Thursday, April 2, 2009

Got a new book coming out? Head spinning with marketing and promotion options? Take heart!

I'm doing my first-ever interview with Ian Lurie, President of Portant Interactive, an Internet marketing agency. Ian knows that writers are asked by publishers to provide a great deal of their own marketing - if not all of it. Ian's new release Web Marketing for Dummies All In One Desk Reference contains ready-to-implement tools for writers with new releases to promote.

Welcome, Ian!

1 - What is Portent Interactive and how did you come up with your company name?

'Portent' means an omen or sign of things (good or bad) to come. So much of what we do involves anticipating changes to the internet and particularly search, so it made sense. The 'Interactive' part I'm sure you can guess :)

2 - How did Web Marketing All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies get its start?

I'm not sure how Wiley decided to write it. But John Arnold, the book's editor and author of the e-mail section, read my blog and decided I was a well-qualified Dummies author. He contacted me, and once I realized it wasn't a put-on we got to work.

3 - Your company offers services in Social Media Marketing, which features blogging. How can your company help someone increase their blog traffic?

The number one way to increase blog traffic is to write great stuff. So we offer a lot of coaching on good web copywriting. We also help clients interact with relevant communities online. And, of course, our search engine optimization team works with many bloggers to improve their search engine rankings.

4 - What is Search Engine Optimization, and why is it so integral to growing an internet presence?

For Portent, Search Engine Optimization (known as SEO) means ensuring a site's visibility, relevance and authority through great content, link building and a technically sound web site.

Search engines generate 75% of everything that happens online. If you don't do SEO you're ignoring 75% of your potential customers. If you can afford to do that, more power to you, but most businesses should make SEO the core of their online strategy.

5 - Many authors are encouraged to start blogs if they haven't already done so. How important is it for an author to blog, or will a high profile presence in other social media such as Twitter and Facebook be enough?

Authors are particularly good bloggers. We love to write and can't really shut up. So blogs give us an outlet. It's also an excellent way to promote your books, and connect with other writers.

I don't think every author must blog, though. Blog if you enjoy the instant gratification of writing something and publishing it moment later. Don't blog if you're going to regard it as a chore, or if the internet gives you the willies.

6 - Did you ever envision yourself as a For Dummies author?

I never envisioned myself as a CEO or a father of 2 kids. It's safe to say the For Dummies gig is a complete surprise and tremendously exciting.

7 - Do you know the other three authors personally?

I didn't know Marty, John or Michael before we wrote the book. I haven't met them in person and really want to organize a get-together at some point.

Elizabeth Marsten is the head of my PPC (pay-per-click) department at Portent. I suggested that she write the PPC section. She's fast becoming one of the top PPC specialists in the country, and she was a natural for the job. Oh, and if anyone reading this tries to hire her away, I'll burn their office down.

How did the four of you decide who would write which section?

If I remember right, we all talked on the phone and handed out the sections. Marty wrote the first section on building a web site. I wrote the Search Engine Optimization, Web Analytics, Social Media and Blogging sections. John wrote the section on e-mail marketing. Michael wrote the section about mobile marketing. And Elizabeth wrote the PPC section.

8 - What if a person is a true 'dummy' when it comes to technology? Suppose a writer has no cell phone, prefers to write with pen and ink, and posts snail mail instead of blog posts? Will that person be able to understand Web Marketing All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies?

A total luddite might have some problems. They'll figure it out, but I strongly recommend learning to use a computer first. Otherwise the book becomes a doorstop in a hurry.

9 - I have been a passionate blogger for two years now. But there are still aspects of blogging that confuse me. For example, I still don't know how to tell who visits me without leaving a comment. How important is it to know who visits your blog?

There's no easy way to know which individuals visit your blog. If there was it'd represent a significant invasion of privacy (in my opinion).

However, you can easily measure total visitors, what folks most often read, and where they come from using a free analytics tool like Google Analytics.

And, if you implement a social networking tool like Google Friend Connect, you can see when other members of that network visit your site.

10 - As a member of Romance Writers of America, I was seriously thrilled to hear through the grapevine that I had buzz at last year's national conference in San Francisco - especially since I was not physically present at the conference. The buzz was generated purely through my blog relationships.

As I mentioned, it is definitely encouraged within the writing world for authors to start blogs as a marketing tool. But what if the author is not attracted to blogging and finds the whole thing a tedious, nails-on-a-chalk-board chore?

Then they shouldn't blog. Really. Blogging isn't a responsibility. It's another form of communications. Don't do it if you don't like it.

I'm not surprised you got buzz. Your blog is great!

11 - Web Marketing All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies includes a Google AdWords redeemable coupon worth $25. How would that help a writer doing promotion for a new release?

That coupon will let you get $25 worth of clicks on Google AdWords for free. Adwords is Google's pay per click advertising system. It works like an auction: You bid on keywords. When someone clicks your ad, you pay the bid amount.

If you can get some low-cost traffic, that $25 can get you 100 or more clicks for free. That's a nice way to start!

12 - What is page tagging and how would writers benefit from understanding web analytics?

Page tagging can have multiple definitions. 'Tagging' is adding non-hierarchical keywords to pages. That creates the now-ubiquitous 'tag clouds' you see all over the place.

Page tagging as I think you're using it here means adding extra stuff to links, like ?source=google, so that your web analytics package can provide you extra information about your visitors. It's a VERY powerful tool. I can't go into it here because it would take about 10 pages, but you can find several articles about it on my blog, Conversation Marketing.

13 - In your opinion, how would a beginning author best spend her marketing dollars? What would be the top three internet options that give newbies the greatest buzz for the most affordable price?

Blogging can get you the most value, if you start well in advance of your book release date. Your blog can create a built-in audience who's ready to read your book the moment it hits Amazon.

Definitely have a simple web site, even if you don't have a blog.

Also, join Facebook and connect with other members who have interests in line with your book. Don't spam people, but make a few friends.

Finally, do look at pay per click marketing. It's a very efficient way to generate traffic.

Oh, and read Web Marketing for Dummies All In One Desk Reference!

Thanks so much for the interview, Ian. Can't wait till I get my own copy of your book in my hot little hands.

Thanks Julia - I really appreciate the interview!

Ian shared his excitement with blog readers when his book arrived at his office. Here he introduced his book to his grandfather's old typewriter.

Ian's got a wonderful promotion going on over at his blog, Conversational Marketing:

"If you buy Web Marketing for Dummies All In One, and send me a great unboxing photo, I'll send you a free copy of my e-book The Fat Free Guide to Copywriting (previously known as the The Unscary, Real World Guide to SEO Copywriting.)" - Ian Lurie

CLICK on THIS POST and scroll to the bottom for your chance to win.