Does Content Marketing Have Room for Luck?

Unlike Daft Punk, we marketers are not up all night to get lucky. We’re up all night forming target personas, squinting at Google Analytics, and planning our editorial calendars.

In content marketing, luck is the unreliable cousin of data and predictive analytics – it sometimes shows up on time, more often it is nowhere to be found. Luck is the dropout of its class. Data is the valedictorian.

What role does luck play in marketing?

Can We Measure Luck in Content Marketing?

Well, no. Inherent in luck is its inability to be measured. Chance rules over action, happenstance rears its lopsided head. If we are able to accurately measure a growing pool of marketing qualified leads or subscribers to a blog, that’s not luck – it’s the result of successful marketing, which we track and attribute to various factors.

Luck is when your grandmother hits a half-court shot and wins a Lexus.

Still, many companies don’t feel confident in their data, leaving more up to chance and eliminating any opportunity to learn from predictive analytics. In Infogroup’s 2015 report, “Big Data’s Big Payday,” just 21 percent of respondents said they were “very confident” in the accuracy and completeness of their customer profiles, and 53 percent of marketers wanted more information on their customers. Marketers are not satisfied with the knowledge they hold about their target audiences. And according to the 2015 CMO Survey, only 30 percent of companies formally evaluate the quality of their marketing analytics. These results seems to indicate that most companies aren’t confident with their data, don’t know how to put it to use, or simply don’t value it. That makes predictive analytics, or simply analytics, difficult. They’re leaving the door open, waiting for luck to arrive.

We may not be able to accurately measure luck, but we can create more opportunities for it to grace us with its presence.

Provoke Your Luck

In a recent HBR article, “Why the Best Salespeople Get So Lucky,” Marketing Professor Joël Le Bon writes about how experienced salespeople generate provoked luck, or “unexpected events that come about because their strategic behavior has maximized the opportunities.”

In his research, which involved interviewing and surveying sales students who were tasked with selling golf tournament sponsorships and player openings, Le Bon found that more than two-thirds of the students attributed the revenue they generated to luck, as opposed to traditional sales processes. Le Bon cites a number of challenges salespeople face: attractive deals from competitors, internal budget cuts, and changing customer behavior. He concludes, “A young salesperson’s best tool for getting through this valley of despair is a firm belief in luck—not the luck of the random windfall, but the kind of provoked luck that truly helps increase the odds of success.”

Marketers too, young and old, must embrace unexpected good fortune. How can we increase our odds at provoked luck?

  • Build relationships via social media: By sourcing and tagging high-quality brands and influential people in your work, you can begin to establish a relationship with leaders in the field. As you help promote their work, you will find that sometimes, with a little “luck,” they will reciprocate and plug you back.
  • Know your audience like the back of your iPhone: Few things are more important to marketers than knowing who they’re marketing to. Here are 50 questions to ask when developing audience personas.
  • Act on trends: According to every source on the Internet, Donald Trump is trending right now. For better or worse, discover and analyze what’s trending and take advantage of the rising tide.

Every year, data enables marketers to inform their strategies better than the last. We know our audience better and are able to produce more targeted and relevant content, fine-tuning user experience. As big data blooms, and predictive analytics along with it, the door for luck will shut. How much do you believe in marketing luck?

This article originally appeared on The Content Standard.