search for “family link” or “familylink” on Google, the first hit is not www.familylink.com. Today, on the query “familylink”, hits #5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 all refer to FamilyLink.com, but they are from blogs and press releases. Google is not yet ranking FamilyLink.com as the most relevant result for these queries. I’m sure that will change soon, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
When you’ve been working at a web company that has had its web site up for many years, has good PageRank, good titles and internal links, and has many incoming links that have come in steadily over the years from press coverage, bloggers, customer links, and so forth, you sometimes take for granted the huge flow of new customers that come without cost from natural search engine rankings.
I have been involved with and seen web sites that get free search engine traffic worth the equivalent of millions of dollars of paid clicks/sponsored links.
But with any new web site, it takes time for users to create content, and for people to link to your site and to deep link to your user content. It takes time for the virtuous circle of more users posting more content generating more users (from search engines) to really kick in.
And when you have seen it work so beautifully before, and it is not working now, it is hard to be patient. But you just have to wait.
Fortunately, you can join Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer and get validated by them as the site owner, and see your site through the eyes of their bots–how often they come back, how many pages they index, what your top rankings are on various keywords.
But that still doesn’t get you all the incoming links you need from authentic sources over a long period of time so that you can have a robust amount of natural search engine traffic.
That does take time.
Today, if you search for just about any keyword or phrase that might eventually help you find our familylink.com social network, such as the names of more than a hundred thousand cities and towns around the world, or millions of surnames from around the world, or the specific names of ancestors who might have pages on our site, you probably won’t find our web site yet using Google, Yahoo, or MSN.
So we really have to rely on email, the blogosphere, press announcements (including a couple of big ones coming up), and a little paid search to get our intial users. Then we will see more and more member invitations to other genealogists and family members, as our viral marketing efforts start to grow.
Years ago Yahoo had a Paid Inclusion program which didn’t make sense to me when most of the sites I was working on were included in their natural search for free. But I guess I didn’t think about using Paid Inclusion out of necessity for a free site.
Can some SEO expert out there tell me how they have used Paid Inclusion in a way that is worthwhile, particularly for a brand new site?
I’m tired of looking at my Omniture Site Catalyst referring domains report and seeing almost no traffic from Google, Yahoo, and MSN.
I am however happy to see our WorldVitalRecords.com traffic growing steadily, since that is where our company’s revenue comes from. We are getting more and more natural search engine traffic there since our number of databases grow every day and our site has been up for nearly a year.
Some people say the one year mark is magical for natural search engine traffic. Has anyone had an experience that validates this, or is that just an urban legend?
Filed under: Advertising, Advice for Startups, Business Models, Competitive Intelligence, Disruptive Technology, Internet Marketing Tactics, Market Research Statistics, Software for Entrepreneurs, Web Analytics
And now it’s even better.
Two weeks someone showed me that whenever you are looking at a web site, to see how much traffic it has, that there are two arrows that PREVIOUS and NEXT, so if you are looking at the 100th most popular web site, you can click on NEXT and see the 101st most popular.
So I spend a couple hours scrolling through the 200 most popular web sites, looking for those that appeal to an the demographic our company is targeting. So I wanted to find very high traffic sites that we could advertise on, or partner with somehow.
I found a dozen excellent sites that I had not heard of before.
But now, on the Quantcast home page, you can now easily see the top 100 highest traffic web sites, and then the next hundred, the next hundred, and so forth.
I can’t wait till Quantcast allows you to enter in your audience profile and have it show you all the sites that match your audience that you should be advertising on, and then enable you to purchase ads quickly on those sites.
I wish Quantcast would buy the old Top9.com web site, with its thousands of helpful categories, and update it with their current data. Top9.com became one of the very popular web sites for marketers years ago. It was powered by data from PCData.com, then it disappeared. Here is a snapshot of Top9.com from the Way Back Machine.
When I worked at MyFamily.com and our properties were ranked us as one of the top 50 web sites in the world, we had plenty of capital to pay for services like Media Metrix, Netratings, and later Comscore. These services cost tens of thousands of dollars per year, but gave us tremendous insights into media buying and affiliate recruiting possibilities, as well as some competitive intelligence. I especially liked the reports on Netratings that could show us where our competitors were getting their web site traffic from.
A couple years ago I blogged about Five Things Most Entrepreneurs Can’t Afford. This was one of my most popular posts that year. The second item on the list was “third party measurement services” like those I’ve mentioned above.
Amazingly, Quantcast provides most of the value that these super expensive measurement services offer, and it is disrupting the industry at the perfect time–Comscore has filed to go public and Hitwise was just acquired by Experian for $250 million.
Quantcast isn’t going to make money selling their measurement data. Paul Sutter, the cofounder of Quantcast says that audience measurement is a few hundred million dollar market, but media buying is a few hundred billion. Quantcast is planning to help marketers reach their niche target markets through the use of their data. And I’m sure they’ll get a portion of the media buys, as marketers and web site publishers use their tools.
This is going to be very exciting to watch.
With Quantcast raising $5.7 million in venture capital in March, and with thousands of sites signing up for their free “quantified publishers” program, their data gets better and better.
Comscore has filed to raise $86 million in their IPO (see the Comscore S-1 ). I wonder how hard that will be given what Quantcast is now doing to the industry. I suppose Comscore could change its business model, and do the same thing Quantcast is planning to do. But it is always harder to steer a large ship in a different direction. So in the new world, Quantcast would clearly have the advantage since they’ve been designing this business model from the ground up.
Smart entrepreneurs will spend many hours mining the Quantcast data looking for marketing/advertising opportunities among the thousands of high traffic web sites whose demographics and psychographics match their own.
These are good times for entrepreneurs.
(One other fun web site, a mashup called Attention Meter, lets you see data from Quantcast, Alexa, Compete, and Technorati.)
Filed under: Advice for Startups, Internet Marketing Tactics, Provo Labs Academy, Utah Events
Every Friday an energetic group of internet entrepreneurs and marketers meets at the Provo Labs Academy at 12:30 for a 60-90 minute run down of the hottest online business news of the week.
Some weeks we are blown away by the exciting announcements and new launches of venture-backed startup companies or the mind-blowing techtonic plate-shifting announcements that come from the major players in the industry, including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, AOL and IAC.
As I read my 70+ RSS feeds, I keep a running tally of some of the topics we will cover at Live Friday. Yesterday alone I added the following to my list for this week:
a. Michael Eisner, vuguru.com
b. Divvio.com, user generated channels
c. Nintendo Mii challenges MySpace?
d. Google TV ad purchases, print, radio
Filed under: Internet Marketing Tactics, Pay Per Click Marketing, Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization
The blogosphere is going nuts over the possibility that Google will be providing monthly query volume by keyword. This is something that Goto.com/Overture/Yahoo Search Marketing has provided for years, but inventory.overture.com has been unreliable for some time. And Yahoo only has a minority of the overall search traffic. There are paid options like WordTracker (which I have used) for query volume and Keywordtopia (which I haven’t used yet) for generating unique words lists based on query volume and amount of competition. But if Google gets into this arena, it will be a boom for all search engine marketers. The screen shot from the adamap.com post shows that Google will display the query volume per keyword as well as the amount of PPC competition for that word. What they won’t do is show the SEO competition. This is what our WebEvident.com Searchability(TM) technology attempts to provide: an SEO “acquirability” score, meaning, how hard will it be to get a top 10 ranking on any given keyword based on the current top 10 results–how optimized is their page, how many incoming links do they have, etc. Unfortunately, WebEvident is only available through third party distributors; its retail site has never launched. If WebEvident could find a partner to build its retail site and share the revenue, I think they would do it. Use the Contact Me form if you are interested in discussing this….
Filed under: Audience Measurement, Competitive Intelligence, Genealogy, Internet Marketing Tactics, Search Engine Optimization, User Generated Content, World Vital Records
For many years I have wanted Ancestry.com to go international, since the world population is more than 20 times larger than the U.S. population. I felt that a Rootsweb-type model could be done in virtually every country of the world, followed at sime time, by an Ancestry-type subscription model. The one (a user generated content model) would lead to the other (a premium database model.)
Note: I left the company in February 2002 and have no inside information about the company or its plans.
Since the company hired Tim Sullivan as its 6th CEO in 8 years (I was the first, then hired my brother Curt, who was replaced by Greg Ballard, and then Dave Moon, Tom Stockham, and now Tim Sullivan), there are strong signs that Ancestry is going international, and in a big way. It’s very exciting for me to watch. I’m very pleased with the German web site that Ancestry launched, and of course the company has done great things in the UK and Canada.
When I first learned about Tim Sullivan, I heard that in his previous role as CEO of Match.com he had helped Match.com go into 27 countries, or something like that. So I suspected this was coming. This is a very good thing for the company as well as for genealogists worldwide. Tim has made a number of very good decisions in the past year, and in the past few months I’ve seen an acceleration of good moves being made by the company. I’m very encouraged.
When I decided to get back into the genealogy industry full-time, just a few months ago, we decided to try to focus on things that were not being addressed yet by the larger companies in the genealogy space. We have started beefing up our international search engines, and working on user generated content features that will be rolling out in the coming weeks. In addition, I’m planning to travel internationally to work with content partners worldwide. I have several such trips in the works.
Even though we are a small company, we have a generous approach to working with content partners and an incredible online marketing team that is generating more traffic and customers every month, so our royalty pool is becoming sizeable. We know we will make a good partner for many international content owners.
