How can data improve your storytelling?

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Every business seeks to be more data-driven these days.

Being able to back up your statements and decision making with cold hard statistics is a great way to build trust between your brand and your customer base.

However, a brand story cannot be built on data alone. A brand is more than numbers; it is made up of feelings, experiences and relationships.

Unfortunately, a business that prides itself on storytelling and communication may feel threatened by the influx of data-driven PR and marketing methods that leave little room for creativity.

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However, this opinion is not only wrong, it’s contradictory to a strong PR strategy. Data supports storytelling by bringing credibility to your PR message.

Here’s how to add data to your storytelling:

1. Look for patterns in customer reviews.

In general, people do not trust what businesses say about themselves. According to Edelman’s trust report, 48 percent of consumers do not believe the messages that businesses offer, especially when it comes to paid media.

However, people do believe other people. Eighty-five percent of online shoppers rate customer reviews as reliable as a recommendation from a trusted friend, making customer feedback an important tool for PR pros.

If the majority of your reviews are positive, then you can turn those messages into a percentage. For example:

“88 percent of our customers report a ‘positive experience.’”

“Nine out of ten satisfied customers would recommend us to a friend or colleague.”

Of course, gathering this kind of positive data is easier for some brands than others, especially if you have no system in place for gathering and analyzing reviews. Tools like Trustpilot can be of great assistance.

Not only does this tool encourage customers to leave genuine reviews by offering a simple feedback platform, it can help your brand identify common themes in customer responses. It also compiles the data points from customer reviews into analytical reports.

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2. Identify segment-specific pain points.

Chances are that your customers are already organized by specific segments to help your PR team get into the minds of the consumer. This strategy enables brands to get a clearer picture of their audience by transforming them into “personalities” rather than just generalizations.

These segments can also help to identify certain pain points that your customers face to support data-driven storytelling. In addition to looking at reviews, the best way to do this is by listening to what your customers have to say with social listening and media monitoring software. By observing the conversations each segment is having about your brand, product, or industry, you can easily identify top concerns, objections and talking points.

3. Analyze content overlap with influencers.

Influencers can be the best storytellers of all—and they are without a doubt an essential piece to the PR puzzle in today’s market. However, making data-driven partnering decisions can be more complex than just finding the influencers that some of your customers may be interested in.

The best way to judge whether or not an influencer will reach relevant audiences is by looking at their content, rather than their followers. More important, look for the overlaps where their messaging and vision matches yours. The topics they focus on and their niche authority is far easier to identify, and it can prove whether or not a partnership with your brand will be a relevant fit.

Tools like Cision’s influencer platform can help you narrow down the possibilities and segment influencer accounts into their clearest niches. From there, you can get a better sense of the type of content they share and see whether it is thought-leadership driven or brand-focused.

Simply stating a message is not enough. With consumers’ continuously losing trust in the media and businesses, you must be able to back up your statements and choices with objective facts.

Taral Patel is a digital marketer at E2M Solutions Inc with a focus on creating high-quality content and strong content marketing strategy that helps businesses to improve their overall online presence. A version of this article originally appeared on the Cision blog.

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