3 Reasons Why Data Storytelling Will Be A Top Marketing Trend of 2018

Think back to the last text-heavy presentation you sat through. Or maybe I should say endured because we all know how boring it can be to look at words on a screen. In our ever-changing, meme-loving world where instant, snapshotted communication reigns supreme, creating visual ways to transmit data in the office is increasingly important.

This importance isn’t just about aesthetic appeal; it turns out that the way we tell stories using data can positively impact your company’s bottom line. A study that looked at reader engagement across articles that contained charts and infographics vs. articles that were text-only found that those with graphical storytelling, or what I like to call data storytelling, had up to 34 percent more comments and shares and a 300 percent improvement on the depth of scroll down the page.

This study may have looked squarely at the publishing industry, but its findings are wide-reaching. Increased engagement/pageviews for a news story can easily translate into more advertising dollars. Marketers are smart to convert these findings and use data to tell stories in campaigns and presentations as ways to effectively engage with warm leads and attract net new clients.

Here are three reasons why I’m confident data storytelling will be a top marketing trend in 2018:

Ease of Analytics

Marketers who regularly present to C-suite executives know that the biggest decisions are only made with the right datasets, and the best ways to deliver data involve graphical formats that assist with a narrative, not with number-laden paragraphs (snooze).

Using storytelling techniques to present data not only makes it more visually appealing but also enables easy spotting of key trends, seamless results-tracking, and quick goal-monitoring. Instead of sifting through pages of data for insights (which can take valuable time away from generating leads), the use of effective data storytelling tools can help marketers look at outliers and spot potential new opportunities, which can make them look even better when presenting to management teams.

Analytics can be difficult to track without the help of data visualizations. Who wants to look at pages of numbers when you can spot new trends and bring actionable insights to the surface with a quick glance at a chart, graph or beautiful infographic?

Answer: no one.

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Impact of Conversations

Conversational presenting–or presenting in a way that brings in the audience instead of causing them to glaze over–is the most impactful way to introduce new ideas, negotiate contracts and persuade decision makers. Data storytelling is the perfect partner in making presentations conversational, because, while too many numbers can overwhelm audiences, a few charts can make things clear and concise, and create the basis for conversations that highlight our desired key points.

Seamlessness of Technology

While data storytelling is relatively new, its evolution as a dynamic visual medium has increased recently–with marketers quickly hopping on board. My advice: do some research to find the best technology for your company, schedule a training session for your entire team and then empower your colleagues to create their own stories. The latter is of particular importance as taking control of their stories means your team can own and communicate their key metrics better than ever before.

Here are things that can help you build a bridge from your current methods to effective data storytelling–

  • Choose a topic by identifying your target audience, the goal of your visual, what you would like to achieve.
  • Organize your data by thinking about what you want to convey and then get rid of anything that doesn’t help you tell that story.
  • Spend time making your visualization look sharp by keeping it simple, using color and interactivity.

A few bonus tips to make your data visualizations really pop–

  • Don’t use more than two graphs at a time so as not to confuse participants.
  • Stick with one color per graph; making things multicolored will cause data to look jumbled.
  • Give context to your concept. Introduce your idea slowly and tell the story of what you want your data to reveal instead of assuming everyone in the room is on the same page.
  • Try using interactive data storytelling techniques to support your data.

Look Out 2018!

I the social behavior is any indication— YouTube being the world’s largest search engine, engagement of photos/charts/graphs/videos/memes higher than text— data is becoming a visual storytelling tool that will only become more popular in the New Year.

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