Email Marketing With SEO

Image of computer and smart phone featuring the blog topic "email marketing".

Email marketing can be one of the best or worst techniques. Properly done, it engages, informs, entertains, and helps prospects move forward in their buying journey. 

However, when it’s poorly done, you get deleted, unsubscribed, or worse—reported as spam.  

The key is to get the right message to the right person in the proper framework.

The over-messenger

As a marketer, I frequently sign up to learn more about a company. It’s a great way to build a swipe file and tells you a lot about the business. 

I did this recently to help my disabled sister find a phone that would be easy to use. She needed a large screen, bigger buttons than a clamshell, and simple smartphone functions.

The emails descended like an avalanche.

“Sale!  We’re having a sale!”   

“Sale! We’re having a sale now through Friday!”

I wanted to know she’d have good support.

“Sale, sale…only 18 hours left!”

This was followed 15 minutes later by…

“Check our great sale and save a bonus of 25% off today only, plus up to $800 trade-in on your current phone.”

Really?

Her existing phone was seven years old. It’s an inexpensive clamshell with no camera, just the basics.  She’d probably have to pay them to take it.

“Call our easy support number and schedule to pick up your phone before it’s too late!”

Okay, I succumbed.  Maybe I’d be able to get answers if I called.  

“Hello, welcome to XXXX! We’re experiencing higher than normal call volume.  Please hold. Our next customer support person will be right with you.”  Click, pause—the voice comes back on the line; “Your support specialist will be with you in 48 minutes.”

I hung up. It was the wrong message to the wrong person at the wrong time.

Mixed business messages undermine your credibility

When your business messages tell customers conflicting things, it has a substantial negative impact on your credibility.  As a business person, consumer and marketer, I’ve seen this regularly.  

In the scenario above, I wasn’t looking for a sale. I was still in the first buying stage – information gathering. That meant  they sent the wrong message at the wrong time. When this happens, the shopper gets confused, frustrated, and disconnects. 

There is art and science behind quality emails that get results. The art is creating a great message. The science is selecting the proper recipients, testing headline responses, and using google analytics or the like to monitor your outcomes. It’s also about employing the best SEO practices to maximize effectiveness.

Don’t overlook this email marketing secret.

Emails aren’t that different from some other aspects of a business. For example, if you have a meeting planned, its success is its purpose.  If there isn’t a reason, then there shouldn’t be a meeting.

The same is true for emails. What is its purpose? Why is it being sent?  Answer those, and you know who should and shouldn’t receive it.

Three considerations to maximize email marketing

There are three core considerations to maximizing your email marketing. 

  1. Identifying intent and segmenting your audience, This gets the right message to the right person.  
  2. Have enough email content diversity available so you can cover all possible scenarios.
  3. Incorporate SEO concepts to make sure both your recipient humans and search engine bots are happy with what they get.

Message Intent and recipient

Segment both message content and recipients according to buying stages. Segmentation is the way to get the right messages to the correct recipient.

The messages I received were sent to an entire list so I didn’t get the information that I was looking for. Your email software and tech team should handle list segmentation for you.

The buying process starts by providing information. When the shopper changes search questions to using the word compare, they have moved to the next level.  Comparisons help you you share why your brand choice is absolutely the best one. Only then are they ready to move into the buying phase.

There is one additional phase that many businesses miss—but where successful ones focus. It’s called success.Tips or information to maximize their success with your product. 

The more successful you can help them be, the more bonded they become with your business. Buyers in the success stage are more open to upsells and cross-sells that enhance the user experience.

The success step is your opportunity to turn a one-time buyer into a repeat buyer. Someone who is a fan that shares and recommends you to others.

Emails should cover all potential scenarios.

The most successful businesses have templates or drafts of emails that cover a wide range of scenarios.  Then the sales team can quickly tweak them for the specific situation. 

The messages need to be intent specific and cover the topic being searched.

The results are dramatically higher using sales-enabled emails over individually created ones.  More uniformity of message and written by a specialist. 

