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.
Join the discussion 27 Comments
I especially like your e-mail suggestions. And the Goldilocks analogy is great.
Thanks Barbara, the truth is there’s just no hard and fast answer when it comes to marketing, but somewhere in there is a zone that will work for us. It just takes a little experimenting!
Hi Carol Lynn,
The funny thing is that for many online businesses, it may take a few weeks to a few months to get your marketing feeling just right. You may try different things and have no luck, until one day, you see the results you were looking for.
The important thing is to do as Goldilocks did and just keep trying and testing things out until you find one that’s just right!
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Christine, and I totally agree – you have to try a few bowls of porridge before you find one that’s good 🙂 Sometimes people are afraid to do something different for fear of getting it wrong. But if you never get it wrong you’ll never really know what’s right!
I love the Goldilocks zone. 🙂 Have you noticed how often the answer is it depends? I like to say it’s because we are each unique and isn’t that wonderful? Thanks for sharing some great thoughts. Carol Lynn.
I know people don’t like to hear “it depends”. They just want to know the answer. I do too1 Unfortunately we just have to keep testing 🙂
Hmm. I’m the kind of guy that actually should be running a few blogs- because of the wide subject matters covered- and the fact that I have a lot to say… (OK, some may say I never shut up…)
But, seriously, we have three separate lists of clients- and they receive eMail for matters that relate to their interests (which is why there are three different lists).
I really don’t eMail to my blog subscribers- they already get my blog; but every so often (maybe three times a year), they are offered a free eBook that consolidates and updates a series of blogs that have appeared and which they may want in such summary (not necessarily short) form.
It is a most difficult task to insure that Goldilocks finds the “right size” and hopefully before her golden locks turn grey!
It’s a great idea to segment lists. Then you can target each one and reduce the risk of putting someone off because they’re getting unrelated content.
As for gray hair, I think we all get a little bit of that trying to get it “right”!
Outstanding advice & love the Goldilocks analogy! I agree about blogging. I certainly don’t want to read about every single event in someone’s day-to-day life — I want to read valuable information (personally or professionally). And, it’s true…if inspiration seems to have faded, just start writing & it will return. Write about subjects you have a passion for & that will shine through…inspiring your readers as well. Thanks for sharing such great tips!
Thanks Lynn, I’m glad you enjoyed this. I understand that sometimes it’s tough to write but you have to get through it or your blog will wither on the vine! Get something out there or someone else will do it and get in front of you.
Loving the analogy with the good ol’ Goldilocks! Ahhh, “just right” – that sweet spot we all strive to be in. It’s a constant balancing act, especially with social media. Understanding when and what to post on the different networks took quite a while for me. For Google+ I’ve found during the day works best while for Facebook, the evening is best (for me). In the end, I agree, it all depends on who and what the audience want. The trick for most bloggers is learning who their audience!
You’re absolutely right, it is a balancing act! The trick is to fall off then get back up and do it better next time 🙂 I’m pretty sure that the minute we all figure out “the best time” to do anything, something will change and we’ll have to start over! That’s what keeps it interesting, right?
Right, which is why we are constantly juggling, balancing, changing…but it’s all good as it ends up being a fun (and sometimes frustrating) process. 🙂
I have been playing with Twitter and have found that when I cluster my client’s tweets to late afternoon, I get more clicks. I don’t get it, but that’s what the analytics are showing me. Weekend late afternoons are good, too. Carol Lynn, I know this flies in the face of your suggestion, but there it is.
Hey, if it ain’t broke… if you’re finding good results via your analytics when you cluster tweets, then go with it! Part of the challenge when it comes to social sharing is that each platform is different. I bet you’d have better luck on Twitter doing that than Facebook. Have you tried other times of the day, too? It might give you a chance of reaching a more diverse audience, assuming people are still clicking, though perhaps not as often.
Regardless of what you’ve found works, the important thing is that you’re testing and finding your “just right” zone, wherever it is. It’s a good lesson to everyone to remember to test and see what works. Guidelines are good, but results are better!
Hi Carol Lynn,
Ahh that’s just right says Goldilocks! Great analogy as usual my friend. As we put ourselves into motion in blogging and on social sites, we do need to find our own balance. The above suggestions are wonderful. I usually blog once a week or ever 5 days…depends. But consistency is the key!
No, we are not Mashable with a crew of writers! We have to take it in stride and enjoy what we are doing.
As for social sites: You have given the best advice above of how many times we should visit. We can’t get “stuck” which is so easy to do on Facebook or any other site. We must remain active- have a plan and stick to it. Even though I’m having Facebook hiccups these days, I still go on it 4 times a day for 10 or 15 minute intervals. Google+ has been a great way to stay connected with people too. That I visit twice a day. But those are my two main social connections. The others, I spend less time on, but do tweet here and there, Pin on Pinterest once and a while and of course get on my Linked in.
