Data visualization, big data, data storytelling—you’ve probably heard about these terms before, and you’re probably going to hear them more often in the marketing industry.
Data is everywhere, but it’s what we do with
data that makes it so important. What insights do we get from it? How do we
apply data and use it to our advantage? This is exactly what makes data
storytelling so important.
Data Storytelling and Data Visualization: A Faceoff
Despite what most people think, data
storytelling is simply not the same as data visualization or analytics
reporting. It’s not about going through hundreds of stats sitting in a
PowerPoint presentation somewhere. Data storytelling is combining two worlds:
hard data and human communication. It is an absolutely fascinating, and
convincing narrative fashioned around and based on compelling data.
But, even though data storytelling is an
important tool, a lot of companies today usually don’t take full advantage of
it. Why? Because their teams are siloed.
Most companies start or create data
reports/analyses that hardly make it into marketer’s hands. And even when these
reports/analyses do, marketers are often ill-equipped to work through the data
and extract great stories. As a result, a significant amount of valuable data
becomes useless. This is unfortunate because data storytelling is one of the
most powerful ways brands can communicate with their target audience.
Benefits of Data Storytelling
There are many types of communication, but
data storytelling is distinctively arranged (and scientifically proven) to help
marketers reach their communication goals in different ways.
Below are just some of the benefits you can get
1- Provides Meaning and Value to Your Work
In a world where we are surrounded by data, but desperate for meaning, data
story telling helps connect the pieces together. It is a great and effective
way to impart valuable ideas and give meaning and context to information that
just another number in an Excel spreadsheet. This is very important for brands.
People want and seek for useful, valuable content that broadens their
knowledge, helps find solutions to their problems, and help them navigate the world
better. When you deliver such content, you and your brand will be able to
provide real service to your target market. And your company benefits from
obtaining these insights from your own data too.
The brain interprets all content as data, but the highest-value content
offers more than just knowledge—it also provides insight. This insight is
valuable for decision-making and is the most meaningful. Data storytelling
enables us to unearth data and communicate insight through captivating and
2- It’s Good For PR
To set yourself apart from the competition, you must have unique and original story ideas. The easiest way for you to get these stories is through the extraction of data This is especially useful for stories based on internal data. If you have proprietary data that only you have access to, then you can tell a story that no one else can about your industry, customers and more.
Insights like these can help throw light on a previously unknown topic,
offer an interesting new angle, or provide useful perspective to people or to
These stories are not only compelling, but a lot of publishers are also
hungry for great and effective storytelling. In this world where you find a lot
of regurgitated and recycled content, data storytelling helps you stand out
from the crowd. An outstanding piece published in a high-profile publication
can give you and your brand the push it needs and introduce you to an entirely
new group of potential clients.
3- Builds Credibility
Lets face it; a lot of content available out there today is simply just
bullshit. In a world full of conjecture, people want cold, hard facts to keep
them grounded to reality. If you can include credible data to your story, the
more people will be inclined to trust your brand and the message you’re putting
out there. In other words, it helps build your credibility.
4- It Makes People Remember Your Message
By combining narrative and
visuals, you are effectively aiming for both sides of a person’s brain, and
thereby reinforcing the information to them. The narrative will guide you
through the data, and the data will provide support to the narrative. This
gives you the best of both emotional and analytical experience.
Data visualization is especially effective in this situation because it increases:
- Comprehension—our brains are programmed to process visuals faster
than language. Being able to “see” data actually makes it easier for people to
understand them. Data comes to life when you add language-based context to it
- Retention –visually-processed information is easier to
- Appeal –data visualization is visually appealing, thus making it
more attractive to the viewer.
- It Encourages Engagement
Besides the inherent stimulation that data visualization provides, data storytelling also encourages engagement. People view the story and are encouraged to engage in it. Data storytelling has two types: narrative and explorative. Both types foster engagement but allow viewers to take different approaches.
Explorative: Viewers are urged
to explore data and draw their own conclusions. They are urged to focus on
stories relevant to the data.
Narrative: Viewers are led
through a narrative, which arrives at a specific conclusion.
While you’d end up doing more with explorative storytelling, both types
of data storytelling require people to synthesize and view data actively.
5- It is Versatile
The insights you gain from data stories can be translated to many
different formats, such as:
- Annual reports
- Info graphics
- Case studies
- Interactive info graphics
- Motion graphics
- Micro content
- White papers
You can also repurpose or find another use for an interesting stat or
data visualization to improve other types of content.
Storytelling with data is critical to the
marketing success of any business. Creating quality, useful, and data-backed
content not only supplements your other content-marketing efforts, but it can
also strengthen your entire marketing strategy. When you build brand exposure
and strong backlinks, you’re building a strong foundation for your site’s
credibility and eventually enhancing all other marketing work you’re involved