One of our keys to success internationally will be search engine optimization that will enable us to attract visitors from all over the world to our web pages with no marketing costs. With pay-per-click costs increasing, natural search becomes the key way for a company to grow and grow profitably.
Our efforts in this regard are beginning to pay off. We rank #1 on MSN.com for “china genealogy“, “chile genealogy“, “kenya genealogy“, “philippines genealogy“, “portugal genealogy“, “tonga genealogy“, “turkey genealogy“, and “vietnam genealogy.” We rank in the top 10 in Google, Yahoo and MSN for many other countries already. And as we roll out genealogy web pages for every town and city in the world, and for every surname in the world, and as our users beginning sharing content with each other, all of this content will be optimized for search engines as well as for mobile phones.
After leaving MyFamily.com in 2002 I ran an internet marketing agency called 10x Marketing that did search engine optimization, pay per click marketing, and affiliate marketing for many companies. And our World Vital Records team has excellent skills in these areas as well.
So keep an eye on World Vital Records and our forthcoming FamilyL— web site, as our natural search rankings continue to grow our total web site traffic will get very robust.
We know that having 13.8 million pages of content indexed by Google, like Rootsweb does, almost all of it user generated, is a great way to attract millions of monthly visitors, the way Rootsweb does.
We have only 17,400 pages indexed by Google right now, but this should grow by two orders of magnitude this year as our strategy begins to play out. And when it does, we will become a significant participant in the international genealogy space.
Filed under: Advice for Startups, Internet Marketing Tactics, Provo Labs Academy, Utah Entrepreneurship, Utah Events
Yesterday I met with about a dozen entrepreneurs who came to the Provo Labs Academy to learn about the 12-Week Crash Course in Internet Marketing that starts next Thursday, March 15th at 5 pm.
An email will be going out to about 1,000 Utah entrepreneurs early next week, as well as a few additional marketing efforts. We have room for at least 10 more people to sign up for the class, but space is limited, so sign up today at www.provolabs.com/academy/
We’ve conveniently scheduled the class for Thursdays at 5 pm, so that both entrepreneurs and full-time working professionals can attend.
When you sign up for the Crash Course, you are also welcome to attend our Live Friday lectures every Friday at 12:30 pm at the Academy (yes, bring your own lunch) where we discuss all the news of the week that affects internet entrepreneurs and internet marketers. This is one of my favorite hours of the week. I invite my partners at World Vital Records and other Provo Labs portfolio companies to attend. The goal is to try to stay current with all the new companies, technologies, web sites, and marketing strategies, which is hard to do in an ever-changing world.
I go through dozens of RSS feeds each week from all of my favorite sources, including MarketingVOX, and try to select the top 10 news highlights of the week that internet marketers and entrepreneurs should be aware of.
Here’s an write up from one Live Friday session from a few months ago:
Every Friday at noon, our Provo Labs Academy members get together to discuss all the latest internet marketing news. I have promised to read MarketingVOX every day and to visit all the new web sites and try the new tools that affect internet marketing. Then IFebruary 16, 2007 by paulballen · 15 Comments
Filed under: Advice for Startups, Affiliate Marketing, E-Commerce, Internet Marketing Tactics, Search Engine Optimization, Viral Marketing
In December a panel of internet entrepreneurs shared their stories and their keys to success with my BYU marketing and Provo Labs Academy students.
One young woman told how she had teamed up a few years ago with her brother to start an ecommerce site, selling a very unusual niche product. They did almost $1 million in revenue last year.
One student asked her how long it took for her sales to take off initially. Her answer surprised me: she worked for an entire week before she had her first sale.
How many people would work a full week, generate one sale (probably under $30) and still be willing to stick with it? Yes she worked for a full year before generating enough sales were to pay her a living wage.
Now, after many years of hard work, she and her brother are doing very well.
Her story reminds me how important it is to be patient and persistent with your online business. Online businesses almost always start with a small trickle of visitors, a few sales, and then over time turn into a stream of traffic and a river of repeat customers — but only if the founding team keeps at it.
Even eBay started this way. When the auction site was first launched, a small number of checks started coming in. The stream of checks turned into a torrent, all while Pierre Omidyar was working at General Magic in his cubicle. EBay was profitable from the beginning, because
there was really no overhead and the site was incredibly viral and revenue ramped quickly.
But most of the ecommerce sites listed in the Internet Retailer Top 500 (it takes more than $3 million in annual sales to make that list) probably started much more slowly than eBay. But their teams kept promoting their products, they kept at it, until revenue reached the millions.
The most important book I had when starting all of Ancestry.com and MyFamily.com’s marketing efforts was Guerilla Marketing Online Weapons: 100 Low-cost High Impact Weapons for Online Prosperity.
A lot of the tactics are now obsolete, but it is the mindset that matters the most. It’s a rare mindset but a really valuable one.
