Every diligent marketer is at risk of over-marketing. It’s an easy line to cross, partially because it’s hard to see where the line is from our positions. We need to regularly assess the effectiveness—or more important, the friendliness—of our messaging in order to retain and grow our customer following.
The ultimate aim, of course, is to send compelling and timely messages that will provide value and drive sales. But in order to do that, we need to keep our marketing efforts in check.
Here are a few tips on how to do just that:
Count Your Opt-outs
Keep tabs on how many of your email and social media subscribers are signing out of your marketing messages. A high or rising number of unsubscribes is a pretty good indicator that something is going wrong.
One advantage of counting opt outs in your social media and email marketing is that you can automatically tell which branch of your marketing has the problem, if not exactly what the problem is. For that, you’ll have to do some closer examination.
A higher frequency of opt-outs can point to over marketing. Look at the frequency of your newsletter. Or perhaps you event messages are too many? Or have you rigged your blog to send updates to your list whenever you post a new article?
Check the Frequency of Your Emails/Messages
How often are you sending out your messages? There’s a difference between staying in touch and being a pest, and a marketer usually won’t be able to know the difference until people start getting annoyed and opting out.
Be aware that different social media venues have different thresholds for messages. Emails are generally the least frequent, and depending on the industry could range anywhere from a couple of times a week to once a month.
This can also be applied to content you post on social media channels such as Linkedin. Or perhaps your DMs that are salesy in nature are random and frequent?
Some platforms such as Twitter are more forgiving to a flood of messages. But others such as Linkedin are not. You can have to track and study each of your touchpoint to see where you may be overstepping.
Check Your Content
Another factor that might be annoying your customers is what you’re saying. Customers don’t respond well to repetitive messages or messages that don’t provide them with any value. Sending out several messages in a row that announce the same sale (and not even worded differently) is a sure way to get a customer to opt out.
Instead of sending the same thing over and over, mix it up a little. Establish a social media channel or editorial calendar where you can plan out your messages in advance. That way you can also vet any repetitive or low-value content.
Remember the 80/20 rule – 80% percent of your messaging should be information and add value to your clients. Try and limit your sales messages to 20% or less of the time. There may be case where your brand comes late into your customer’s journey and you may get away with more sales messages.
Follow Your Competitors
To get a better idea of what the industry standards are for sending out marketing messages, take a look at what your competitors are doing. See how frequent their messages are, and what kind of content they’re sending out. Evaluate what you discover to see which strategies are worth following, and which are better left at the side of the road.
Education is the key. Keep up to date with how people’s perceptions are changing towards sales messages. Reach out to your best clients and ask them for their opinion on your brand messaging.
For the ultimate litmus test, get someone whose opinion you trust to sign up for all of your marketing updates. Have them assess the quality and frequency of your messaging, and where you need to improve.
The reason you’re asking someone else to do it, and not signing up yourself, is that your opinion may be biased. You may have been so closely involved in the marketing process that you don’t actually see the problem.
This article just scratches the surface. Over marketing is an iceberg! If you are not careful, your ship may sink!
How Overzealous Marketing Hurts the Brand
It’s good to have a strong drive and commitment to promoting your brand, but there can be such a thing as too much. The thing is, there is such a thin line between excellent marketing and over-marketing that it can be difficult to tell when one crosses over.
This is especially the case if one is working in a vacuum, where you don’t have access to customer or market feedback, and are instead just blindly pumping out campaign after campaign without taking the time to properly gauge their effectiveness.
Below, I’ve listed a number of ways that excessive over-marketing can damage your brand.
Overprotective Brand Police
You can be very good at protecting your brand, but can you protect it from yourself?
At some point, a brand will develop a trademark look or feel to its marketing materials, and the smart brand manager will try to preserve its integrity as much as it can via usage guidelines.
But at what point does it begin to stifle creativity and the flow of communication?
Having such rules in place can help maintain a consistent image, but one should balance process and creativity in order to generate truly effective marketing messages.
Otherwise, your advertisements and marketing materials will begin to look flat, generic, and uninteresting and create a brand disconnect.
Excessive Customer Segmentation
When you segregate customers into different markets and tailor your message to these groups, you are connecting on a more intimate level that will, hopefully, prompt a more favorable response than generic communication.
However, you should be careful that you don’t overanalyze and begin categorizing customers into more groups than you need to.
Not only is this needless pigeonholing, but tailoring your marketing to a larger number of groups is going to be a serious drain on your time and resources.
And you’re not even sure that such hyper-specialized marketing will result in increased effectiveness, or if that increase is enough to warrant that much spending.
Sales people fall into this trap all the time. In the rush to complete the sale, they make exaggerated claims and misleading assertions when talking about a product’s features.
Low-level errors like these can be sorted out at the customer service level, and don’t have an impact beyond the affected customer and the sales person responsible.
When marketing does it, however, it’s a whole different ball game. Because marketing has such a wider reach than your individual salesman, more people are affected and misled by the false advertising, with greater consequences.
False advertising can lead to serious penalties such as legal cases, as well as punitive action by government or industry agencies.
Always verify your marketing material to make sure your claims are accurate and your product features completely listed. You can dance around parts that aren’t relevant or advantageous but don’t stray too far from the truth because the customer is sure to catch you eventually.
Saturating the Medium
As a marketer, you want to maximize your exposure as much as you can. But too much, and you risk overexposing your brand and saturating the medium. Customers will indeed see your brand all over the place, but they may start feeling negatively towards your brand instead and be annoyed at your ads instead of interested.
One way of keeping up a high number of ads while not risking overexposure is to have different ads promoting the same product. This way, you can maximize your brand exposure while the rotating ads switch things up and keep customers from getting tired of seeing the same thing over and over.
I have seen this style of marketing done by one of our clients, for whom we created a wedding photographer studio logo design, that uses focused marketing with great success.
By far, the best way of keeping yourself from over-marketing your brand is to constantly measure and evaluate your marketing efforts and people’s reactions to them. This way, you will be able to tell early on if there are problems with a brand campaign, and what you can do to improve the next one.