Skip to main content

Why Selplaining is Important for Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Are you “selplaining” With Your Customers? If Not, You Are In Jeopardy of Churn and/or Worse, Being Poorly Reviewed!

How many customers have you lost because those customers wouldn’t take some time to understand what you are doing for them?  How many customers switch agencies only to receive the same “poor results”?

What do you mean I am in sales?
If you are a digital marketing agency or you work with any part of the content, SEO or social media team then this article is written with you in mind. Anyone in an Internet advertising firm or agency that directly communicates with a customer, a client or prospect should realize that they are in sales. Even the receptionist has a role in sales. You may not be part of the sales team, but surely you are in sales. For brevities sake from here on in, I will call customers, clients, and prospects by one name which is the real “Employer.”
You see that while a company may pay you to work at their discretion, the real “Employer” are the companies that pay your company. While your boss or team is important, the “Employer” is much more important to the overall agency. Why? Because they pay your company, that takes their money, and divvies it up amongst you and your teammates as remuneration or pay for your services or labor.

Do you directly or indirectly communicate with your company’s clients?
So now you must be wondering what all this has to do with the term selplaining. In fact, you may be wondering what the heck is selplaining anyway? Read on, I will get there, and you will get it.
Selplaining is the art of selling, training, and explaining why certain things that you do on their behalf, are important to the digital marketing results that you are getting for them. Simply put, selplaining is taking every interaction or encounter with your real “Employer”: whether it be via email, phone call, text message or in person and using that time to remind them what they are paying you for and how little steps can gain them new clients or revenue.
Do your reports educate your clients or drive them crazy?  
At our firm, we provide clients weekly reports that are designed to build trust, to convey that we are working for them and that what we are doing for them is working.  We send them an email that takes about 10 seconds or less to digest and comprehend, all while it confirms and validates our value to them.  Image 1A is the actual image a client receives modified with their data.  Notice that we point out something valuable that happened with the data in their account.  
Image 1A
It could be as simple as receiving five new backlinks to authoritative domains. It may be that three of their keywords have moved to page 2, after debuting on page 24. Little things that show progress are the key items.
These progress points teach your client about what is important and what drives the overall traffic via the organics. SEO, as you know, is that mystical magic that clients don’t understand.  But, teaching them SEO components gently using this approach is extremely effective.  
Remember you get to pick the progress points. We have used this report at varying times when a client won’t make a change that we know is needed. Sometimes clients won’t pay for backlink building which holds us back from generating enough quality backlinks. We use the Snippet to key in on the loss of backlinks, or keywords going in the wrong direction. This reinforces why these other items are needed.

Do you report regularly to the client?
The weekly “Snippet” has become a powerful tool that helps to keep our clients informed, which helps us retain them keeping our churn rate under 5%.  At the end of the month, we send them a monthly wrap up. It provides all the pretty graphs and charts and other data that they don’t understand or care to understand - but still, we provide it to them.  
The four email Snippets that we send each month provide them with knowledge, while showing them we are on top of their account and are doing our job. It also provides them with a positive feeling about our work. So, it’s a sales tool, right? Sort of, but that wasn’t why we originated it.  
If the Snippet shows data going in the wrong direction, it validates the need for them to change.  It also relieves pressure on you or your firm if there is not a lot of gain within their data.
We don’t use it for our PPC clients often. But, we easily could if we felt it was needed. Since our clients are B2C, they see our results via form submissions and phone calls. Phone calls (which we record and review) are another vital topic that I have covered in 5 steps to Turning Clicks Into Clients®.
Image 2A

Ok, the Snippet thing is good, but in every interaction someone should be selling?
YES, YES, YES!  Let’s say that you work in an agency, and it is your job to make sure that reports are emailed. Take a minute to review the monthly report and highlight something positive that is within the report. Write a short sentence or two on the report’s email that could say something like this:  
“Bill – great report attached! You will be happy to see that you gained 3 new backlinks. This is great news as both Google and Bing pay attention to backlinks and attaches high importance to them which affects your domain’s overall score.”
Let’s say you are a technical person that normally doesn’t interact with the real “Employers,” and now you have to be on a conference call with the client. Ask your account management team something that you can highlight or note that is happening within the account. You could say this to the client:  
“Hey, Bill!  Tamaqua tells me that your account is really moving in the right direction. She said you have 3 keywords showing up on page one of the search engines, that’s great!”
That’s it; you have just sent a sales email, client services email and account overview - all in one email. They may not even open the report, but they at least know that someone is watching and that something good happened.

