About Learning

Johannes Stockburger writing about  learningForgetting learning was the one huge mistake I did a few years ago. I was just content with the system that was working for me. I was building a travel agency using Google Adwords, and it worked fine for me. I got new customers, albeit for a price. But through repeat purchases the expenses were coming back.
Next came the meltdown of the financs system 2008. I added money to increase the exposire, but the return was shrinking. This bankrupted me almost, before I just stopped advertisements and worked only with the customers I already had. I improved the service and concentrated on the customers who appreciated my work. Business was growing nicely, and with it profitability. But then in 2012, the crisis of the Euro zone flared up, shrinking the activity of my best customers. Now, I had foreseen this and prepared to add another income stream from publishing. Here I could reach the whole world, depending less on the Euro Zone and its problems.

In Two Years Back to the Newbie-Level

But when I returned in 2011 to build a business using the internet as main communication media, I found that not a single one of my old methods and techniques from the time prior to 2008 was still working. I found myself reduced to the position of a newbie. And worse, it tokk me some time to realize this. There were so many new things:

  • Government regulations have changed. Today it is in Germany courts even raise questions about the double-opt-in routine. Some judges classify the first email sent after a user requested to join a mailing list through a web formas SPAM. There have also been big changes around the use of testimonials and endorsements.
  • Email deliverability and click-through-rates are dramatically down.
  • The way search engines evaluate and rank websites has changed dramatically.
  • Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are now hugely important.
  • Video is in everybody’s reach and absolutely necessary, if you want to build an audience.
  • Publishing ebooks and even printed books is now in reach for everybody.

These are huge changes, and all happened just in a few years. This dynamic is full of opportunities. But if you ignore learning and fall into the trap of doing things the way you always did, this fast flow of change is deadly.

How to Embed Learning into the Daily Work Routine

The only way to survive and thrive is to stay on top of the game and adapt constantly. The question is: how to do this without getting paralyzed and overwhelmed?

Here are some of the answers:

  • Stay connected to the top people in each field, listen to their discussions and whatch what they are doing.
  • Select people with a strong desire to learn to share your working day.
  • Join a mastermind group. Share your observations and brainstorm for solutions.
  • Observe your customer’s feedback closely. Do not rely only on words, watch their behavior.
  • Automate mechanical tasks and processes to avoid being eaten up by daily chores. This allows you to keep learning.
  • Consider outsourcing tasks which can be done better and cheaper by specialists.
  • Develop several income streams. This allows you to react flexibly on sudden changes.
  • Do not allow stress ruling your work experience.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many more possible ways to integrate learning into your day. But I think, the key is to create a working environment fostering an open mind, curiosity and happiness.

The Power of Mobile

Watch this speech given by Google’s Eric Smith recently in Berlin to get an idea about The Power of Mobile.

He mentions a few concepts providing me with quite a bit food for thought:

  • The huge potential which becomes available whenever people connect cloud computing and mobile devices
  • The concept of crowd sourcing. You can get almost instantly a picture of events thousands of kilometers away by receiving information from a magnitude of eye witnesses. Raw information is distributed before spin doctors had a chance to get their hands on it.
  • How this changes the balance of power between buyers and sellers
  • How this changes the balance of power between government and citizen.

We had the chance to witness The Power of Mobile, which develops whenever millions of people have the ability to access this huge pool of information and the ability to publish instantly what they see, hear and think. Propaganda generated by governments and organizations like Hezbollah can now be dissected. Then suddenly becomes visible that one and the same person was shown as a dying bombing victim on 3 pictures taken in different places on different days, and the same toys scattered in the ruins of buildings on a host of photos taken in different towns on different days. (Examples taken from Hezbollah propaganda during the last Lebanon war)
Even the mere access to mobile phones, without the extra power of instant multimedia publishing has proven remarkably powerful. If people see something in the TV they may call a friend in the area affected and ask. “Are you o.k.? And what is going on.” As a result protests against Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in 2008 were much stronger in Morocco compared to Jordan, Lebanon or Egypt. People could already differentiate between the truth and TV coverage, as long as they were not too far away from the scene.
Such thinking is not new, but still valid and also economically powerful. I remember an article published about 20 years ago in the Harvard Business Review explaining that in rural India at the time the lack of phones was not a mere symptom of poverty, but an important source of poverty. The reasoning: Small farmers had to sell their product for a very low price to wholesalers, because they did not have a chance to know what people were paying in town for food. With a phone they could have called shopkeepers in town and ask what the pay for rice, wheat, potatoes or corn, make an informed decision what to plant and almost immediately increase revenue substantially.