As my World Vital Records team watches our small stream of visitors grow, I want to remind them how important it is to market our company’s products at every opportunity, in every possible channel, using every possible tactic.
As our marketing team grows, I want every one of them to understand the power of guerilla marketing compounded over time.
Let’s do the math.
Suppose you hire a marketing employee at $10 per hour, and assign her to do guerilla marketing and PR using dozens of online marketing tactics. There are literally hundreds of legitimate tactics.
Let’s say that her first day she gets a link from another site that will consistently deliver 3 visitors per day from now on. This could be a link on a blog roll, or an entry in a web directory, or a link on any other site.
Not a very successful day, right. In eight hours, she cost $80, and delivered 3 visitors and no sales.
With an average conversion rate of 2% and an average sale price of $50, the marketing employee failed on day one. Result: loss of $80.
But imagine that she works every day using guerilla tactics such as posting answers to questions on Yahoo Answers, appropriately advertising on Craigslist, submitting her site to search engines and directories, commenting on blogs and participating in message boards, putting offers up on freebie sites, publishing press releases, syndicating articles, and asking bloggers to review her site or link to her. Let’s say her efforts bring an additional 3 visitors per day from links that are semi-permanent and will consistently generate 3 visitors per day from now on. (Many links have a long life span and therefore individually have a long tail.)
So after 30 days her links are now bringing in 90 visitors per day and generating 2 sales a day, or $100 in daily revenue.
Now all of a sudden the economics start looking really good. She’s generating $100 in sales with labor costs of $80. Depending on the cost of goods, she will soon be a profit center for the company, if she can continue focusing on these online marketing tactics and overcome boredom, and the lack of management understanding about what she is up to.
If she is creative enough to keep finding new ways to get permanent links from other sites that will consistently deliver 3 new visitors per day, then within a year, her efforts will be bringing about 1000 visitors per day or 20 sales per day, which would be $1000 per day, or
$30,000 per month. The second year, her results would be double.
This is how internet companies actually succeed. Ask the founders of Backcountry.com to tell you how they spent the first few years basically getting as many links from other sites as they could (even before it mattered for SEO purposes) and how over the years the cumulative impact of all these links (including from their paid affiliates) yielded tens of millions in annual revenues.
This is how it works. There are employees in every successful internet company (usually underappreciated) who are in the trenches every day, gutting it out, getting a link here and a mention here, and an affiliate here, finding webmasters or bloggers or journalists anywhere who might take an interest in their products, writing new content, finding new keywords to market around, generating some sales and some positive word of mouth, until the cumulative impact of all their efforts is generating a consistent daily stream of sales.
Since most corporate executives (unless they were there from the start) have no idea how this stuff actually happens, they don’t give much credit to the trench workers (such as when Ancestry.com laid off its only affiliate manager back in 2000 when she was merely responsible for personally recruiting 9 of the top 10 affiliates, and generating, at one point, a very significant percentage of the companies new daily sales), and they stop investing in the daily guerilla and online marketing tactics that have this cumulative impact.
When their businesses seem to plateau or peak, they panic and spend more and more dollars on paid marketing, and the guerilla stuff goes by the way side.
You can still be profitable when you are spending money to get every visitor to your web site, but not nearly as profitable as when you use a nice combination of paid marketing, guerilla and viral.
For me and my team at World Vital Records (and genealogy is extremely diverse and viral, so we have a lot of opportunities to spread the word in creative ways) the question is this: how many employees like the one I described above can we find, train, and support, before they are duplicating efforts and stepping on each other’s toes.
If our market can handle one such employee, and she can generate links every day that will bring us 3 clicks per day from now on, then in a year, we’ll have one employee generating the $1,000 per day that I described above.
But if there are enough tactics involving enough web sites from enough countries and we can have 10 employees doing this guerilla marketing stuff, then at the end of a year, this team will be generating $10,000 per day in revenue. That would be better: a $3.65 million annual revenue stream from our guerilla marketing/affiliate marketing team. But what if we could support 20 such employees, or eventually 50. The numbers start looking very good.
And it all starts with just 3 visitors a day.
PS. I just thought of a new metric for guerilla marketing. We all use unique visitors, unique visits, page views, and sales. But what about this: unique daily referring domains. I wonder if anyone has ever used that.
A guerilla marketer or a team of them could keep track (this would be an easy report in Omniture) of the number of unique domains or unique URLs that brought at least one visitor each day. If the team is doing their job and getting enough attention and links from other sites, this number would grow every day. This would indicate how horizontal their efforts.
Of course a good online or guerilla marketer will try to get prominent links on high traffic web sites that will generate hundreds or thousands of visitors per day; but my point is that you don’t have to have huge wins like this to succeed–you can do it with small wins every day over a long period of time.