Before we sit down to discuss this question, I invite you to read two blog posts by my friends Chris Brogan and CC Chapman:
All done? Welcome back. Confused a bit about who’s right? Should you have an ask all the time? Should you have an ask only select times? How much pitching and selling is too much?
The answer to this question is surprisingly simple: measure it. Here’s how. First, baseline whatever your key “audience retention” metric is. Here are a few examples.
– Returning visitors to your website
– Active subscribers on your email list
– Daily unlikes on your Facebook page
– Daily unfollows on your Twitter account
Next, baseline whatever your business goals are, whatever earns you revenue or provides actual value to your business.
Get the last 30-90 days of measurements baselined and established.
Now look at your content production schedule. How much “pitchy pitch sell sell” have you allocated in your daily content? If you’ve got none, add a time slot for it and aim for it to be one slot only. For example, if you had a 5 part daily production grid, adding one slot of selling would make it 16.66% (repeating, of course) of your overall content, 1 out of 6. If you’re doing a weekly newsletter, add one section for pitching. If you’re blogging, add one new post into your rotation on pitching.
Run that for 30 days or a significant number of publications and keep an eye on whatever audience retention metrics you’re concerned about. After the test period, check your retention stats and your business objectives stats. Did you increase the number of completed business goals from the added selling? Did you lose audience?
- … you added business goals and didn’t lose audience, great. You can double down and add another selling slot and see if you can improve more.
- … you didn’t add business goals and didn’t lose audience, then your pitch might not have been obvious enough or strong enough. Make it a harder ask.
- … you didn’t add business goals and did lose audience, then your pitching was too hard. Throttle back the tone of the pitch or reduce its frequency.
- … you added business goals and did lose audience, then it’s value checking time. Did the value of the goals completed exceed the value of the audience lost? This is the hardest decision to make. You have to know what your audience acquisition costs are and compare them to your goal completion revenue, then decide if it’s worth it to press on or to throttle back.
The answer, as with all things in digital marketing, is to measure and test. Only you can decide, based on the value of your business goals and the value of your audience, what too little or too much pitching and selling is. Read great perspectives from people like Chris and CC, but implement a plan to test it out.
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