Friday, December 11, 2009

4 Retirement Traps to Avoid

We all make mistakes. The key, of course, is catching them early and correcting them before the damage is irreversible.

Retirement planning, with all its moving parts – finances, families, health care and legal issues – presents lots of opportunities to get things wrong.

With that in mind, we asked some pros to talk about the more common mistakes they see these days from clients walking in the door.

1. Misreading Bonds

Lawrence Glazer, at Mayflower Advisors in Boston, meets with retirees who are hesitant to own stocks because they don't want to lose money. But they don't have the same concerns about bonds.

"It's a fallacy to think you can't lose money in bonds," he says.

A bond is basically a loan to an issuer who promises to pay interest on the loan, and ultimately return the principal to investors. One risk is credit risk – that the bond issuer won't make its interest payments, or even be able to return all the borrowed money.

As investors in Lehman Brothers debt found out last year, outside of government–backed debt, defaults can and do happen.

A more common risk is that bond prices fall, most commonly as interest rates rise. The degree to which bond prices rise or fall depends not just on the kind of bond but also on the maturity. Longer–term bonds are generally more prone to price swings than short–term debt.

With interest rates so low these days – a U.S. Treasury two–year note yields just 0.7% – many investors are stretching for higher yields on debt with longer maturities and greater credit risk, such as junk bonds.

In a rising–rate environment, losses on even "safe" debt such as U.S. Treasurys "may come as a shock to investors," says Mr. Glazer.

2. Overspending

"People show up, in their 50s, with no retirement plan and $500,000 saved up and think they are going to retire and spend $5,000 per month," says Ronald Myers, a financial planner in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. But even if they earn 8% a year on their investments, at that rate they would run out of money in 10 years.

Part of the equation is having a realistic spending budget and matching that with a sustainable withdrawal rate. Most financial advisers recommend a 4% annual withdrawal rate.

But Mr. Myers says retirees often don't factor in two other variables. The first is inflation. "At a 4% inflation rate, your expenses are going to be double in 20 years," he notes. Medical costs – a big expense for retirees – are rising much faster than the overall rate of inflation.

Second, retirees often don't allow cushions for unexpected big expenses or hefty investment losses. "You'd better understand what's going to happen if your accounts go down in value," Mr. Myers says, "and whether you're going to be able to adjust on the fly."

3. Forgetting Names

A big concern for many retirees is ensuring that when they die or are incapacitated their property and savings go to the intended recipients and that decisions are in responsible hands. That means keeping a will, health–care proxy and the beneficiaries on retirement accounts and insurance policies up to date.

But many people wrongly assume that a will takes care of all those things, says New York attorney Philip Bouklas. In fact, the laws and regulations are much more complicated. For example, parents will often add one child to their bank or investment accounts for convenience. But irrespective of what it says in a will, when the parent dies the account passes to just the child whose name is on the account.

Another common misstep Mr. Bouklas sees is not naming a beneficiary on a retirement account.

When the account holder dies without a designated beneficiary, the account is distributed to the estate and passed on according to the will. But to do so, the estate has to take the distribution from the account in a lump sum and pay income taxes. That's less beneficial to the heirs. If they were named as beneficiaries, heirs would be able to draw down the account slowly over their lifetime.

4. Failing to Talk

"People don't like to talk about their own mortality and their own infirmities," says Bernard Krooks, a New York attorney who specializes in elder law. "I have a bunch of clients who say they're not going to die," he jokes.

It's not just what will happen in the event of death that families should discuss, but also long–term health–care plans. People often assume that they'll have plenty of time to make arrangements for long–term care or discuss care–giving plans with their children. But a stroke or accident can happen at any time.

These discussions should even include unpleasant conversations, such as a parent explaining to a child why a sibling is getting a bigger share of an inheritance. It may not be an easy conversation, "but it's less likely to result in problems after the fact," says Mr. Krooks.

I hope you found this article useful. Feel free to leave me a comment.

To Your Success,

Chad Timothy
Chad Timothy's 500K Income System

Monday, December 7, 2009

The low down on Affiliate Marketing

Here’s a basic understanding of Affiliate marketing and what you need to know.

Online Affiliate Marketing is a derivative of Internet marketing where the promoter gets paid for every customer or sales provided by him. Affiliate marketing is the preferred marketing avenue for thousands of Internet marketing experts.

In this type of marketing, affiliate management companies, in-house affiliate managers and third party vendors are effectively utilized to use Email Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, RRS Capturing and Display Advertising for the success of the product.

