Monthly Archives: January 2009

FLV To Be Added Back Into Camtasia 6

TechSmith hears customers pleas

Don't Make 'Em Beg


TechSmith has listened to its customers.

Sometime around March, 2009, they plan to release an update to Camtasia 6 that will include output to FLV. The loss of FLV support was the single biggest complaint against Camtasia 6, and Camtasia users certainly did complain.

High Definition MPEG-4 video with H.264 compression, which was introduced to Camtasia with v6, will still be included in the new release. FLV will just be added as another option.

Betsy Weber, TechSmith lead evangelist, says, “Bottom line is that we messed up by removing FLV as soon as we did, but we’re working on fixing it.”

This is good news all around. And it’s the mark of great customer support.

Although TechSmith had (what they thought were) good reasons for dropping FLV support, once it became apparent that those reasons didn’t persuade their customers, TechSmith didn’t dig in their heels, complain about the cost of retooling, tell everyone else they were wrong, and watch loyal customers walk away. They listened and then they made the changes their customers wanted.

Bravo, TechSmith!

Photo by Zitona Released under Creative Commons License

Be Clear – Not Clever – If You Want To Be Read

Immediately Recognizable

Immediately Understandable

The temptation to write clever headlines, captions, titles, and text can be hard to resist. In face-to-face situations, the rewards for being witty or funny or erudite are real.

But online – the cost of being clever is lost readers and lost sales.

Today, Harry of Men With Pens reviewed Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability . Everything he said about web design applies equally to web writing.

It can’t be said often enough. Online readers don’t read – they skim.

The more time a reader spends trying to decipher your puns, the less likely they are to find your call to action. Or to even realize the call to action exists.

When you have the choice between a boring headline that explains what a blog post or newsletter is about and a clever one whose meaning becomes clear only after you’ve read a paragraph or two – choose the boring headline.

DON’T MAKE ME WORK

Readers already feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

A subject line that hints rather than explains will be deleted or set aside for “later” (a time that never comes). A deceptive “Look At The Train Wreck!” style headline may work once or twice – until annoyed readers consign you to the SPAM filter.

An effective headline or subject line spells out the benefits of reading the newsletter or blog post.

Blogs and newsletters are gatherers of information. They collect and broadcast what we need to know in small, easy to use chunks.

Respect your readers by telling them, clearly and concisely, exactly what you have to offer. Write a simple, clear headline and then follow through by writing articles that fulfill the promise of the headline.

THINK LIKE A BILLBOARD

Harry, of Men With Pens, uses the analogy of a billboard. While cars speed by at 60 MPH, there is no room for subtlty. You need to get the message across fast.

Your headline is your billboard – use it to snag the attention of speeding readers.

Photo by Ayton Released under Creative Commons License

5 Must Have SEO Tools

How do customers describe your product

Use the keywords buyers use

You know how important keywords are to your Google rankings. And you know how important your Google ranking is to your sales.

So how do you find the right keywords for your niche?

Surprisingly, there are excellent, free tools that will help you reach the first page of Google for your keywords. But first, you need to clearly define your niche.

It’s unlikely that you will start a new web site and – within a few weeks – land on the front page of Google for a keyword like “quilts.” But if you define your market (your niche) more clearly, your chances go up. The more specific you are, the more visible you will be to buyers who are looking  for exactly what you are selling.

Do you sell “quilts” – or do you sell “handmade, Amish quilts made in Lancaster, Pennsylvania”?

Do you see the difference?

By describing your product more concretely, you can attract the buyers who  want what you are selling, and who are willing to pay a fair price for it. You’ve weeded out people searching for “cheap quilts,” “quilt patterns,” “how to make a quilt,” etc.

Good keywords draw buyers, not browsers. And long tail keywords separate you from an undifferentiated mass of competitors.

How do you find these keywords?

Here are 5 free tools to get you started

You can match this keyword tool to your web site – or to a competitor. See what people are really searching for.

The latest free SEO Tool from Aaron Wall at SEO Book

This tool from Microsoft Ad Labs detects whether customer are just searching for  information or if they are ready to purchase products based on their search queries or recently visited URLs.

Enter a starting keyword to get up to 100 related search terms

The Keyword Tool is especially helpful in three situations:

  1. When you first create a new AdWords Campaign
  2. When your current keywords are performing poorly and you need to find better options
  3. When you have one keyword that really works well and want to find more like it

Photo by by cambodia4kidsorg Released under Creative Commons License

12 Tips For Moving Your Web Site

Moving Day

Moving Day

Moving a web site, especially a well established web site with lots of links and good SEO, from one hosting company to another,  can be tedious and time-consuming but it does not have to be difficult or nerve-wracking

Some tasks are probably already part of your everyday maintenance. If you regularly police bad links and other errors, you are already ahead of the game.

