We’ve all been there. You’re at a fancy restaurant trying to enjoy a meal and you have an overly attentive waiter. He refills your water after you take one sip, clears your plate while you’re still chewing the last bite, and barrages you with constant check-ins. It can be overwhelming and unsettling (to your stomach).

Content marketing can be a lot like that if you’re not careful.

I once had an experience with a new vendor that buried me under an avalanche of emails – onboarding emails, training emails, suggestions for helpful information, confirmation emails, and “personalized” check-in emails to make sure I was satisfied. I counted eight emails in one week from eight different people at the company.

Content Marketing Should Support the Entire Customer Lifecycle

Yes, your content should support your customer’s journey throughout their time with you – which means your interaction with them doesn’t stop at the bottom of the sales funnel. They should receive your thought leadership and guidance, customer service, and quick answers to their questions. What they shouldn’t receive is a seemingly endless stream of emails from your organization that shows them the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.

When we work with B2B clients here on their ongoing customer messaging and content strategy, here’s what we recommend:

  • Create an onboarding / welcome package: Typically, this is series of messages over the course of four to six weeks to keep them engaged in the early days of the relationship. It could direct them to resources available for training, introduction to a support team, and the latest thought leadership from you (e.g., a whitepaper, infographic, etc.). Keep your frequency to once per week or less.
  • Eliminate, limit or streamline confirmation emails: These are largely useless unless they contain account information the person will need in the future. Instead, provide a confirmation on the page and save the email interaction for more important things.
  • Pick one (or two) point people, and keep it current: You shouldn’t introduce new customers to eight different people at your company in the first week. If you’re automating welcome package messages, have them all come from the same person on the customer service team. And, keep that contact fresh and real. The worst thing is to have your customer look up your contact person on LinkedIn, only to find they’ve moved on to another company.
  • Train your staff to use CRM the right way: You’ll figure out how each customer likes to interact with you. Customer A is best to reach on the phone, while customer B only responds to emails. Keep your CRM records tight so your team is not stepping on each other’s toes and repeating mistakes that annoy customers.

How Much Content Marketing Is Too Much?

According to McKinsey, the average person spends 28 percent of the workweek – or 13 hours – reading emails. That’s a lot of email. Be part of the solution with your content marketing, not the problem. It would be easy to recommend an arbitrary number like one email per week as the maximum, but it’s not quite that simple.

You should experiment with the frequency that works for your prospects and customers, since many industries – and even individual customers – will have different benchmarks for what’s “too much.” To figure that out, here are two things you should be doing:

  • Keep an eye on list fatigue: Since you’re already tracking key metrics like open rates, click-throughs, and conversions, look at them in aggregate across all of your list segments to see if there’s a downward trend. If there is, it may be time to back off on the frequency to see if that helps.
  • Send an “update your preferences” email: Personally, I appreciate it when I get an email from a company asking if I still want their emails (counterintuitive, I know). A simple note to ask “are you still finding this content useful” with a link to update subscription preferences will strengthen your brand and keep your list clean.

With a little planning and mindfulness about what your customers are receiving from you, you’ll help them avoid the content marketing avalanche.