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by Robert Boilard
Last time I wrote about attracting qualified sales leads to
your website; now I am going to talk about the necessary tools of an on-line
marketer. If you are really serious about your online business I suggest your
read this article in its entirety, and maybe even twice. There are certain
necessary tools that an online marketer needs and even more if your maintaining
your web pages yourself. Some of the tools listed below are not absolutely
necessary for all businesses but should be considered.
1.) The most important thing that an on-line marketer needs is an
auto-submission program. These are programs that automatically submit your web
pages to many search engines, directories, and Free For All link sites (FFA).
Here at RB Associates we use 2 different programs. SubmitWolf by Trellian. This
is an Australian based company with a high quality product. The other program we
use is AddWeb Pro by CyberSpace Hq.
SubmitWolf 4.0 has a database of over 2400 search engines and link
directories where you can promote your URLs. Submission to over 1200 sites is
fully automated, and a listing with these engines can dramatically increase your
web site traffic. SubmitWolf offers a very impressive list of features such as
Site Ranking to find out where you rank on the search engines by specific
keywords, an engine builder, meta-tag generator, and many others. They also have
a demo for you to download. More details can be found here: http://www.trellian.com/swolf/.
SubmitWolf Pro $95.00
AddWeb Pro also has a very impressive list of features but the one that
Stands out for us is Automatic Submission to Yahoo and Snap.com, where
SubmitWolf does not. AddWeb Pro is much slower than SubmitWolf by far and cost a
little more than SubmitWolf. Both have their individual features that make them
worth every penny you spend. AddWeb Pro currently boast 989 engines, directories
and FFA sites. They also have a free download. http://www.cyberspacehq.com/. AddWeb Pro
I suggest that you download both trial programs and try them both, then you
decide which is best for you.
2.) Email and News Reader Programs. Any effective marketer will need
an email/news reader program. There are many on the market and many of them are
free. These include Netscape Messenger, Outlook, Outlook Express, Endora, AOL,
and many others. These programs are very customizable and allow you to add
signature files, reply to addresses, Send to, Blind Carbon Copy, and Carbon
Copy. I suggest that you definitely create and add a signature file to the
bottom of all your out going emails explaining who you are, what you do and what
makes you better than your competition.
The news reader is also very important for an online marketer and enables you
to read and post messages to the NewsGroups. NewsGroups are a very good way to
bring quality leads to your site. There is probably over 50,000 newsgroups in
existence today on just about every topic imaginable. Find the ones specific to
your business and get involved, let your signature file at the bottom of your
messages do the work for you. You do not want to just post blatant
advertisements to the newsgroups as most of them do not allow advertisements.
2A.) Bulk Email Programs. A word of caution here, although Congress
says that unsolicited email is not illegal, it is still unacceptable netiquette.
You can very well lose all credibility for you and your business, be kicked off
your ISP and possibly lose your domain. You can find many bulk email programs by
going to http://www.download.com/ and
searching for bulk email.
If you insist on Bulk Email, do it the correct way and buy targeted email
lists. These are lists that contain email addresses of people who have stated
that they don't mind receiving unsolicited emails about particular subjects.
These lists can be bought in different sizes of anywhere from 10,000 to
1,000,000 email addresses.
Be aware that there are many companies on the net that create these lists by
automatic email retrieval programs and do not have the peoples' authority to add
them to the list. These work by searching the net collecting email addresses
that are published on any and all websites. Before you buy any list, research
the company you are buying from and also ask them questions like: Are these
email addressees of people who opted to be on the list? Are these email
addresses new, or How old are the addresses? Are there any duplicates in the
list, and are they sorted?
Many bulk email programs now have a sort of "sendmail" program built in so
that you are not sending mail through your ISP's SMTP server, however if you are
a responsible emailer you should not need this feature. I would also suggest
that you talk to your ISP before you start sending hundreds of emails to find
out what their policies are on bulk mailings.
