And How You Can Get There Too
If you’ve been in the digital marketing world more than a day you will undoubtedly have heard about Copyblogger. The odds are pretty high you, like me, are getting email from them on a regular basis. As well you should since they are masters of producing quality content on a consistent basis. Recently, to my surprise, I discovered them sneaking into my inbox again, but this email was NOT from copyblogger.com.
Let me tell you how they found their way in…and how you can do it too.
First, a little history.
What they taught us
Copyblogger is king of email marketing. They have been teaching us for years about creating content to attract audiences and writing subject lines that get emails opened. They’ve shown us how to provide opportunities for readers to subscribe to an email list in exchange for giving something of value for free. Last but not least they’ve taught us how to write copy that converts.
Owning vs leasing
With the rising popularity of various social media platforms they have been advocates for not becoming digital sharecroppers. This is how Sonia Simone, Copyblogger Chief Content Officer, described it:
We have a great bookstore in my town — the kind of place you picture in your mind when you think of a great independent bookshop.
It’s perfect for browsing, with lots of comfy chairs to relax in. The books are displayed enticingly. There’s a little coffee shop so you can relax with an espresso. They get your favorite writers to come in for readings, so there’s always a sense of event and excitement.
They do everything right, and they’ve always had plenty of customers.
But they still closed their doors last year.
No, not for the reasons you might think. It wasn’t Amazon that killed them, or the proliferation of free content on the web, or the crappy economy.
They closed the store because they were leasing their big, comfortable building … and when that lease ran out, their landlord tripled the rent.
Literally overnight, their business model quit working. Revenues simply wouldn’t exceed costs. A decision made by another party, one they had no control over, took a wonderful business and destroyed it.
And that’s precisely what you risk every day you make your business completely dependent on another company.
It might be Facebook. It might be eBay. It might be Google.
It’s called digital sharecropping, and it means you’re building your business on someone else’s land.
And it’s a recipe for heartbreak and failure.
Copyblogger believes in hosting content on your own website and building a community of readers. Not only believes it, they practice what they preach. Their blog is filled with posts that attracted 100s of comments.
The game gets interesting
In March 2014 Copyblogger decided to kill comments on their blog. This was immediately controversial. In part because they fostered such a strong community of readers who bought into their doctrine and aspired to be like them.
When the question was initially posed about removing comments even Simone admits her initial reaction was “Absolutely no.” She then goes on to list the reasons she changed her mind.
- Conversation has moved to a wider platform.
- Comments may not be the right place for all conversation.
- Spam is a real problem.
When platforms such as Facebook and Twitter became widely used the amount of comments on blogs began to decrease. There are outposts all over the Internet now where conversation is happening, whether you’re there or not. Taking advantage of that exposes your content to more people.
If you’re putting a lot of thought into a detailed response to a blog post wouldn’t you be better served if you published those ideas on your own blog, and just linked to the content you are writing about?
Managing spam comments on any blog is a chore that has to be dealt with. On a blog the size of Copyblogger it is a monumental task, even with the assistance of automated tools. Eliminating comments freed up that time to create even more content for the site.
Instead of asking you to comment at the end of a blog post the company began asking you to share your thoughts on Google+ and Twitter.
Sneaking their way in
Then came the announcement that a Copyblogger discussion group had been created on LinkedIn
I created group Copyblogger Discussion Group on Linkedin.: http://t.co/GppNI8ROqJ
— Jerod Morris (@JerodMorris) May 29, 2014
We saw Copyblogger quietly promoting it.
You’ve asked for more Copyblogger on LinkedIn … so here we are. Join the Copyblogger Discussion Group: http://t.co/HJwgPXO6JD
— Copyblogger (@copyblogger) December 20, 2014
In a text box at the end of blog posts they began encouraging conversation on LinkedIn.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a blog post from them in the near future extolling the virtues of LinkedIn.
You’ve got mail
In real estate the mantra is “Location, location, location.” In digital marketing there is no location more valuable than space in your inbox.
When you subscribe to a LinkedIn group, unless you consciously decide to unsubscribe from email notifications, you will start regularly getting emails from LinkedIn triggered by activity inside the group.
Since LinkedIn is most likely tied to your primary email account, not some junk account set up to catch all those emails you subscribed to but didn’t really want to read, Copyblogger is regularly getting to the top of your inbox and they never once hit the send button on their email list.
Also, as my friend Sha Menz pointed out, what’s the likelihood you’re going to unsubscribe from email notifications of a group you decided to join? Especially if you see activity going on in the group. If you unsubscribe you might miss something important.
This will make it successful
The key to Copyblogger’s success in this endeavor is their active participation in the discussion.
Jerod Morris, VP of Marketing at Copyblogger, is monitoring the group. He responds when someone posts a question, loops in other people from the Copyblogger team when needed, and initiates conversation.
This guarantees that LinkedIn emails about Copyblogger are showing up in your inbox on a regular basis. A digital marketer’s dream come true.
Why the shift in strategy?
Why, after advocating so strongly for being in ultimate control of your own content, have Copyblogger made this fundamental shift toward partial digital share cropping? The reality is that a business is not a business without customers. You can own half the land in West Texas, not gonna do you a damn bit of good if all your potential customers are in Dallas.
You can do the same
Copyblogger founder Brian Clark would probably tell you this was all well planned and the results were exactly as intended. I’m willing to bet, if the truth were known, there was more serendipity involved here than actual planning.
Seeing how effectively this shift in strategy helped expand email reach you have an opportunity to take advantage of the knowledge for yourself. You may not be as big as Copyblogger, but in the beginning even they had zero followers. Just getting started was the beginning of their journey and look where they are today.
Just like we are
For a long time DFWSEM has had a LinkedIn group, but of late it has not been well maintained. The weeds have grown up, the shutters need repair, and the fence needs mending. DFWSEM board member Jason Channell has been tasked with the job of getting it back in tip top shape. We invite you to join our conversation there, and when you drop by, asking Jason about his motorcycle would be a good way to break the ice. 🙂
Let’s Continue This Conversation
Thanks to Sha Menz for her contribution to this article.
The Original Inbox by Farid Iqbal Ibrahim is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.