Category Archives: reality check

Actual CPM per Broadcast Medium

This post is part question, part answer since I didn’t find much on google related to actual cpm per medium.

I’m curious what other business owners see for CPM; that is the advertising cost per thousand listeners / viewers / email recipients / eyeballs / etc.

Here’s my own experience…

Radio = $2 – $4 CPM

Radio has been my “seductive mistress” for the last 5 years.  She whispers messages of hope and the promise of “dedicated listeners who follow the host like a zombie army and buy everything he / she commands.”

I take the plunge into her bedroom once a year or so.  After the unique 800 number I’m spending $200/month on phone rings 20-ish times in a week — after 400,000 zombies with nothing better to do than listen to said host have supposedly heard my unbelievably well-crafted message — I tally up the stats.

About 40% of people buy the product.

20% ask for the price and hang up once they’ve heard it.

And the remaining 40% ask questions for 27 minutes, then ask us to mail them pricing and product brochures because they can’t afford an effing internet connection.

8 orders (40% of 20) at $100 an order is $800 in revenue.

Not profit, people…revenue.

You see, my employees get the idea somehow that I’m obligated to pay them to answer calls from said zombies.  And because I’m nice and I like them, I do.

  • Radio Cost Per Spot = The most expensive spot in radio is 60 seconds on The Rush Limbaugh show.  It’s about $14,000 for 60 seconds, host-voiced spot.  I don’t know the CPM off-hand, but he’s number 1 most-listened to radio host by a major landslide.  I’m typically offered around $500 – $700 for a 60 second.  But, if you get on a long-term contract and get bonus spots, I’ve had them as low as $23-ish.
  • Radio ROI = For me, it’s been in a range of .18 on the low-end to 1.8 on the high-end.  That’s measuring revenue, not profit.  So when I spend a dollar and get 18 cents in revenue in return, yes, I feel like Zach Galifinakis getting tazered in The Hangover.

Email (to 3rd Party Lists) CPM = $2 – $18

Email to 3rd Party Lists has been really good, and really REALLY bad.  What’s the difference?  If the list owner has a sizable audience of actual zombies that actually do what he recommends, then it works.  Any other message I’ve sent to any other audience has a negative ROI.

So basically, there is one list that works great for me, and all the others suck.

  • Cost Per Email = The one that works costs me $3,000 to have sent.  The ones that don’t work don’t matter.
  • Email ROI = As low as .05, as high as 4.25.

Print Media CPM = ??

I’ve done so little print media (magazines, journals, newspapers) that I really don’t know the number for this.

I did recently spent $3400 on a very targeted trade journal.  I negotiated from 1 ad for $3400 to 3 ads and a month long banner ad on their website for $3400.

But I don’t know if we had a single click from the banner or a phone call.  I haven’t checked our Google Analytics, and I didn’t use a unique 800 number in the ad.  I was too short on time to meet the deadline.  Shit happens.

Web Banner Ads = ??

I also have very little experience here.  Ever since I read about banner blindness, I just figured it probably wasn’t worth the effort.

However, I did negotiate a very strategic placement in a very relevant directory that is sort of like a banner ad.  They wanted $1500 for the full year, I got them to throw in $2000 worth of other “premium” stuff (which, let’s be honest, cost them nothing), so it seemed like a good deal.

And here’s the real kicker, since this directory has a very professional sounding name, I’m creating a logo to put on my website as a “3rd party trust icon / badge” saying, “Featured in Respected Buyers Guide Directory” to (hopefully) improve my own conversion rate.

Sneaky, eh?  😉

No Experience With…

I have zero experience in these areas. Newspaper Ads, White pages, Yellow pages…  Any one care to offer some numbers on

Phone accidentally turns on inside purse for 1 day in Israel, gets $1800 in roaming fees! Verizon forces payment. AYFKM?

Here’s what happened…  Rebecca went to Israel for 10 days in November 2010.  She wasn’t going to use her Verizon HTC Android phone while she was there, so it never occurred to her to call VZ and change her plan to an international roaming plan.

Well, of course her HTC Android turned on accidentally inside her purse and started downloading emails and such.  Unfortunately, Rebecca didn’t discover this for about 18 hours.  When she noticed it was on, she immediately turned it off and didn’t think anything of it because of course, she didn’t use the phone.  No harm, no foul, right?


When she got back home, her phone had been disabled.  So she called VZ and asked, “Why did you turn off my phone?”

They said, “Because you incurred $1800 of roaming fees last week in Israel.”

So Rebecca says, “Uhh…excuse me?  How is that possible?  I didn’t even use it.”

“But we show that you had wireless data roaming for about a day.”