All the web traffic can be tracked with the help of a third party software in most cases. A lot of work is involved in this process. More than most people understand.

At first marketing by this method involved lots of spamming, false advertising, trademark infringement, etc. But, after the invention of complex algorithms and advance security this has been regularized to make it safer for doing business and shopping online.

This even led to the better scrutinizing of the terms and conditions by the merchants. Affiliate marketing became more profiting with the opening of more opportunities but at the same time it also increased the competition in marketing.

Due to this pressure in house affiliate programs for merchants became a thing of the past and were replaced by out-sourced programs.

The companies that offered this service have expert affiliate and network program managers who have various affiliate program management techniques. These affiliate networks have publishers associated with them who help them with the advertising part.

Affiliate marketing was started by who had music oriented websites. They placed list of music albums on their site and they paid others if they put those links in their websites when a visitor bought their album through their site.

The first company to link with was Geffen Records. Two months later, Amazon was offered by a woman that she would sell Amazon’s books on her website and she should be paid a certain percentage in return if she sold Amazon’s books through her site.

They liked the idea and started the Amazon associates program. It was more of a commission program where they received a commission if a visitor clicked their links and banners on other’s site and bought anything through it.

Since its invention, the affiliate network has been adopted by various businesses like travel, education, telecom, mobile, gaming, personal finance, retail, and subscription sites, the most common being adult and gambling sectors. In the US alone, affiliate marketing produced 4.6 Billion.

The compensation methods used are Cost per sale (CPS), Cost per action (CPA), Cost per mile (CPM) and Cost per click (CPC). The first two are the more famous methods today.

This is because in CPM and CPC, the visitor which turns up on a particular website might not be the targeted audience and a click would be enough to generate commission. CPS and CPA have a compulsion that the visitor not only clicks on the link but also buys something or signs up for some service after it which proves that he is among the targeted audience.

Only in the above case the affiliate gets paid. So the affiliate should try to send as much targeted traffic as possible to the advertiser in order to increase his/her returns and for this reason affiliate marketing is also known as performance marketing because it totally depends on the performance of the affiliate.

The affiliate team can be differentiated from a sales team from the nature of their jobs. The job of the affiliate team is to drag targeted traffic to a point and from that point it’s the job of the sales team to influence the visitor to buy the product or the service.

Affiliate marketing can be extremely effective if used correctly.

This is a very effective kind of method because the money is being paid only when results have been achieved. The publisher incurs all the cost except that of initial setup and development of the program, which is incurred by the merchant. Many businesses give credit to this method of marketing for their success.

I hope my article has given all you Internet Marketing beginners a better understanding of how it all works. I wish you incredible success. Feel free to browse my more advanced articles on Affiliate marketing and social media.

I hope you found this article useful. Feel free to leave me a comment.

To Your Success,

Chad Timothy
Chad Timothy's 500K Instant Cash Flow System

**************************************************************************** Chad Timothy is the CEO of the Software Billions Club in Portland, OR. Having started off in Internet Marketing in 1998 Chad Timothy is considered a respected pioneer. He is committed to helping others by writing about what he has learned about strategic Internet Marketing.

In addition to developing scores of websites and online stores and consulting with many companies large and small, he is the author of hundreds of articles and more than a dozen books on Internet marketing and e-commerce.

The Software Billions Club can be found at

Watch for our new Internet Billions Club membership site to launch soon

My Top four Techniques for getting the absolute best results from your Google AdSense Ads

These tips can help you boost your AdSense efforts with little additional effort. The money that you make from Google AdSense program is 100% dependent on you and your efforts.

Here are some tips that you can use to get the best results from your Google AdSense Ads:

1. You should be using channels: Channels help you conduct a better analysis of the performance of your Google AdSense Ads and so much more. Channels allow you to monitor what web pages are making more money and which ones are not doing as well. It's true, custom channels can be used for conducting analysis on several aspects all at the same time. You can use this analysis for making amendments to your AdSense Ads or website content in order to get better results.

2. Google Ad customization and positioning: Size, Shape and color are the 3 aspects of your AdSense Ads that you can easily control and customize in a way that the Ads don’t look out of place when served on your website. You can either make your Ads stand-out from the rest of the content on your webpage or you can make them blend with the overall webpage.

Moreover, you can identify the hot spots on your site and position your Google Ads accordingly. Ad customization and Ad positioning are, in fact, the best ways to attract more clicks to your AdSense Ads.

