As you’ve probably noticed, there’s a link on the left of the main site pages that says “AdWords Qualified Individual”.  Yes, I’ve been certified by Google as AdWords Qualified.  So what does it mean?

Well, in order to get that fancy logo, it’s more than just a cut and paste of the image.  In actuality, if I did that and Google found out about it, I’d be in very big trouble.  Legal ramifications, I’m guessing.  But I had to earn it before I could put that logo up.  How do you go about earning your own fancy logo, to put where you would like?

The first step is to set up an AdWords “My Client Center”.  This is basically a super-user level in AdWords; it allows you to have multiple AdWords accounts underneath, run by separate entities.  What this means for me is that I can have my clients’ accounts set up either by them or myself, and then I can manage each one, while they are still in complete control of their account.  As an AdWords Client Manager, you have full access over the client’s account, to optimize to your (and their) heart’s content.  Don’t break any of Google’s rules, and you’ve completed step one.

Once this is set up, you then need to have at least one client (can be yourself) in your account and manage it for a minimum of 90 days.  During these 90 days you have to build and maintain at least $1000 total ad expense for your whole My Client Center account.

Now all of this establishes that you actually have some experience with AdWords, but it’s a little more than that.  The final step is to pass the Google Advertising Professional Exam.  And this isn’t exactly super easy – it takes about an hour and a half, and has over 100 questions in it.  To pass, you have to get at least 75%.  Plus it’s $50 for each try.  I’ll tell you now – if you don’t have a lot of experience with AdWords, it’s worth your time to study a bit before trying to pass this exam.

After all that’s been done and taken care of, you’re Qualified!  Then, as long as you maintain the requirements, you can stay that way.  The nice thing is that at this point, you can use their logo on your site (as long as you say specifically how many people are qualified), and you can use it to some degree on marketing products, including business cards.  That, and Google will set up a nice page for you, so you can show off your achievement.

I realize not everyone loves playing with AdWords as much as I do, but if it’s something you really like – I’d recommend aiming to get Qualified.  It’s a very good achievement to have, especially if you want to do pay per click advertising as a service.

So what exactly is email marketing?  Well, this is a broad term that can cover a lot of material, but the basic idea of email marketing consists a method of internet marketing using a list of email addresses.

Bad email marketing is what everyone knows (and despises): spam.  This is mail that is untargeted, sent out to every email address acquired, and not always from a specific location.  Some people sell email addresses to companies who use the addresses for this purpose.  And a lot of it is sent.  More than most realize – in June of 2007, the estimated amount of spam per day was just under 100 billion messages.  That’s a lot of spam.

Why so much spam?  Because a percent of it actually converts.  Maybe not you and me, but there are people out there who see something in their spam and decide they need to buy that product.  And since the cost of spam is essentially null, the ROI is more than enough excuse to send out millions (or billions) of emails a day.

So yes, that’s BAD email marketing.  What’s good email marketing?  Good email marketing is having a highly targeted market and offering quality information through email to individuals in this market.  For example, if I had a dog food site, I might offer important information about which dog foods cause health issues in dogs, for anyone who joins my email list.

This is targeted email – the people who sign up actually WANT to receive information from me, and are happy when I give them quality information.  To do email marketing well means you should send out good information.

A lot of internet marketers use email lists as a means to sell.  While this can work, if this is the only thing they use their list for, it can turn away many customers.  If you do this, in the eyes of some people on your list, you’re becoming more like spam.  To avoid this, quality information that is FREE should be offered moderately frequently.  Consider it – if you sign up for a list, you’re not getting in because you want to be sold things, correct?  You sign up because you want information.  So give your list information!  Good information, if you want to be seen as an authoritative source.  Then, when/if you choose to market a product of some kind, they will be more open to this, as you’ve established a level of trust.

To do email marketing, one of the major techniques is by using what’s called an “autoresponder”.  This is a tool that allows several email addresses to be placed into a group, and each email can be sent individual messages, addressed to each individual (instead of an anonymous group).  In some cases, the individual’s name can be identified, to make the mails you send more friendly and personal.  The benefit is that once you’ve written your emails, they can be sent to all your list, as well as to anyone who joins your list.

With autoresponders, you can schedule each email to be sent out immediately (with a broadcast) or at set times, or you can have a number of emails that can be sent, spaced apart by a certain number of days.  So if I had five emails that I wanted sent to my list and all new list members, I could write these emails, set them to each be sent three days apart, and then not have to worry again.  When a new list member is added, they are sent the initial email, then the next three days later, and so on.

One of the best ways email marketing can be very effective is by setting up a relationship with your customers.  If you demonstrate that you truly know what you’re talking about, and that you’re just a normal person, a level of trust can be set.  From that point, it’s much easier to interact with your list members.

It’s been said that the best way to make a sale is through personal one-to-one interaction – using autoresponders comes very close doing this in an online way.  Treating your customers well will always make them value you as a merchant more than one who treats their customers just as numbers.

For me, I personally prefer using an autoresponder system called Aweber.  I’ve used them for several years, and they are a high quality system – they can handle several thousand members (if you have a list that large), but work just as well for smaller lists.  I recommend considering using email marketing for your business, if it’s applicable.  Usually there are ways you can establish a relationship with your customers doing this, and then you’ll have customers you’re happy with, as well as having customers who are happier with you.