Marketing Monday: Too much of a good thing

A friend recently asked a good question: Is there such a thing as too much marketing?

You probably know if you’re doing too little. You haven’t updated your website in years, you never carry business cards, you don’t have an email marketing list.

But too much? Isn’t that a matter of taste?

I’m loathe to order anything from Victoria’s Secret, lest I get back on their mailing list, which seems to ship catalogs on a schedule approaching daily. My own underwear and pajama needs aren’t big enough to need that many catalogs, but Victoria’s Secret is a big, sophisticated company, so if the sales results didn’t justify it, I don’t think they’d go to the expense of printing and shipping that many full-color images of buxom women.

So what I find excessive must lead others to make purchases. That’s the subjective part.

But there are also some objective facts about what works:

1. More email leads to less engagement

Email marketing service MailChimp analyzed all of its users who have sent emails at least a couple times a month to at least 1,000 active email addresses, and looked at the statistics of the click throughs they got.

If you’ve got 10,000 addresses and every time you send to them you get 100 purchases, then by sending to these addresses twice a month instead of once, you’d expect to get 100 more purchases, right? That’s money in your pocket! Why not go for it?

And to a point, these folks are right. But it’s not that simple.

You may be able to increase your frequency to drive purchases, or you may not. Here’s why: Engagement is not independent of frequency. As you send more, engagement per campaign goes down. So in steady-state (we’ll go into this more) there’s a frequency sweet spot you need to hit.

What’s your sweet spot? That depends on what your customers expect from you.

Pardot, part of the SalesForce family, says:

This may seem like common sense, but don’t go two weeks without sending an email and then send three in one day. If possible, let your recipients know upon signing up what you will be sending them and when (better yet, let them choose how often they receive your emails), and stick to this schedule. Not only does this make your business seem more organized and credible, it makes it far less likely that a recipient will get fed up with an inbox clogged with your emails and hit the “Report as Spam” button.

If sending a tip of the day or deal of the day is your gimmick, and people know that when they sign up, then daily makes sense. Expectations and consistency can make that work.

Otherwise, watch your own numbers. If you send more frequent emails, do you make more sales or get more unsubscribes? Your market will show you where your sweet spot is.

2. Twitter rewards “burstiness”

If you’re trying to cultivate a following around your expertise, you want more people to find you on Twitter, right?

In February, Twitter reported:

We just shipped a new version of the Twitter app with a brand new search experience that blends the most relevant content – Tweets, user accounts, images, news, related searches, and more – into a single stream of results. This is a major shift from how we have previously partitioned results by type (for instance, Tweet search vs. people search). We think this simplified experience makes it easier to find great content on Twitter using your mobile device.

A typical search scores items of the same type and picks the top-scoring results. In a blended search experience, this is not straightforward. The scores of different content types are computed by different services, and thus not directly comparable for blending. Another challenge is to decide which type of content to mix, as not all content types are always desirable to display.

Search now gives greater prominence to the user who might send five or 10 tweets from a news event over the user who tweets once.

if query volume or matched item counts have an unusual spike (what we call a “burst”), we show this type and may also boost it to appear at a higher place in the results. To facilitate this, we represent trends in searches or matching result counts as a single number that is proportional to the level of “burstiness”.

So if you send three or four tweets in a row, all on a related idea, more new users might find you.

Worried you might chase people away?

Dan Zarrella, the data analyst behind Science of Timing research, found the sweet spot to be about 20-30 tweets a day to maximize followers.

3. By contrast, Facebook recommends posting once a day to your page.

Facebook’s “Posting Best Practices” says:

We recommend posting about once per day to keep people returning to your Page. However, each Page has a unique audience that may respond better to more or fewer updates. Experiment with different posting schedules and see what works best by checking engagement metrics in your Page’s Insights.

If you notice that engagement with your Page has decreased, try varying your posts and post frequency. Emulate posts that have been successful in the past, and experiment with new types of posts.

Dan Zarrella’s research showed posting about every other day was correlated with the most likes, so he says directly, “Don’t crowd your content.”

Bottom line: Yes, you can have too much of a good thing.

Watch your own results — your click throughs, your engagement, your online sales, what you hear from your customers in person and in email — to see if you’re providing them valuable information that’s of use to them or just annoying them.

Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a former reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy.  She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications.
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Categories: career

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1 reply

  1. I like the simple quick-tips in this guy’s presentation. Enjoyable, easy to whiz through, and helpful:
    http://www.slideshare.net/barryjfeldman/99-content-marketing-magnets

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