Saturday, November 12, 2011

List Building 2.0: Polls For Prospecting

By now most people know that Web 2.0 is simply the evolution of the Internet into an environment of interactivity, reader participation, and usability. Web 2.0 opens up the dialog between user and website or blog. This connection can help generate traffic and a viral buzz.

But from a search engine marketing (SEM) standpoint, the benefits are clear and measurable: More traffic and frequent interactivity (or posts) equal better organic (free) rankings in search engine results. Getting good organic rankings is a powerful way to find qualified prospective customers.

So what online tactic encourages Web 2.0 principles as well as helps with search engine results page rank, visibility and listing building efforts? Targeted online acquisition polls.

Online acquisition polls can help you collect names and e-mail addresses, gauge general market (or subscriber) sentiment, and generate sales via a redirect to a promotional page. They also allow for interactivity, where a user can sound off about a hot topic. I've been including polls in my online marketing strategy for nearly a decade now, and have rarely been disappointed with the results. Some websites, like, allow members to set up free or low-cost surveys and polls.

However, they may not allow you to include a name-collection component or a redirect to a promotional offer. If that's the case, either ask your Webmaster to build you a proprietary poll platform or use a poll script. (You'll find examples at,,,, and Here are eight ways to help make your online poll a success:

1. Make it engaging.Your poll question should engage the reader, encourage participation, pique interest, and tie into a current event. And be sure to have a "comments" field where people can make additional remarks. Sample topics: politics, the economy, health, consumer breakthroughs, the stock market, foreign affairs. Sites that highlight the most talked-about (and searched) topics on the Web include,, and

2. Be relevant.Your poll question should also be related to your product, free e-zine topic, or free bonus report topic. This will greatly improve your conversion rate (the number of people who actually participate in your poll) and your up-sell rate. Let's say your free offer is a sign-up for an investment e-zine and your up-sell is a redirect landing page promotion for a paid investment newsletter. In that case, your poll question should be market related, something like "Where is gold headed in 2012?"

3. Offer an incentive.After people take your poll, tell them that to thank them for their participation you're automatically signing them up for your free e-zine or e-alerts... which they can opt out of at any time. To reduce the number of bogus e-mail addresses you get, offer a free "must-read" e-report too. And assuming it's your policy not to sell or rent e-mail names to third parties (and it should be), indicate that next to the sign-up button. This will reassure people that it's safe to give you their e-mail address.

4. Tag the responses.Having your poll question somehow tie into your product line makes the names you collect extremely qualified for future offers. Each name should be "tagged" by your database folks according to the answer they gave. Segmenting the names into such categories will make it easier for you to send targeted offers to them later. Let's say your product line includes an investment e-zine on equities. In that case, your poll question might ask people which investment product they think has the best returns: money market, gold, equities, or options. Those who answer "equities" will be prime candidates for a promotion for the e-zine.

5. Use the results for new initiatives.In addition to collecting names, online polls will help you gauge general market opinion - and could help you come up with new products. Keeping with our above example, you would flag all of the responses that come in. Then, if an overwhelming number of responders indicate an interest in an investment product you don't have - maybe one on gold - you should consider developing one. Because you now have an instant market of people to sell that product to.

6. Strengthen your new relationships.You need to reinforce the connection between the poll people just participated in and your e-zine or e-alerts. So make sure each name that comes in gets an immediate "thank you" (for taking the poll). Then send an automatically generated e-mail with the link for the downloadable free e-report you promised. Consider sending a series of "bonding" e-mails to them too - to help them get to know who you are, what you do, and how it will benefit them. This will help improve their lifetime customer value.

7. Gratify participants with the results.Don't just leave poll participants hanging. Make sure you tell them that the results will be published in your free e-zine or on your website (to encourage them to check it regularly). This will help increase readership and website traffic.

8. Publish the best reader comments.On your poll landing page, mention that some user feedback may be published (anonymously) in your e-zine or on your website. Pick the very best, most powerful responses to use. Republishing user feedback is fundamental to the Web 2.0 concept. And it has been extremely successful for social networking communities and blogs.

Marketers have used polls internally (on their own company website) for years. But now more than ever, with its cost effectiveness and efficiency, polls should be used to collect leads and interact with prospects. Polls aren't just for finding leads, either. They are also great for measuring market sentiment - which, in turn, can be insight that impacts your customer retention and service efforts.

Create Market Demand And Visibility

If you're about to launch a new product, book, website, or whatever and don't know where to begin - then you MUST read this...