Marketing departments focus on brand awareness and generating leads, especially in B2B. It’s the sales department that handles sending prospect emails.

Emails need to cover topics from initial responses to providing more information.  They need to be segmented by each step of the buying journey. Then tailored to the individual sales funnel. 

With an arsenal of the right quality and topic emails, sales staff can achieve higher sales success more quickly and efficiently.

Incorporate SEO 

The biggest secret to SEO success is quality content that answers the question the visitor is seeking.  The content must stay focused on the topic, i.e. the answer matches the reason the reader reached out. 

The intent or question answered is generally the keyword.

Including appropriate links supports the viewer’s experience. Internal links to other articles/blogs provide additional information relating to the question asked, or the next question that may be raised. 

Internal links guide the viewer toward the logical next step. Information, compare, buy, and success.

You may also find these articles of interest:

SEO Content is Core to Success

Is this #1 Thing Hurting Your Email Marketing

Quality Content Grows Sales 300% Faster


Judith Culp Pearson is an experienced SEO Content writer and marketer helping businesses improve their ROI and Customer Lifetime Value. If you’re looking to grow, engage more and build sales, you can message her via: Judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.

SEO Content is Core to Success

SEO Content is useful and relevant. It's written to answer search questions and help visitors.

Visitors use Google to find solutions many times a day. Search engines seek the answers. When a person enters a question, the search bot responds with answers they located. Search engines seek content that provides relevant, helpful answers to online questions. Quality SEO content is what Google wants.  

When you can’t find answers

I recently had to take on the challenges of helping an aging parent relocate. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t something she wanted. But the family, her doctors, and her rehabilitation facility all agreed that at 97, Assisted Living was essential for quality of life. 

After some serious research, I found a place about 20 minutes from my home that I felt suited her. She’s not the resort crowd. Instead, family is her core trigger.  Getting her relocated, I learned, was only step one.  Now I had to reconnect her with an entire team of doctors.

Most medical offices focus on existing patients. As a result, their websites don’t have much online information about what new patients they may accept. 

Google became my search buddy. “Doctors accepting new patients in city/state.”  

I quickly learned I had to look for entry dates. But, unfortunately, they were not something easily accessible. And if you did find information, there was no way to tell how old it was.  

The details of the information I needed were just NOT available online. So that left the old-fashioned method, phone calls.

After several, “Yes, we are accepting patients. But no, we aren’t accepting medicare patients,” I realized the problem was more complex.

The pandemic has left many doctors burned out. Many who had considered retirement did just that. If they weren’t happy with their location, they decided now was the time to take a break and look elsewhere.  

That left an elderly senior with significant health conditions 80 miles from her existing doctor. I needed to find someone—soon.

I tried one clinic, but she had two messed-up appointments. Both visits sent her home without being seen. That made it hard to trust them to provide quality care.

So, she is on a waiting list and dependent on a “walk-in” medical center for now.  If there is something better out there, Google doesn’t know about it—maybe the answers aren’t online.

Missing information is common 

In my experience as both a consumer and a content consultant, I frequently see where information is missing.  Have you ever noticed how many businesses don’t have their location above the fold?  Ever had to hunt for a way to ask questions?  

Maybe you wanted to do something, but Google only found limited options. For example, I needed to find a Citi bank branch so I could deposit a check. Unfortunately, there were lots of ATMs but no branches in my area. In addition, most ATMs did not clearly describe transactions handled.

We need to make sure websites can answer all the questions prospective visitors may ask Google. If we don’t, marketing efforts work under a handicap.  

We need to ensure our content is current, helpful, and answers all the potential Google questions to be effective and search engine optimized.

Don’t miss this tip

An adage says, “the winner is the company who can pay the most to reach their prospects.” However, that only works if the content provides what the searcher is after. And if the search engine can’t identify the answer, it doesn’t share it.

It’s essential to use SEO techniques in all content, whether you want to draw traffic organically or boost it with paid ads, including positioning.

3 techniques to enhance content with SEO

It’s paramount that we recognize the optimizing for SEO has changed dramatically over the past 15 years.  In the past, techniques were more manipulative, smoke and mirrors. Those techniques won’t work anymore.

