Data-driven Storytelling: What Can your Data Do for You?

Data driven marketing

Why and How to Tell Stories Using Data

From the dawn of time, we’ve passed down knowledge through storytelling. It’s a powerful way to not only educate others or explain an idea, but when done well, a good story tends to stick with listeners. In fact, a study by researchers Dan & Chip Health found that 63% of people remember stories told during a presentation, whereas only 5% remember straight statistics. When it comes to presenting data, storytelling is key.

In today’s data-driven world, businesses rely on data to help make critical decisions, sell products and services and understand evolving market demands. Hidden within spreadsheets and charts packed with numbers and algorithms is a story, but it takes a true PR pro to untangle the numbers and tell a story that will translate and resonate with an audience. Not only that, but good data-driven storytelling turns insight into action, generating leads and profit for businesses.

Storytelling Marketing

Understanding your data is the first step to selling a story driven by data. Depending on the data, there may be numerous angles to take, so it’s important to develop a strategy and nail down the core of what this data means. While it may be easier to simply state data vs. develop a narrative around it, there are numerous marketing benefits associated with data-driven storytelling. These include:

  • Making a bigger impact through visuals. Not only are 65% of the population visual learners, people tend to remember and respond to data that’s formatted in a visually appealing way. Utilizing infographics, photos, videos and colorful charts can help you share your data, and story, in a quick and effective way. Most social media posts today include a graphic or video, which isn’t a coincidence. LinkedIn posts with images have a 98% higher comment rate, while tweets with visuals are three times more likely to receive engagement. Boiling down your data into an easy to digest visual will ensure you make a bigger splash with every post.
  • Gaining trust and credibility. When you stake a claim, you must be able to point to where that data came from. With an expanding and demanding market, trust and transparency is essential to gain new customers and maintain current customers. According to Five9’s Customer Service Index 2020 Report, when business leaders buy new products or services, they consider trust to be one of the most important factors. Leading with data-driven content can help you develop a trustworthy and transparent brand.
  • Keeping the attention of your customer. The average attention span is around 25 seconds, and most consumers read 28% or less of the words on a single web page. This makes it more important than ever to simplify your message to ensure it reaches your target audience quickly. Data-driven storytelling allows you to do this by appealing to consumer desires through story, while also making your message short and sweet with data.

Data-driven Storytelling in Action

There are numerous creative ways to take data and tell a fascinating story. Some recent and well-executed data-driven storytelling examples include:

McKinsey & Company’s COVID-19 Case Tracker. While the actual case tracker showcases the raw data of the virus’s spread around the world, it’s the pieces they’ve published that tell interesting stories. For example, The Emotion Archive took data and created an interactive experience to reflect how over 100 people in eight different countries felt during the pandemic. With the same collective data, McKinsey also produced a piece about how employees feel about returning to work on-site amid the pandemic. Rather than simply state the facts and list its statistics in a single article, the organization utilised its data to create emotional pieces that tell a larger story. By making these pieces interactive, McKinsey invites its audience to get involved in the research and discover the answers to the questions they seek.

The Rhythm of Food by Google News Lab and Truth & Beauty. This collaborative research explores the hidden patterns in Google search trend data, uncovering the ways in which we search for food throughout the year for over 15 years. It’s a massive amount of data, but the report utilises colorful charts and graphs, videos, interactive searches and more to keep you invested. While this data could and should be used for other purposes, turning it into an experience for the average person to explore gives both Google News Lab and Truth & Beauty a leg up as trustworthy and transparent brands.

Clean Living Integrated Report by Sofidel. Each year, Sofidel Group produces an Integrated Report on its commitment to creating economic, social and environmental value for stakeholders. By utilizing the data collected over the course of a year, Sofidel tells the story of its direction as a company, financial transparence, sustainable business model, products, employees and more. This is a great example of using data-driven storytelling to protect your bottom line and showcase companywide efforts and goals.

While there are thousands of great data-driven storytelling examples, there’s always room for more. In an era where consumers struggle to trust news sources and rely on accurate information, data-driven storytelling can help your brand stand out as an expert and thought leader within your industry. Don’t just sit on your data – showcase it for the world to see and tell a great story while you’re at it. Contact Mulberry Marketing Communications today to learn how we can put your data to work.


Alex Weiss is an Account Supervisor at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She combines her creative writing background and B2B experience to bring client campaigns to life.