Marketers at premium athletic retailer Hibbett Sports faced a problem that all modern marketing teams are familiar with: they wanted to expand brand reach and engagement with fans on social channels, but they didn’t know how exactly to do it.

It was early 2014, and Hibbett Sports—which operates predominantly in the South, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest regions of the U.S.—had plans to grow its physical footprint. It would open its 1,000th store in Texas the following year.

But these days, brands don’t just need to grow their physical presence; they need a strong social presence, too. And social marketers for Hibbett Sports were hard-pressed to understand how content builds engagement. They knew that audiences on certain social channels respond better to certain topics—whether that’s specific sports, the latest sports clothing, or local sporting events. However, content moves quickly on social, and they didn’t have the tools to discern a clear link between audiences, channels, performance results, and the posts they created. Effectively, they were shooting in the dark.

The solution to Hibbett Sports’ challenge: closed-loop systems.

Making the most of marketing’s newfound ability to analyze performance means letting systems and analysis fuel our creative process; in other words, marketing should be creating a closed-loop system to make work more and more impactful. These systems are based on using performance data to inform planning for new campaigns.

The smartest companies are building closed-loop systems to optimize their work and reach explosive new levels of growth. Marketing today is about experimentation; the best marketing is about uniting experimentation with lessons learned.

So Hibbett Sports looked to Percolate in early 2014 for a platform that ties content planning, creation, distribution, and analysis into a single system.

The team was able to use Percolate’s analytics capabilities to generate insights into how different subjects or topics perform across its social media channels over time. With the custom Analytics graph builder, Hibbett’s marketing team can take a closer, more visual look across social channels, allowing them to filter engagement and organic reach metrics by channel and topic.

“With real-time, actionable insights from Percolate’s analytics tool, we can be more agile in our decisions,” said Caitlin Lindner, Mobile and Social Marketing Coordinator at Hibbett Sports.

This, in turn, lets the team better plan its content and publishing strategy in Percolate’s cross-channel marketing calendar. “Our overall content strategy allows for us to create new and engaging ways to connect with our fans across the various platforms,” Lindner told us.

The results speak for themselves. Since adopting Percolate, the brand has seen a 755% increase in Twitter followers and a staggering 2,826% increase in Instagram followers.

Learn more about Hibbett Sports’ growth in our new case study.