“Oh my gosh…I know what happened.  My phone accidentally turned on inside of my purse.  When I saw it was on, I turned it off.  I didn’t make any calls or anything though.”

“Well, we’re showing that the charges are valid and you did incur data fees, so you owe us the money.”

“Wait a second…I DIDN’T, USE, THE, PHONE!  Do you see any outgoing calls?”


“Were there any incoming calls?”


“Do you see any outgoing text messages?”


“So obviously I’m not lying to you.  My phone turned on accidentally.  Can’t you just remove the charges?”

“We have to charge the account first, and then we can remove them for you.”


“Yes maam, to remove the charges we have to wait until the next billing cycle.”

“Ok, I’ll call you back when I get my next bill.  Thanks.”

Several weeks pass by and the phone bill arrives with the $1800 roaming charges.  Rebecca calls back and says, “Hi, I’ve got a dispute on some roaming charges that I need to take care of can you help me with that?”

“Sure, I’d be happy to assist you.  Let me pull up your account infor…oh my GOSH!!  Yes, I see.  Wow…that’s quite a large amount of roaming charges.  Let me see what I can do to take care of this for you.  Please hold.”

<Hold music…doo dee doo doo dee doo doo….about 5 minutes go by…>

“Ok, Rebecca, I am only going to be able to credit 25% of these roaming charges to your account.  So your new total will be $1,350.”

“Excuse me???  What are you talking about??  Why can you only remove 25%?  That ridiculous…I didn’t use the phone.  The stupid phone turned on and started doing stuff and I didn’t notice.”

“Well Rebecca, I see a note here that we attempted to call you while you were in Israel to tell you that your phone was on.  But your voicemail box was full.”

“Well, duh!  I wasn’t checking my voicemail because I DIDN’T WANT TO GET ROAMING CHARGES!  That makes sense, right??”

“Yes, I completely understand.”

“Well then, why can’t you reverse 100% of the charges?”

“Because I can’t.”

“Well, is there a supervisor I can speak with?”

“Yes, please hold and I’ll transfer you.”

<Hold music…doo dee doo doo dee doo doo….>

“Hi Rebecca, I see that you would like to have some roaming charges removed from your account?”

Rebecca explains the whole story again…

“Yes, I understand.  If you would have called us before you left, we could have changed your plan to an International Roaming and you wouldn’t have incurred these fees.”

“Well how much would that have been?”


“Uhh…can I sort of do a ‘time machine rental’ kinda thing and you can charge my account $69.95 now for those fees, and then wipe out the $1800?”

“No, I can’t do that.  But as a supervisor, I can credit your account 50% of the charges.  So you only owe $900.”

“ONLY $900???”

“Yes maam.”

“Put yourself in my shoes for a second…you can see why only paying $900 is still not an acceptable resolution to me, right?”

“Yes, I understand.  If Verizon was at fault, we could credit 100% of the roaming charges.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t intend on using my phone, so why would I have needed to call you?  And as a matter of fact, I stand by the statement THAT I DIDN’T USE THE PHONE.  IT SIMPLY TURNED ON AND STARTED GRABBING DATA!  And since you sold me an HTC Android with a push button power on the case, it is Verizon’s fault.”

“Yes, I completely understand………..”



“I’m just floored at the idea that because my phone turned on, I owe you $900.  But if I would have called just a day beforehand, it would have only been $30 more on my data plan.  So obviously, it’s not like it cost you $1800, right?”

“I’m not sure maam.”

“Well, tell me, why can you only refund 50%?  Is that some sort of arbitrary number in your computer screen that you can only plug in up to that?”

“It’s figured out on a case by case basis.”

“Can you do 51% off?”

“No maam, I can only credit 50% of the charges to your account.”

“Ok, let’s say this… what if my phone was on for 10 days and I racked up $18,000 in roaming fees?  Would you still be able to refund 50% of the amount??”

“It’s on a case by case basis.  I can’t tell you what would happen in that case, only this case.”

“And in this case, the most you can credit me is 50%, or $900, and I still owe you $900 for 1 day of roaming fees.”


“Tell me, do you have to pay $1800 to Tel Aviv Cellular or Hebrew Wireless to cover the cost?”

“I don’t know maam.”

“Well, it sounds like it costs $69.95 a month, or $1800 a day.  But there’s no way on God’s green earth that you are writing a check to Israel Mobile or whoever for $1800 or anything even remotely close to that amount, so what you’re charging me is pure profit!!!”


“Look, it’s this simple.  You can reverse 100% of the roaming charges and continue to bill me $100/month as a happy and relieved Verizon customer, or I’ll cancel my account and you can hound me forever and ever, spending hundred dollars with collection agencies trying to get your damn $1800.  Because this is just ridiculous.  I can’t believe you’re treating a customer this way because I didn’t think to call and change my plan just in case my phone turned on!  It’s OUTRAGEOUS!”

