Archive for May, 2007

Audio and Video Service Providers for Your Online Promotions

There are two main players in this arena: Audio Acrobat and Audio Generator.

(UPDATE: A third contender has recently entered the arena, called TalkStream. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but I have a feeling it’ll be quite good, considering it is the latest offering by none other than GetResponse, the Email Service Provider that I use and highly recommend. It includes support for both audio and video for $19.95 per month, which is the same as Audio Acrobat. TalkStream’s main advantage is it offers a toll-free testimonial-recording line.)

These service providers offer fairly similar features and benefits for those of you who are either too busy to tinker with your own home-made solutions that the software programs provide, and don’t mind paying a monthly service fee ($20-$30), or simply need the extra features that are available.

Both Audio Acrobat and Audio Generator offer a full spectrum of features that may be appealing to your particular line of business. Here’s a quick list of the main features:

  • record and store unlimited number of audio messages;
  • record messages by phone, microphone, or upload existing recordings;
  • record your tele-seminars or other conference-type calls (Audio Acrobat only);
  • use audio on any number of web sites and web pages;
  • send audio messages by email (audio postcards).
  • record customer testimonials by phone, regardless of where they are located.
  • powerful statistics on how your audio messages are played
  • add video to your web pages and emails (included with Audio Acrobat, extra with Audio Generator)

I advise you to visit both web sites and compare them directly, as features and pricing plans change as both technology and the marketplace evolve. Both Audio Acrobat and Audio Generator offer a trial period during which you can explore the system to see which one fits your needs and budget the best.

My personal preference and recommendation is Audio Acrobat because it’s cheaper and includes video. However, Audio Generator has a tremendous feature called “Super Testimonials” which you have to see in action to understand how powerful it is.

One last note: If you decide to go with one of the Service Providers, back up your recordings often in case you decide to cancel your account, or your service provider encounters technical problems, or goes out of business. This is especially critical with irreplaceable content such as live tele-seminars and client testimonials.

In conclusion

Use audio (and video) to attract more clients and customers, describe your services or products, or in many other creative ways. Audio is so powerful, that one test shows that placing audio on an order page increased the conversion rate by more than 300% – I am sure, this alone may be reason enough for you to consider using audio on you web site today!

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Use Audio Software on Your Web Site to Reel in More Clients

OK, so you have a web site up. Chances are, your site is mute. You may have pretty graphics on it, but if there’s no sound you’re missing a lot. If you are a solopreneur, using audio will be one more way you can establish a personal connection in an effort to create a relationship with your audience (i.e. visitors to your web site).

What is streaming audio? This powerful technology is very simple to implement. If you know how to edit and update your own web pages, you will be able to add sound to them. The technology is based on Macromedia Flash, that is already installed on almost every computer. Flash provides the technology to play audio (and video), however you will need one of the tools discussed here to provide the missing link in the audio on the web puzzle.

Two kinds of solutions are available to you: simple, low-cost, stand-alone computer programs that record/convert to Flash format, and subscription-based online services that offer all the bells and whistles.

If you are OK with updating your web pages, or have a virtual assistant helping you, one of these two programs may be all you need. The benefit of using your own software is that you pay a small licensing fee and you can use the software for as long as you like.

Impact Web Audio (PC only)

This software runs on MS Windows and provides an easy way to add new or existing audio recordings to your web pages. Feature highlights:

  • record your web audio using a microphone;
  • import an existing recording that you made elsewhere, for example, you could record and edit your tele-seminar;
  • add a music background track to your audio;
  • select the size, colour and style of the player control buttons to match your web site;
  • generates the code and a few files you need to upload to your web site.

If you are interested in re-selling this software, then definitely take a look at Impact Web Audio with Master Resale Rights

SonicMemo (PC and Mac versions)

Doesn’t have recording capability, relies instead on you to provide the audio in MP3 format (this is really not a deficiency because there are many free audio recording programs available);

  • greater selection of player styles, such as one-, three- or five-button, and colours to match your style;
  • ability to encrypt your recordings for protection;
  • allows you to track your audio programs, e.g. if people listen to the complete recording or bail out after 10 seconds;
  • send audio by email (call it audio emails, or audio postcard)
    redirect web visitors to a new page after the audio completes
    uploads your audio to your site with built-in FTP.

Full-featured version of SonicMemo is available for a small one-time fee, or consider the free version of SonicMemo with basic functionality.

Please note: regardless of which program/service you use to prepare the audio for the web, once your recording is posted to your site it will play on any computer.

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3 Crucial Components of Successful Ezine Articles

TypewriterDo you write articles? Do you post them to your own web sites, blogs AND to article directories? If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, all I can say is Do it now!

Nowadays, the importance of having your own articles is huge. As a small business owner or solopreneur, to publish your own articles is going to be one of a handful of sure-fire ways to promote your business, today, tomorrow and for years to come – on auto-pilot.

Your own articles will create links to your web site, lift your search engine ranking higher, which in turn builds traffic of highly-targeted visitors to your site, who sign up for your ezine, and then, down the road, when they get to know, like and trust you, become your clients or customers. Do you see where I am going with this?