3. Google AdSense Content quality: ‘The best generally overcomes the rest’ – is a very true saying. If you host quality content on your website and provide regular updates to your visitors, you can expect more traffic to your website. This will in turn lead to more ad impressions and possibly more clicks.

4. I recommend Using AdSense Ads on all pages: If you have multiple web pages on your site, you should add AdSense Ads on all of them. Since the visitors can enter your website through a number of different pages, having AdSense Ads on all the pages will surely increase your earnings.

Here's a bonus section I wrote to help you with AdSense feeds. Tips for AdSense for feeds:

Google AdSense for feeds is currently in beta testing phase and the programmers are just waiting for the flood gates to open in order to start making money with the AdSense Ads in their feeds. Here are the top 3 tips that will help you fully capitalize on this revenue earning opportunity:

Google Content quality: You will earn Google AdSense revenue only if people subscribe to your feed. The more subscriptions you attain, the better are your chances of success with AdSense for feeds. Since most people would be looking for quality content, you need to make sure that your feed contains up-to-date quality information that is presented to the users in an easy-to-understand language. Besides that, the feeds should be free from grammatical and spelling mistakes.

Google Content quantity: Include as much content in your feeds as you possibly can. The more the better. Remember Google loves content. Again, the aim is prove that the feed is useful and comprehensive (so that more users subscribe to it). If you feel that the complete article cannot go into the feed, include a good summary of the article.

Limit the ad units: If the users find that your feeds contain too much Ads, they might not subscribe to your feeds at all (and the whole purpose of feeds would get defeated). In order to ensure that you get good subscription to your feeds, you should limit the ad units to one per feed. Another good way of ensuring that your feeds don’t look like an advertising medium is to place the Ads either at the end of article or after having sufficiently discussed the topic.

So, get ready for enhancing your ‘AdSense for feeds’ revenue with these sure fire tips. I wish you luck. Feel free to check back for further updates from me on Google marketing.

I hope you found this article useful. Feel free to leave me a comment.

To Your Success,

Chad Timothy
Chad Timothy's 500K Instant Cash Flow System

**************************************************************************** Chad Timothy is the CEO of the Software Billions Club in Portland, OR. Having started off in Internet Marketing in 1998 Chad Timothy is considered a respected pioneer. He is committed to helping others by writing about what he has learned about strategic Internet Marketing.

In addition to developing scores of websites and online stores and consulting with many companies large and small, he is the author of hundreds of articles and more than a dozen books on Internet marketing and e-commerce.

The Software Billions Club can be found at

Watch for our new Internet Billions Club membership site to launch soon

9 AdWord Mistakes & How to Fix Them

Google AdWords is the greatest direct response advertising medium ever created.This fact has been recognized by more than one national business magazine, newspaper, and marketing guru. Some business owners have Google AdWords to thank for their entire existence and growth, while others have replaced their traditional advertising budget at a fraction of the cost to advertise on search engines with better results. Since 2001 these classifieds-style, "Sponsored Links" seen above and alongside organic search listings have created millionaries, they have also lost advertisers millions. With a low barrier-to-entry, many business owners and marketing managers have tried their hand at Google's pay-per-click system. Some have soared, while others have hopelessly wasted big bucks without knowing why. Having looked at dozens of accounts over the years and managed over a million dollars in clicks, I've seen the costly mistakes often made. Below are eight of the most common with solutions.

1. Always Bidding to Be Number One - Ego bidding can cause expensive click wars. Always trying to be #1 over your competitors on one specific keyword just to be #1 wastes time and money unless you know your keywords' true value or cost-per-conversion. For high volume, competitive, high cost clicks, make sure you know your keywords' cost-per-conversion.

Solution: Generally, positions 3 - 10 have higher conversion rates because they receive less impulsive and irrelevant clicks. In recent years relevancy has been playing a larger role (Quality Score), and being #1 is not solely dependent on maximum bid. Calculate how much a customer or lead is worth to you and don't spend more than that per lead (excluding the first month of testing or so). Swallow your pride, mind your ROI, and let your competitors waste their time and money on bidding wars. The one exception being when the keyword is the name of your company.

2. Unrelated Keyword Clumping - Organizing similar phrases and keywords into similar and specific adgroups and campaigns is a huge key to scaling your AdWord's account success. You're not organizing just for the sake of organization; your account should be structured in a way that you are able to give you a quick "bird's eye view" of any one of your particular adgroups or campaigns' relative success.

