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Marketing Ecology 101: If You Overfish The Waters Your Audience Will Grow Scarce

Why Outbound Marketing Is Like Overfishing

Marketing gurus debate the correct number of times one should "ping" their audience during the sales cycle. While it's usually better to move potential customers down the sales funnel quickly, many companies (often desperate for responses and sales) end up overfishing their waters by touching their audience too often.  The barrage of phone calls and emails causes an ecological imbalance with disastrous consequences such as plummeting conversion rates, increasing unsubscribe and bounce rates, and a dearth of leads and customers.

Maintain The Ecological Balance By Regulating Your Fishing Habits

To maintain a strong ecological balance companies should regulate their sales and marketing as that it impacts the health of their fishing waters. Here's five ways you can avoid overfishing your audience:

1. Understand your buyers and their buying cycle: Rather than forcing your selling time frame on your potential customers, you should study their buying habits. If you have different kinds of buyers, chances are their with buying habits will be different.  A one-size-fits-all mentality does not work for all companies, especially in the B2B world.

2. Build permission-based lists: It is critical to get your prospects, leads and customers to opt-in to your database.  Permission based lists perform better because the audience is familiar with you. They've placed a level of trust in you and there is no question of "why is this company contacting me?"

3. Maintain a healthy communication frequency: It's impossible to suggest the ideal number of times to "ping" one's database for *all* companies in a given duration. However, it is possible to establish the correct frequency via some trial and error and by tracking the changes in response and unsubscribe rate.

4. Encourage blog and social media subscriptions: Blogs and social media provide easy ways to get one's message across without interrupting one's audience.  Encourage your audience to subscribe to your blog's RSS feed and build up followers on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  If you are regularly providing value to your followers, this is a fantastic way to share some promotionalinformation to an audience that is pretty active online.

5. Track conversion rates and course correct:  You should aways let conversion metrics determine the balance of your relationship with your audience.  If you discover that your people are unsubscribing to your messages, it is likely you are hitting your audience to hard and too often. In this instance, I recommend tweaking your sales message and providing more thought leadership. Send one less email a month and see if this helps. Never sacrifice long terms goals for short term sales wins. 

How are you balancing the ecology of sales and marketing with your audience?  Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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