How effective are you at communicating with your audiences?
When it comes to marketing, data is everything. But too much data can be a problem too, as large volumes of data make it harder for marketers to process. Analytics platforms take some of that pressure off and help view different metrics in aggregate.
But how does one transform aggregated data into ideas, messages, and stories that “stick”?
In this post, we share five tips on how to tell better marketing stories based on data.
But first things first.
Data storytelling is a powerful approach to communicating data points in a form of a narrative that resonates with your audience and inspires the need for action. Data storytelling usually involves a combination of data, visuals, and a compelling story.
While having access to raw data is great, it’s the ability to turn it into influential messages that matters in the end.
Whether you are communicating with a client, investors, or internal stakeholders, storytelling makes your data meaningful. And if communicated effectively, it can hugely impact your intended audience.
If you can show the power of the stats, you have a better chance of engaging your audience. And a lot of the time that means making an emotional connection through storytelling with your data.
Why do people do what they do online?
Or why do they say what they say or contribute to a conversation?
A data point on its own is not as important; context turns data points into insights. Remember the famous quote by Maya Angelou, "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel."
Here are our best tips for turning data points into stories.
You can approach the process of discovery for your research project in two different ways. First, you may want to start with a general idea. Say, you are looking to explore the broader topic of veganism. Then your general question will be, “How do people talk about veganism online?”
In case you are looking to discover insights specific to a particular brand or brands, you may want to narrow your question down to: “Which vegan makeup brands generate the most conversation online?”
While studying a defined set of brands or topics is great for competitive research, a broader question will often return unexpected, surprising insights.
Also context is important. Whether you are researching a broad conversation or niche topic, ask yourself if any recent events might have had an impact on the social conversation online. And depending on the nature of your research, you may want to include or exclude those keywords from your search query.
Suppose you wanted to research the dairy industry dating back five years, focusing on key products like milk, cheese, and butter. In that case, you’d be confronted with millions of irrelevant mentions of “Butter”, which coincidentally is also the name of the hit song from BTS that broke all charts in 2021.
Too often we jump straight to presenting our ideas without ever thinking about the person who is going to be on the receiving end of that. And it could be anything from an exhausting work meeting with no breaks and no clear agenda, DJs switching songs every 20 seconds, or professors running three-hour-long college classes and their effects on students with ADHD.
Here’s real feedback from a subreddit on ADHD:
When thinking about the outcomes of a project, you should always think about your audience first. Who’s going to read your insights, and what are they looking to learn?
Knowing what your intended reader is interested in can help shape your narrative further.
Some questions you may want to ask yourself:
In other words, tailoring your data story to your audience can increase the chances of your message being understood and perceived in the way you want it to.
Knowing your audience means you know how they prefer to consume content.
Here are just a few metrics for you to consider and benchmark against:
Keeping your audience’s behavior in mind when sharing your insights, will yield in growing the engagement around your story.
For example, we at Brandwatch produce different types of format to cater to different preferences of our audiences. You may see us telling our stories in the format of short webinars, reports, or quick blog recaps. In fact, multi-format content is one of the biggest digital marketing trends in 2023.
Keep in mind, you can’t reach your audience or capture their attention without knowing what they need. And knowing what your audience’s goals are enables you to leave them with something valuable.
So before you go any further, ask yourself who is your target audience, and what makes them tick?
If it’s boring to write or create, it’s boring to read or watch. According to recent studies, the average human has an attention span of just 8.25 seconds – 4.25 seconds less than in 2000. And you need to make the time count when delivering your insights.
A good approach is to ask: “What’s in it for the reader?” “What can be done with this finding?” “How will your insights help your audience make smarter [business] decisions?”
Here are five popular data-driven narratives you can use in data storytelling:
The one thing to remember is that a good marketing story needs to encourage action. And nothing inspires readers more than real-life examples that demonstrate the points in your narrative.
Finding and including verbatim examples into your story is a great way to make an emotional connection with your audience.
People tend to gravitate towards authenticity, and showing real emotions behind something can make your points highly persuasive.
Ask yourself: How does your story make people feel?
For example, if you are telling a story about vegan products and butter specifically, you may want to highlight a few consumers and their opinions in your presentation.
In this post, a consumer is sharing concerns over some of the ingredients commonly used in non-dairy butter and gets upvotes from other people who seem to agree with this viewpoint.
"Verbatim is impactful. Where high level stakeholders are involved, they don’t always have time to read and digest the whole report, but if you’ve got recurring themes with example mentions they add more color and detail. It’s the same story, but with a more human angle." – Peter Fairfax, Data Science Manager, Brandwatch
Detailed conversation adds granularity to the story you are telling. Verbatim quotes will paint a truer picture of consumer needs and wants.
Sometimes we have preconceived notions about a topic or area of interest, and while looking to confirm our bias, we might miss on other important insights backed up by data. Keep an open mind when researching a topic, and broaden your search where possible to find unbiased insights.
When building out a narrative, you need to prove or disprove your hypotheses. Asking the following questions can help you navigate the online conversation:
Finally, automation is your friend. There is just so much data out there, and picking the right tool can make your analysis easier, highlighting the stories that make a bigger impact.
One of the main benefits of using Consumer Research is that you have many different dashboards and tools at your disposal that enable you to slice and dice your social data further when searching for valuable insights.
We’d like to leave you with one thought: telling stories with social data can add more color to your narrative, making your message more convincing. If you want your data or message to stick, build an engaging, compelling story around it.
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