What digital marketers can learn from the baseball playoffs

I’m no expert in baseball, but I’ve noticed something that happens every year during the major league baseball playoffs: When the series is on the line, managers use their best pitcher even if he hasn’t had the amount of rest required between starts.

How does the manager know who is best? If you have any exposure to baseball, you know the answer to that question: It’s in the pitcher’s statistics. The manager will look at the pitcher’s ERA, his record against the opposing team, his home vs away record, and other telling pieces of data that let him know who should perform best when the team’s fate is on the line in one game.

We need to take the same approach with our social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing. Find your strongest performers and concentrate your efforts in reproducing similar content or campaigns.

However, while finding your strongest performers is pretty easy, determining why they performed well is not as clear cut. You need to analyze your “super star” marketing pieces on a variety of attributes.


The topics you feature in your social sharing; the information you convey in your blog, videos, and podcasts; and the focus of your newsletters will be one of the most important attributes you analyze. Collect these over time, ranking them and looking for trends.


Within each of the media you use – articles, videos, audios, emails, posts  – consider the format of the content. Among these are formats such as:

  • How to
  • Lists
  • In-depth analysis
  • Short reads
  • Tips, tricks, hacks
  • Humorous

Can you find formats that perform better than average? If nothing else, it’s a good idea to know what doesn’t work with your readers.


In many cases, when you find winning formats, you’ll find winning headlines; especially if lists and tips are popular with your prospects.

But, in addition to this, look for other headline attributes. For example, when I sit down to see how well this article performs, I’ll note that my headline references sports and also something that is currently in the news.

A headline might be funny or dramatic, or it might be inspired by the kind of clickbait headlines that perform so well in advertising.

Data analysis

All the major social media platforms offer analytical tools you can use to measure the performance of your posts over time. Further, you should have Google analytics installed on your website and be using it properly to give you the insights you need.

Set aside an hour or so every couple of weeks to dive into your analytics and keep track of what you discover each time. You could put together a spread sheet to capture the top five, 10, or 20 pieces of content and posts each time you do your analysis. You could also do the same thing with your worst performing content. Trends may not jump out at you the first time you do this, but after a few sessions, you should start to learn some important lessons.

One more thing. You may think that your prospect base will get tired of a certain topic, format, or headline writing approach. I suggest you go back to the example MLB managers set when they are facing elimination: stick with your proven winners until they give signs of losing their ability to perform for you.