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5 Ways to Align Data and Storytelling for Business Growth

September 24, 2015
Aaron Polmeer

By Today’s Industry Insider


Data is the most valuable tool in your business. Based on a Gartner survey, 73% of organizations have invested or plan to invest in big data within the next two years.

It’s now the responsibility of both marketing and IT departments to translate data into profitable insights. How your team integrates data into a strategy will help determine your business’s growth.

Equipped with a dash of business acumen and a pinch of creativity, companies can persuade buyers to purchase their products and services. Compelling statements backed by credible data will lead to an increase in conversion rates and ROIs.

Nedra Klein Weinreich, the president and founder of Weinreich Communications, agrees that storytelling is essential in our fast-paced society.

“I believe that the age of the 30-second spot and interruption marketing is just about over. It’s so easy now to skip over TV commercials with our DVRs, block online banner ads, and tune out the pitches being thrown at us constantly,” she says.

Right now, the marketer’s challenge is to create a data-driven recipe to drive sales growth, while presenting a consistent brand messages to customers.

It’s a great opportunity for organizations to transcend traditional norms. Companies that embrace this new way of thinking can separate themselves from competitors and gain an undeniable spot in the marketplace.

Explore these five ways to align data and storytelling into your business strategy:

1. Revamp Your Buyer Personas

To target the most influential consumers, data identifies which buyer personas have the most impact on lead generation. Teams then can create focused messaging to grab the customers’ attention.

Plus, research shows that by adopting marketing personas websites are two to five times more effective and easier to use.

For personas to be helpful, the data must be accurate. The information can be gathered from interviews with sales representatives, customer service interactions, and even customer complaints.

For B2B companies, conversations are concentrated on the client’s expected outcomes. Ardath Albee, a B2B marketing strategist, suggests gaining intel on the following:

  • What’s important to them, and what’s driving the change?
  • What’s impeding or speeding their need to change?
  • What’s the value they visualize once they make a decision?
  • What could cause the need for this change to lose priority?

In essence, personas assist your team in effectively meeting the buyers’ needs. Here’s an example:


With properly researched buyer personas, you can now craft an intentional brand message. Cohesive content will offer your business as the solution to your clients’ problems. It nurtures prospects’ trust and converts leads.

Here’s a good example by Rain Castle. The creative agency built a CTA library based on solid messaging for the Jim Stengel Company.


2. Influence Your Customer Service Team

With analytics, the goal is to change how we make decisions. Empowering customer service teams with proper data can prepare them for consumer interactions.

It really doesn’t pay to lose a customer. NewVoiceMedia found that the cost of poor customer service in America is $41 billion per year. Moreover, disappointed people tend to share their experiences with family and friends, which leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of both the disgruntled buyer and prospective customers.

Data helps your team fulfill the customer’s interests. For example, a simple analysis report may pinpoint that startups founded by millennials prefer discussing product details over lunch, instead of dinner.

Once the data is sorted, start generating scripts or messages for your customer service teams. Remember that a good story will influence your audience to care.

Your story toolbox should contain a promise and resolution for the client. Connect the story to their needs and focus on your company’s strengths.

Farnell element14, one of the world’s largest distributors of electronic components, tackled a customer perception issue. In a customer satisfaction survey, the company learned that consumers disliked their pricing, despite their competitively priced items.

Working with their pricing, analytics and marketing teams, they created a campaign to show customers “the products they had bought, what they paid last time, what the cost would be now and what the line saving was.” As a result of their initial campaign efforts, Farnell element14 achieved a 13% conversion rate.


3. Reevaluate Your Loyalty Programs

The 2015 Loyalty Report states that 76% of Americans think that loyalty programs are part of their relationships with brands. A well-run rewards system is paramount to your customer retention rate.

Similar to interacting with your friends, loyal followers want you to communicate with them regularly. Give them the latest news and tips to better their endeavors. Social media and the occasional phone call are great ways for your customers to connect with your business.

Be sincere and transparent about your loyalty program’s intentions. Never abuse your customers’ data, like selling it to a third-party without their permission.

When you truly understand your customers, you understand their values and can build a story behind it. Offering a loyalty program centered around those particular values may offer more meaning to your customers than discounts.

Eco-friendly outdoor apparel company Patagonia decided to offer more than coupons to their loyal following. With help from eBay, it launched the Common Threads Initiative to aid customers with the reselling of their Patagonia clothing. The program reflected Patagonia’s brand of sustainability and gave their target audience an opportunity to participate in this shared mission.


4. Freshen Your Content Strategy

Content marketing is transforming how organizations attract and retain consumers. The Content Marketing Institute reported that 70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did a year ago.

With the help of analytics, your team can use data to evaluate how the reader reacts (or doesn’t react) to specific content, which gives your team the power to create strategic messaging.

Social data is readily available and will aid your team in learning your audience’s interests. Focus your efforts on the topics and keywords your consumers use. Answer these questions:

  • What keywords does your audience use when engaging with your brand?
  • What is your audience most concerned about?
  • How are your competitors talking about their brands, and what do consumers say about them?

Data without a story results in a lack of interest. Good stories compel people to change. Whether you desire to spark interest amongst your clients or inspire them to take action, your content marketing strategy should appeal to people’s feelings.

Contently leads the industry in offering great content with powerful data. Their online magazine The Content Strategist offers better ways for businesses to connect to their consumers. Even their marketing includes the perfect ingredients‐data and storytelling.


5. Renew Your Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are effective tools when they convey the human experience. Aligning data with storytelling to send personalized campaigns will increase clickthroughs and convert prospects.

Marketers can use storytelling to tie in the emotion of the brand to the email recipient’s passions. Rich customer data gives businesses a sneak peak into every subscriber’s email activity, including when they opened the email and what they clicked. Customer behaviors should influence how you tell your business’s story.

The most engaging stories are sweet, spicy, and everything in-between. They are creative and relevant to the buyer. When the right story is told, sales resistance is lowered. Anecdotes wrap a healthy sales pitch into something delicious for the prospect.

This personalized LinkedIn message applies data-centered storytelling with a relatable twist.


Transcend the Competition

Data is valuable, but most people seek a connection, too. Encourage your team to build customer relationships by weaving data within storytelling. Buyers gain personalized services, while your business can increase its customer lifetime value.

Leverage the power of statistics and stories. When you satisfy your customer’s appetite, your company will experience growth.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter: @shaylaprice

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