Tell A Data Story

Simple tips and tricks to ensure you’re telling a meaningful story

As marketers, it’s easy to slip into the trenches of a deep data dive, mining for insight and discovery, only to become lost in an alternate universe of metrics, rates and custom calculations. Here are some simple tips to ensure you emerge from the depths of the rabbit hole with a meaningful story, not a data dump.

Conflict and resolution

Like almost any story, there’s some sort of conflict or challenge we’re presented with followed by a resolution. As humans, we’re captivated by the conflict and charmed by the resolution. It’s no different with data. Ask yourself this: “What are we solving for?” In other words, what’s the business challenge we face, what’s our objective, and what’s our approach to meet our objective? Asking these questions can inform where to start your discovery, types of relationships to look for and how to use the data to support your case. As you tell your story, identify the conflict and use data to prove a resolution.

Define success metrics at the onset

Just as we define a clear strategy to achieve success, it’s critical to define success metrics and indicators at the onset for both short-term and long-term performance. These Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will serve as your guidepost throughout your data analysis. Maybe more importantly, it will keep you out of the weeds and on track to a clear, cohesive story.

Know your audience

Like any marketing campaign or activation, take careful note of your audience. Are you speaking to a group of data-centric geeks? Marketing Managers? Board of Directors? C-level Suite? It’s important to understand the level of granularity, interactivity or upfront set up needed to deliver an impactful message. Unless you’re positive, don’t assume your audience understands calculation acronyms like “CTR” (click-through rate), or jargon like “form abandonment.” It may seem simple to the folks mining the data, but you risk losing your audience by flowing through acronyms and jargon they may not fully understand.

Answer the “So what?”

Every marketing activity presents an opportunity to learn. Recognize the insights from your analysis and the implications of your story in order to help inform decisions. Without this, you’ve left the audience with an ever-forbidden ambiguous ending. While your data dive may sometimes feel like the Christopher Nolan film, Inception, it’s not. End your story.

For more tips and insights on how to take your marketing from now to next, subscribe to our newsletter or contact Nicole Stone – Senior Vice President, Business Development at or 414.270.7235.

    Comment Away!