As marketing consultants, we get a lot of questions from clients about engaging with target markets. Who should we be targeting? How do we engage with them? When should we reach out? And in what format? On what channel? With what spend? But time and time again, one question seems to pop up more frequently than all the rest:

How much is too much when it comes digital marketing?

While there is no silver-bullet answer to this question, I will say those who ask are probably not doing enough to engage their audiences in the digital space.

That’s because many of the core tactics used by digital marketers (email, social, digital ads, etc.) hit the industry fast, and I mean FAST. The birth of Google in the late ‘90s sent shockwaves through the marketing world, completely altering the way businesses communicate with their audiences. Now, we’ve entered a world where inboxes are ripe with coupon codes and free shipping offers and voice commands on your phone can trigger a Facebook ad. Unsurprisingly, many marketing professionals are still trying to sort through the aftermath to find their niche.

However, even if the medium has changed, the way in which you rationalize your marketing efforts shouldn’t. Frequency of communications, much like the other questions I’ve outlined above, should always be based on audience preferences.

Here are three surefire ways to ensure your digital marketing cadence is on track.

  1. Refer to your buyer persona and refine if necessary: For those who are unfamiliar with the term, our friends at HubSpot define a buyer persona as a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. A good buyer persona often includes a mix of demographic information and user preferences to paint a picture of a company’s perfect prospect. Ideally, this would also include information about communication preferences.

Over the years, we’ve found that while companies might have a general sense of what their target market is, the majority of their marketing decisions are based on educated guesses, rather than hard facts. This is where inconsistencies in message delivery creep in.

The best buyer personas come from in-depth conversations with current customers. If you have questions about how often you should be connecting with your target market on social media or through email, just ask! There is no harm in sending a quick survey to your network so you can better understand their needs.

  1. Use data to drive your decision-making: Over the past few years, you’ve probably heard the term “big data” thrown around once or 12,000 times in marketing meetings. Though seemingly overused, the hype is most certainly real with this one. Even the simplest of digital platforms today will give you more data than you know what to do with. And while understanding human behavior is an artform, these tools can probably tell you what I plan to wear tomorrow, let alone how often you should be communicating with a prospect.

Take a look at how your communications have performed in the past and use that to guide future thinking. For instance, say you’re sending six emails a month to a specific segment, but you’re seeing the most engagement on emails one and four, or you start seeing unsubscribes on email six. That could be a sign you’re sending blasts too frequently.

On the flipside, perhaps you’re seeing a ton of engagement on your emails and are considering sending more. Try adding in another offer or two within your existing campaign schedule and see if there is any change then adjust up or level off from there.

  1. Follow the golden rule of marketing: One of the main reasons clients ask us about the frequency of communications is because they’re afraid of oversaturation. They feel if they send too many touchpoints they will turn potential customers off. In a way, they’re right. Inundating customers with an email every day and blasting ads to anyone and everyone can paint a negative image of a company. However, this is the exception rather than the norm in most cases. These tools, scary as they seem, are there to make your life easier, not hinder potential growth.

That said, if you’ve followed the steps above and you’re still feeling apprehensive about how often you’re engaging with your audience, always rely on the golden rule as a fall back: Treat others how you would want to be treated.

Chances are you’ve been the victim of information overload in the past and haven’t even noticed it. Or maybe you did, but it wasn’t enough to tip the scales one way or another. Either way, when in doubt, put yourself in the user’s shoes – nine times out of 10, your gut will guide you in the right direction.