Psychologist, professor, author, and speaker Brené Brown has a famous saying: stories are data with soul. If you want your brand and its message to have a soul, analytical storytelling must be a part of your content marketing strategy.
Why? In order for your customers to believe in your message, your team has to believe, too. Analytical storytelling is critical to making that happen.
Just because your blogs and newsletters tell a story to your customers doesn’t mean you can’t tell a story to your team using your marketing data. You just have to take a creative approach to define metrics, goals, and ROI.
To know what you need for analytical storytelling, think about what you need for any other story.
Every great story begins with a hero.
- Who is the focus of your creative energy as a brand?
- Who determines whether the story of your brand is a comedy or a tragedy?
Bingo! Your customers/audience are your heroes (es). Analytical storytelling takes data from their interactions with your site, product, and services, and turns it into a story of triumphs and setbacks that your team can use to shape future marketing efforts. It ensures your messaging and culture value the customer, and their experience with you.
The Hero’s Journey
In some shape or form, The Hero’s Journey is the backbone of every story. The hero has a starting point, a destination, and steps they have to take to get from Point A to Point B. So if your customers are the heroes, and your brand/site is the setting for their story, their journey is the path they take from click or visit, to purchase, to brand champion.
Here are some clues to discovering the plot (or journey) in your analytical storytelling:
- What questions are your audience asking?
- What do they come to you in search of?
- Where do they find it?
- What path do they take?
- Where do they spend the most time?
- What do they avoid?
- What is it that finally makes them decide to complete their journey (with a purchase), or abandon it (without one)?
Your analytics—from Google Ads, your automation platform, or your social media profiles—will help you piece together the steps of the hero’s journey through their customer experience. Of course, you can use feedback tools (like polls or surveys) to gather this information straight from your customers, too.
If your analytics and insights are the stories as you know it, your marketing plan (and strategic planning) are what you use to craft the next chapter or the sequel. You can use what you’ve learned about your customers to try and anticipate their wants, and help them overcome challenges. No hero has a perfect journey. But the more prepared you are for their adventure, the more likely they are to see it through to completion.
Even though we marketers are mostly data driven, the fact remains: it’s easier to report, get buy-in, and make progress if we give our data a soul by crafting a brand/customer story around it. The more that creativity is modeled in your planning and analysis, the more likely your team will be to turn to creativity when there’s a problem to solve, or a goal to reach. Not to mention it’s an easy way to get the whole team—not just the marketers—invested in giving every customer story a happy ending.