Google and other search engines have evolved, and AI has become more sophisticated. So instead, focus on your goals, what your visitors are searching for, and is mobile-friendly.  In today’s world, users want their search to work equally well on all devices.

Identify your goals

It’s essential to know what your objectives are. For example, some businesses focus on Google rankings. Others prioritize increasing web traffic. A third group is looking for more leads and sales.  

If you don’t have clear objectives, it’s much harder to achieve them. So take time to clarify and prioritize what you want to accomplish with your marketing.

Identify searchers intent

It’s important to know what the person you’re trying to reach is thinking.

  • Who or what are they looking for?
  • What are their goals?  
  • Where do they want to go or what do they want to do?

We know they are searching.  The answer to discover is the intent behind the search.  Then we can make sure to include those answers in our content in a manner that will make the search engine act on it.

Be mobile-friendly

Smartphones have changed the way we get information.  Now we want answers no matter where we are or what type of device we happen to be using.  That makes it essential for every business to make sure their website is easily accessible.  

Good web hosts can make sure your pages load quickly and are friendly to phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.  

Blending these techniques with top-quality content that is fresh, relevant, and SEO optimized can maximize long-term organic growth and enhance paid advertising.

When I work with clients

We first identify their marketing goals. Then we evaluate their site for accomplishing them with SEO techniques. Finally, we look for issues with the technical and creative aspects of content that may impact SEO results. 

Need an SEO Audit?  Contact judith@jculpcreativecopy.com for a free mini-audit. Offer expires 9/27/2021.

Let’s Humanize Marketing

To humanize marketing is to connect person to person instead of business to business.  We buy from the people inside the business, not the business itself.
Connecting with other humans is key to successful marketing.

We get all caught up in categories. We get hung up on names like B2B and B2C. Instead, we need to focus on how to humanize marketing messages by speaking directly to our prospects. We need to write H2H.

Humanizing marketing is making it personal so readers connect with us more easily. When our prospects connect with our message, they identify with our brand and what we stand for.  That leads to increased sales and higher Customer Lifetime Value.

“I need help!”

I see posts in chat groups and get emails like this regularly.  Usually, the comment goes something like the one my friend Teri sent me.

I’ve got a new prospect in my niche, but they are B2B.  I’ve looked in all the training I’ve taken, but nothing really focuses on B2B.”

“So what can you tell me about the prospect?  How big is the company?”  

He’s a very committed eager business owner. So I want to be sure an offer him the best B2B approach.”

Ah-ha!  This scenario is a common issue where I see many people get confused.   

B2B defines as businesses that sell to other companies. Her prospect matches that.

However, most B2B courses are focused on manufacturing. They are often larger companies where a whole buying process exists, more like dealing with a committee than a person. Each stakeholder comes with different needs and views.

This buying process isn’t the scenario Teri is facing.  She’s not dealing with a committee. Teri’s dealing with a single person. It’s much easier to deal with one decision-maker. She needs to focus on her prospect’s target market and help him craft messages to reach them effectively. The tone of the message content will be the only shift from standard B2C writing.

In my writing and coaching, I’ve seen this a lot.

For over twenty years, I’ve dealt with a branch of my business that sells B2B. But like Teri’s prospect, we aren’t classical B2B manufacturers.  Instead, we deal with licensed professionals who buy our products to use in offering services to consumers. So technically, it’s B2B, but it is closer to B2C in the decision-making process, just like my friend’s situation.  

The writing tone to small business owners is less formal than classic B2B. Our audience mindset is a combination. They think both like a consumer and a business owner. It’s essential to their success as they have so much on the line. Instead, they want H2H communications.

What I shared with Teri is to quit worrying about the labels. Instead, focus on humanizing—writing human to human.  

Business success is dependent on engagement. Without engagement, we can’t connect with another human being—our message gets lost. Companies don’t sell to companies.  It’s the humans inside those companies connecting with other humans.  Marketers and writers need to focus on those humans.

Keep this secret in mind.