General rule of thumb is if you are sending a hundred emails you will not
need a bulk email program, but if are sending thousands you had better have one
of these programs at your side, they have become very sophisticated right down
to personalized messages for each recipient. Targeted Bulk Email can be very
effective for your online advertising campaign if done responsibly.
3.) FTP Program. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. What the heck
is that you ask? An FTP program is a piece of software that allows you to move
files on and off of the internet. FTP is how you publish your files to the
internet so that everyone can access them. FTP allows you make up to the minute
changes to your pages (with an HTML editor) and then instantaneously publish
your changes to the net. The FTP program that we use here at RB Associates is
WS_FTP Pro by Ipswitch: http://www.ipswitch.com -- although there are
many on the internet as free downloads such as CuteFTP and a host of others.
4.) Site Tracker. I highly suggest adding a Tracker to your website.
Trackers will tell you where your visitors found your website, keywords they
used, what country they're from, day of the week, time and a many other
statistics that will allow you to tweak and change your website and really know
what advertising is working for you. There are many Free Trackers available but
the one I suggest is http://www.extreme-dm.com/.
5.) HTML Editor. As with many of the suggested tools there are as many
HTML editors on the market as there are marketers. However there are certain
things that that you should look for in an editor. Make sure the one you select
is a WYSIWYG editor. For those of you who do not know what this is, it stands
for "What You See Is What You Get". This will insure that what you see in the
editor is what your visitors will see when they view your pages on the net.
Another feature that is very important is easily viewing the actual HTML source.
HTML actually stands for Hypertext Mark Up Language because it is all just text
that is created with normal ASCII characters. Sometimes you need to access this
text to make the necessary changes that some WYSIWYG can not do in WYSIWYG mode.
Another feature that you should look for is Preview Mode, this will allow you to
actually view the changes in your default browser before you FTP your pages to
your web server. Another feature that is a must have, is a Spell Checker, and
always use it before publishing your pages to save yourself a lot of
embarrassment. Many editors can be found at http://www.download.com by searching for HTML
Just a short note: An alternative to FTP and an HTML Editor is Microsoft
FrontPage. This is a very nice Publisher, Server, Editor package that keeps
track of your hyper links, pages and a vast variety of other things on your
pages. FrontPage also includes some real nice features like page counters, time
stamps, pre-made websites, frames pages and many others. One draw back to
FrontPage is that your hosting ISP must have FrontPage Server Extensions
installed on your domain in order for the publisher and web bots to work.
However, if your ISP does offer FrontPage hosting I recommend FrontPage highly
as it is a very simple way for the newbie to maintain and publish their pages.
6.) Graphic Programs. You should have a couple of good graphics
programs. One program that I would suggest for the newbie is a shareware program
called Paint Shop Pro and it can be found at http://www.jasc.com/, this program has a lot of
nice features for the buck. If your budget allows, another excellent program we
use is PhotoShop by Adobe and is also available as time limited trial at http://www.adobe.com; they also have some other
nice graphic programs such as ImageStyler, ImageReady and some Animation
software that is out of this world. If you're into 3D I suggest obtaining a copy
of FontFX http://www.erain.com and/or Xara 3D
http://www.xara.com/; both these program are
relatively inexpensive for the features they offer. Last but not least, if GIF
animation is your thing try downloading Ulead's GIF Animator http://www.ulead.com/. Just a word of advice,
go easy on the animation as too much animation can spoil the whole effect you're
trying to create.
Above, we have discussed only a few tools, there are many
available today but we feel that these are some of the essential tools for the
online marketer. If you have a tool that you currently use and feel that it is
an essential part of your online marketing efforts, please drop us note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note: All the
tools mentioned above are available as downloads either as a time limited trial,
shareware or freeware.
Robert Boilard is a professional developer and CEO for RB Associates
(http://www.rbdesigns.com). Robert is also a
Chapter Chairman of the International WebMasters Association and an
International Co-Chairperson for the IWA Awards Committee, member of the HTML
Writers Guild and the Microsoft SiteBuilder Network.
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