The wrap!
Ok, do you get it? Selplaining is the act of artfully interacting with a client and providing them with news that is usually good, while teaching and/or training them. The act reaffirms that you or your agency are positively working on their behalf, behind the scenes for them and that reassures them they made a good decision to engage you or your firm. It also innocuously provides you with greater value and worth to them.  

About the author
Mike Bannan is a blogger and marketing professional with over 30 years of building client relationships via sales and marketing. Bannan is a co-owner of the Philadelphia digital marketing agency Results Driven Marketing™. Mr. Bannan is RDM’s managing partner and Chief Vision officer. RDM supports him with a strong team of marketers and professionals and technical wizards.

The agency
Founded in 2013, RDM works primarily with clients that are in the B2C category. Lawyers, franchise owners, and small business owners are the main client types. RDM is a full spectrum Digital Marketing Agency which provides content services, blogging, graphics design, video services, web design and development, PPC, SEO, Local SEO, Reputation Management, and Social Media Management.   Furthering the SEO team created the RD-Metric, a tool that finds the best keyword choices. The company overall has 16 employees, and the team holds over 35 active certifications within the digital marketing arena.

To contact Mike Bannan for help for a 45-minute no charge consultation call, 215-600-3540. Emails can be directed to or check the agency out on the web at


All Time Greats

Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM

Search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the fastest-growing categories in all of advertising, because it is both measurable and logical: present your ads when people are searching for what you're selling. A well-crafted search marketing program can provide not only broad brand exposure at a very reasonable cost (with CPMs of $10 or less), but also high-ROI lead generation. As with any other type of advertising, however, a poorly-designed campaign will be a disappointing waste of money. In addition to best practices in search engine marketing , the following articles and blog posts were among the best of 2007 at providing helpful guidance for creating and managing effective search marketing programs. Five Common Paid Search Mistakes That Can Sink Your Campaign by Search Engine Guide Blogger Jennifer Laycock explains how common mistakes such as "ego bidding," writing a single ad for all keywords, and directing all of your traffic to a single landing page can limit the res

Getting More Out of Each Click with "Post-Click Marketing"

With the economy now officially in a recession (as if we didn't know that), marketers are under increasing pressure to do more with less. On the interactive marketing side, few marketers will get budget increases enabling them to drive more clicks. The challenge, then, is to maximize marketing productivity—to get more leads out of the same number of clicks. This is the first of two posts that will look at how to improve conversion rates to get more value from each click. One answer to this challenge is provided by "post-click marketing," a.k.a. lead automation management vendors. While the specifics of each service vary, all of them essentially: automate the process of extracting visitor IP information from your log files; match the IP address to an organization; filter out ISPs; and map the company name to one or more external databases to provide additional information (company size, industry, key contacts etc.). The better services also use geo-location filte

Best of 2008: Social Media Optimization, Part 2

This content has been moved to Best of 2008: Social Media Marketing on the Webbiquity blog. ***** technorati tags: best free tools for monitoring social buzz social media marketing Six Pixels of Separation Mitch Joel Techrigy SM2 Key Web Data Chris Lang Google social bookmarking HubSpot Catie Foertsch Kate Morris TopRank Online Marketing Blog Jessica Cameron-Ruud Duct Tape Marketing John Jantsch CircleUp Traffic Travis tags: best free tools for monitoring social buzz social media marketing Six Pixels of Separation Mitch Joel Techrigy SM2 Key Web Data Chris Lang Google social bookmarking HubSpot Catie Foertsch Kate Morris TopRank Online Marketing Blog Jessica Cameron-Ruud Duct Tape Marketing John Jantsch CircleUp Traffic Travis icerocket tags: best free tools for monitoring social buzz social media marketing Six Pixels of Separation Mitch Joel Techrigy SM2 Key Web Data Chris Lang Google social bookmarking HubSpot Catie Foe

