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I bet you’re familiar with the fairy tale about Goldilocks. She wanders into the forest and takes shelter in the home of three bears while they’re away. And everywhere she roams in the house she finds everything in sets of three: porridge too hot and too cold… chairs too big and too small… beds too hard and too soft… and in the end, one of each that’s “just right”.
Let’s forget for a moment the terrifying awakening of Goldilocks after she fell asleep in the “just right” bed and take a lesson from her instead.
It’s a lesson we can apply to our marketing and much like Goldilocks, it requires us to do a little exploring to figure out what’s just right for us, our businesses and our marketing goals.
Before you get all excited and think I’m about to give you the answers, let me assure you that when it comes to finding your Goldilocks Zone, the answer to the question, “What’s just right?” is: It depends.
But before you get all bummed out and start rolling your eyes, here are some ideas and a few practical tips to get you started applying the concept of “just right” to your marketing.
Email Marketing: Too Many, Too Few Or Just Right?
When it comes to finding the sweet spot of email marketing, a lot depends on your audience.
There are businesses that get away with multiple emails per day. There are others who’d lose their entire database of subscribers if they sent out more than one per week.
Before you get hung up on the options, think about who your audience is. Are you dealing with a list of 50,000 customers, most of whom are unknown to you? Or do you have a personal list of 500?
The more intimate you are with your audience, the more likely you can send emails more often. And by “intimate” I don’t mean “small list”. I mean that you’re on a first name basis with many of your subscribers, you communicate with them on other social channels and they kind of like you… beyond simply the possibility of doing business together.
On the other hand if you’re a huge retailer and don’t know your subscribers from a cheese sandwich, you probably don’t want to be the sore thumb in your customer’s inbox. Trust me, they will notice if your company name pops up over and over and over…
The other huge factor that comes into play when finding the “just right” number of emails to send is your content. What do you have to say? Email may be cheap/free and quick to shoot off, but are you adding value to your subscriber’s day? Are you sharing something important, timely, relevant?
Or are you just “email marketing”?
It can take some trial-and-error before you find your sweet spot, but it’s generally better to start off less frequently, then increase the frequency (provided you have something to say!) until the point where you start noticing an uptick in unsubscribes. That’s a good sign that it’s time to scale back.
Will you lose a few people? Sure. But you’re always going to lose people. And the only way to figure out what works best for your business is to test.
Generally speaking, more than one email per week and you’re pushing your luck. You may see a rise in unsubscribes or you may be inadvertently creating zombie subscribers. Rather than bugging people or creating email blindness, find a way to consolidate your emails into one longer and less frequent newsletter.
Less than once per quarter and you might as well dump your email list altogether. Too long between emails and people will forget they even signed up for your list and unsubscribe because they no longer recognize you.
Start with once per month. That’s a nice middle ground that will keep your company top-of-mind without overwhelming people. If your content is good, you should have a decent open and clickthrough rate – both of which can tank if you go too far in one direction or the other.
Blogging: Too Often, Not Often Enough, Or Just Right?
This is one topic that everyone (at least every blogger) seems to have a pretty strong opinion on. There’s the “blog when you have something to say” crowd and there’s the “blog every day or die” crowd.
And there’s a voice of reason somewhere in between.
The truth is, if you’re serious about blogging you do not get to blog “whenever you have something to say”.
The problem with that is that I’ve never met a person who has so much to say that they’re just popping out blogs left and right.
The problem is the other way around. Left to the “write when you have something to say” mantra, I bet many bloggers would fall right off the blogging radar.
I know, sometimes you’re not motivated. Sometimes you’re not feeling creative. Sometimes that stupid schedule feels like a vice and you don’t have a single interesting idea in your brain.
When that happens, do you know what you have to do? Write anyway.
If you need a kick in the pants, there are some blog ideas here.
But if the only time you write is when you’ve got a brilliant idea or something groundbreaking to say, I guarantee your blog will languish and die. Your readers will forget you. Another blogger who’s more prolific will come along offering content and even if it’s not as inspired as yours, it’ll be there.