Here are 12 steps for painlessly switching web hosts for a traditional web site, without losing visitors or search engine rankings:

TWELVE STEPS FOR A TROUBLE FREE MOVE

  1. Check your web site’s account with the hosting company.  It should list the renewal date. You don’t want to put the move off until the last minute. If at all possible, give yourself anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to complete the move.
  2. Choose a new web hosting company and open an account with them while your old account is still active on the host you are leaving.
  3. Your new web host will send you a welcome letter with a temporary internet address, FTP instructions, email set up instructions, and Name Server addresses. You’ll need all this to get your files up on the new server. Test it and save it.
  4. Take a good look at the structure of your site. Is there anything you should clean up or change before the move? Fix errors, dead links, etc., that you find before you transfer the files.
  5. Back up your old web site. If your current web host uses C Panel, you will probably have a back up wizard that will zip your site and download it to your PC. Note that although you will have a choice between a full back up and a partial back up, you may not be able to restore your site on the new servers with the full back up.
  6. If you cannot use a back up wizad to back up your site, try downloading everything to your computer via FTP. Remember to recreate the directory structure just as it exists on your web site.
  7. Upload your files to the new web host, using the temporary address they sent you when you opened the account. If both web hosts have C Panel, you may be able to upload your back up and then restore it on the new site.  If you can’t use the back up wizard, just FTP the files, taking care to recreate the directory structure exactly.
  8. Test the links on the new site (using the temporary URL to view it in our web browser).
  9. When you are confident that everything is working correctly, change your Name Servers to point to your new web host. This is done through your domain registrar (i.e., GoDaddy). If you access the old server’s Admin or Account areas (including C Panel) by typing in your domain name, you will be locked out after changing the name servers – so make sure you have cleaned up everything, including email, on the old web host before completing this step. (Check with your old web host and find out if you can get into your Admin area using an IP address other than your domain name.)
  10. You may be tempted at this point to delete your old account – but don’t! It can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours for the new Name Server information to become universally available across the internet. While other gateways are updating your address, you do not want visitors – including Google – to find themselves in a black hole, with nothing to see but an error message saying that your site no longer exists. Protect your visitors and your search engine rankings by keeping your old site alive just a little longer.
  11. Inform everyone that your site is moving. Put a notice on the site. If you send out newsletters, tell your subscribers. Warn visitors that they may see the occasional glitch and ask for their patience. Set up your email through your new hosting service, if you will use their POP email. Check and double check the links on the new site. Make sure there are no missing files. Ping your new address to test it.
  12. Carefully monitor traffic that is still going to your old web site. It should drop to almost zero by day 3, while traffic at your new web host should climb to your old levels. Between 4 and 5 days after you changed the Name Servers, cancel your old account.


Congratulations! You have officially moved to your new home, and you haven’t left anything or anyone important behind. In fact, if you hadn’t told them, most visitors probably wouldn’t even have noticed the move.

Photo by saguayo Released under Creative Commons License

Learn How To Make Money As An eBay Affiliate

How To Make Money with eBay Widgets DVD

Make Money with eBay Widgets DVD

Affiliate sales are a great source of passive income.

You don’t need to buy or track inventory, ship products, or even deal with customer service questions. All you have to do is find the right affiliate products and the people looking for those products, bring them together, and collect your commission.

For most of us, affiliate sales won’t produce riches, but they can be a steady and reliable income stream.

The eBay Partner Network is one simple way to make money from eBay without ever selling anything yourself. The Partner Network (also known as EPN) allows you to create links and widgets to eBay auctions. If someone clicks on your links and then buys a product from eBay, you get a commission.

Until recently, eBay’s affiliate program was run through Commission Junction. Early in 2008, eBay took the affiliate program in-house, and created the Partner Network.

This means that eBay affiliates have a new group of tools to learn and profit from. If you are new to affiliate sales and not sure how to get started, the eBay Partner Network might be right for you.

Cindy Shebley, author of several best selling eBay books, has produced a new DVD, called  Make Money With eBay Affiliate Web Sites, which details how to

  • Join the Partner Network
  • Buy a domain
  • Sign up with a web host
  • Build a web site
  • Create eBay Widgets

This DVD is perfect for anyone who wants to know how to get started selling on the web, not just for eBay affiliates.

The first half of the DVD will walk you, step-by-step, through the process of registering a domain, choosing and signing up with a web host, pointing your new domain name to your web host, building and uploading a web page.

It’s a real treasure trove of information.

The DVD has just gone on sale. The introductory price is $24.95 – but it is going to go up to $34.95 soon. So if you want to learn how to add affiliate income to your revenue stream, this is your chance.

Buy the DVD here.


A Teacher Is An Authority, A Leader, An Expert

A Teacher Is An Authority

Learn to Monster 101

If you want to open new markets for your products, teach a class.

Teaching adds authority to your products. And being the creator of an information product adds authority to your teaching.