“I’m sorry maam, but there’s really nothing more I can do.”

“Well, is there any one else there I can speak to about this?”

“I can have my manager call you back, but he’s just going to tell you the same thing.”

“Well, I’d like to speak to him anyways and clearly voice my dispute.  I believe the facts are obviously on my side.  I’m not trying to squirm out of something.  In fact, I’m offering to pay you for the backed dated fees of switching my plan, but you’re not willing to do that and I just think it’s sad.”


As of Dec 30, 2010 4:36p MST, after speaking with Verizon Customer Service Supervisor Sheila, extension 1226, Rebecca’s dispute has not been resolved.  I still have hope that someone with a brain and a heart will mark the box that says, “Verizon’s Fault” and then the program will allow them to credit 100% of the fee to her.  When/if that happens, I’ll update this post.  But if this isn’t blatant overcharge and abuse, then I don’t know what is.


Btw, you too can submit your own story at

UPDATE: Based on the comment from Kathryn, Rebecca found Andres Irlando’s name on Verizon and emailed him the following polite, but firm email:

Dear Andres Irlando,

I sincerely hope you are willing to take the time to read this e-mail and come to the correct resolution, for a loyal customer who hopes to continue doing business with your company. However, after having dealt with the horrible customer service the past 2 months, it seems I am thought of as just a “number” at Verizon, instead of a loyal customer.

I have repeatedly called customer service to try and resolve roaming charges to my account while I was in Israel. $1,800 of roaming for one day.

I did not use my phone overseas. I took it with me to use at the US airports only. Customer service stated they can credit 50% of the charges. That is still $900!!

I am willing to pay the $69 it would have cost me for the International package, had I known I needed to call Verizon before I left the country. There is no lock button on my phone, and therefore it turned on, in my purse, un-benounced to me.

Your customer service team is unwilling to work with me in getting this resolved. As I said, I am more than willing to pay the $69 cost for the International Package. This is ludicrous that I have spent so much time trying to resolve the issue, only to hear your customer service team tell me “It isn’t our fault”.

To our shock, Mr. Irlando replied within a few hours saying, (paraphrased, since I didn’t get his permission to post his reply)…

“Thanks for bringing this to my attention.  My apologies for going through this.  I’ve forwarded to one of my people to review your account.  He’ll get back to you ASAP.  I can assure you, you’re more than just a number.”

And by the next day, the situation was resolved!  VZ removed the $1800 roaming fee and had her pay $69 to switch her account over…exactly what Rebecca had been offering to do the whole time!

It’s nice to know that there are real humans at Verizon who can look at a crazy set of circumstances and do right by the customer.

Unfortunately…the customer support supervisor should have been allowed to fix this instead of Rebecca going around them to reach Mr. Irlando.

Rebecca remains a faithful Verizon customer.  And she’s extra excited that VZ is getting the iPhone! 🙂

A Winning Content Strategy: Write Like An Idiot

I am good at many things, great at maybe one or two things, and horrible at the rest.

Well, let me rephrase that…I’m un-learned at the rest.  How do I know if I’m good, great, or horrible.

But all the books, blogs, etc. say you have to become an expert in a niche to have a successful blog, right?

Well I say it’s upside-down!

The Problem: Writing Like An Expert is REALLY Tough

My blog is allegedly about software and website usability and learn-ability, something I am great at.

But I almost never write about that.  Why?  Nuance causes massive writers block and I start writing like an “expert.”


The Solution: Write Like An Idiot

In helping start-up Ashley’s new real estate website, Scottsdale AZ Homes For Sale, I realized there was actually a lot of things I didn’t really know about internet marketing, SEO, PPC, etc.  And it just occurred to me one day, “Well, I’ll just write ‘How To’ posts as I go along since I know those get good link juice.”

Most People Are Idiots Un-Learned

Who cares if there are 500 different version of How To Buy a Domain Name. Not every single person has read all 500 articles.  In fact, it’s pretty much guaranteed that 99.9% of the population has never read a single one of them.  Which means 99.9% of the population might find my take on the subject useful.

Writing As I Learn

Writing about the topic as I’m learning about the topic has completely removed my writers block.  And I’m starting to see that these posts are some of my best work.  (As judged by me, the amount of comments, etc.)

I don’t even have to reach a conclusion, and yet I’m still providing value in the content.  (For example, see my work-in-progress review of thinkBIGsites from yesterday, or 5 Steps To SEO Domination from August.)

Research. Write. Publish. Repeat.