Solution: Don't put a long list of unrelated terms and phrases in the same adgroup. Organize and stratify your adgroups using what I call the "Two Word Relevancy Litmus Test" where all phrases in one particular adgroup have at least a two word base commonality. This will create adgroup naming conventions which are close to WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) as possible.

3. Neglecting Conversion Tracking Codes - Google AdWords provides up to four codes which should be correlated with an action a user takes on your website: form submission, shopping cart sale, whitepaper download, contact page view, etc. These codes allow you to calculate a much more important number than traffic -- your cost-per-conversion or even cost-per-acquisition.

One click may cost you .25, but it may take 100 clicks before someone fills out a contact form, resulting in a cost-per- conversion of $25. This is a crucial number in which you should base your bid amount. Based on your closing ratio you can then calculate your cost-per-acquisition or advertising cost-per-customer.

Solution: Add the provided conversion tracking codes to your website before you spend a dime on AdWords. Label each action. Put one on the "Thank you" page after a contact form submission. If you have an ecommerce shopping cart, place a code on the receipt page after an online sale is made. You will then know which campaigns, adgroups, keywords, even ads attract the most, and most highly qualified, leads.

4. Using One Catch-All Ad - Non-specific ads which attempt to sell on generalities and features, using superlatives and hyperbole combined with a cliché call to action do not work. These ads under-utilize the direct response nature of the Internet combined with flexibility of matching keyword relevance to ad copy. Search Engine users are typically later in the buying cycle because he/she is looking verses mass marketing which advertises to a much less targeted audience.

Solution: Write tight, keyword relevant ads in small adgroups for every area of your service or product categories. Get the user to take the next step closer, which might not always be a sale. Signing up for newsletter, Ezine, to receive a free whitepaper or ebook, all have huge long term value if a relationship is cultivated.

5. Pointing All Ads to the Homepage - Only linking ads to your homepage is not wise. If a user has to hunt too long for the service or product he/she saw mentioned in your ad's headline, your potential customer is gone and will never return.

Solution: Create specific ads to link to interior landing pages having content that specifically relates to the keyword phrase/ad. Giving the user what he/she was looking for quickly makes it less likely they will leave because you made them think too much. Categorizing your services into separate pages and having a specific ad land exactly on what the user is looking for combined with a convincing argument and a way for him/her to receive more information will dramatically increase your conversion rate. Don't make your prospect hunt, that's what a search engine is for, not your website.

6. Neglecting Negative Keywords - Adding negative keywords to your adgroup or campaign means your ads won't display for search queries containing phase combinations which use irelevant terms. By filtering out unwanted impressions, negative keywords can help you reach the most appropriate prospects, reduce your cost-per-click (CPC), and increase your ROI.

Solution: Find negative keywords by using common sense, keyword research tools, and the Search Query Performance report over time.

7. Mingling Search & Contextual Campaigns - Did you know more than half of Google ads are not served on Google or any of their Search Partners (ASK, Dogpile, AOL)? They are served on relevant sites surrounding articles, blog posts, news, and other content (aka "Ads by Google"). You have the choice to opt out of this non-search network of sites. Since these two arenas are very different and require different strategies you should address each network one at a time.

Solution: When first starting out with your AdWords uncheck the Content Network by choosing to "Edit Settings" on the campaign level. Once you have achieved an acceptable cost/conversion for the Google + Search Network, then duplicate your campaigns using the AdWords Editor and have "Content Only" campaigns, in which you will most like want to test new ads on as well.

8. Trusting IP Geo-targeting - 20% of the time or more of the time a geo-graphically tagged IP address is either wrong or not set, this can lead to irrelevant or out of area traffic less likely to do business with your local services.

Solution: Create two similar campaigns, one with generic keywords without the city name, the other with generic keywords plus the city name. Target the first campaign using Google AdWords' geo-targeting. Manually target the other to a larger region (state or country), but only buy keywords which have the phrase + the city name. This will cover all your bases and bring you more highly targeted traffic.

9. Accepting the Status Quo - Once a conversion rate has been measured, some site owners do not understand they should keep trying to improve this number by experimenting and testing several variables.

Solution: Always be trying to improve it by A/B split testing ad copy as well as landing page graphics and headlines in order to constantly improve conversion rates.

I hope you found this article useful. Feel free to leave me a comment.

To Your Success,

Chad Timothy
Chad Timothy's 500K Instant Cash Flow System