Using Data to Tell Powerful Customer Journey Stories

data storytelling
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At the recent Adobe Summit, Ben Gaines and Jen Lasser talked about how to use data to tell powerful customer stories.

Making data useable is perhaps the biggest challenge for analysts and marketers. Combing through massive amounts of data can be overwhelming, and takes forever, and then it still needs to be interpreted and shared with other people.

Everyone loves a good story, especially if the data is connected to a person. So, storytelling with data must include three things:

  1. Data
  2. Visuals
  3. Narrative

If your story only includes data and narrative, it’s missing the visual element to immediately draw your audience in. If you only have data and visuals, you’re missing the emotional connection of the story. If you only have visuals and narrative, you don’t have the solid foundation data gives you.


The Data

Analysts don’t often think about how the data is going to be interpreted. There are methods of exploring the data to interpret and create stories:

  1. Mine for insights
  2. Quickly discover trends in your data
  3. Craft unique stories by customer segment
  4. Discover differentiating characteristics between key segments
  5. Discover common customer paths
  6. Identify barriers to conversion


Bringing the Data to Life with Visuals

There are two cognitive processing systems that need to be used when using visuals.

data storytelling

By appealing to System 1 (emotional side) with visuals, your audience will be able to understand data trends faster. You can depict relationships more intuitively with venn diagrams, or highlight key data points with comparisons.  To appeal to System 2 (logical side), add depth with tables and graphs.

We hear statistics, but we feel stories.


Approaching the Narrative

There are a number of storytelling methods, but for the purposes of data storytelling, follow these four steps:

  1. Set-up – Background on the current situation, character(s), and the hook
  2. Rising Insights – Share findings that reveal deeper insights into the problem or opportunity
  3. The “Aha” Moment – Present major findings or key insights
  4. Solution and Next Steps – Share recommendations and discuss next steps

A combination of all three storytelling components will empower your business users to make data-driven decisions through curation and sharing.

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