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Data Driven Storytelling

website design in erieData is a wonderful thing. It has long played a role in how companies make business decisions because it's concrete information that answers specific questions.

  • How much revenue did we generate last year?
  • What were our top selling products?
  • Who were our repeat customers?

Sales data provides the answers to these questions and helps companies make more informed decisions, whether it's expanding a product line or building a new relationship with a key prospect.

Marketers use this same data, as well as target market data, to promote a company's products and services. Today's digital marketers can find out more information on their target customers than ever before.

They can find out, for example:

  • When their customers are searching for their products and services, down to the time of day
  • Where those searches originated geographically
  • What key phrases visitors are typing into the search engines
  • What pages on the website visitors are most engaged with and which ones are performing poorly.
  • Demographic information, like age, sex, race, education, marital status, income, etc
  • What types of stores they shop at
  • What credit cards they use
  • What products they've purchased
  • What they do in their spare time
  • The list goes on.

These facts and figures allow savvy marketers to create personalized messaging and content geared to connect with its audience on an emotional level. The more relevant the message the more likely the potential customer is to buy.  

It's not just about the data

While analyzing data is a great start towards more personalized marketing efforts, it's only the first step. Are you collecting the right data? Do you have a plan in place that outlines how you're going to use the data?

"Marketers are at varying points along the 'WTF Data' spectrum. Some are paralyzed by the volume and complexity of it all. Others are throwing data on everything like it’s road salt in a snowstorm. In the rush to get data-smart fast, too many brands and agencies are asking, 'What data do we have and how can we use it?' Instead, we should be asking, 'What specific problem are we trying to solve?' That’s how you get to the 'right' data." -  Suzanne Michaels, EVP, creative innovation at Leo Burnett

Data driven storytelling goes beyond collecting and analyzing data and asks marketers to use it to craft a story that addresses specific pain points. It also asks that marketers use their understanding of human behavior, along with the data, to create messaging that resonates with their audience.

Data + human behavior

For example, let's say you're a marketer for a nonprofit running an anti-bullying campaign geared to reach students who are victims of bullying to offer them solutions. You do some research and the data tells you the highest searches for bullying are happening in the month of November.

If you just use data alone to craft your campaign, you may decide to begin running some online advertisements in the month of November to correspond to the search data. If you took that route, you'd be missing a critical part of the narrative.

Data driven storytelling asks us to go beyond the data and fill in the gaps with what we know about human behavior. So, if we are the company planning our anti-bullying campaign, we'd need to go beyond the data that tells us when the searches for bullying are happening and look at the bigger picture.

Most likely, students searching for the term "bullying" in November haven't just begun to be bullied. They've likely been experiencing it for months before they finally reach a breaking point and search for solutions. The marketer can infer that the bullying began earlier than when the individuals first searched the term, leading them to decide to run their campaign in September when the bullying is most apt to have begun.

How can your company leverage data driven storytelling?

If you're already collecting and analyzing data, great! The next step is to begin using that data to answer questions and solve your customers' problems. What would make their lives easier? What keeps them up at night? How can your product or service help solve these issues?

Once you can answer this question in a concrete way, it's time to craft your story. It could be in the form of a paid advertisement, a blog post, or even a social media campaign.

Remember: don’t analyze the data in a vacuum. Keep in mind you're marketing to human beings whose opinions and needs are constantly changing. The key is to be adaptable and craft your message for people, not numbers.

Need help with this? Get in touch with us. We love a great story.

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