We cannot do it all…. we have to find our comfort zone so we are not chained to our business.
I find that these days in doing more marketing, I spend most of my time writing email follow ups for my list and focusing more on that. Our list is our business. A new trick I used for my list is shooting an email on a topic and sending it to my blog. This way my email peeps can get a better look at my social proof and see the engagement going on. Am I writing a blog post here? Sorry, but your posts always gets me going! And that’s a good thing.
Thanks once again,
Boy are you ever right about that Carol, it just depends on your audience. So you know how often I blog, twice a week religiously whether I want to or not. Haven’t missed a day either so pat myself on the back.
As far as emails I sent usually three a week and try not to do more but every once in awhile I will. I have a very high open rate so not too many people get too mad at me. Then again, I am on first name basis with a lot of them so that definitely helps.
Social site, I limit myself period but I’ve read statistics that have said not to post on Facebook more than four times a day. Too much chatter going on so you want to be heard. Hey, it’s the second source of referral traffic to my blog so it’s obviously working!
Thanks for another great post and analogy! You’re so creative. 🙂
You’re one of those rare people who can send out multiple emails a week and people still love you for it! That’s because of the relationships you built. Imagine some big retailer doing that. ugh! I don’t care how many coupons they sent me, I’d probably jump ship.
So far I’ve stuck to my blogging schedule too – hooray for us! With a little help from guest posts 🙂 The important thing is consistency. Be there… or someone else will!
Carol I love the Goldilocks analogy and I agree with your verdict – it depends.
As far as blogging goes I started out doing one a day and I almost gave up. Then I went the other way to when I had something to say and that does not work as you have pointed out.
I am now once or twice a week. I have been once for a while and aimed to step it to two.
I envy people like Ray Higdon who can post every day and he says it takes less than an hour. I am not like him!
With Social media I see some people who are constant and they do it well and others I think should back off – so again it depends.
Thanks for a great post.
Totally depends! I know it’s not “the answer” everyone wants but it’s important to figure out where YOUR zone is. I bet if you just decided to post twice a week you could do it – every day, now that would make me crazy! You’d have to be a serious full time blogger. But I think most of us do “other” stuff so it’s a balancing act. Glad you enjoyed this and thanks for your thoughts.
Sounds like you have a plan and are sticking to it! In the end that’s the most important thing – you can’t do any of this haphazardly or just “when you feel like it”. It has to be planned and consistent. There are so many social channels, especially, that it can get overwhelming. Figuring out where to be and when to be there is so important!
You are welcome to write a blog post on my blog post any time 🙂 I always appreciate your input!
Very, very intelligent post, Carol, but again I’m not surprised 🙂
Fist email marketing. That is so TRUE. I subscribe myself to people who pop an email each and every single day that God gives us and seem to be OK, but I can assure you that if I did that, my Aweber account will not cost me as much every month LOL. Yes, it would be much smaller. So, for sure that doesn’t work for everyone. Thank you for writing about this topic.
Now, not only I know some people who blog everyday, but there is a successful marketer out of the UK that encourages people to do so. I also think that it’s not the smartest thing to do. As a matter of fact, unless you average 50 comments a day, I think that’s a big mistakes. However, lots of people keep saying otherwise. But as for me, I am in with you on that one too.
Great post Carol and everything you say here makes a lot of sense!
That’s a great analogy! It can take a while to find the right balance in each of those areas.I have gone back and forth in the areas finding the right balance for both myself and my readers. It changes as my goals change. It’s definitely a game of balance!
Not only that but the minute you think you’ve got it figured out, someone will go and change something and we’ll be figuring stuff out all over again! The better we get at trial and error – experimenting to see what works and not being afriad to change things up – the better off we’ll be.
Carol Lynn! Yes! I love it! This is a great topic to touch on, and totally needed in the scene, I think.
I went through most of the trial and error you’ve talked about, and settled on something that works for me.
P.S. I’d like to add that I have so much to say that I could easily write every day,a blog post AND a newsletter, but that’s not my #1 use of my moments 🙂
Thanks for rockin’ 😀
Hm, why don’t I doubt that you could fill a book every day? You also touched on something important here which is even though you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD. There’s a balance and there are other things to do. Sounds like you’ve had the chance to figure out where your zone is!
Hi Sylviane, I missed your comment, so sorry! I think people who blog every day are pretty rare. It may work for some but most people need to stay sane. Plus like you said, unless you have a huge audience with tons of subscribers and content, it doesn’t make much sense. It’s all about finding the balance that works!