Here’s an actual moment in my career that made me want to start flipping tables. It’s an exchange between me and a colleague from several years ago:
Me: Let’s update that truly terrible project sitting behind that lead-gen form. The design sucks. The copy is awful. We’re probably pissing off a ton of people who expect something great when they fill out that big form gating it.
Colleague: Why? The landing page is getting a ton of traffic and it’s generating a ton of form-fills for us.
Me: (wraps fingers slowly around table leg)
Being a content marketer is tough business. Being a content marketer who cares about the content part is even harder.
When defending an idea or desire to do better work, create-first content marketers so often hear the same comeback: “But how do you know? Can you prove that?”
Nope. I just know. I can feel it. I have good taste.
The metrics we use to “know things” in content marketing are often misused to justify bad behavior — just like my old colleague. And the obsession with cold, hard, often non-existent absolutes, instead of embracing the messiness that is making stuff, leads to some pretty disgusting decisions and grotesque content. I mean, there’s just no way any human being wants to keep hearing from your company when you promised them goodness but served them a loaf of crap, roasted for hours in the dumpster behind your office. With a sprinkle of parsley. For character.
Introducing URR: Unsolicited Response Rate
I was recently interviewed in Boston at Daniel Glickman’s event, CMO Confessions. He asked how I measured the growth of my show. I knew the standard response here was some kind of strategic-sounding list of metrics and maybe a funnel graphic sketched excitedly onto a whiteboard. But, being a card-carrying member of Emotional Makers United (or “EMU”), I went right for the kill with a swift kick of the claw:
“Unsolicited responses to my work.”
If people are going out of their way to write me an email or leave a thoughtful comment or share the thing but with their own emotional response added? Clearly, the thing I made is good. And I can do some serious damage by marketing a thing that is good.
And thus “URR” was born.
I may never fully understand the content marketing industry’s need to explain in a dashboard what most humans intuitively know, but hey, us EMUs tend to fly — err, walk — in a different direction than most.
We look for resonance, not reach. We crave the creation part. We want to make stuff that matters — to us, to others. And guess what? That makes us huge weapons for any business. For an EMU, the feathers in your cap (or, you know, covering your body) come from making a thing that others really friggin’ enjoy. That’s the harder part today — making a thing people love, not putting a thing in front of people.
Once you do the hard part, lean in harder.
So, how do we measure what we make? People seemed to like it. A small number of people reacted in a big way. The rest of the stuff just tends to follow.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some tables to pick up.