I research things well.  In fact, now that I think about it, I over-analyze everything.  Well, on second thought, not quite everything.  Probably 70%…no, 65%…well, hmm…let me export my posts to a spreadsheet and categorize them by on a keyword…

(You see what I’m talking about?!?!?!  I’m a menace to myself.)

Seriously though, just like so many other small business owners, I have to research a very wide variety of topics to get myself learn-ed.

But now, instead of researching until I’m an expert (which never really happens anyways), my content creation strategy is to write and publish while I’m still an idiot.

What’d you think?  Am I an idiot for suggesting this as a winning content strategy? And by that I mean, good for inbound links.


I am in the process of figuring out if organic search engine optimization program is worth $2K or $3K a month.

Maybe you are too.

I figure the best way to do this is to evaluate the work they did for one of their reference clients, Frank Key, who sells a colloidal silver product.  (This is good because it’s the same industry as my company, Jigsaw Health, working to optimize for magnesium supplements.)



(Images from The Secret To Internet Marketing That Actually Works pdf download.)

So…How Do You Check Inbound Links?

Links to your website with your keywords in the “anchor text” is what Google ranking is mostly based on.  Everyone gets that, right?  Ok good.

I needed to figure out how to check Frank’s inbound links.  Here’s what I did:

Step 1) Googled “How to check inbound links

Step 2) Got totally lost for like 2 hours.

Thus, Step 2 will be the subject of a future post called “How Do you Check Inbound Links?” because this was not nearly as easy as I wanted it to be would have imagined.

I couldn’t find a single service that reported inbound links grouped by unique domain.  They all just showed every page that linked to the target domain.

They were showing me millions of pine needles.  I wanted to see the trees.

Of the tools I tested out, Backlinkwatch seemed the best. (Found from this list of 10 Backlink Checking Tools.)  It found 1133 links.  Wow…sounds awesome!


Of course, what is confusing is that Yahoo!’s site explorer tool only showed 15 inbound links, and Google shows “about 29.”  WTF?  Don’t you just love data discrepancy?!?! Grrr…



Next Step: Reference Check

The sales rep at ThinkBIGsites I talked with this afternoon is going to let me talk to some reference clients.  I’ll share what I learn from them in a future post or an update to this post.  More to come…

What’s A Boy To Do?

Get high with a little help from my friends.  (Pun intended…like Gaylord Focker, I pass on grass. Always.)

Chase Granberry — of Authority Labs website tracker fame — recommended I check out SEOmoz, MajesticSEO, and SlingshotSEO.  I’ll take a look and report back.

Any other comments, please post them.  “I want to get high, so-o-o-o-o high.”  😉

UPDATE: May 18, 2011

I should have updated this post a year ago, but I just never got around to it.  In the past year, I’ve answered several personal emails asking, “So how did it turn out with ThinkBIGsites?  I’m thinking of using them, but wanted to get your opinion.”

Well, here’s the rest of the story that I wrote back to all of those who emailed me…

ThinkBigSites did get all 5 of my keywords on the first page, in the time that they expected to do it.  One keyword, “magnesium calcium supplement”, was up to 2nd place for a month.


But once I analyzed the traffic, there were only about 100 visits from that natural ranking, and only 1 converted into being a customer.

I’ve done more conversion optimization and multi-variant testing than the average bear, of that I can assure you.  In fact, I was a case study in Bryan Eisenberg’s Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer.

Did I have a conversion problem?  Yes.  And what this trial with ThinkBigSites made me realize — once again — is that “persuassive momentum” matters more to the conversion process than anything else.

What is persuasive momentum?

It’s the spark that started the fire, or the search.  What caused this person to search for “calcium magnesium supplements” in the first place?  A doctor.  A friend.  A newspaper article.  Etc.

As a premium priced product, Jigsaw Health doesn’t have a strong chance of getting the business of “generic term searchers”, unless they are in a “slow buying modality” of “humanistic or methodical.”

I reviewed this data with TBS and they agreed with me that it made sense to stop spending money.  So I did and we parted ways as friends.

Is First Place Worth It?

I didn’t find “paying to get to first place” to be a worthwhile strategy for Jigsaw Health.

In fact, trying to get and stay at #1 organically is no different than building a house on sand IMO.  (Here’s a few more thoughts on first place.)

Website Ranking Update

It’s good to have friends that care!  Chase Granberry, founder of Authority Labs — a snazzy tool to check website ranking VERY easily — emailed me this morning to say that my probiotic supplement experiment hit the charts today at #23.

Woot!!  And thanks Chase!!

PS – You can see from the screen shot that he’s been tracking our progress on the magnesium supplement experiment as well.