In Customer’s Shoes

Test with Adwords, Then Make Money with Twitter? Wrong!
I used to think: Write a sales page, drive Google Adwords traffic, test it. With a decent conversion rate, start to drive serious traffic from social media, banner ads, etc. This is, what happened:

  • Signup rate from people coming from my blog: 15%
  • Signup rate from people coming from Google Adwords: 5%
  • Signup rate from people coming from Twitter: 0%

I got lots of traffic from Twitter, and people seemed to be interested. But no conversion! Adwords remained at 5%. From my blog the traffic numbers went naturally down. I cannot write posts promoting the same offer day by day.

Putting Myself into Twitterers’ Shoes
I was scratching my head for several weeks, hoping to get at least one or two conversions from Twitter. After a while it seemed that even the click rates from Twitter went down. Naturally, because my followers knew the offer, as my blog readers did. Anyway, I was careful enough not to damage that Twitter account, it is still growing.
So, what does that mean? Is Twitter traffic useless? I do not think so, and I know that other people get conversions, signups etc. from Twitter.
I drew two conclusions: The page must be reasonable for people coming from search engines, and for people coming from my mailing list and blog, but not for Twitterers.
Thinking about the reason, I came up with the following conclusion: The signup page was, as thousands, driven by flash videos. But further investigation let me to conclude, that a Twitter link is rarely leading to a video.

Mobile Users Have Different Priorities
A little further brain wrenching reminded me, that even the emails with video links I get, do not work, as long as I open them on my mobile device, because the handset does not show flash.
In fact I use the email on my Palm to skim through the emails, to see if there is something I need to respond quickly. But all these video emails are left to my desktop, and I check them, if and when I have time and desire to do so.
Twitter is strongly geared towards mobile users. They may have difficulty to watch a flash video. And a Twitter user has often a very short span of attention. He may just to get a glimpse about what’s going on in his arena, between leaving the plane and picking the luggage. And unlike emails, tweets go away. They are not saved for later inspection.

Landing Page Must Correspondent to Traffic Source
This consideration seems to explain why my video page did not work with Twitter. And, while investigating, my brain reminded me that I should copy the ones, who get already results. Many of them seem to promote their blogs on Twitter, and then using their blogs to promote their money making stuff.

What do you think? Did you observe the same phenomena? How did you solve the problem? Please share your insight and leave a comment.

Get Profitable Conversions from AdWords Content Network

I want to show you a simple five-step process to use the content networks of Google AdWords:

  1. Define ad groups narrowly, with one or just a handful of closely related keywords (synonyms). If you put too many or too different keywords into one ad group, you will never know which keywords bring clicks and conversions from the content network.
  2. Observe the statistics given by Google closely. It may take one or two days, but Google will show you, which websites produce clicks and conversions.
  3. Move every websites which produces conversions at a profitable cost from “automatic placements” to managed placement. You do this by marking them and using the menu item “Manage placement and bid”
  4. If you find websites which are producing lots of clicks but no conversions, block them by using the menu item “Exclude placement”
  5. Watch the statistics of managed placements closely. If you feel you could get more conversions from a placement at a reasonable cost, you can increase your bid. If you find the cost per conversion is too high, reduce the bid or remove the placement.

By using this 5-step process you can often get more conversions from the content network at lower prices, than you could get from the Adwords search networks with the same keywords.