In the fast-paced world of marketing, there are lots of parameters to consider. First, it’s critical to get the right offer and message. Then you need to deliver it to the right person. We become obsessed with subject lines, graphics, and coming up with the latest and greatest.

I’d like to suggest hitting pause. Think about the individual you are trying to engage. What are their goals, needs and how can you help them.  Then talk to them—one human to another.  Humanize it.

An honest, person-to-person approach is the best marketing.

3 techniques to humanize

Humanizing your marketing is all about having a conversation with another person. There is NO generic feeling.  There should be NO sense the same message is going to a group or list.  

Instead, the focus is more like sharing information with a friend over coffee or a glass of wine. The tone reflects your audience, ranging from more casual to professional. I liken it to attending a conference and visiting with a colleague at the end of the day.  You are engaging one professional to another but in a very conversational way.

Humanize—Speak specifically to a person

Segment your audience, dividing groups to speak to them in a more specific way. Grouping allows you to hone into their interests, concerns, and needs. Segmenting makes your message more targeted, engaging and improves ROI.  

Sometimes segmenting may seem a little elusive. That’s because most B2B businesses attract diversity in prospects, even if they employ targeted marketing.  Segment them based on the company’s size, differences in what they offer/need, or the different pathways they found you.  These pathways may impact their level of awareness about your business.  

Segmenting by the level of awareness is a primary technique to share the message in the proper order and intensity. First, categorize your segments for your particular audience. Then, use the targeted approach to enhance message engagement and ROI.

Talk conversationally

Post your photo. When readers see a person’s picture, it’s easier for them to connect. You want your business to be the people that make up the business.  If you have a team, you can showcase your team, their goals, successes, and even outside activities. 

You want communications that come across as authentic, honest, and genuine. Share your story, how and why you built this business.  Maybe you were your ideal client. Now you’ve overcome a health, weight, or fitness challenge. Those stories let your prospects see hope and a chance for themselves. 

In today’s world, prospective clients also want to know what a business stands for. So share your values and opinions. For example, let them know how you give back, support the community, and help protect the planet.  

Be a giver

I learned this from one of the most engaging marketers I’ve ever listened to, Brian Kurtz. Author of “Overdeliver” and founder of Titans Marketing, he excels at giving prospects and clients more than they expect.  

Like all the presenters at this conference, he finished with an offer.  Buy the “offer,” and he included a collection of  “extra bonuses” that were mind-boggling. His sales rate was astronomical. Why? It was too good a deal to pass up.

Have I gone through all of the bonus segments? No, but I got great value from an excellent investment. (You want your prospect to respond the same way.)

If you want to connect with your target audience, be like Brian. Be a giver. Give them so much extra value that any other choice looks crazy.  You may not be the cheapest out there, but if what you offer is five-ten times the price in value, you will get their attention. You have become a unique and no-brainer decision.

The bonus value doesn’t mean the offer requires a slashed sale price.

There are many ways to offer a bonus or extra value. For example, consider a free report, checklists, guides, infographics, podcasts, or a recording from a live event. Amaze them with the extra value you include and a moderate-priced offer. In addition to a sale, you get their contact information. This pure gold allows you to add them to your list/funnels.

Focus on what will appeal to your prospective client. Then when you write for those clients, do the same thing for their target audience. Help them be a giver so they can reap the rewards that extend far beyond an initial sale.  


Judith Culp Pearson is a freelance copywriter marketer. She specializes in helping businesses build relationships that result in loyal customers with high customer lifetime value. Contact: judith@jculpcreativecopy.com or schedule a call here:

B2B Buyers Want B2C Shopping in 2021!

B2B buyers now want shopping to reflect that of their B2C experience. The lines are blurring.
B2B shoppers want B2C experiences

The face of marketing to B2B buyers is rapidly changing, and there is a lot of somewhat confusing information out there.  After sifting through mountains of information, I found three keys B2B buyers desire when looking for a solution.

In one sentence—B2B buyers want their experience to mirror their B2C personal shopping experiences.

