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    The 45-Day Rule: Promoting Your Local Business Online

    By Eric Groves | Yahoo Small Business

    One of the core concepts of online promotion is our 45-Day Rule. In this post we explore the underlying data behind the rule, share insights on variances to the data, and provide you with ideas on how you can put our Rule to work for you and your business.

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

    45 Day Window45 Day Window

    This chart shows the 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%, but 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 Valentine’s Day the shortest.  

    The chart below shows the inverse view using the average for all holidays. It shows the percent of search traffic captured by lead time.

    Inverse WindowInverse Window

    We were also interested to see how this curve might change for seasonal events where there is no one specific 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.

    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, Facebook page and Town Calendar. Then use the 45-Day Rule as your starting point to coordinate all other audience outreach.

    To learn more about creating a timeline for your posts, check out a recent piece on Mastering Online Time.

    Eric Groves is the co-founder and CEO of Alignable (www.alignable.com), the free social network for local businesses and organizations to connect and collaborate with others nearby. Eric has been a local marketing expert and enthusiast since 2001, authored The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing, and believes that local businesses are always stronger together.

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