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Content is King, but Data Calls the Shots

July 17, 2018


We've all heard the old marketing adage: "Content is king." We live it every day, building entire businesses around ads, commercials, social media posts, blogs, and websites. Without that steady stream of content reaching our target audience, we depend entirely on location and word of mouth—terribly unreliable methods for scaling a business.


As vital as content is, however, it's not going to get results all by itself. Content might be king, but data calls the shots.


Data: The Puppet Master

When I was managing a publication for A/P professionals, we measured all of our headlines to see how many clicks each story received on the companion website. Headlines became a sort of game. The goal: Crack the secret formula to see how many clicks we could get. 


This isn't always intuitive, as we quickly learned. A perfect example: When you're picturing your A/P audience, you'd expect "fraud" to grab a lot of attention. A ton of company cash is lost every year through fraud, and most of it exits the company through the A/P department. 


But getting "fraud" into a headline always flopped. Only a small percentage of our readers really worried about fraud, and they weren't captivated by its presence in a headline. Still, we had a job as journalists. If there was a big fraud-related news story, they needed to hear about it to remain educated, informed professionals. 


In talking with our readers (which we did every week), we learned they perked up whenever they saw the words "A/P" and "Mistake" in the same headline. That led to a new strategy: If there was a big, valuable fraud story, we would use headline phrases like "How this A/P Manager Lost $X" or "What This A/P Manager Did Wrong." 


The new language resonated because readers had an easier time imagining themselves in the position, and they wanted to know what the mistake was. It wasn't something foreign and vaguely threatening like fraud.


Remember: We were publishing the same story, just angled a little differently. As a result, we saw an increase in clicks and engagement—all by dropping a single word from our headline vocabulary. 


Data is Everywhere, and It's Beautiful to Behold

Social media marketing is always interesting to discuss with clients. Many have some inkling that it's important, but they struggle to explain why—or even what they should do with the social media platforms already in place. 


I've taken over a number of floundering client social media accounts. In many cases, it's after a company has posted sporadic, irrelevant content. Regardless, the approach is always the same: audit, then develop a strategy. 


In digging through old client posts, you can determine exactly what has already succeeded with followers (and what fans have ignored). If something has done well, we can consider continuing it. In many cases, however, there are opportunities to improve. 


For a special effects client, we've hit a nice stride that brings in additional followers on a regular basis. Since many of our followers like horror, we've taken to posting a steady diet of articles on horror movies, our original blog posts, and images from our photo shoots. It's a formula that works because we've measured—and we continue to measure through each marketing experimentation.


Key Takeaways: 3 Steps to Take Today

You can start putting your marketing data to use today. Here are a few steps you can take:

1. Run monthly reports. You've been blogging, you've been posting on social media, you've sent out newsletters. Pull a report that looks at your performance during each month, then look at the individual pieces. What stands out? 

2. If you're doing something you can't measure, reconsider. There are few actions you should take without measuring. If you're going to try something new, make sure you can measure it somehow.

3. Make your data digestible. I've seen horrifying reports with data deposited straight into PowerPoint slideshows. However you're storing your data, ensure it can be easily sorted so you can drill down for better, juicier information. 


Need help with your content marketing? Contact Poetica Marketing at 412-522-0647, or email us at  

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P.S. Marketing Solutions LLC dba Poetica Marketing  |  |  412-522-0647 | 519 Louann St, Pittsburgh, PA 15223