Internet Marketing: Analysis/insight/opinions/comments/views
May 17, 2010 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Is anyone here an "Internet Marketer" or has anyone here got any analysis/insight/opinions/comments/views they would like to share on "Internet Marketing"?

I'm current researching the sector of "Internet Marketing", which seems to be significant, but frequently overlooked in mainstream media. I will define what I mean by "Internet Marketing" below.

I'd like some different viewpoints, analysis, insight and opinion on "Internet Marketing" itself.

By "Internet Marketing" I mean the products and services of people like Mike Filsaime, Yanik Silver and Anik Signal and Kelly Felix, Jim Davis, Donna Fox.

Many of these people run "Make money online" (or similar) schemes, and essentially they are "list builders" (using email marketing using software/autoresponders like Aweber), "affiliate marketers" (usually clickbank), "niche marketers" (content) and "ebook marketers" (content). These people do have legitimate incomes and legitimate companies.

Their products are almost sold in sales-letter format with opt-ins and up sells/subscriptions/members sites/"coaching" schemes. They use terms like "JV" for Joint Venture. Almost everyone has come across one before.

Where does it come from, and why are there conventions within the sector which are so rigidly followed? Is it really because they are so successful? They seem to follow conventions of a traditional sales letter and use traditional textbook sales and marketing methods, especially when it comes to the language used (creating a sense of urgency. Not all offer digital ebook products, many offer members subscription sites or even physical products.

It is very hard to find an unbias and impartial analysis of the sector and what goes on in it. Searching the internet simply returns sites trying to sell "internet marketing tips" and "internet marketing information" in the form of email newsletters or ebooks. It is hard to find the real success stories even though there is real success . It people do make a 6-figure income in this sector though it is hard to find a simple overview of the sector from an outside perspective.

Any help, as I stated above would be much appreciated. This could include analysis/insight/opinions/comments/views or links to impartial resources on the subject/sector itself.
posted by samengland to Technology (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You're onto something in that there is a culture with shared behaviors & values that goes well beyond simply "marketing on the Internet." I'm looking into some of the same things, reading some IM blogs and forums, and trying to separate the legit from the scammy.

Many of the rigid conventions you mention do seem to come from direct-mail copywriting, with some online buzzwords and acronyms added. The fact that there are so many conventions is probably related to the way that IM systems are advertised as "blueprints" that you should follow point by point to achieve the success you always dreamed of, without actually having to figure out anything for yourself. There's a strong element of cribbing from others' business plans and materials and not changing anything without testing it or hearing from someone who has.

Not to mention that some people who offer affiliate programs for their products also give sales materials to their affiliates, who copy them and maybe change a thing or two.

So you see an endless parade of identical-looking direct-mail-style copywriting, always with a combination of red text, yellow highlighting, and underlining in the headline.

Not *everybody* does it that way, of course. The Chris Guillebeaus (for instance) of the world manage to sell information products using some DM techniques, but attractive web design.

Given that from what I've heard, long-copy sales letters do work, sometimes I think the difference between the cheesy ones and the respectable ones, scammy offers aside, is typography...

As far as income claims go, they can be faked easily (in any "screen shot" showing revenues, check to see if the typefaces match... though if the faker is any good it'll be undetectable.) The FTC recently started cracking down on income claims in IM sales letters; maybe you've heard of that?

I've written a lot with no links... the biggest forum I'm watching right now is Warrior Forum. You'll see everything you've described and more there.
posted by pengale at 5:20 PM on May 17, 2010

Its possible that they converge on similar things because they work. Not that every rube in the forums has done this, but they may ape the techniques of the top people, who certainly could have actually tested this stuff.

My friend used to work at a record label that had a TV-based direct marketing arm, and they would A/B test every little variation of the commercials. You know the kind of commercials: they show a scrolling list of songs over some crappy old video, every fourth or fifth song is yellow and you hear a snippet of that one. The thing that sticks with me is at the very end of the commercial, when the screen turns blue and they have the phone number on there, they tested all sorts of different final phrases like "Operators are standing by!" or "Order today!". They also tested them with different voice actors.

The big winner was an authoritative male voice going "DO IT NOW!" I never saw any of those commercials but its hilarious to imagine. Someone all bleery-eyed at 3am when the crappy direct spots come on. Its a :30 for "The Bakersfield Sound: Essential Collection". 'Hmmm, I do like Merle Haggard but sixty bucks?' "DO IT NOW!" In a trancelike state, our hero lifts the receiver and begins dialing...and its Miller time for the 'DO IT NOW' guy. Ha ha ha, He thinks. Still got it.
posted by jeb at 5:34 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Try searching hacker news: Try, it's folks that are very smart/technical but focused on web startups. The various marketing techniques or scams have been discussed at times in detail, the forum is managed closely so the discussions stay focused and on topic. I'm sure a focused query after you've filtered through previous discussions would be taken seriously, but it's a very informed crowd so read up substantially first.
posted by sammyo at 7:27 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

[few links in the original post removed - post needs to pass the smell test and not look like internet marketing itself, feel free to put those links in your profile, thanks]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:28 PM on May 17, 2010

I'm a marketer. I also work in information product publishing as a side business. These people use strategies and techniques that work for *their* target markets. That being said, most of this stuff is old school, repackaged for a new market. This stuff was going on in the late 1800s.

As for calling this "Internet Marketing", I personally think it's a name they've hijacked. Most marketers would not call what they do "Internet marketing". I think they might call it information product sales of prepackaged sales and marketing pipeline templates!
posted by acoutu at 8:18 PM on May 17, 2010

You asked for views, so I'm going to give them. Internet Marketing (no quotes needed) is internet cancer. Email marketing is spam. Affiliate marketing is ponzi schemes.

All that these things do is take your money and provide no value in return. Even if you think you'll end up on the side of taking people's money rather than being taken, you're still creating nothing of value. Your only friends will be other people who run similar scams, because everyone else will have lost respect for you.

Don't be fooled by the way they dress this stuff up in language. Writing a blog post about something you are in a position to know about is creating something of value. Cooking a good meal or fixing someone's car is doing something of value. Buying and selling email lists and leads and engaging in affiliate schemes is not creating anything of value.

It's siphoning off resources that would otherwise be used to create something of value. It consumes resources and gives nothing back in return.

It's a cancer.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 11:48 PM on May 17, 2010

Here's the thing about any kind of legitimate marketing on the Internet (a subject I'm going to call Real Internet Marketing).

First, Real Internet Marketing is hard but it looks easy. Everyone thinks they already know how to do it - it's just like the stuff they do on Facebook anyway. It's not. It takes time, energy, and a lot of thought to get right.

Second, tactics alone are useless. All those things you list above (affiliate marketing, list building, and eBooks) are tactics. They are fine tactics in the broader context of a Real Internet Marketing strategy, but alone they amount to nothing.

The people in those links look like they are trying to combine the "it's so simple" aspect of Internet marketing with old-fashioned "make money fast" schemes. You need to separate those two elements, but once you do the truth becomes clear: teach down on their luck people how to make money fast using this easy approach to something that's really complicated.
posted by fremen at 5:29 AM on May 18, 2010

Any more views on this? I'd like to hear as many different opinions from as many different people as possible (including those inside, and outside the sector) for my research. Some excellent responses so far.
posted by samengland at 5:31 AM on May 18, 2010

Worked for an online affiliate marketing company for a bit. The opt-in bit is a joke, and everyone working in the industry knows it. I don't really know where the data (that's what we called lists) came from, but we hit them early and often, then just removed them once they got tired. As far as I could figure, the key was volume, low complaint rates (ie people clicking "this is spam"), and rigorous A/B testing of the actual messages. Basically, it's a numbers game. If you like, you can meMail me with any specific questions.
posted by Gilbert at 6:29 AM on May 18, 2010

I'd like as many views as possible, but also analysis and insight is much appreciated. Thank you for your contributions.

I'd like to know more about the methods commonly used in "Internet Marketing" (What about PPC, Drop Shipping,Social Media Marketing) so I can build a definitive list and also I'd like to know who the true leaders in the field are again so I can build a definitive list. As pengale mentioned above, it is hard to distinguish between those who are completely fake, and those who are being more realistic and have identifiable, legitimate companies.

It would also be interesting to learn more about the darker side of Internet Marketing - the black hat techniques.

Than you, once again.
posted by samengland at 3:21 AM on May 19, 2010

I've bought into these things before. I think I agree with a comment I saw once:

"the only people making money through online marketing are doing it by selling an online marketing system to people who are desperate to be good at online marketing" Or something kind of similar.

there's a lot of cross promotion involved, where they constantly hype each others' products. generous commissions are made available, so one guru will hype another. this generous commission scheme also encourages a ton of "review" sites. oftentimes, they will provide templates which can be used-- hence the amount of uniformity.

the upsell to a continuing subscription seems to be the "in" thing.

I would trust the systems a lot more if they were applied to a business outside of information products or selling courses.
posted by chinabound at 5:08 AM on August 23, 2010

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