Whenever I get lost in the increasingly complex weeds that digital media and data analytics sprout, one of my mentors – an ad industry veteran – reminds me that our work almost always boils down to three basic questions:

1. What are selling?
2. Who are we selling to?
3. Why do they want to buy it?

I have found that these questions – and their answers – are as fundamental for selling sports cars to Baby Boomers as they are for sharing a corporate culture with Millennials entering the job market for the very first time. But all the data that we can gather on our audience, while useful, means little if the campaigns we create don’t connect with them.

Truly impactful marketing is still rooted in unique storytelling. And while the 1s and 0s deliver more data points about our audience all the time, the platforms on which we speak to them empower us to exercise more – not less – creativity than ever.

Google’s head of creative agency development – Sadie Thoma – shares three suggestions for partnering with our data to expand the depth and diversity of our creative campaigns:

1. Look to the unexpected data to help tell unexpected stories.

By way of searches, clicks, likes and views, your audience is already signaling what they’re into. But look a little deeper and then make some unexpected choices with what you’ve learned.

“We were recently looking to find out more about a certain age range in the market for a premium credit card,” says Thoma. “And while diagnosing the data, [we] found that segment has a strong affinity for science fiction. If we make a hypothesis that a sci-fi fan likes the details of the journey, is curious and likes discovering things, then creatively, we could recommend sequencing the ads in their campaign to reveal content in a ‘chapter-like’ way, to build drama rather than simply present a one-and-done story.”

Map it out. Look at your audience’s interests and what conclusions we can draw from them. Then make some fun, creative choices that will jibe.

2. Create content that’s context-specific.

What time of day will your audience likely see your content? What kind of device will they be using? What will the weather be like?

By varying a campaign to reach specific audiences in a context that’s perfect for them, you can build on an experience they’re already having.

Burger King did this brilliantly with their YouTube pre-rolls, creating up to 64 variations of the same spot to reach 64 fragmented audiences (and having a lot of fun in the process)!

3. Don’t learn from your mistakes – fix them now!

Creativity is often synonymous with flexible problem solving. If retention or click-throughs are dropping off, re-edit your story on the fly to deliver on what’s working.

Per Thoma: “We recently took a look at retention curves for a longform video where the brand was aiming to deliver five different key points. We quickly realized there was a ton of dropoff early on—people were abandoning after only the first two points were messaged. The agency reworked the creative, cut 6 seconds to supplement those other three points, and watch-time and brand-lift results went up.”

It won’t always be obvious how data can fuel creativity—and it often takes lots of trial and error. But that investment will prove worthwhile when your audience responds to richer stories than they’ve experienced before, almost as if they were created just for them, or for this moment – which they [sorta] were.

To discuss how JWT INSIDE can combine data and creative storytelling to unlock your employer brand and attract the perfect candidates for your company or organization, email us at conversations@jwt.com.

Ryan Tavlin is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and Senior Copywriter whose passion for wordsmithery may only be rivaled by his senseless insistence that ‘wordsmithery’ become a word. When he’s not crafting copy and creative campaigns for JWT INSIDE’s many awesome clients, Ryan is camping, eating, and motorcycling his way around the globe.