As marketers, we now have access to vast amounts of data. There’s been a major influx of analyst jobs in the last several years as a result. But are we telling compelling stories with that data and adjusting our strategies based on the insights? If not, what’s the point? The true value in big data and data science lies in how we use key insights to take informed actions for businesses. In other words, with data storytelling.
Here are four steps you can use to set up that process within your organization.
Gather: Set up a measurement framework to capture metrics that matter most
First, set performance KPIs that ladder up to your business goals. For more information on how to do this, feel free to reference our Marketing Measurement Playbook. Then, prepare a learning agenda to determine the type of insight you are looking to understand from your campaign.
Are there hypotheses you want to validate? Assumptions you want to challenge? Audience learnings you want to gather? Use the agenda to help answer these questions.
Learn: Capture and visualize data to pull key insights
Once the campaign is running, you begin to gather data: this is your “what.” Now, it’s up to you and your media partners to uncover the “why.” Look at the underlying narrative running through to build a meaningful data story arc.
A great way to do this is through data visualization tools. This method of data storytelling allows you to easily identify trends and understand performance relative to goals. Consider layering campaign data with third party data to see a holistic picture and identify outliers or interesting correlations. Look at the visual analytics data from a macro lens. This helps weave the micro data points into a cohesive story makes sense to both marketers and external team members like the sales team or the executive suite.
We often talk about blending art and science in our marketing strategies – that same concept applies to data analytics. When communicating results to internal stakeholders, qualitative information with direction from quantitative data often speaks volumes for executives. But only if you tell the right story. You want to layer in context, feeling and understanding – the human emotion and behavior will amplify the data you’ve collected. Knowing the audience and tailoring your story to their point of view will help ensure the information resonates.
Brent Dykes, author of ‘Effective Data Storytelling’, says “Your data may hold tremendous amounts of potential value, but not an ounce of value can be created unless insights are uncovered and translated into actions or business outcomes”. This leads us into the next step: application.