Data Storytelling – What Does it Mean for Marketing and SEO?

Data Storytelling

Which one of the following are you more likely to remember for a longer time?

  1. 3.04 trillion trees on earth
  2. 447 trees for each person on earth

Most probably, the second one. Why? Because data narration has a much more profound impact on our minds than plain facts.

In that case, it is self-evident that marketing and SEO are driven by storytelling that can be memorable, impactful, and personal, isn’t it?

So, the question is: Could data storytelling truly be the future of all marketing communications?

The answer to this entails knowing exactly what data storytelling is for marketers and how to communicate it on a deeper level with the customers both on and off the search engine. 

What Has Been Said About Data Storytelling?

1. Data Storytelling — A Means to Push Compelling Narratives

Data is communicated in various ways in our everyday lives. Most of the data is not that compelling and doesn’t get us emotionally involved. For example, a government report on unemployment or a website with statistics about social media users: this kind of data information does not make us feel for those affected by these numbers. We know that unemployment has been increasing forever, but we don’t feel anything about it because it’s just dull facts.

This is where data storytelling comes in. It focuses on that specific emotional impact and creates a more vivid, emotional task for the audience to relate to. This is a very rare trait in present-day marketing communications because it requires that maturity and ethical integrity from the very beginning.

2. Data Storytelling — An Exercise for Emotional Appeal

Data storytelling and corporate storytelling have one thing in common: They both focus on how people understand data instead of just information about it. As a result, both of these techniques are based on the most fundamental human characteristic — our ability to relate to other people’s emotions. 

But where corporate storytelling has a more sensationalist approach, data storytelling is more subtle and less exaggerated. It also has a higher degree of social responsibility because it puts the audience, not only the advertiser, first.

3. Data Storytelling — An Investment in Brand Maintainability

Data storytelling is also an investment because it requires a strong brand, a strong recognition from the market, and an overall recognizable image. The more colorful, interesting, and rich the data storytelling is, the more people are going to remember it. This is why storytelling is such a valuable asset for branding companies that don’t have this recognition yet.

How Does Data Storytelling Influence Core Marketing Practices?

The most critical aspect of data storytelling is the capability to bypass marketers’ intention and experience it on an emotional level. As discussed above, it requires a mature and ethical approach before the data story is even written. This strategically helps companies who are just starting their journey with digital marketing. 

Secondly, because there are no concrete guidelines or boundaries for what should be in data storytelling, it puts more responsibility on the marketer to craft that narrative as creatively as possible. This creativity helps brands stand out from other brands in their category or industry by adding new dimensions to their brand identity and presence on social media channels like Instagram and LinkedIn.

Lastly, it is no longer just about the quantitative information that follows a set of parameters but about how data can be visualized to tell stories in the form of emotions and experiences. The audience will be able to comprehend these new styles and imagine their own stories using this new narrative information.

What Actions Should Marketing Professionals Take?

To make this technique fit into existing marketing structures, there must be new guidelines in place for who and what is included in data narration and visualization — and for how stories should be structured in the future.

The audience of these stories is now much more demanding for a brand’s voice to be authentic and honest because they can now tell the difference between a post created to purely sell and one powered with genuine content.

To that end, there are four distinct points that marketers must follow regarding data storytelling:

  1. It should be based on accurate data, not on fabricated images or numbers.
  2. It should be delivered in a manner that is personal and impactful.
  3. It should be based on relevant and objective information.
  4. It should have a narrow focus, so everything remains simple and easy to understand for the audience of that specific brand persona or demographic group.

How does Data Storytelling Impact SEO?

The statistics and numbers seem like one can combine the two into an unbeatable partnership, but this might not always be true.

Data Storytelling

The Best Data Storytelling on Search Engines

If done correctly, data storytelling has the potential to outperform other digital marketing tactics. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. It is most effective when it follows the SEO process, for it is structural in nature.
  2. It develops an excellent understanding of keywords, the competitiveness of those keywords, and how they affect what users will search for on Google. 
  3. It uses relevant and valuable data points that are well structured to be easily understood by the audience (e.g., infographics).

Challenges of Data Storytelling on Search Engines

However, one issue that it has in terms of SEO is page load speed, which can be a dealbreaker for many companies and businesses. The more resources a website takes to load, the less time the user is willing to wait for the web page to complete loading. This means that if data storytelling happens on slower pages, it will likely be a failure for an organization to achieve the best results.

However, such issues can be warded off by optimizing the file size, eliminating redundant code elements, etc.

In a Nutshell

For the sake of pushing your content across disparate channels, follow the following checklist:

  1. Choose evocative data stories that you can tell in under 6 seconds.
  2. Tell them with the intention to influence, not the capacity to educate.
  3. Use storytelling as a means to tell people what you want them to do, not just what they need to know.

Liked what you read? Here’s more about how data storytelling is the most valued data science skill in 2021.

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