Tell a Story Using Data to Improve Your Ads

BY Rachel Cagle
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One of the most effective ways to sell someone on a product or service is to tell a story. Stories make communicating value more fun for the consumer. Stories show listeners where a product, company, or industry has been, where it is, and where it could go. In-​person marketing events made it easy for marketers to tell their client’s stories to potential customers. As a result, many marketers believe that waiting for in-​person events to return will be their saving grace. But did you know that you can tell a story using data? That can be done from anywhere!

How to Tell a Story Using Data

Visualizing Data

When you think of a story, your first thought is probably a spoken or written narrative. The thing is, a story is just, “an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment,” according to Oxford Languages. As long as the information you’re presenting has a beginning, middle, and end, you have yourself a story. So, you can tell a story using data by incorporating visual elements, says Carolyn Lyden, writing for Search Engine Land.

For example, you could post a colorful graph or chart or graph to your client’s website and be telling a story. You could display two graphs, side by side, to show the favorable outcomes of people who used your client’s product or service versus those who did not. Or, you could post a graph that shows the increasing popularity of your client’s product over the years. Regardless, posting visual data that shows how things used to be versus how things could be for a customer is using data to tell a story.

Online Video

Of course, if your clients would like to tell a story using data in a more personal way, there’s always online video. The person shown or narrating the video can tell a story as if they were talking to someone in person. Albeit, you’ll need to make the video shorter than an in-​person presentation would be in order to hold the viewer’s attention.

When you tell a story using data, you’re making the information being presented more reliable. Anyone can claim their product or service yields desirable results. If you cite data in the story, the information is backed by proof and becomes trustworthy in the eyes and ears of the beholder. The advice Lyden gives on how to use data to tell stories in online videos includes:

  1. Using Verbs: “The verbs, or actions, are the most crucial part of speech in data-​related stories,” says Lyden. “The verbs represent the recommended actions that result from the data insight.”
  2. Humanizing Your Data: If the narrator simply prattles off numbers and percentages from the data you’ve collected, the viewers will grow bored with the video. You need to humanize the data to draw them into the story. For example, you could use the experiences of previous customers. Including the recommendations and percentage of five-​star ratings from happy, named customers can make the data come across as more relevant to the customers watching.

Both prerecorded and livestreamed videos can do the trick when you tell a story using data. According to AudienceSCAN on AdMall by SalesFuel, 38.1% of U.S. adults have watched an online or streamed video on a mobile device within the last six months.