The Rule of 7: increasing customer interactions in the digital age

What is the Rule of 7 and should your business use it as a customer strategy in 2024? We explore the pros and cons of this marketing concept, as well as tips on best practice.

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The long-established Rule of 7 tells marketers how they might maintain contact and visibility with clients to earn their trust and business.

When it comes to marketing, persistence pays off. That’s not to say that you should badger your customers, potential or established – gentle reminders are all you need.

Now that people are exposed to so many ideas, brands and products, the rule states that they need to see or hear from your company around seven times before it ‘sticks’ with them.

However, this concept has been around since the 1930s – and things have moved on considerably since then. How relevant is the Rule of 7 now that so much of what potential customers consume is online?

In this article, we’ll take a look at how the Rule of 7 marketing principle has been affected by the digital revolution, and how new businesses can still make it work for them with the right, strategic application

What is the Rule of 7?

The Rule of 7 is a marketing method by which businesses aim to expose consumers to a product, program or service seven times.

Quite simply, the idea is that a certain level of familiarity and trust must be established before a consumer will purchase a product. especially when it comes at a higher price.

The number seven is not set in stone, of course. It’s more of an acknowledgment that serious – and potentially repeat – clients require information, including feedback from other customers, to inspire them sufficiently to part with their money. It’s about exposure and access to information. 

The concept was first conceived of during the early days of the Golden Age of Hollywood, when film execs were trying to lure audiences to cinemas.

Visibility, they discovered, was key – and it’s no different today. Whether customers see an advertisement, a mention on a social media platform, a review on a customer experience website, or a product being used by an influential figure – all of these materials are sending a subliminal message that the brand is worth the customer’s attention. 

Seven seconds is also said to be vital to the length of time a company has to make a first impression on consumers. 

Inevitably, the digital age means that we are exposed to more visuals, more information, more sales pitches and more hype than ever before. Markets are saturated. People, scrolling furiously through their social media feeds, complain of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of mental ‘clutter’ they are exposed to.

All this means that visuals are especially important to the Rule of 7 – you need to win over customers in just seven seconds to be able to stand out from the crowd. 

How has the Rule of 7 adapted to the digital age?

It’s safe to say that, when it comes to numbers, firms now have many more ways to make their brand visible to audiences. 

From old-school magazine advertisements, billboards and TV and radio commercials, there’s now the addition of social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, as well as email campaigns. This means that it’s possible to engage with a customer in multiple ways – and thus many more than seven times.

Digitisation also gives greater access to insights. Marketers are now able to target audiences via SEO (search engine optimisation). They can also measure the success of a campaign via KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), ROI (return on investment) and CLV (Customer Lifetime Value). 

Firms can also take advantage of social media to perform competitor analysis on rivals’ pages, answering questions like: what do your competitors’ social media pages look like? How much customer engagement is there? Is there a correlation between their ‘follower’ numbers and the numbers of likes and comments on their posts, or are their followers largely inactive? 

Tools like Brandwatch enable you to actively monitor social media conversations taking place around certain brands and industries, providing valuable awareness for your own endeavours. 

All this data gives marketers the opportunity to figure out what’s working well, where money can be saved – and where more can be spent.

How many ways are there for a customer to interact with a brand?

How long is a piece of string? In this day and age, there are innumerable ways for a customer to interact with a brand – and vice versa. Here are the top ten ways in which consumers interact with a brand today:

  • Reading a review – whether professional (a newspaper) or customer-based (for example, TripAdvisor)
  • Seeing an advertisement on TV, in a magazine or on a billboard or bus/ bus shelter
  • Seeing the brand mentioned in an article
  • Hearing someone mention the brand
  • Noticing the brand in an online search
  • Seeing someone on social media endorse the brand
  • Noticing the brand exhibiting at a convention or similar event
  • Seeing a pop-up ad when online
  • Taking a call from a company representative
  • Receiving a promotional offer, whether by post or email

How can my business increase its visibility?

The Rule of 7 has proved its worth over the years, and just because the channels available to marketers are so much more plentiful than they used to be, this doesn’t mean that the rule has become obsolete. It’s still a useful basic structure from which to work when a business is getting off the ground, and one that can be adapted as the business expands.

Here are our top seven tips for implementing the Rule of 7 in your own business: 

1. Know your client base

Who is your target customer? Where are they most likely to spend their real life or virtual time and thus be exposed to your brand? Create buyer personas that outline the demographic you’re targeting, as well as what their wants, needs and means are. This involves researching your customers and the client bases of your competitors and evaluating how your products and price points meet those wants and needs.

2. Make a plan

Now that you have a mental image of your customer, you should have a better idea of where they are likely to be exposed to mentions of your product. You should be better acquainted with which social media platforms they use; which websites they frequent; what types of events they attend and which media they read or watch. Based on this information, you should be able to determine how to improve brand  visibility and generate more sales.

3. Set up a remarketing plan

It’s one thing for a prospective customer to visit your website; it’s another thing for them to click through to another page. By activating a remarketing (or retargeting, as it is also known) plan, you can bring your brand back to the attention of someone who’s previously shown some interest, however brief, in your brand. Doing this via Google, LinkedIn and Facebook is low cost, and requires minimal effort on your part.

4. Put your digital prospecting channels in motion

Digital prospecting is all about attracting new audiences who are likely to convert to customers. Now that you are familiar with your buyer persona, you can create and activate a plan to develop your market and reach new customers within that persona. 

5. Ensure that your plan takes the entire buyer lifecycle into consideration

The buyer lifecycle starts with lack of awareness (of the product), to being interested in the product, to becoming a first-time customer. Once a sale has been made, the aim is to encourage the customer to become a repeat or regular customer, and finally to become active advocates of the brand. Make sure that your content marketing plan covers this entire lifecycle.

6. Promote your content via social channels

You should already be getting some SEO visibility via the content you’ve created but you should also amplify this content on various channels via a combination of paid, owned and organic techniques. A good content amplification strategy should inspire potential customers to read and share your content, getting you more impressions, engagement, more traffic and, ultimately, more leads resulting in more conversions and thus more revenue.

7. Invest time in lead nurturing

Nurture campaigns are most commonly conducted via emails which are sent to your audience to educate them about your product or to inform them of a special offer. Their purpose is to motivate customers, no matter what stage of the buying cycle they’re at, to take more of interest in your product, or to actively buy it, recommend it, or opt-in to mailouts. Making a customer feel ‘seen’ by and important to a brand has a massive impact on lead generation ‘sticking’ and converting to actual sales.

Infographic displaying the top seven ways for businesses to increase customer interactions


As we’ve seen, the Rule of 7, despite having been around for almost a century, has continuing relevance in today’s marketing landscape.

The principle can be adapted to just about any marketing strategy in just about any industry. In fact, with the number of channels available to marketers these days – as well as changes in how, why and where customers buy – the opportunities for harnessing the Rule of 7 and making it work for you are almost endless.

And, since the digital age is bound to continue growing and adapting, these opportunities will also expand – meaning even bigger sales numbers, strengthened buyer loyalty, and more valuable customer relationships.

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