As humans, we’re all naturally born storytellers. We connect better with our friends and customers and share ideas with the power of storytelling. But, finding the value in data and bringing that data to life for the target audience requires serious effort.
As technology provides us with more information than ever before, it’s easy to get lost in it all. Finding the thread between data and your message will influence the outcome of building a compelling data-driven story.
Nobody likes to be sold to, but every person in the world loves to hear a good story. Data-driven storytelling makes information unforgettable and comprehensible. To simply present numbers is not enough to brighten the value of data.
What Makes Good Storytelling?
Sometimes, knowing the benefits and the design of the product is not enough for consumers to understand the value of the products or services. It all comes down to the audience. To know your audience and what your audience wants to learn from the interaction with your brand is critical if you want to present data.
If the data is “what” then the story is “why”. The story needs to motivate your customers to take the desired action. You need to set the story context and build a story that is easy to follow, reinforcing the key points and constructing it in a way to make it understandable.
What Is Data-Driven Content?
Data-driven content is not just about presenting numbers and insight. It’s also about forming relationships with your target customers.
Every word or statement can’t be considered data. It can only be factual information that is generated from testing or experiments that form a conclusion or offer a solution. Different researchers and experiments on the same topic can offer different data. But, as long as the data comes from reliable sources, your data-driven content will be more valuable in the consumer’s eyes.
If you follow the latest manipulations of data, like Facebook’s involvement with the Cambridge Analytica case, you can see how data can be easily used to manipulate people into making a desired decision. In fact, Facebook themselves conducted an experiment and used over 680,000 Facebook profiles to influence people’s emotions.
For the purpose of the experiment, these users either saw only positive or only negative posts in their News Feed. They found that positive posts from friends produced positive actions or responses from the user. This only proves the fact that emotions really are contagious and can be transferred from person to person.
Offering Legitimate and Relevant Content
Powerful data-driven stories start with powerful questions. Those are questions that are relevant to your customers and if you can quantify your answers to those questions, you can form the basis for your data-driven content.
When you find out what are the most important questions of your target audience, you’ll need to assess if there’s data available to help you answer those questions. You’ll need a procedure to collect, estimate and filter the information. Finding appropriate data to support your story is crucial because you don’t want to create legitimate content that can’t convince your customers.
The main components of a good data source are:
- Originality – Your data should always come from its primary source. If you come across an interesting observation in an article or a case study, find its original source. If you don’t examine the data, you’ll never know if it’s true or not.
- Thoroughness – Your data source should be informative enough to answer your customers’ questions.
- Timeliness – Data changes quickly. Information becomes outdated in months. This is the reason why you should use only the most recent sources for your content strategy.
- Dependability – Your data source should be as relevant and legitimate as possible. Before you pick a source, ask yourself who wrote it, who said it or when it was last updated, as well as the purpose of the published information.
In general, academic journals, university sites, studies, and research reports are all excellent sources of data, while most blogs on the other hand (except authoritative) are not.
Using data in your content marketing strategy is about providing value with your content. As you form your content, you need to incorporate the information that you’ve gathered and give the content a unique perspective.
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Helping Audience to Understand Data
Creating content that incorporates data should not be only analytics reporting. It needs to blend in perfectly with the context and be told as humanly as possible. If you don’t know how to communicate data to your audience, you will be left with valuable information that is unused and that will diminish in value once it’s outdated.
In a world where we are surrounded by information, data-driven content can help people connect the dots and understand the meaning of the content. For brands, it is crucial to communicate and give value to the numbers that they store on their spreadsheets.
Data-driven content is interpreted as high-value content because it provides insight. This helps people make better decisions, and take action. That’s why it is so significant.
To be more helpful to your audience than your competition, you must create unique content. And incorporating data is an excellent way to do it. Data can help you put a certain topic in the spotlight and give the topic a unique perspective.
Visually Presenting Data
By merging your data-driven content with appropriate visuals, you can effectively target both sides of the human brain. Your data will support the content, and the visuals will provide a better experience for the consumers.
To visualize insights for target customers is important because it makes the data:
- Understandable – As humans, we are wired to process images and visuals better than text. A chart is easier to understand than an excel spreadsheet. Together with content, visuals make the data to come alive.
- Memorable – Visually represented information is easier to remember than text.
- Attractive – Visual content stimulates humans, which makes the content more engaging and attractive.
That’s right. Visualizing data in your content strategy encourages the audience to engage with your content. With infographics and charts, you can invite your target audiences to explore the data and draw their own answers to their questions about a given topic.
Providing Content Versatility
The information you gather can help you develop different types of content that can help your audience better understand the data. Besides data-driven articles, you can develop:
- Brochures – An excellent way to get closer to your target customers and show off your data.
- Case Studies – A case study means research and development. And research means data. Lots of data! Case studies are one of the best types of content that guide the reader through the process of acquiring and analyzing the data.
- Infographics – The easiest way to digest data. Infographics are excellent data-driven content guidelines for your readers.
- Video Content – Everyone loves video! Especially if it makes it easier to understand statistics.
Where Can You Gather the Data for Your Content?
As we said above, excellent data-driven content starts with compelling data. Luckily, we live in a day and age where it’s easy to get the information that you need. There are two major ways to collect data for your content strategy:
- Internal Data – If you want to develop original content, the best way to do it is to use data from your own sources. Internal data is key if you want to leave a mark on your consumers. You can gather a lot of from your company, such as:
- Web and Marketing Analytics
- Customer Information
- Monthly and Yearly Reports
- External Data – The Internet is the biggest data pool today! Many of the most trustworthy organizations offer their research reports and statistics publicly online. So, if you want to develop a data-driven post that can help your audience, you can find lots of valuable sources online, including:
- Government Agencies
- Market Research Companies
- Industry organizations/Publications
Creating data-driven content may sound intimidating, especially for people that understand how to analyze information, but don’t know how to interpret it to their audience. This is where marketing skills step in!
Content marketing is a key that unlocks the human element of data and translates it into an interesting story that can entice your audience. If you know your audience, it’s much easier to translate the data into a language that your target customers understand.
While you can use data to give your content a unique spin, make sure that you talk about something that is of relevance or interest to your customers. Remember that data-driven content is not just about statistics, it’s about how those statistics influence people.