For marketers, it’s the million-dollar question: How often is too often to reach out to clients and prospects?

Finding the balance between being endearing and overbearing is tricky: Too few interactions and you could be forgotten, too many and you could annoy your customers enough to unsubscribe from your newsfeed and your mailing list.

While a lot depends on what you’re selling and to whom you’re selling it to, there are some general rules to follow when it comes to frequency:

  • Emails – This medium is extremely variable depending on your audience, but weekly, or slightly less, is a good place to start. That’s because emails that are sent more frequently run the risk of getting marked as spam or unsubscribed from entirely, while emails that are too irregular tend to lead to lost revenue, higher complaint rates, and a messy subscriber list. According to a recent survey of 2,057 adults by Marketing Sherpa, the vast majority reported that they’d prefer to receive marketing emails “at least monthly” or “at least weekly”, with more and less frequent options garnering very little interest. And a report by the UK Direct Marketing Association noted that many marketers are finding a similar balance with their own customers, with 39% opting to send emails 2-3 times per month.
  • Direct mail – For the most part, the production and shipping time and cost of direct mail prevents businesses from sending their materials too frequently; however, there is always a risk of not sending often enough. Direct mail, whether it’s advertisements, print newsletters, or catalogs, is all about perseverance. Most experts agree that regularly sending direct mail can yield impressive results, so if you have a compelling offer and a targeted, vetted list — and the postage budget to back it up — then this is one marketing medium that’s difficult to overdo.
  • Social media – Each social media community has its own set of unspoken ideas about posting frequency. As Forbes points out, the rule of thumb with Facebook is that if you have more than 10,000 followers, then you should be posting twice a day to maximize your engagement per post, whereas fewer followers calls for much less posting — even cutting it back to weekly. Similarly, Social Bakers found that the best brand engagement occurred on Twitter when brands tweeted 1-5 times a day, and Union Metrics discovered that engagement on Instagram isn’t necessarily linked to how often you post, but instead on posting on a reliable, predictable schedule. For all of these and other social media sites, the key is to start with your industry average, and then tweak your frequency based on your users’ feedback (or lack thereof).

Just remember, whatever you do, do it consistently and send it to the right people. With these two factors in place, figuring out the perfect frequency will become a boon instead of a burden.