The 80/20 Rule for Marketing

80–20 Rule And How It Applies To Digital Marketing

What is the 80/20 rule? | The Pareto principle states that for many outcomes roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes. Other names for this principle are the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity.

This is the concept where 20% of the effort produces 80% of the value. This is not new thinking.

How does this apply to Digital marketing and social media?

Once there seemed to have been a formula which suggested that brands need to be | ENGAGING | INFORMATIVE | EDUCATIONAL | ENTERTAINING | & 20% promoting your business. Well guess what there is no one rule works for all, each brand needs to develop a strategy that works for them, communicating their core messaging through content that reflects their brands passions. Sorry to say there is no magic potion that works, but there are ways to plan & maximise your efforts = results.

Don’t get me wrong the 80/20 rule is a good place to start & for some brands it works really well. Every social media page, whether it be for a personal brand, business, corporation, etc. will have a different target audience, different demographics, and an overall different strategy. Upholding the same standard ratio as an overall guideline for everyone is a little constricting.

The trick is to find a ratio that works for you and your brand.

At the end of the day you can build a successful social media strategy with a specific goal in mind and thus created your own ratio for your own unique brand strategy.

  • It will take brainstorming
  • A/B testing
  • Consistent posting
  • Take the time to define your brand
  • Plan your goals

I am totally going to use this a plug for me to say, work with me. 🙋🏽‍♀️🙌🏽👩🏼‍💻 I love getting to know your business and help you build a unique strategy for your brand. GET IN TOUCH & let’s chat see how I can help you.

I would say if you do not have a team to support you and are running a new start-up having constraints with your time and resources, then go with the 80–20 rule of Social Media Marketing. Having said that, it means 20% you must have the originality in your content and rest 80% you can drive through the inspiration from your competitors or business in the same niche.

Competitor benchmarking is important when you are just building up your audience. Specify your user segment according to customers and start creating the content bucket to channelise.

80% Of Your Time Is Wasted

The reality here is that in many instances, 80% of the time you spend is a wasted effort that generates no results. Digital comes along with its big claims of just how measurable everything is, but unfortunately, we also have a hugely split environment with opportunities hidden amongst a complex maze.

I would estimate that the 50% of our efforts are waisted. 50% are driving results, but how to tell what 50% is working for our business and driving results.Going through the motions, no idea what to measure, how to determine success or what is really working (if anything). It’s not pretty.

Simply trying to manage ,social, content & email marketing, websites, influencer programs, sales funnels provides today’s marketers with a dizzying array of distractions. To put it into numbers, if you work 160 hours per month, as few as 8 of those hours could actually be achieving something! So proving efficiency, having a plan and clear strategy, can really help you manage your efforts.

Improving Efficiency

I am not going to pretend I have all the answers here. What I do know is that SEO, content marketing, social and digital marketing are leaky activities. What is the value of those 8 hours per week you spend posting on social media? What is the value of that blog post? That link you built?

Project methodologies like Scrum and Kanban break work into short cycles (or sprints) and focuses on constant improvement. This is usually achieved through a retrospective at the end of any work cycle that asks key questions to determine what is working, not working, and what can be improved.

Some free resources for you to help improve your daily check inns with your team:

A few key takeaways here:

  • Awareness of the problem is the first step
  • Stop multitasking and focus on individual tasks one at a time
  • Review agile frameworks to find what works for your business
  • Implement retrospective meetings for continuous improvement

What should your business be focussed on then?

Most businesses want to do many things that barely help them grow. They’re wasting time on non-productive work (also called “busy work”). Cut out unproductive activities.

Find the channels that works for you

There are thousands of marketing channels out there. Most likely, you focus on 5–10 of them. You’re probably using too many marketing channels. Let’s apply the 80/20 rule.

Identifying your most effective marketing channels: Look at your analytics and effectiveness of each channel. How much time you’ve spent on each channel. What results is it giving you?

For example, you could say that you spent 20 hours on producing five blog posts last month. As long as you’re tracking the results from those specific posts, you’ll get an accurate assessment.

Channel | Time spent | Cost of time | Other costs | Total Cost

| Sales \ effectiveness ➡️ Profit

Finally, we need to calculate for how much of that total each marketing channel accounts. In your final column, divide the “profit per hour” number by the “total sales” number, and multiply it by 100 to get a percentage.

Here’s the full chart.

Let’s analyse our efforts compared to our results (Profits)

Stopped using those marketing channels that produced less than 20% of your overall results but took up about 80% of your time? You’d free up about 80% of your time!

You could spend more time on:

  • Collaborations
  • Business partnerships
  • Building great customer experience

With any channel, you want to find out whether spending extra time on it is effective. Invest your newly recovered free time in the channels that produce the most results.

Your customers

Assuming you have a developed product line, you’ll find that 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your revenue. These are the customers who buy in bulk, buy tons of your different products, or just buy consistently, time after time.

  1. Make a list of all your customers.
  2. How much revenue they’ve produced.
  3. How long they’ve been a customer
  4. The revenue divided by that time period

Your job now is to research your customers and find out in what way your top customers differ from your other customers.

  • Find more like them your top customers
  • Find what the issues are & how you can improve your customer experience.
  • Build loyalty programs and referral programs

Cutting your content creation time

If you can outsource it, that will help but cost you a lot. 20% of your posts will produce 80% of your traffic or email subscribers.

Look at your top performing posts, we can discover what it is about them that produces more traffic than all the others? You likely have all the data prepared for you already in Google Analytics.

Now it’s time to analyze: Knowing which pages produce the most traffic alone doesn’t help you. You need to analyze it.

  • topic — write down a category that each post falls into
  • length — how long is your content (the word count)?
  • form of content — is it a blog post, infographic, video, etc.?
  • type of content — is it a tutorial, an opinion piece, a Q&A article, etc.?

Compare all the top articles to the bottom ones to spot trends.

Just by focusing on more effective types of content, you’ll be growing your traffic much faster than before.


As a marketer, you’ll always feel like you have more work to do. Instead of burning yourself out, look for ways to do things more efficiently. Improve your marketing and possibly business as a whole.

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Digital Strategist, living in Asia for almost a decade. Check me out on: