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Revealing Growth Through Data Storytelling

Organizations rely heavily on data captured from a variety of analytics tools, CRMs and surveys that provide insights on sales, clicks, opinions and other useful user data. However, these data platforms rarely reveal the human insight into the reasons why a consumer is purchasing something or what is really driving growth or altering consumers’ purchasing decisions. Enter “data storytelling.”

I’m a big advocate of data, but it’s not always the sum-of-the-parts for answering why a consumer decides to purchase something. Answering that question requires me to dig deeper within the organizations, their leadership and customers to understand what is frustrating for customers about the road to a purchase, what inspires them to engage with your product or service, why they’re not responding to lead-gen activity, or why a high percentage of users are abandoning your website. Data and surveys can tell you that conversions are down or that customers receive too many emails, but what’s the real reason they either do or don’t make a purchase or complete a conversion?

“Data and surveys can tell you that conversions are down or that customers receive too many emails, but what’s the real reason they either do or don’t make a purchase or complete a conversion?”

What Is it Like to Be My Customer?

For many organizations, data provides the organization or brand with a one-sided view of their customer. To fully grasp “What Is it Like to Be My Customer?,” organizations need to place the user at the center of business outcomes in order to understand how the customer is choosing to interact with organization, what they’re thinking when doing so, and what additional insights can be identified as growth drivers.

As described here, “Letting the data speak for itself” is a well-known phrase with a hard truth: Data presented on its own rarely communicates meaning for itself. For most people, it’s the context behind the numbers, i.e., the story, that helps them understand and care to act.”

Enter Data Storytelling

Data presents us with patterns, identifies opportunities and provides answers. Storytelling allows everyone to understand why and encourages action.

“50% of B2B buyers are more likely to buy if they can connect emotionally with your brand.” In addition, “71% of B2B buyers purchase when they see personal value in your business.”

For B2B marketers, data storytelling not only humanizes the data, but provides sales and marketing teams with human insights into what narrative will motivate and inspire customers to learn more about your product or service. In fact, “according to research by Google in partnership with Motista and CEB, 50% of B2B buyers are more likely to buy if they can connect emotionally with your brand.” In addition, “71% of B2B buyers purchase when they see personal value in your business. Along with that, 68.8% of the B2B buyers surveyed are even willing to pay a higher price to do business with a brand they believe in.”

HBR breaks down data storytelling into these three components:

Data: Thorough analysis of accurate, complete data serves as the foundation of your data story. Analyzing data using descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive analysis can enable you to understand its full picture.

Narrative: A verbal or written narrative, also called a storyline, is used to communicate insights gleaned from data, the context surrounding it, and actions you recommend and aim to inspire in your audience.

Visualizations: Visual representations of your data and narrative can be useful for communicating its story clearly and memorably. These can be charts, graphs, diagrams, pictures, or videos.

“Companies can no longer rely on traditional data sets to identify what is attracting their customer or pushing them away. Human insights, brought to life through data storytelling, will provide an unbiased view into what’s motivating or distancing your customer and reveal what they need from you.

To understand how companies apply these human insights to create great experiences, User-Tested suggests asking the following questions:

Effectiveness: Does It Meet Customers’ Needs?

How easy or difficult is it for your customers to achieve a specific goal or action?

When it comes to the complexity of banking and investment apps or desktop and mobile sites, the customer experience can be frightening. I wish every app and user experience was designed like the Chase banking app. My ability to deposit checks, make payments and toggle between multiple accounts is effortless. The user experience far exceeds any other financial or banking desktop website.

In 2018, Chase initiated a “digital everything” strategy. “Creating a digital ecosystem will help the bank better align with clients’ interests by moving away from the industry’s traditional fee-based model to a more consumer-friendly ecosystem model. This was led by diving into the data behind its investments, M&A, patents, partnerships, hiring activity and products.”

In this study by Chase, mobile apps have become the most frequently used banking channel, with 62% of respondents citing that they can’t live without their banking app. Ninety-three percent of consumers have used one or more digital payment methods, such as Zelle®, in the past year (up 5% year over  year). Consumers’ top reasons for using digital payment methods were the same across all generations: Convenient (66%), easy (57%) and saves time (46%)

Ease: Is It Easy to Use?

Is the experience straightforward and seamless?

For one client, we were asked to evaluate a community hospital’s website through the perspective of current and prospective patients. We needed to understand if the current site was successful in providing timely medical information in a simple and easy manner, how audiences could search for insurance coverage information, and what else validated the hospital’s areas of expertise. The site made answering these three primary user queries not only difficult, but frustrating.

In this study by Chase, mobile apps have become the most frequently used banking channel, with 62% of respondents citing that they can’t live without their banking app. Ninety-three percent of consumers have used one or more digital payment methods, such as Zelle®, in the past year (up 5% year over  year). Consumers’ top reasons for using digital payment methods were the same across all generations: Convenient (66%), easy (57%) and saves time (46%)

“One top team we know invites customers to its regular monthly meeting solely to discuss the merits of its products and services. The CEO of one of the world’s largest banks spends a day a month with the bank’s clients and encourages all members of the C-suite to do the same.

Emotion: How Does It Make Me Feel?

Does the experience make feel empowered, frustrated or that this brand doesn’t really understand me?

Website pop-up surveys asking you about your experience can’t be measured on a scale from 1 to 10. You’re being given a numerical value for something that doesn’t offer any context as to why a consumer is or isn’t making a purchasing decision.

I like what was said here about conducting customer interviews without the confirmation bias that can intentionally skew the feedback toward what you want to hear. As the same article references, uncomfortable questions usually result in the best insights, e.g., “What’s one thing that would cause you not to purchase a service like this?” It may not be what you want to hear, but you will most likely get to the truth about how someone feels about your product or service.

“Website pop-up surveys asking you about your experience can’t be measured on a scale from 1 to 10. You’re being given a numerical value for something that doesn’t offer any context as to why a consumer is or isn’t making a purchasing decision.

This McKinsey Study demonstrates how some B2B companies and their leadership are going one step further to understand how clients and customers feel about their organization’s product or service through a more personalized approach.,“One top team we know invites customers to its regular monthly meeting solely to discuss the merits of its products and services. The CEO of one of the world’s largest banks spends a day a month with the bank’s clients and encourages all members of the C-suite to do the same. Through personal exposure or constant engagement with researchers, executives can act as role models for their businesses and learn firsthand what most frustrates or, alternatively, excites customers.”

In this study by Chase, mobile apps have become the most frequently used banking channel, with 62% of respondents citing that they can’t live without their banking app. Ninety-three percent of consumers have used one or more digital payment methods, such as Zelle®, in the past year (up 5% year over  year). Consumers’ top reasons for using digital payment methods were the same across all generations: Convenient (66%), easy (57%) and saves time (46%)

As shared in the above article, companies can no longer rely on traditional data sets to identify what is attracting their customer or pushing them away. Human insights, brought to life through data storytelling, will provide an unbiased view into what’s motivating or distancing your customer and reveal what they need from you.

Questions? Please feel free to email me here. As always, thank you for reading.

Photo by Kin Li on Unsplash