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Goran Mirkovic

3 Reasons Why Data Is Meaningless Without A Story

Goran Mirkovic
3 Reasons Why Data Is Meaningless Without A Story

Content marketing is a lot like running a restaurant. It doesn’t really matter how good and tasty your food is, if it looks ugly, people won’t be interested in eating it. The same goes for your dining area. If your place is a dump, most customers who are in need of a hot meal won’t even enter your establishment. Regardless of how affordable your menu might be, these guys will turn around right on your doorstep, leave, and never look back.

Data-Driven Storytelling: Like Owning a Restaurant

Why wouldn’t they give your cooking a fair chance, you ask? Aren’t they hungry? It’s not like you're forcing them to pig out on their full stomachs, right? Running a dated, visually challenged and messy establishment is nothing more or less than a reflection of bad business. No one really wants to eat in a cheap place where the food looks like it has been violently killed with a bat just moments ago.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t judge a restaurant solely on the quality of its food and menu. When I go somewhere to eat, I want to see that the owner of that establishment has really invested some serious genuine effort into making his restaurant a pleasant place to visit.

To me, the whole concept of dining out is as much about the experience as it is about the food.

If I sit down to eat, I’m not just hungry for food. I’m hungry for a good time as well.

When I’m really starving and I need quickly to digest something in order to make my stomach stop from growling like mad lion, I never go to a place where I have to wait 30 minutes or more for my food to arrive. Nope. I visit the first fast food joint in my area and wolf down the biggest and juiciest burger on the menu.

However, when I have the time and I really want to enjoy my food – a whole different set of rules comes into action.

Charm Your Customers: Just Like Owning a Restaurant

In this highly competitive business, you cannot really get by just by owning a restaurant. If you want to turn heads and encourage your people to come back and spread good words about your business, you need to charm your customers in every way possible. You need to make them fall in love with your band, not just your food. Only then will they actually give you and your service a fair chance.

If you think about it, the same thing goes for content marketing. All you have to do is picture your data as your food, and your story as everything else. Once you do that, you’ll see, like in the above mentioned example, that one cannot really function without the other.

Regardless of the fact that many of my colleagues praise data, when it comes to tailoring content for the right type of audience, I strongly believe that your numbers and insights are worthless without a fresh and creative approach, style and interesting storytelling.

So why is data meaningless if it doesn't tell a story?

Reason 1: Numbers Mean Nothing If You Don’t Know How To Sell Them To Your Prospects

Data is the cornerstone of not just content marketing, but every other marketing strategy as well. It’s what separates us from those annoying door-to-door salesmen who rely on pure dumb luck to sell their products and services. Data has given us the luxury to actually craft well-educated messages that directly appeal to our prospect's pain points, needs and desires instead of gut-driven guesses.

But, like I said above, data is just the cornerstone of every marketing strategy. It cannot help you win if you don’t know how to leverage it right.

Anyone who solely looks at data in hopes of finding everything they need to know to set up amazing content marketing strategy for their business is going to experience failure.

When it comes to data, most online business tend to get carried away. They think that the answer to their every questions can be found by looking at various different stats and sheets.

Using your numbers in order to understand how your audience ticks and what you need to do to make sure that you’ll reach all your goals will only get you so far. It doesn’t matter how precisely you know your targeted crowd, you still need to produce something that will excite your readers and provoke them to make some sort of a conversion on your site.

What good are your numbers if you don’t know how to use them to provoke some genuine emotion from your targeted audience? Numbers don’t really excite people – stories do. If you don’t know how to make the most out of your data and put it into context that will empower your messages and speak volumes to your crowd, then you won’t get very far with your marketing strategy.

You cannot win over new customers just by publishing naked facts and insights on your blog.

This is because your content is read by humans, not robots. And as research has shown, people are far more influenced by stories then numbers.

It’s scientifically proven that emotionally engaging stories affect more areas of the brain than rational, data-driven messages. That’s why as a content marketer, I work on my creativity just as much as I do on my analytical skills.

Reason 2: You Let Data Control Your Decisions

Even though I use data for my work, I don’t let it control my every decision. I see these numbers as nothing more than intelligent guidelines that will only help me reach my goal if I produce an exceptional piece of content.

For me, content marketing isn’t just about delivering nicely tailored information to the right people. No. It’s about showcasing your expertise, elevating your customers experience to a whole new level, and getting people to actually buy into your story, products and services.

If you manage to stimulate people to actually develop some emotions about you, as a content writer, and your brand – you’ll have them for life.

A lot of content marketers make the same mistake here: they use their content solely for generating new sales. They go right for the kill – even though these so much more they can do in order to tighten the bond between their brand and their customers. They don’t spend any time seducing their leads and luring them into their buyers cycle.

Even though they have all the data that helps marketers understand what type of frameworks they need to implement in their work in order to spike up their audience’s engagement and actually give their targeted crowd what they’re looking for, they still fail to capitalize on their numbers.

Even though data will help better understand your shoppers and how to take your content marketing decisions to the next level, it still won’t help you convert your leads into actual paying customers. Only your creativity can do that. Data is here to provide you with clarity and context on how to reach your desired crowd, but it still doesn’t have the power to turn the game in your favor, if you don’t have what it takes to produce intelligent messages. That is why it’s important that we stop banalizing content marketing as a profession, and make it our main object to work far more on our writing skills.

Reason 3: Data Is A Great Sidekick, But A Terrible Leader

In content marketing, creativity rules the land. It’s really important that we never forget that. If you have the sense to figure out how you can modify an existing narrative and re-purpose some of the already existing stories within your niche in new and fresh way, you’ll easily find the necessary data to back up your story.

Data should never be your star player. It’s an amazing sidekick, but never a good leader. The heart of your content marketing isn’t in your data, it’s in your story. Data has the power to perfectly compliment your content marketing efforts, as long as they’re conducted with clear goals and intent in mind.

Your numbers can educate you a lot about your targeted demographic, but they can never really teach you exactly what to write about and how to make your readers like you. That comes from your writing experience and creativity as a content producers.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you have anything to add or ask on this subject, please write your thoughts in the comments section below, and I’ll do my best to get back to you ASAP.

Goran Mirkovic is a Marketing Manager at AltusHost, a Netherlands-based web hosting provider with International presence that has been part of the European hosting scene since 2008. He's an experienced online marketer, with dozens of amazing projects behind him. Goran’s specialty is content marketing. He has been using his words and colorful imagination to create commercial content for various types of clientele from all over the globe. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well.

Comments

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Joseph Tokish
Joseph Tokish
I agree that we spend way too much time tailoring our content based off analytical data rather on developing a intimate relationship with our audience. It is easy to become wrapped up in the numbers since time is money, but somehow we must pull ourselves back to the main reason why we are sharing content: To build trusting relationships.
JP Chastain
You can make data tell a story, which means data in the wrong hands is as bad as an evil genie in a lamp.
Jesse Beaty
r/DataIsBeautiful on reddit talks about this all the time. Charm = Delight, good inbound marketing principles…
David Sayce
David Sayce
Spot on! Without the 'why' data can fail a business. Have the story also helps more people understand what is happening more easily. Especially if it is Board level or those outside marketing.
Goran Mirkovic
David Sayce
Exactly, David.
Thanks for the comment.
Jill Sullivan
You couldn't be more right! If you have the data, you have to have the story to tell to the client.. I think a lot of people learn this the hard way..
Goran Mirkovic
Jill Sullivan
I agree. Most of the times, people try to automate content marketing, even though somewhere in their heads they know that it cannot be done like that.
Noname
I'm a Foodie so I loved the restaurant analogies. You are so right. When we say content is king, it has to be content that tells a story and creates an emotional tie with the audience. The analytics are just backup.
Goran Mirkovic
Thanks for your comment, Stephanie. I'm glad you enjoyed this post.
Tara M. Clapper
Great points, Goran. Thanks for sharing your insights. I can't stand emails that are all sales or all data - nor content that's just fluff. Having the right combo really helps.
Goran Mirkovic
Tara M. Clapper
Thanks for the kind words, Tara. I truly appreciate them.
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