How Two Brands Approach Data-Driven Content

We’re in the thick of the holiday season and that can only mean one thing: everyone is in full-on shopping mode. Whether it’s for gifts or for potlucks, we have our lists and we’ve checked them twice. We know exactly what we’re picking up, and we’ll be in and out of that mall or grocery store as fast as humanly possible.

As a brand trying to make your way onto that shopping list, you know how difficult it is to reach your consumer right now. With all the coupons, countdowns, and holiday must-haves, how do you cut through the noise? It’s always a challenge to create content that resonates. For the past few years, the golden ticket for successful content used to be going viral — you’ll definitely reach your customer that way — but as social marketer Kristina Puerto of AMD points out, there is no predictable formula for going viral. While there may not be a formula to guarantee top-performing content, there is an opportunity to reverse-engineer popular content by examining the data and uncovering why consumers responded well to it.

Tapping into the data available to you can help you create engaging content or even pivot to showcase content you might already have. When done the right way, you’ll be able to speak directly to your consumer. When he’s standing in the grocery aisle picking cereal, or when she’s at the mall searching for coats, your content could mean all the difference.

Gail Horwood of the Kellogg Company and Charlie Grinnell of Aritzia explain how data drives decisions around the content they create, and how they’re using insights to learn what resonates with their consumers. Read on for their best tips and learnings.


Motto: Use data to integrate in real-time

As Gail Horwood, SVP of Integrated Marketing at the Kellogg Company explains, Kellogg’s goal is to remain relevant in a world of many choices. How do they do that? By using behavioral science to understand what prevents customers from purchasing their brand’s items. Kellogg’s uses social to measure what’s resonating with consumers, which in turn helps them decide what they can integrate now and create more of in the future. Horwood explains that they can do this because they put social first. By placing social at the forefront of their content marketing strategy, Kellogg’s can run analytics in real-time to discover which content they’re creating is resonating. That’s how they were able to discover that real moments featured in their #OwnIt commercial were performing so well.


Consumers were delighted to see themselves — their real selves — reflected in the ads. Aspirational content has a time and a place, but Kellogg’s was able to use data to understand that their audience was craving to see their everyday lives reflected in ads. Kellogg’s then made sure to incorporate more real moments into their content planning process — on and off social media. This informed how they approached more opportunities to delight their audiences. Their agility prolonged their reach, and a few small tweaks paid off in a big way.

Aspirational content has a time and place, but audiences also crave seeing themselves in ads.



Motto: Test, fail, do better. Fast.

Charlie Grinnell, Head of Social Media at Aritzia, has a background in creating engaging content. He attributes his success to learning how to not be afraid of failure. At our Smart Social Summit last fall, Grinnell walked through some key learnings that he applies to his job directing social for the fashion retailer with more than 80 stores across North America. Grinnell accepts failure as a part of the learning process, and thinks that teams who are truly focused on creating content that resonates with their customers need to embrace failure. He believes this is an essential way for brands to learn who their audience is and how best to reach them. Grinnell encourages brands to take risks and try out new platform features, formats and audiences. The way he sees it, content is not really permanent, meaning that brands must understand that content has a short shelf life and in some cases it’s okay to delete and move on. He believes that it’s important to remember that social is for your audience, and that should be in the back of your mind throughout the content creation process. You may think that your product is the item you’re selling, but Grinnell challenges that idea: As a marketer, your product is your content. “Good content” is subjective, and you’ll only get better as a marketer by trying new things and seeing how your audience responds. By tapping into their response and incorporating it into your next piece of content, you’re getting incrementally better. Grinnell encourages teams to stay agile so they can capitalize on content that might not always look like it will be successful.

"As a marketer, your product is your content." — Charlie Grinnell


Social can give you great insights into the kind of content that works, and what kind of content you can leave behind. When you put your customer first, you help your brand understand your audience better. Use that information to improve your content and continue to reach your customer where he’s at. Your customer will tell you what she wants. Are you listening, and are you ready to create it for her?

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Jacqueline is the Brand Marketing Specialist at Spredfast, where she runs the Spredfast Ambassador Program and amplifies customer stories. Find her on Twitter talking about her favorite things: dogs, beekeeping and Beyoncé.