Marketo Releases Marketo Lead Management 3.0

Marketing automation software vendor Marketo today announced the launch of its Marketo Lead Management 3.0 software suite. With more than 200 new features, the release is the most significant since the product's initial launch in early 2008. Promising deeper support for a "conversational model of marketing," the new release provides 75 user interface enhancements as well as new features including: More fine-grained control over segmentation, targeting, and triggering; "Progressive profiling" on forms (i.e. additional profile is requested as a prospect moves through an interactive process); Native integration with ; Web visitor profiling; and Automated duplicate lead removal. Pricing starts at $1,500 per month and the company now has more than 150 midmarket and enterprise customers. Marketo competes with products such as Eloqua , Silverpop Engage B2B (formerly Vtrenz), and Manticore in the marketing automation / demand generation sp

The 8 Layers of a B2B Web Marketing Plan

One way to think about designing a B2B technology web marketing plan is as a series of layers, like an onion. At the core is SEO—simply making your website "findable" through organic search to buyers who are looking for what you offer. Working out from the center are concentric layers of additional investment and sophistication. Small companies and start-ups with modest budgets will focus most of their efforts on the inner layers or rings, which are primarily designed for lead generation. As the company and its marketing budget grow, efforts can be expanded to the outer layers, which are aimed more at branding but support lead generation efforts. Ideally, a company eventually reaches the outer layer where pure branding activities (such as print advertising) help to maximize the effectiveness of lead generation programs (such as SEM) near the center of the circle. This diagram shows how different types of web marketing programs can be prioritized in order to maximize the retur

Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing

My last post listed several of the best news articles from 2007 on how to effectively use social networking sites for marketing. Here are some of the best blog posts on social networking and social media marketing strategies and tactics. 7 Reasons Why Niche Social Media Outlets are Better Than Digg by AjaxNinja After noting that "Digg has an immense amount of traffic and getting landed on the front page will send a tsunami of new readers to your blog or website, but getting onto the front page is incredibly difficult. Getting onto the front page of a smaller, more appropriate niche portal, by contrast, is much easier, quicker, and ultimately you get a better return on your time/traffic ratio in the short run," this post makes the case for targeting smaller sites. Among the complaints about Digg are its excessively broad audience and categories and the site's lack of transparency. 34 More Ways to Build Your Own Social Network by TechCrunch An excellent and detailed revie

Best of 2007: Web 2.0 Sites

A number of new social networking, social search, social bookmarking, and other Web 2.0-related websites and tools either got their start or got traction in 2007. Here are some of the most notable new sites and tools that made it onto the radar last year. Billed as "the complete Web 2.0 directory," this site has cataloged more than 2,000 Web 2.0 applications and services, searchable by an extensive list of tags and sortable by date and name. Snitter Snitter is a small desktop application that makes it easy to keep up with those you are following on Twitter, a social networking site that lets you keep "followers" up to date on what you're up to, and stay in the loop on what they're doing. KickApps A hosted web-based platform that enables webmasters and site owners to create, deploy and manage a branded social media community on any website. Socialtext An enterprise wiki tool that enables workgroups or organizations to create secure, group-editabl

7 Reasons Every Business Needs to Twitter

This post has been moved to 7 Reasons Every Business Needs to be on Twitter on the Webbiquity blog. ***** technorati tags: Twitter Dell Zappos customer service influence-the-influencers market intelligence Tony Hsieh b2b Twitter tags: Twitter Dell Zappos customer service influence-the-influencers market intelligence Tony Hsieh b2b Twitter icerocket tags: Twitter Dell Zappos customer service influence-the-influencers market intelligence Tony Hsieh b2b Twitter Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom