Many brands want to be storytellers and use data to inform what content works and what doesn’t. But it’s hard for them to know which metrics to use.

At the Digiday Hot Topic: Data-Driven Marketing workshop on Thursday, C-level executives from Equinox, Coca-Cola, American Express and Marcus by Goldman Sachs shared how they approach data-driven storytelling. Below are excerpts, lightly edited for clarity.

Carla Dunham, vp of brand marketing, Equinox
We reach out to millennials across social, email and search, et cetera, with retargeting based on engagement and interest. For example, if a prospect is interested in a Pilates at a specific club, we will retarget based on that interest.

We take an app-focused strategy along with dynamic messaging to drive daily club usage. The app was built for utility, and features were set up to connect to the physical environment, not to a deeper digital experience, but this is rapidly evolving. For instance, we’re leveraging lifestyle content to understand members’ mindsets, using brand-campaign content as well as content from Furthermore, our digital magazine. We introduced meditation podcasts during the 2017 Boston Marathon to members across the app, email and social, where we targeted people based on their club activities and then retargeted them with additional content.

Doug Busk, former global group director of digital communications and social media, Coca-Cola
Engagement is a major metric for us. For instance, on Twitter, a standard retweet doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is engaging with your content, but if it is a quote tweet with comments, it is real engagement.

When it comes to data-driven storytelling, the critical challenge is finding the metrics that matter and religiously tweaking them. In terms of content engagement in the U.S., Facebook is still the king, followed by Google cards and Apple News, messaging apps like Line and WhatsApp and then voice assistants like Amazon Alexa.

Jeannie Chu, vp of social media, content and digital marketing, American Express
Data is important, but it doesn’t always help with good storytelling. Sometimes you need to use your judgment to think about the creative from a brand’s perspective.

For instance, when we created “life tips” ads with Tina Fey to promote our credit card, we had lots of data showing that people reconsider their finances during big moments like having their first kid or buying their first house. So some people on the team suggested that we should put first-time parents in the ads. But the character of first-time parent doesn’t make sense for Tina Fey because she already went through that stage. In the end, we decided to present ourselves through Tina, who in the ads sent congrats to people who embraced those firsts in their lives.

Dustin Cohn, head of brand management and marketing communications, Marcus by Goldman Sachs
We use data-driven storytelling in our messaging, web design, advertising, product features and interactions with agents. For instance, our data shows that 77 percent of creditworthy Americans in credit card debt don’t know that a personal loan can be used to pay down their debt and our research shows people are frustrated by banks’ hidden fees. So we position Marcus as a service that lets people pay less interest with a lower fixed-rate loan, and highlight product features like no fees.

We often turn our data insights into content like infographics and social media posts to educate consumers on how they manage their debts. We share most content on Facebook and Twitter. Our basic KPI [of content marketing] is engagement that entails likes, shares and comments.

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