Although the main reason you would write an article is to give away useful information to your audience, your own primary interest is to use articles as a vehicle to promote yourself. Therefore, ezine articles have a somewhat different structure and requirements than articles written for magazines or other printed media.

Ideally you will write the articles yourself, so that each article will have your authentic voice; or you can have them written by a hired copywriter – either way, there are certain elements that must be present in the articles to make them successful marketing vehicles.

1. Keywords, Keyword Phrases and Keyword Density

Millions use the internet daily to find information. They will find your article if you use relevant keywords in your copy. For example, if you are a wine maker, write articles about wine: how to select wine, how to make it yourself, or how to pick a good winemaker, how to store it, etc. If you are a computer safety expert, you will write about protecting your PC, how to pick the right tools, how to practice safe web surfing, etc.

Once you find the right keywords and keyword phrases, use them throughout the article, and also use related keywords and phrases. This will give the article sufficient keyword density. Please note that search engines, as well as people, may ignore your article if its keyword density is too high, in other words, if you keep repeating a keyword just for the sake of building density (this is called keyword spamming). A balance is what’s needed here, and with some practice you’ll get it right.

There are many on line tools that can help in finding the right keywords and phrases related to your area of expertise. Find the right keywords and half of your work will be done.

  • Google Suggest
    You start typing a keyword, Google will suggest other words to complete a keyword phrase, based on its database of searches people used in the past.
  • WordTracker
    This subscription service is probably the best commercially available tool out there. For serious publishers, web masters, and SEO specialists.
  • GoodKeywords.com
    Free downloadable software for Win/PC that lets you research keywords.

2. Quality Content

Always keep in mind that you’re writing for the human audience first, robot audience second. Don’t just throw a bunch of keywords plus some filler copy together and call it an article! You need to write in such a way that your audience will be educated, and hopefully entertained. Write in a conversational manner, but be professional – think “business casual” in written form.

Your written piece is not a thesis, so don’t write long sentences and paragraphs. Convoluted sentence structure or obscure words don’t make for a good read. You don’t write to impress your peers (or competition), but to provide information to your target audience.

Do I need to say you must use correct spelling and good grammar? If you want people to regard you as an authority in your field, your writing style should reflect that authority.

A quality article will boost your expert status. With expert status comes trust, and the more people trust you, the more likely they will be to hire you or buy your products.

3. Links in Articles

Finally, one last crucial component of your article are links. As part of your general SEO strategy, you can create links to your own web site, especially if you’re posting to article directories. These incoming links contribute to your site’s page ranking with search engines.

Depending on where you post your article – on your site only, or to article directories – your latitude in creating links will vary. Let me explain.

Some article directories limit the number and/or type of links you can use. For example, you may not be permitted to link to other web sites using your affiliate link, but it may be OK to link to the same site, indirectly, via your own custom domain name.

Let’s say you are an e-commerce consultant and you offer shopping cart solutions. You could sign up with 1ShoppingCart.com as an affiliate, and then register a domain such as KickStartCart.info, and set up a one-page web site that redirects to 1ShoppingCart.com using your affiliate link.

At the very least, article directories will allow you to place links in your “resource box,” which is usually a single paragraph that goes at the end of your article, where you can freely advertise your business. A good example of a resource box comes from a client of mine:

Urszula Szychowska publishes the free Health in Layman’s Terms monthly ezine to help you stay youthful, healthy, vibrant and active for the rest of your life – naturally. Sign up today and receive a free special report “Glutathione – Essential Antioxidant, Immune Booster and Detoxifier.” More info at ImmuneSource.ca

If you are posting the article to your own site, or broadcasting it via your ezine, you have complete freedom in hyper-linking.

A very important note: search engines prefer links that contain keywords (I think people do, too). For example, this link to a versatile shopping cart solution is better than saying: If you need a versatile shopping cart solution, click here. BTW, this technique applies to any web page or blog post, not just your articles.

Conclusion

We are all hungry for information, and the Internet is where we find it. You are there to provide it in the form of articles. Start your own article collection today.

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Attend Live Events to Learn and to Promote Your Business

Adam Urbanski and Boris Mahovac at the 2007 ACLC BootcampIt’s been very strange two weeks since the last issue of my ezine. My wife took our kids overseas to meet their grandparents, so I’ve been a bachelor of sorts for a while.

Only a few days after my family returns, I’ll be flying to Irvine, California, for Adam Urbanski’s Attract Clients Like Crazy Boot Camp (that’s Adam and me in the photo). Then, in early June, it’s Montreal, for a one day Small Business Big Thinking conference, hosted by Visa Canada.

Attending live events and training seminars is not only a great way to learn, it’s also fabulous for business and personal development, business networking and meeting new people, who may become your joint venture partners, or clients.

If you’re planning to offer live seminars or retreats to your own clients, attend a few similar events yourself to see how it’s done. Why re-invent the wheel, right

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