After launching multiple products, websites and creating the marketing launch plans for several books that hit Amazon #1 best seller status in record time -- such as books by Michael Masterson, Bob Bly, and my own book, Content Is Cash -- there's a proven formula that works every time no matter what the actual "thing" is you're launching. Even better, many of these tactics are low to no cost. It's coordination and synchronization of online marketing efforts all culminating around a specific time period (i.e. certain a day of the week).

These efforts include:

--Staggered messages. These will go to your list and other external, synergistic lists such as affiliates, JV partners, friends, and industry contacts and include solo emails, ezine ads, editorial contributions (with ed. note) and social marketing efforts. The goal is to build anticipation and create a pent up demand about the "thing" that is going to be launched. Efforts should start 2-3 weeks out and pick up intensity and frequency on the designated launch date. Qualified people that demonstrated an interest during your pre-launch "teaser" efforts can be added to you hot list can also be the first to know about future new releases, beta testing and similar "insider" privileges. In addition to your regular bonding efforts and auto responder series, these names will then have potential to also be your top buyers new products.

--Social media. Start seeding relevant blogs, message boards, chat rooms and forums with information about your soon-to-be-released "thing". Record a video of yourself and your product on YouTube. Push out relevant, useful and actionable editorial that ties to your "thing" on top social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Ultimately, create messages that have the potential to go viral and create buzz around your launch.

--Content Marketing. Write a few keyword rich articles that tie into the theme of your launch and upload to top tiered article directory sites. Link all to your launch promo page (or wherever you want to drive traffic to for consumer to take action). Make sure you start your efforts a few weeks prior to launch so can gain momentum and exposure in search engine results pages.

--Pay per click. If you have the budget, bid on your relevant keywords to your launch theme and have a pre launch page that collects names to build your hot list. Offer a free report that also ties into your theme to help start the buy in and create demand. This is a great way to gauge general market interest in your product, but note, that this is a lead gen effort and not an immediate sale. So be prepared to pay for the lead. The sale should happen within 30 days of your launch, after proper bonding efforts are established and your normal sales funnel commences.

--Online PR. Get your message out quickly and cost effectively through free online press release distribution services. Make sure your release is truly newsworthy and not just fluff, if you want it to be credible. These efforts should occur the day of your release. If you have a budget, you can compliment free online PR efforts with a paid service, such as, for a nominal one-time fee, and it will greatly increase your reach and exposure. Either distribution channel, the release will get picked up by bloggers, media websites, industry websites, and online news aggregators (such as Yahoo and Google) and not only increase awareness, but also give you back-links (SEO!) as well as have the potential to go viral.

--Online Classifieds. Increase your launch exposure by placing free text ads on sites such as CraigsList. The ad can be about your "thing" and link preferably to your promo webpage. Just make sure you select the right (relevant) category to put your add under in order to ensure you capture the right audience.

--Webinar/Teleseminar. Have a post-launch date free event to help increase visibility, leads and sales. Promote it through social media, internal lists and external partners. Again, the theme must tie into the "thing" you've launched as well as include an added value such as free Q&A session or workshop where participants can text in questions either real time or before the event (depending on how you set up your event). This also helps with bonding and credibility.

All of these efforts together tend to create an "avalanche" effect by picking up speed and getting bigger the more the efforts roll out. This helps create momentum and online traction. In a nutshell, you're creating market demand and interest poising yourself for optimum results.

Maximizing Your Fulfillment and Collateral Pieces

Here are some simple ideas, when applicable, for print and electronic fulfillment that helps encourage sales and customer lifetime value:

  1. Personal Welcome or Thank You letter Catalog (whether it's for newsletters, products, or services. It could highlight all products OR current top sellers).

  2. Cross-marketing flyer (a flyer highlighting a current hot product OR a natural, synergistic up-sell from the product ordered).

  3. Coupon or special discount offer (or if electronic, coupon/promo code for online ordering).

  4. Free sample (Women may remember Avon used to include tiny little lipsticks or perfume with their order. This approach is similar, could be a small, economy/sample size product OR bonus report or download access. Customers love, love, love freebies!).

  5. Renewal (in publishing, this is called "renewal at birth". If you're selling a subscription service, include a renewal order form with your first issue).

  6. Friends and family savings (another coupon for customer to pass on to friends or family. This encourages viral/word of mouth marketing).

  7. Packing slip with product return label/instructions

As most marketers know, the first 0-30 days is when a client is red hot. Don't leave them cold. Leverage this time frame with your correspondence and turn your fulfillment pieces into another way to monetize sales and relationship build with your customers.

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