5 Marks of a Great Content Management System

The functionality and appeal of your CMS website rests on your ability to select the best content management system for your needs. There are a lot of big names competing for attention as well as some smaller names that have great promise to become big names. This means lots and lots of choices for those who want to design CMS websites.

To make the selection process a bit easier, consider five tell-tale marks of a great content management system:

#1: You don’t need an IT crew on staff to install the CMS.

Installation is where some of the less effective content management systems fail. If a user cannot figure out how to get the system installed they start to wonder if they will be able to actually use the system once it is installed. The best content management systems will be very easy to install even if the IT guy isn’t down the hallway.

#2: The backend must be very easy to use.

This may be debatable for some people, but in most cases the backend of a CMS website should be incredibly simple to use. Most people using a CMS don’t know HTML code or don’t want to waste time messing with code. This means they are looking for a very simple system that allows them to add to, tweak and change their websites without getting into complicated procedures.

The simpler the backend is, the better suited a CMS will be to those who don’t know how to completely code a website for themselves. This is important if you are designing websites for consumers who don’t know much about web design. The easier the backend is for them to maneuver, the fewer calls of frustration the designer will receive after the product is in the hands of the client.

#3: The CMS should offer templates that are relatively easy to modify.

The great thing about designing a CMS website is the ability to easily modify templates to come out with the perfect website for a given client. You should be able to take a template and make changes so it matches what you want your site to be or what a client wants their site to be. If the modification is too difficult or not possible, then the CMS fails to live up to its main purpose.

#4: A great CMS will allow easy manipulation of extensions to extend the functionality of the CMS website.

If you can’t add extensions, you can’t get the most out of your CMS website. The best content management systems will make it easy to work with extensions so you can create the perfect website with any template.

#5: There should be some form of community or support service where help in the design process can be found.

Finally, make sure the content management system you select has some type of support where you can ask questions and get the opinions of others familiar with the system. This rules out some very small or new content management systems that are still in the developing stages, but it might also rule out some of the bigger guys that don’t necessarily have valuable support communities.

All of these marks identify content management systems that are easy to use. That is essentially the purpose of creating a CMS website. They are just easier to use and much faster to work with than a website designed on basic HTML code.

So Just What is Affiliate Marketing?

I had a conversation with a friend today about a new web site that we're planning for him. I brought up the subject of "Affiliate Marketing" and suggested that we incorporated that into his new site.

His response was familiar, as I find that most people do not really understand what affiliate marketing is and how it can add revenue to your bottom line. Here is this article to try and shed a little light on the subject.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing, simply put, is when you Sell Other People's Stuff (SOPS). This can really be as simple as making a recommendation on your web site and getting rewarded for it.

Now, word-of-mouth-marketing has been around forever. Think about how many times you go to see a good movie or eat at a great new restaurant and then tell your friends about it. This is all great and happens everyday. Unfortunately in most cases, however, there is no easy way for that movie theater, restaurant, (or any other brick and mortar business) to track your referral and reward you for it. Would not it be great if they could, and they would send you some money for every referral you sent them ??

Affiliate Marketing works in an online world because technology allows the online merchant to track the referrals that you send to their web site through a special link, and if that referral purchases something … the merchant can then compensate you for the referral.

Let's take Amazon.com as an example. Obviously Amazon.com sells a lot of things, so a lot of different types of companies could benefit from their selection. You can sign up for their affiliate program (Amazon calls it Associates Program). Once you sign up, their system allows you to create special links to specific products on their site or groups of products. This special link has your affiliate ID in it – so it knows who is sending them business.

You can then take that link and put it somewhere on your web site. It can be part of a product review, it could have been embedded in a blog post, or it could have been a banner too. Lots of options.

If someone clicks on that special link and purchases a product from Amazon.com – you get referral credit and they pay you a commission. You simply provided the recommendation and the link – and Amazon took the order, ships the product and handles all the customer service. How cool is that?

There are thousands of merchants who have affiliate programs. Usually you look for a link called Affliate Program or something along those lines. You do not even have to have a web site to participate in some affiliate programs. You can send out your special affiliate link in an email newsletter or post it on your social networking sites or use a Pay per click campaign. Again, the link contains all the information the online merchant needs to track your referrals and pay you if your referral makes a purchase.

Why am I a believer in Affiliate Marketing?

Because I've seen it can be a very important part of a company's revenue stream – on both ends of the spectrum. I've built ecommerce businesses using Affiliate Marketing as the main marketing tool, and I also currently receive a nice portion of my revenue every month from promoting other people's stuff.

So here's how to get started;

* identify merchants that have affiliate marketing programs and products within your industry and sign up for their programs. Continuity programs are great too (like our membership training program) – where you get paid every month for referring someone.

* you can also join affiliate networks such as Linkshare.com or Commission Junction, or clickbank.com. These networks represent hundreds of merchants in one place, so it is easier to join programs and manage links.

* setup a website so you have somewhere to put product reviews and of course the special links (recommended, but not always necessary).

* create the links to specific products or sites using the merchants affiliate marketing tools.

* Place these links on your website, in your email newsletter, on your social networking sites, etc.

* Do not spam, especially on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. I've seen people post their same affiliate link on their Twitter profile 10-15 times in a row – to the point of making you want to unfollow them in a hurry. Instead, add value in other ways, be part of the community, and every once in a while post an affiliate link.

Understanding Residential and Consumer Mailing Lists for Better Business Promotion

Consumer mailing lists play very significant role in e- Commerce expansion. The consumer list is the database or information of potential customers. With the targeted demographics, the consumer lists offer personalized services and information to various businessmen who could use some expansion. Most of businesses which are in start-up phase or stopped growing due to the lack of customers or blindfold marketing, can utilize the benefits of these lists. They can send e-mailers, promotional materials and catalogs to them but to make the most of these lists it very important that marketers and businessmen understand the value of mailing list selection.

Mailing lists are of two types: consumer mailing and residential mailing lists. The later is also referred to as saturation or occupant lists. The residential list is bulk list of postal addresses. It contains the addresses of residents completely qualified from the US post office. This data is updated on monthly basis. Based on these address lists, you can pull certain statistics and information on potential customers such as average income, lifestyle and the other eligibility criteria. For instance, you would not like to offer high-end furniture to a person who is living in one room apartment. Every deliverable of this list can help you reach every mail box and communicate your business. If you are running a restaurant or coffee shop, want to promote a religious program for church, this address based residential list is for you.

You can contact many compilers to get these lists. You can find them online as well. The residential mailing list is very cost effective. You can also ask your compiler to provide you a saturation list to reduce the charges further. It implies that majority of the addresses (about 90 percent or more) come from the same route. It should also be in a walk sequence which means the addresses are within walking distance for the US postal service delivery. Both inexpensive and easy, the address lists compilation can save a lot of money for your business.

Although, the residential lists are not fit for the businesses which are looking for more targeted and aggressive market approach. They prefer consumer mailing lists for more accurate information on the customers. Compiled from various sources such as telephone directories, credit cards, mail responders and other records, the consumer list is expensive but a sure-shot guarantee of increasing results, revenue and sales.