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Why Data Storytelling?

There’s a Story in That Data

Maybe you’ve seen it. If not, the email or notification from Spotify Wrapped recapping your year in music, as well a review of other streaming trends from the year, is on its way. And the message encourages you to post the story it tells to your Instagram Story or Facebook. That is called data storytelling.

It’s a masterpiece in data-driven content marketing. Not only does it enable Spotify to send an email you won’t immediately trash, the data-based-reports have also generated tremendous third-party interaction, exposure and thousands of backlinks from sites like BBC, USA Today and Mashable since the project’s inception

It’s data, personalized and presented as the story of your listening habits this past year, and  visually presented and accompanied by a well-curated list of your favorite music. Your friends are bound to appreciate your great taste.

In an era of seemingly endless streams of data coming our way, data storytelling has become more essential than ever. After all, we remember stories, not spreadsheets. The information has meaning and value when it is memorable, personal and impactful. By telling a story around the data, you’ll be able to reach your audience on an emotional and intellectual level.

Maybe you’re not Spotify, but there is data everywhere in your business. And while customers might appreciate a spreadsheet noting the transactional aspects of your relationship (hat tip to American Express and Wells Fargo for spending reports), the story of the relationship between you and the customer and the power of that relationship lives in a story—whether it’s a visual or written narrative.

Story shapes your company’s narrative and makes it easier to engage others.

Here’s why:

Stories make data meaningful. They fill in the gaps between data and your customer. A narrative takeaway is essential to convey how your product or service will solve a particular need.

Stories sell. Many decision makers are data-driven, but a story answers the question, “What’s that going to do for me?” It moves them to a decision. A story can convey the benefits found in the data. It sets precedent that the customer might expect future stories to come from a place of knowing, not merely speculation or salesmanship.

Stories connect. Today’s customer expects you to know the ins and outs of the relationship between your organizations. The data illustrates the transactional side. The story, however, is an opportunity for the people in your organization to demonstrate that they know how much the relationship means to each of you. Stories are the place to celebrate successes and even resolve issues that data may reveal.

Stories simplify. While raw data can be complex and hard to process, putting it in the context of a story boils it down to simple, memorable truths. Data analytics can be too complex for the average person to digest. Instead, if you frame figures in an engaging narrative or visual, the message will resonate.

People generally don’t care about the backend analytics. They are interested in how your service can improve their own lives in real and meaningful ways. So, tell them what they want to know in a way they’ll remember.

Do you have a story to tell? It’s likely that you do. You have the data to back it up and that’s where data storytelling will help you.