What Story is Your Data Telling?

Written by: Andrew Shober

As marketers, we know how important it is to prove our value to clients. Whether you do that through weekly updates, monthly reports, or yearly analysis – these discussions all rely on one thing, the data. As the experts, clients rely on us to make sense of it all by taking the raw data and turning it into useful information. As great as that raw data with big numbers is to us, it’s often not enough to just do a basic analysis – we need to be able to take that information and communicate it in a compelling, digestible way in the form of a story – also known as data storytelling!

What is Data Storytelling?

You may be asking, “What is data storytelling?” If so, you’ve come to the right place! At Slice Communications, we are born communicators and we understand the importance of articulating marketing messages in a clear and concise manner. And it’s no different when trying to present data in an engaging way that clearly outlines actionable next steps. 

In short, data storytelling is exactly as it sounds – a way for us marketers to extract data and inform through the use of storytelling beyond simple data visualization. We’ve seen the popularity of this method increase rapidly over the past few years not only because of the importance of data itself, but because storytelling is the way that we as humans interpret and understand the things being presented to us. In essence, when our analysis leads to recommendations, it’s easier to understand how we got from A to B when the report itself is telling a story.

This method explores the theory of “show, don’t tell.” By taking the data we use day in and day out to inform our decisions internally, we can now present to clients in a way that provides value to them.  

Why is Data Storytelling Important?

If you haven’t got the gist already, the #1 reason data storytelling is so important is because it provides meaning and value to guide informed marketing decisions. But beyond that, data storytelling is credible, comprehensive, and overall very engaging!

Sidenote: It’s also a PR goldmine! Example: Slice has used this to our advantage in the past, curating detailed employee surveys to create content for marketing and then furthering those findings to pitch ourselves as a Best Place to Work! 

Contact our PR experts today to see how we can take your proprietary data and tell a story about your industry, employees, customers, and more!

What Makes a Great Data Story?

By now you should have a basic understanding as to why we believe data storytelling is important to help us drive informed decisions for our clients, but let’s break it down further. Similar to writing any other story, there are a few steps to get you started:

  1. Identify the purpose and intent
    • This is the “WHY.”  Why are you doing this, and what is the story you are trying to tell? You may need to begin with an introduction to the topic before diving in.
  2. Use credible data sources 
    • Make sure the data you are referencing is accurate so as to not misinterpret the story in any way – deflecting from the bottom line. 
  3. Develop a clear narrative
    • As with any story, you’ll need to start with a traditional beginning, middle, and end – starting with the issue and making your way to an informed solution. As you begin to interpret your data, you may find some interesting trends or data points that can help guide your storytelling further!
  4. Use data visualizations strategically
    • As mentioned before, data storytelling goes beyond simple data visualization, but it still plays a big role if done strategically. Using imagery such as charts and graphs intentionally can help drive the storyline.

Now, Let’s See it in Action! 

Slice was engaged by WHYY in the Winter of 2021 for guidance on its marketing communications strategy. Here’s how that played out:

Challenge:

  • WHYY had specific organizational questions and was looking to Slice for recommendations on how they could best structure their social media department to streamline their efforts and get the best ROI.

Solution:

  • Slice was able to conduct research by collecting raw data, studying competitive and internal audits, and even interviewing colleagues at other public broadcasting companies around the country. We had weeks’ worth of information and need to process and present it in a way that made sense, and ultimately led to helpful recommendations. We included:
    • Timelines/Simple line charts: to show changes in digital behavior quarter-over-quarter and illustrate where we were seeing the greatest ROI in terms of social media-driven conversions
    • Bar Graphs to demonstrate the difference in basic demographics across social media audiences, which helped illustrate reach
    • Word Clouds to highlight key messages and sentiments shared within the industry during interviews and identify trends
    • Pie Charts to clearly outline a recommended content breakdown based on our findings, with clear distinctions between paid and organic
    • Flow Charts to outline an ideal structure of workflows and accountability for an optimal social media team

Need help figuring out what story your data is telling?

Contact the strategy analyst experts at Slice Communications and we’ll help take your business’s marketing to the next level!

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