You can teach an online class using software like GoToMeeting, or you can teach a real world class through your local community center or community college’s Continuing Education program.

Your reputation as an expert – i.e., the author of the book “Blah Blah” or the producer of the How To DVD, “Blah Blah Blah,” – will help you land the job and it will give you instant credibility with your students.

People you’ve met in person, through community college or community center courses, can become some of your biggest promoters. A successful class will generate word of mouth publicity for your products and services as well as for your next class.

It’s a very fruitful relationship.

Don’t view the class as just an opportunity to pitch your product. If you want to build a network of loyal fans, make your classes valuable – even if they are free webinars. Impart the knowledge and skills your advertising promises – and more.

Of course, you’ll want to hand out business cards with your web site and contact information. (In fact, you may want to use VistaPrint to get 80% Off Premium Business Cards & FREE Return Address Labels designed specifically for your classes.)  Offer follow up consultations, if they are appropriate to the subject of the class – or post a “Resources” page on your website with affiliate links to Amazon books or other product.

Keep overt selling to a minimum, and keep the pitches subtle. But don’t be afraid to sell. If you are a good teacher – your students will be happy to buy your book or DVD at the end of the class.

Photo by WorldIslandInfo.com and Futurist Movies Released under Creative Commons License

How To Sell More Successfully

You need to identify your market

Identify your ideal customer

How can you sell more? And more successfully?

Focus.

Many sellers are tempted to sell a little of anything and everything, in the hope that someone will want something that they are offering.

But the days of the General Store and the Five and Dime are gone.

Online shoppers, especially, are hurried. The allure of a department store’s One Stop Shopping is not so powerful for them, since a mouse click or two is much less strenuous than a drive across town and a search for a parking spot.

Online shoppers use search tools to drill down and find exactly what they need. They ignore everything else.

How can you, as a savvy merchant use this to your advantage?

First ask, “Who am I selling to?”

  • Define your market.
  • Know your ideal audience.
  • Identify your target demographic

When you know your ideal buyer, you will also know what they are buying. When you know what your ideal buyer is buying, you will know precisely what you should be selling.

Photo by dawnzy58 Released under Creative Commons License

How To Answer Customer Questions

What's the background music?

What's the background music?

In a recent teleseminar on Brian Clark and Jon Morrow’s Partnering Profits, Rich Schefren said customers don’t want information – they want advice.

Think about that for a minute.

The internet is full of information. The answer to every question is somewhere on Google, if only you know where to look.

But that’s the problem for most of us – knowing where to look.

We all suffer from information overload. And the results on the first page of Google are not necessarily the answers we seek. How do we know what is true and what is false? What is current and what is outdated? What is safe and what is dangerous?

When clients come to us with a question, they do not want facts – they want guidance.

You are the trusted expert. You have already shifted through the data and tested the results. Listen for the question behind the question. What does your customer need to know? What is the problem that you can solve?

Photo by Petr Urbancik Released underCreative Commons License

How To Make Happy Customers

Come in = let's talk about me

Come in - let's talk about me

Merchants, online or off, suffer from the delusion that customers care about the businesses they patronize.

No, we don’t!

Customers go to a store to buy or to pass the time or because they were walking down the street and a clever window display caught their eye, or, or, or… a hundred personal reasons that have nothing to do with the business owner’s dreams or desires.

Yet businesses persist in using blogs and web sites to talk about themselves.

If you own your own business, you have poured your heart into it. You’ve worked long, lonely hours trying to make everything perfect.

You care deeply about your business.

But ask yourself  – have you ever bought something because a business had been proudly serving the community since 1987? If not, why are you wasting space on your blog, your stationery, your web site, your business cards proclaiming the year of your incorporation?

If you want your business to grow, learn this simple marketing secret:  Stop writing about your business and start writing about your customers.

Photo by Ben Zvan Released under Creative Commons License

What Is Good Service?

spilled soup is not a sign of good service

And don't forget the tip!

Why is Good Customer Service such a hard concept for eBay sellers to grasp?

I have lost count of the times I have heard a seller say, “I offer great customer service … but…”

There is no “but.”

It doesn’t matter if the buyer is a jackass.

It doesn’t matter if the buyer sends rude email, calls you names, and acts like the devil incarnate.

The buyer is in charge because the buyer is the one with the money.

Retailers do not offer refunds, guarantees, quick turn around, or polite replies to rude inquiries because we are saints. We do it because it is good business.

We want to turn shoppers upside down and shake every last cent out of their pockets. Since that is usually illegal, we kill them with kindness instead.

The test of good customer service is not how you act when everything goes right. It is how you act when – through no fault of your own – anything goes wrong.

If you can’t make things right – even if you believe you are blameless, even if you will lose money – then you do not offer good customer service.

Photo by pamelaadam Released under Creative Commons License