My own experience as a B2B buyer

One of the hats I’ve worn was as the buyer for the B2B division of my company. As a distributor, we purchased from the manufacturer and sold to professionals who used the product in their retail businesses.

The twist is that I also handled customer service. So I felt keenly aware of our customer’s pain points and needs. I wasn’t randomly shopping for new items to add to our professional collection.  I was only open to things that could seamlessly integrate into our B2B buyer’s needs.  

Regularly, I got pitches from all sorts of companies who thought they had the hottest item on the market.  Many were duplicates of what we already carried.  Others were selling items unrelated to our niche. A third group sold devices only legal for medical professionals to purchase—less than 5% of our buyers.

Many were non-US-based firms wanting us to import their items. They’d gotten our contact information from who knew where and were mass marketing.  It was immediately clear from the pitch email the sender knew nothing about our business.  

  • I didn’t know the email sender. 
  • Their spam approach screamed at me. 
  • There had been no attempts to build trust. 

It felt like a guy trying to get you to jump into bed at the first meeting. Ick. Turn and sprint away.

The companies I built relationships with were for the long term.  We wanted products that our buyers could trust would be there and always meet specific performance standards.  They were companies we learned we could depend on.  

Trust was a huge factor.  Support and accessibility to information, quick customer support, and a willingness to work with us to resolve any challenges. 

We’ve done business with one of these firms for well over 20 years. It’s not something the buyer thinks of, but I can’t even guesstimate the CLV of our monthly purchases over that time frame. 

B2B Buyers and Marketers have a lot in common.

With years as both a marketer and a B2B buyer, I’ve noticed the two have a lot in common. Both are putting their business, reputations, and jobs on the line with every purchase they make.

Both buyers and marketers are deluged with proposals and pitches. They both have to sort through masses of emails to identify any nugget that might be of real benefit to their business situation.

Recognizing those experiences and the similarities have helped me help my marketing clients. We build the relationship as team partners to discover solutions and create a strong ROI. Perfectly done with a successful marketing campaign or project, it’s a win-win for both.  

Here’s a secret to keep in mind…

Stakeholders view things differently—it’s vital to recognize that each person with a stake in the decision views the process a little differently. They come at it from different departments, different needs, and even different goals. As a result, their risk factors may be higher, and decisions more complex. 

They may need different types of answers. Communications need to help each person feel comfortable with the decision. 

We need to keep in mind, each stakeholder probably feels their reputation and job is on the line. It’s not about our marketing. It’s about their comfort zone. So focus on answering their needs with relevant information, including the know, like, and trust factors. Easily accessible information and answers are the best paths to help them decide to buy.

3 key ways to help your B2B buyer

When we focus on the B2B buyer’s needs, it is all about quickly and efficiently helping them find what they need.  Depending on the type of B2B that you work with, this can be very complex. 

The higher the ticket price, the more information, details, and data are needed to support the decision—and the more people will be involved. It’s a longer, more complex process with higher stakes.

Content – useable, findable, relevant

Buyers need detailed information designed for quick, easy consumption.  They may or may not be the technician or engineer working with a complex piece of equipment.  However, they may be responsible for identifying possible solutions and then sharing them for input before making a decision.  

Keep in mind B2B buyers want content as quickly readable as when they do their B2C shopping. So make layout and content designed for easy reading and rapid assimilation.  Include whitespace, supporting graphics, and bulleted lists.

Offer cross-links and “also relevant” links to help them find additional information.

Be sensitive to what’s happening in the real world.  We’ve been through a lot of turmoil in the last 18 months. Now things with a twang of nostalgia offer comfort and a sense of security.  However, include nostalgia only if it fits and makes sense.  

Be interactive

B2B buyers are looking for instant information. They don’t want to send an email and wait a week for an answer.  The best interaction helps them quickly find what they need, now.

AI, chatbots, and the like can fill in an interactive gap.  Of course, the better they interact and offer more specific answers, the more valuable they become.

Include all the frequently asked questions your customer service team hears.  The more you include, the happier the buyer will be.  

Analyze surveys or questions that have come up on social media. These offer tidbits of information the buyer needs. 

