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The 45-Day Rule for Promoting Your Small Business Online

by
March 4, 2015

 

This post is contributed by Eric Groves, the CEO of Alignable, the first social network built exclusively for small businesses to connect, collaborate, and share knowledge with one another.

One of the core concepts of online promotion is just when to start promoting your business for an important date. From looking at the underlying data, we’ve discovered what we’ve called the 45-Day Rule. I’ll first share some insights on variances to the data, and then provide you with some ideas on how you can put this rule to work for you and your business.

The 45-Day Rule: What is it?

The 45-Day Rule was derived by looking at the search behavior obtained from Google Trends for consumers around major US holidays. The chart below shows the results of our research.

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Distribution of search traffic as it builds up to the holiday date.

The data indicates that events or promotions posted to websites the week of the event results in participation in 20% of the overall search traffic; starting a week earlier gets you to roughly 50%. If you want to participate in over 90% of the search traffic, you need to post your content to websites at least 45 days in advance. Hence, our 45-Day Rule was born. Using this as a starting point for how you promote your events and promotions sets you and your business up for the maximum reach and maximum impact.

In addition to looking at the average curve we also evaluated the holidays at either end of the spectrum. Not surprisingly, the Christmas holiday has the longest lead-time and Independence Day the shortest.

The chart below shows the inverse view using the average for all holidays.

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Percent of search traffic captured by lead time

We were also interested to see how this curve might change for seasonal events where there is no one specifically-associated date. We decided that “Back to School” searches would provide us with a good look at how these events differ from the specific date-centric holidays. The data below shows how the curve starts at roughly the same time (45 days in advance) but the tail stays active for a longer period, indicating that you may want to hold a series of events or a longer term promotion around these holidays.

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How to use the 45-Day Rule for your business

Here’s how to put the 45-Day Rule to work for your business. Start your planning at least 60 days in advance and post your content at least 45 days in advance to your website and social media. Then use the 45-Day Rule as your starting point to coordinate all other audience outreach.

A suggested timeline:

  • 45 Days in Advance – post your promotion to your website calendar and post a save-the-date post on social media (including your email newsletter).
  • 7 Days in Advance – post an upcoming events post to social media and via email and encourage other small businesses to share it with their followers.
  • 1 Day in Advance – post a reminder event tomorrow post via social media.

Following the 45-Day Rule for your marketing promotions will enable search engines to pick up your event in time to drive some traffic, will give your customers and followers ample time whether they are planners or procrastinators, and will maximize the number of people you reach.

 

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