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Stop Creating Content to Satisfy Your Vanity Metrics and Start Creating Content to Build Affinity

Brett McGrath

Aug 9, 2022

Stop Creating Content to Satisfy Your Vanity Metrics and Start Creating Content to Build Affinity

I reached out cold to Adam this year. I hadn't spoken to anyone who worked in the email marketing space since I had joined The Juice and realized that he was relatively newer in his role. I came from this space and was interested in learning about the shifts and how much had changed since I left it. After I got off my first call with Adam I couldn't stop thinking about a conversation. To say he left an impression would be an understatement. He comes from a media background and has very strong opinions on what marketing is good and what marketing is bad. I was pumped when he decided to commit to our Modern Day Marketer's Guide to Turning Down the Volume Game and Turning Up Quality content eBook. Enjoy his work here and follow up on Twitter and LinkedIn for more.

Stop Creating Content to Satisfy Your Vanity Metrics and Start Creating Content to Build Affinity

Adam Cohen

Director of Marketing, Campaign Monitor

I think about this tweet a lot.


It may not have been written specifically for marketers, but it’s a concept I’m constantly stressing to leadership. Traffic can be fleeting and it most certainly can be gamed, so obsessing over its ebbs and flows isn’t time well spent. The Ozy Media saga is a perfect example of flashy traffic figures (fanciful or not) masquerading in place of an audience. While it’s not usually so blatant, things like that happen because you can cut corners to generate traffic, but there are no shortcuts for building an audience. Understanding why traffic ≠ audience is key for marketers that are trying to break out of the volume game. I’m going to use traffic as a catch-all for your volume metric of choice, since I can almost guarantee that if you’re tasked with ‘generating as many leads as possible by any means necessary’, you have also had the ‘why did our traffic drop?’ conversation. We need to shift that focus toward developing the type of content that builds affinity, resonance, and most importantly, a dedicated audience.

Which brings me back to the tweet. I don’t know how to play the piano, but if you put me in front of one, you better believe I could make a ton of noise and piss off my neighbors. Under no circumstance would you ever classify that as music. Marketers need to invest in high quality content, because that’s the foundation for building an audience. Which leaves you much better positioned to capture their attention (and dollars) when they’re ready to buy. And since I clearly love a good metaphor, let’s stretch this one as far as it can go with a couple more audience building tips.

Find your version of the Beatles in Hamburg

I really shouldn’t have to explain this one...so I won't. Growth is built on experimentation and failure, and the best time for that is before anyone knows who you are. It’s also the most critical time to hone your skills, establish your voice, and see what kind of content starts to stick. But you need to start small, and build around a specific topic or niche before you can branch out. Repetition is key for improvement, but it’s also crucial for good marketing. It’s going to take some time to create the kind of content worthy of attracting an audience, but stick with it and trust the process.    

Be realistic about the venue you’re fit to play

Let’s assume that you’re past the point of busking on the street corner (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) and you have some semblance of an audience. Self awareness and realistic goals are essential to getting buy-in from leadership. The last thing you want to do is announce that you’re playing in a stadium arena when you only just graduated from college-town dive bars. The metaphor starts to unravel a bit here, because overnight success—while incredibly rare—is a thing that can happen in the music industry. But if your company has a few thousand newsletter subscribers, it doesn’t mean you’re ready to host your own branded event series. Focusing on building a connection, and an open line of communication with the audience consistently engaging with your content. Make it easy for them to give you feedback and lean into those relationships. Then map out a realistic path forward that puts your content and your brand in the position to take the next step, without spreading your resources too thin.

Content marketing is hard enough without all of the forces inside of an organization demanding more traffic and more leads. Given the ever increasing volume of noise across the web, the value of free, high quality content has arguably never been higher. Like any investment, building an audience will take time, but if done correctly, it will have a far greater impact than the volume metrics certain parties are so hesitant to sacrifice. The sooner you can shift that focus, the better the music will sound in the end. 

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

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