On the other hand, there’s no point in killing yourself and churning out crap just because you’ve sworn to post every day. Beyond driving yourself crazy and possibly lowering the quality of your work, you could be doing your blog a disservice. Unless you’re a heavy-hitter and half the planet is falling all over themselves to be the first to comment on and tweet your post, you may just be overwhelming your readers.
As you experiment to find your sweet spot, here’s one bit of advice I stand by: post on a schedule. And as you post, check your analytics. Notice if there are some days when your posts get more attention and other days when traffic falls off. If Mondays are great but Fridays stink, refine your schedule. Experiment, test, repeat.
And whatever schedule you choose, be it once a day or once a year, just stick to it. Remember, this isn’t about feeling creative, it’s about marketing.
Unless you’re Mashable or you have a staff of writers, once a day is too often for any sane person. If every blogger posted every day, there wouldn’t even be enough hours in a day to read them all and some of your best stuff might get glossed over or completely ignored even by your most loyal readers. If you find yourself in this spot, your posts should be pretty darn short and punchy.
Less than once per month and you probably can’t really call it marketing anymore. It might not even be worth the price of the domain name. If you’re posting this infrequently, you’d better be posting something supernaturally impressive every time.
Once a week is a good place to start. You’ll be doing it regularly enough to build an expectation with your readers and cash in on some good SEO, but not so often that you’ll feel overwhelmed and give up. The important thing is to put it on the calendar and do it. As you get more comfortable, increase it to twice, three times a week or whatever you can reasonably handle.
Social Updates: Too Many, Too Few Or Just Right?
So many social channels, so little time!
If you want to know how many times a day to post, you’ll find wildly different numbers from once an hour to once a day depending on who you ask – and what channel you’re talking about.
On the plus side, social marketing is a bit more forgiving. Sure, it’s just as easy to unfriend/unfollow as it is to unsubscribe but on the whole people are used to a bit of noise in the social sphere.
Of course, you don’t want to be the noise – you want to stand apart from the noise. That’s why you don’t want to bombard your social fans with constant updates. You may not lose the numbers but you’ll lose people’s attention as they tune you out.
On the other hand, too few updates and you may not be noticed at all. Especially on a platform like Facebook where only about 16% of your fans see your post at any given time, posting infrequently means that much less exposure. Even on Twitter where things move quickly, you may miss most of your audience if you don’t post enough.
To find the sweet spot for social updates there are two important keys: space your updates out and pay attention to engagement.
The first is where scheduling comes in. Whole debates are had every day about whether social updates should be scheduled or done in real time for best engagement so we won’t get into that now, but on the pro-scheduling side, you can space your updates out so that they go out regularly without requiring that you interrupt whatever you’re doing multiple times per day to do it.
This also gives you the opportunity to experiment with posting at different times per day to see which gets the best engagement.
Which brings us to point number two… time of day can affect engagement and so can frequency. If you’re posting too much… or not enough… you’ll see it in your engagement numbers. Fewer Likes, tweets, shares and comments mean people aren’t noticing. That might be because they’ve tuned you out or because you’re not getting in front of them, so experiment to see what gives better results.
Anything that you post in a cluster is too many. Three updates in an hour then none for the rest of the day are too many. Multiple posts per hour all day long is way too many. Nobody needs to hear from you that much! Once an hour is still pushing it, though you’re more likely to get away with that on Twitter since it moves so fast.
Once a week is way too few. You might as well be invisible. I’d go so far as to say once a day is still too few, especially on Twitter, though probably ok for places like Pinterest and Tumblr.
Know your platform before you decide how often to post. Three to four times per day is a good place to start on Facebook, and regularly every few hours on Twitter. If Pinterest is your thing, anywhere from once to a couple of times a day will keep you visible but not annoying. The key is regular posting. Choose a couple of specific times, post and test.
The Verdict: “It Depends.”
Your audience… your goals… your analytics… response… engagement… and of course, results in the form of conversions and revenue will help you determine your Goldilocks Zone. It takes a bit of experimenting. Much like that adventurous childhood heroine, you’re going to find a lot of wrong answers, but if you pay attention you’ll eventually get to the place that’s just right.