Make the interaction smooth. Create a feeling of ease that includes transfers across support services. In addition, increased seamlessness increases the buyer satisfaction rate.

Retention saves B2B relationships and dollars.

Having a great experience and a trusting relationship make the buyer’s next purchasing decision more straightforward. If there is plenty of retention-focused TLC, you become their trusted resource.

Trust is imperative to keep the buyer coming back. Help them feel valued, respected and that you are there as a team partner to solve problems. 

The results?  A higher customer lifetime value and wins for both buyers and marketers.


Judith Culp Pearson is a result-oriented relationship-building and empathy-based marketer specializing in B2B wellness and information. Reach her at judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.

Is Your Website Dated?

Slow, sluggish websites are dated and costing you money

Your business is constantly evolving. If you don’t keep your website on pace with those changes, it leaves customers in the dark—or even misinforms them. Your website is dated.

Your website is not a static brochure. Instead, it is a living document reflecting your business and how you interact with visitors and customers.

Current relevant information?

One of my colleagues has a service-based business in the beauty/spa niche. She has always been super focused on keeping her clients safe and protected before and during the pandemic. I know she has worked hard to exceed every recommendation by the state health department.

Recently, she completed a major expansion, so I visited her website to see what changes she might have implemented.  

I was more than a little stunned to find absolutely nothing about safety precautions on her website. 

Some services include breaking the skin barrier as in skin pigmentation (aka permanent cosmetics or tattooing.) Yet, there was nothing about current policies, extra disinfecting steps, or protocols to keep staff and customers safe. 

Unfortunately, it came across that they either don’t think there are any concerns or that they aren’t doing anything.

A key attribute of what makes her Unique is entirely missing. Despite what I knew, it made me pause to consider how I would feel about going into the business. There were no confidence builders—trust factors. Her website is dated.

Dated website or missing information will cost you $$$

I’ve seen this with many businesses I’ve worked with over the years.  A company creates a website, and then the focus shifts away from it.  The website stops getting attention. It’s no longer a daily, weekly, monthly maintenance component, like ordering supplies or doing a social media post.  

When a website sits static or doesn’t have what viewers are looking for, search engines start skipping it. Lack of activity, updates, or revisions and it starts to disappear. 

A sluggish, slow, dated website discourages visitors, and your business can enter a downward spiral.  

Consider all the components behind the scenes and those that are visitor-facing.  What can you delegate? What do you have time and the skillsets to handle yourself? 

I know I’ll never keep up with daily or weekly behind-the-scenes tasks. I want my web host to handle those. Backups, system and component updates, performance checks

Remember that poor performance, slow-loading images, and dated or missing information each carry a price tag. You may have to pay for it to be there. You will also pay for it not being there.

Consider what concerns your visitors and customers may have specific to your business niche. For example, for restaurants and services, it may be health and safety. 

For others like suppliers, vendors, or manufacturers, it may be product availability.  

Guidelines keep changing and will continue to do so. So we must continue to address these issues and make sure the most up-to-date information is readily available without them having to ask.

Secret:

Nothing happens until it makes your calendar. So the easiest way to keep your website on target is to add web checks and updates to your task calendar. 

I note on my calendar tasks that I need to do and how frequently they need action. For the delegated tasks, you do need to periodically spot-check their completion.  

Consider things like: 

  • Images tagged with alternative descriptions
  • Images optimized for quick loading
  • Videos optimized for loading speed and performance
  • Broken links repaired
  • Backlinks and cross-links to optimize SEO

Treat web updates and optimization with equal importance to any other aspect of your marketing.

Three techniques to improve content

Confidence building pages

There are three vital confidence-building pages—the about you page, the spam protection page, and the privacy page.  

The About page tells your visitors how you help them.  So often, this is misunderstood and turns into a blurb all about the company. It accomplishes much more if it focuses on how the company serves and benefits the visitor and customer.

Your spam protection page shares how you protect visitors from spam and establishes use policies.  Similarly, the privacy page shares how you maintain customer privacy and protect their personal information. 

Some companies share or rent list information. Other businesses set themselves apart by never sharing list data with any outside marketers.

What changes can you share?

People love updates and being in the know of changes and happenings.  When we feel like an insider, we feel like part of a team, a tribe. It enhances our feelings of status, importance, and inclusivity.

  • Share what’s new, exciting, and changing. For example, will you offer live or virtual events, a podcast, a report, or feature a new product?
  • Staff stories are great to share. Include your team member’s achievements and accomplishments. 
  • Share how a new or favorite product or service developed and evolved to offer enhanced value and benefit to the customers. 
  • Today’s customers want to know how you protect your community, staff, and the environment. Share your values and how you give back to impact purchases and loyalty.
  • Don’t forget customer successes. Real people’s stories have the strongest impact on buying decisions. They allow the viewer to see their problem solved and offer hope.

Testimonials are a bonus to every page,

It used to be that testimonials had a dedicated page. Now we’ve learned they can play a significant role and help viewers along their shopping journey when included on every page as appropriate.

For inspiration, check out Amazon. Most buyers don’t just read the product description. They also click on the reviews and see what people have to say—positive and negative. Don’t be afraid to have a weakness or a less a five-star comment. 

Less than stellar reviews are opportunities.  You can learn from them and improve your product. Resolving questions or problems helps the person who puts forth the issue and those considering a purchase.

Reviews and testimonials are a super valuable resource for any business. Free, unsolicited feedback to help you grow your business.  

When I work with clients,

I always do a quick website analysis to identify what might be slowing down—anything from how it operates or creates bumps for the viewer. I help them create a tracking calendar to stay on top of both backside front-facing issues. And I help them continually add new, relevant, and useful value content for their target audience.  www.jculpcreativecopy.com.

Digital Sharecropping Risky Business?

Social media marketing is like sharecropping and the game of monopoly. You land on real estate you don't own and you have to pay rent.
Social Media Marketing reminds me of playing Monopoly™.

Familiar with the term Digital Sharecropping? It’s a phenomenon that most people don’t understand. An SEO guru colleague, Heather Lloyd-Martin shared a newsletter email regarding it and got me taking another look.

Digital sharecropping refers to social media channels and how people and businesses interact with them. The earliest concerns about it date back to 2006. 

The term derives from the sharecropping, (aka feudalism) that happened after the end of the US Civil War. People had no money so paid to use a landlord’s property with a share of their crops. They didn’t own the land or even the tools they used. 

In the game of Monopoly™, when you land on a property that is owned, you have to pay rent just like sharecroppers did.

It’s happening today—digitally. And it can be very risky for your business if you are dependent on it.

Social Media Digital Sharecropping

In the last few years, many businesses, especially B2C, have shifted their marketing to focus completely on social media. Some skip a website altogether, focusing instead on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Simple. Easy. Sweet.

What they don’t realize is they have no real control over what the social channel does. The channel owns the real estate. The channel is their landlord.

So they post lots to get more likes and more fans. They work hard to build a social empire of followers.

So what’s wrong with that?  It works great to stay in touch with friends. It’s been a way to stay connected during the pandemic.

However, did you know that once you post pictures the channel actually can now sell the images someplace else without your permission and without compensating you?  It’s in the fine print and it’s been this way for years.

Social was designed to be gathering spots, like the water cooler or watering hole. People visit, put up posts, and share for free. In exchange, the channel sells advertising to monetize users. It’s quite profitable, ask Mark Zuckerberg.   

However, what if you are a business owner? 

Matthew Inman, creator of Oatmeal comics got hit with the dark side of his social media empire. 

Inman’s had a website for years where he publishes Oatmeal comics. But to make it easy to stay connected with followers he shifted to build a huge following on Facebook and Instagram. People love his posts. 

According to a recent The Oatmeal Instagram post, Facebook has decided if Inman wants to reach more than a fraction of his followers, he needs to pay them $2000 PER POST. And this is content he’s putting up free for his nearly four million followers. 

In his Instagram post, he explained the situation and invited people to sign up for his newsletter where they can be guaranteed the full dose of his comic goodness.

He’s also started only sharing part of “something too big for Instagram”, or Facebook, and sending the reader to his website to see the rest.

He is moving away from being dependent on social media. Inman has learned the risks of being a digital sharecropper. Now his focus is real estate he owns and controls. His website and e-newsletter where there are no middlemen charging fees.

Why is digital sharecropping important to understand?

With social media, the rules change with little notice. 

Paid posts, or rebuilding a following on a new channel, are expensive.

Inman worked for years to build his following. Then the rules changed. Without paying huge fees, only a tiny portion of his followers would see his posts.

You don’t want your business to be in Inman’s situation.

How would it impact your marketing if you had to pay for every post you put on your business page?

For your business to succeed long term, you need a plan to take control of your social marketing. 

I’ve discovered the ways to fight back and I’ll share them with you. 

First…

Here’s something most people don’t think of…

Where will you be if a different new social channel becomes the big buzz?  Think it won’t happen?  Where’s MySpace? Friendster? Google+? MySpace still exists, but it’s pretty lonely there. It went out of favor.

And a recent Social America report shared that for Gen Z and millennials, Facebook has lost favor. Instead, they are using Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. And this will change again, it’s inevitable. 

Every social empire you build is only temporary. So if you want to depend on social, get prepared for changes and having to rebuild.

3 ways to offset digital sharecropping

When I work with clients we use social media as part of the mix, but we focus on things they have 100% control over.  We focus on enhancing their website, connecting with emails and newsletters, and building a reputation for offering value.

Website

Your website is something you have complete control over.  Wherever you market, drive the traffic to your website. Make it the hub of your marketing efforts. 

Start a post on social and send them to the website to see the rest. Share a new product or service and direct them to your website to learn more. 

Invite visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. You can increase the number of signups by offering something useful or of value as a reward for subscribing. 

Send them emails with links to information or products on the website. 

Direct mail pieces have gained favor since there is a lot more in our inboxes than in our mailboxes. What you send is more apt to be seen. Use mail as another way to bring people to your website. Drive them to a special report, service, or offer.

Assure your website offers a positive experience and is easy to navigate. 

Contact information needs to be easy to find, preferably on every page so the visitor doesn’t have to hunt.  


People have become more skeptical. Use transparency to boost trust. Consider putting a contact number in a narrow banner at the very top of each page. It’s validation you are a sound trustworthy business. They may never call, but it makes you seem safer than a business without it.

Newsletters and emails

Using email to connect and share is one of the best investments in your marketing mix.  They come from you. 

Whether a short post or a newsletter, they can be informational, educational, and entertaining. They can also drive clients back to your website. Introduce an article or blog with a link to where the complete story resides on your website.  

Email communications are a great place to share more about your team, your brand story, and your products or services. Share your uniqueness, your visions, and your social conscience.

Emails are bond builders.  People love to be part of a group or a tribe.  Your emails and newsletter are exclusive for your subscribers—a place they can hear your news before the rest of the world does.

The right emails nurture new buyers. They help them have the best experience with their purchase as well as get to know you as a brand.

According to a recent study by SubjectLine.com, emails that promote a one-day offer get 21% higher opens than if you just announce a sale.  Words like “today only,” or “one day sale,” get attention and people don’t want to miss out. They create a sense of urgency and exclusivity.

Value reputation

Use content as a way to share and display valuable information you put out.  Content that’s fresh, relevant, useful, and focused on your target audience’s interests and concerns. 

Avoid any techniques or content that seems spammy or pushy/dodgy. 

Your value content is the reputation your business earns. Quality and value are the keys to attracting and keeping your ideal customers.

So where does that leave social?  Social channels are useful tools to support your website…the real estate you own. Use social as a part of your marketing mix. Mix is the keyword. You are using but not depending on channels that you have no real control over.


Judith Culp Pearson is a digital content marketer helping businesses gain and retain customers for a higher lifetime value. Result-oriented relationship building and empathy-based marketing. Reach her at judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.