Appeasing the numbers game folks while making your creative heart happy

Brett McGrath

January 11, 2022

Appeasing the numbers game folks while making your creative heart happy

When I run campaigns like this one I source my team for feedback on people who I should include. I am in the process of exploring why marketers continue to double down on the volume game when they know quality content prevails. This is a journey to get in the hearts and minds of content people to better understand the process and pull out themes that you can use to tell your boss that there is a new way to do marketing. We like to call participants in the new way Modern Day Marketers and Brittany Shulman is absolutely one of those individuals. She was referred to me by Kate at The Juice and have read her piece a dozen times. I hope you enjoy it and it helps you as much as it helped me during my exploration. You can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn to learn more from her ideas.

Appeasing the numbers game folks while making your creative heart happy

Brittany Shulman, Senior Global Content Strategist


Working in a creative and strategic field like marketing is pretty cool. You get to look at problems through a content-based solution lens, work cross-functionally in your organization, and create beautiful deliverables. The challenge? Having to explain a creative function to those fixated on metrics.

As I’ve learned in the past year especially, more isn’t better. More is just, well, more. Working at a global retail software and services company, during a pandemic, where e-commerce and digital took off exponentially, had me learn this lesson at warped speed.

When March 2020 hit, my already small team doubled down on our existing content plan and our new COVID content plan. Yes, we started delivering on two content plans while a global pandemic raged around us. As the asks increased, I found myself asking why.

It comes back to the human reason for a lot of decisions: fear. Folks were afraid of abandoning ship, jumping ship, going for a swim in deep water, switching to a rowboat… you catch my drift. As the content engine for my company, something had to give. I needed to find a way to get buy in across my company for a more controlled content effort, not one that threw everything at a wall to see what would stick.

What seems logical (Why create more lower quality content instead of fewer, more poignant pieces?) still needs an explanation to those pouring over analytics with a fine tooth comb.

To keep the numbers game folks appeased while still keeping my creative heart happy, there are two things I think every content creator needs to do.

First, build a plan. And not just a few ideas scribbled in a Google doc. Lay out what content you want to create, which keywords you plan to target, and where each piece fits in the sales funnel. My preference is to do this quarterly – far enough ahead you give yourself good lead time, but not too far that your ideas become obsolete.

With your plan, include research to back it up. Whether that’s SEO strategy, industry research, state of marketing stats, give your numbers people something tangible. And here’s why – you’re asking metrics-focused people to abandon their comfort zone. You need to slowly ease them out of it, win them over, and get them to adopt, or at least trust, your way of thinking. 

Part of this plan is where you bake in some of the new stuff you want to try (even if your only justification is you saw Hootsuite say it will work or that one of your competitors is already doing it).

For example – when I joined Bazaarvoice, there were a few hero campaigns in place like our Shopper Experience Index. This annual research report was a beast to build. I suggested a few changes to make the process more efficient and to streamline the report itself. That was two years ago. I’m currently in the process of building my third Shopper Experience Index, and we continue to evolve it every year to do what works best. 

Second, be vocal. Use your expertise to educate and also level with your naysayers. One of the best questions you can pose is this: 

“Would you rather we have more pieces of content that convert more poorly, or fewer pieces that convert better?”

While your numbers people may like volume, they love conversion. You’ll be doing a much greater service getting the right people to your website and ultimately, to convert.

And if you’re feeling a little snarky, you can also ask this:

“Would you rather read 20 sub-par articles lacking information or consumer one concise piece of content that answers all of your questions?”

At Bazaarvoice, this looks like this:

As consumers get smarter, marketers need to, too. Consumers are after what they want to read, learn, consume. And as marketers, we just need to drop the tactics, create some really compelling stuff, and deliver.

Want to read the full eBook? Check it out on the Juice. 🧃

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