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As people, we naturally connect to stories. We can process information easier and understand what we are being told better if it’s placed in the form of a story. Marketers have known and understood this for years but recent advancements in technology now mean that they can use data to fully optimize their storytelling capabilities. In recent years, more and more analysts have been using data-driven storytelling to bring their data to life and influence their audience.
Data-driven storytelling leverages the growing availability of data sets to analyze and uncover new angles on stories. Instead of just guessing what content might work to engage with customers, now you can use data to see exactly what sort of content people want to read which you can then leverage to your advantage. In this article, that yes, has been driven by data, you’ll see why data storytelling is so important and, more importantly, how do you write a data story that helps grow your business?
Data-driven content is not just about presenting numbers and insights. It’s also about finding ways to form relationships with your target customers and connect with them in more engaging ways, one of which is content.
Think of it this way, the data you have collected represents the“what”, the story that is created from this data represents the “why”. When these two factors come together, you will be able to produce a story that motivates your customers to take a desired action, such as signing up to a newsletter or purchasing from your site. A compelling story will engage potential customers, elicit emotions from them and allow you to build a meaningful relationship that stretches past just being a service provider to them.
By uncovering what your audience’s pain points are, what problems they are having and how you can offer a solution to them in a creative and engaging way, you will breed trust in your brand. When you have statistics and data as a way to reinforce your ideas, you can focus on telling a story that resonates with the majority of your customer base.
With this in mind though, you’re probably asking yourself, how do you determine a good data story from a bad one? And what are some general guidelines to follow to tell a good data story?
To help answer these questions, we’ve put together some key tips and pieces of advice you’ll need to follow in order to create engaging stories that have been built from properly sourced data.
For a data story to move an audience to action, the idea must be simple. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to answer everything at once as it will just lead to a convoluted story that will be impossible for your audience to understand. Keep your message simple and focused. When first outlining the story you are going to tell, have one clear thing in mind that you want your audience to do after reading it, and build your messaging around that one singular element.
No one will remember every single statistic that is included in a piece of content, but they are more likely to remember the story itself. Stories tap into our emotions in ways facts and figures simply cannot. When telling a data-driven story, limit statistics to the necessary ones and make sure they contribute to the wider narrative. You want them to have impact and if you throw too many into one story, it will be far less engaging.
If you are using facts and figures, you need to be able to back them up with proof otherwise they carry no weight. Readers will want to know that what you are saying can be verified so link to actual studies and provide attribution for your sources. With so much false information out there on the internet already, customers want to know that what they are engaging with is the truth. If not they will not trust you and once lost, trust is incredibly hard to earn back.
Remember, good storytelling is about people, not stats. If you can’t relate the data you have back to the reader on a human level, then it won’t be effective. Where possible, think about the data you have and how it affects people and how it affects your customers. By doing so you will be able to form stories that elicit empathy and create a genuine human connection with your audience.
Telling a data-driven story doesn’t mean it has to be done with words alone. People process information in a variety of ways so embrace it. Use graphs, charts, animations, video storytelling and any other form of visualization possible to get your message across. By making it easier for your audience to understand the data, it makes it easier for them to connect with the story.
This links into the previous point but by making your stories and messaging relatable, it places it into a real world context for your audience. Break down the information and statistics you are including in your stories into a digestible and accessible form. When a customer can relate to your data and information, you are much likely to be able to lead them in the direction you would like.
Data-driven storytelling gives the opportunity to really flex your creative muscles and showcase your originality to your audience. Presenting your findings and stories in a unique or different way will help you stand out from the competition and be easily remembered by your target audience. By letting data help support your brand story, you can help showcase information, answer customer questions and build a brand identity that is creative, engaging and helps to drive increased conversions.
While hearing about tips is all when and good, seeing good data-driven storytelling in action will help provide you with all the inspiration you need to make the most of this opportunity. So let’s take a look at some companies who have successfully leveraged this approach:
Zillow – As an online, real-estate marketplace, Zillow had access to a huge amount of data to build content from. As well as its more standard data-driven blog posts on topics such as finding affordable homes, or the best places to retire, Zillow also used data to produce more engaging, unique content. In the run up to Halloween, they posted the ‘20 Best Cities for Trick or Treating’, based on home values, how close homes are to one another, crime rate and the share of the population under 10 years old. Here Zillow was able to showcase helpful information, presented in a unique and interesting way that was built on collected data.
Maltesers – Maltesers discovered that 80% of disabled people felt underrepresented by TV and the media. With these figures in mind, they created a series of commercials inspired by real-life stories from disabled individuals, taking a humorous look at some universally awkward situations. This form of data-driven storytelling was not only effective, but incredibly impactful as well.
Spotify – As a music streaming service with millions of users, Spotify has a wealth of information to pull from when looking to create original content for its Insights blog. Every piece of content they have is founded upon their ability to uncover unique data sets and present them in engaging and entertaining ways.
AirBNB – Their messaging is rooted in the data they are able to collect. For a recent New Year’s piece of content, AirBNB created an animated video that was able to showcase the number of people they had been able to help have enjoyable travel experiences. Not did this reaffirm themselves in the eyes of their customers but it elevated them in the eyes of potential ones too.
Hinge – As a way to separate themselves from established competitors such as Tinder and Bumble, Hinge leverages data to their advantage. From the insight and data they collected, they were able to produce content that truly resonated with their audience and set them apart from everyone else.
In summary, data-driven storytelling can be a great way to engage with your audience and cultivate a loyal customer base when done effectively. By remembering these seven tips, you’ll be able to craft great content in an insightful way:
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