Storytelling and Data: Essential Components of a Successful Content Strategy

Effective content marketing depends on two essential elements: strong storytelling and the intelligent collection and use of data. But these two elements don’t exist in a vacuum — they work together seamlessly to promote your brand, drive engagement, and attract online sales. Let’s look at the connection between the story you tell and the story told by your numbers.

Your Story

The thing you always ask when someone recommends a story to you is probably, “What it’s about?” The same goes when you’re marketing a business. What is your brand about? What are its primary goals, values, and solutions? Once you know this, you know what themes to present to your audience, in the form of relevant content built around keywords. Keyword analytics can then reveal which of your principal themes are striking the biggest chord through incoming traffic, on-site times, and trending patterns.

It’s important to remember that your entire story isn’t tell-able in one blog post, on any single web page, or even over the span of your entire website. Your brand’s journey is bigger than that — it’s an epic adventure that changes over time. While most stories have a beginning, middle and end, your brand’s story is a continuing serial, hopefully one with no end in sight. So every element of your online presence, from your permanent website and blog content to social media updates and email followups, must tell one chunk of your story while pointing your audience toward next exciting chapter.

This is another way that data plays a huge role in helping you tell your story more effectively. Online analytics let you see exactly where you’re losing members of your audience at certain points in the story. For example, did they get all excited over the introduction (a blog post answering their search query) only to get confused by the table of contents (your website layout)? Did you ask too much of your audience too early by routing them to a hard-selling landing page before they’d been warmed up by the necessary background content? By monitoring these points along your sales funnel, you’ll see exactly which parts of your story could use a rewrite, or maybe even a reorganization.

Your Audience’s Stories

Visitors to your website bring their own stories with them — and you can use analytics to read those stories, which in turn enables you to refine your own story for their tastes and needs. One of the reasons it’s so important to collect demographic data through contact forms and other tools is so you can understand exactly who your audience is. A story that resonates with a 30-year-old working mom might score zero points with a wealthy, conservative retiree or a trend-following teen. Collect every scrap of personal information you can get your hands on so you can know what tone to take and which angles to emphasize.

Story telling

Data helps you get to know the audience for your story.

Your Competitors’ Stories

How do your stories compare to those your competitors are telling? If the other guys are addressing the same target audience, then you should take pains to understand their storytelling strategies. Aside from the obvious step of perusing their content, you should also pay attention to what their customers are saying about them — which points in their story seem to be making a strong positive impact.

Once again, data comes to the marketing storyteller’s rescue. There are several online tools available to help you perform a competitive analysis; Buzzsumo, for instance, is a great starting point for researching your competitors’ social media numbers. Unmetric is another helpful tool for measuring a competitor’s brand engagement success against your own. The data you gather can help you deduce which parts of their story matter the most to specific segments of their audiences — which, after all, is your audience too.

The intersection between compelling storytelling and cutting-edge data gathering techniques defines the corner of Brand Success Avenue and Profit Street. Get them working together like a well-oiled machine, and you’ll have no trouble developing the captive audience of your dreams. If you want to get a head start by improving your blogging skills, download our free white paper now!