Tell a Meaningful Story With Data Analytics
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Narrative-building is nothing new; for decades, marketers have been routinely constructing frameworks within which they can showcase the positive aspects of their products, to varying degrees of success. In 2004 we were treated to one of the strongest examples of this sort of marketing when Unilever launched their Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, a marketing initiative which rejected the fake, airbrushed definitions of modern beauty. In their place, we saw more realistic standards, building a strong narrative of self-acceptance, self-esteem, and self-worth in the process.
The campaign was a masterstroke and garnered praise for its positive messaging as well as for the subtle positioning of its product. Because of this, it is often held up as a gold standard for narrative advertising and is representative of a moment when a company stepped outside of its usual marketing protocols and endeavored to do something a little different.
But is this real data storytelling? A social justice narrative has been built, and the Dove team have developed a campaign which has undeniably resonated profoundly with many people, but where is the arc? Where are the characters? Where are the conflicts and resolutions? We are now entering the age of genuine data storytelling in advertising, immersing potential customers entirely in the experience, but to achieve this we need data, and lots of it!
Aspirational Heroes and Human Interest
Sports equipment giants Nike nailed the story arc strategy with their 2008 “Take it to the Next Level” campaign, which included a three-minute short film following the trials and travails of a young soccer wunderkind on his way to the top.
The advertisement used POV shots to play directly to the dreams and aspirations of its target audience and featured cameos from some of soccer’s biggest names. With this one, Nike got it right, developing a story with personal resonance within the company’s consumer demographic.
Google did the same thing in 2013 with the campaign for their augmented search functionality, which eschewed advertising conventions in favor of tapping into the sentiment and humanity attached to the word ‘search’. The resulting short film follows the story of an elderly Pakistani man searching for a childhood friend who was lost to him during the partitioning of India in the 1940s and 1950s.
Both of the above represented huge successes in the field of human interest advertising, but both campaigns were implemented by ‘mega-corporations’ with vast amounts of capital and resources behind them. So how can the rest of us hope to achieve this kind of success using the data storytelling model? It all comes down to data and deployment.
Listening to the Consumer
As a marketer, you should already be aware of your target demographics and have the social media analytic tools in place to identify the ‘hot’ topics among them. With this kind of knowledge, it is tempting to charge headlong into the fray, launching a viral marketing campaign aimed at targeting trending topics and shared stories. The problem with this approach is that you run the risk of losing sight of your message as you seek to garner shares. Worse than this, you run the risk of your campaign backfiring altogether.
Instead, you need to combine your social media analysis with your marketing analytic tools, identifying which topics can be applied directly to your own revenue streams, and so can be monetized most effectively.
Next, you need to define a relevant allegory. Examining the example offered by Google, we can see that they based their allegory on the sentimental connotations of the word ‘search.’ While most of us use Google’s Search function to find the answers to questions coldly, submit queries or browse statistics, in its original meaning ‘search’ conjures up images of yearning, or human desire and longing.
By identifying this, Google was able to deliver a message far more profound and far more intrinsic to us all. The audience understands that ‘this is not just about a search engine; it is about the path to happiness and fulfillment.'
This is something that you can incorporate into your marketing campaigns. Here at The Big Red Balloon, our digital marketing specialists employ exploratory "predictable" analytics to discover topics that will resonate with your target audience. The main goal is to fascinate your prospects journey as they are searching for solutions to their challenges. To that point, our digital specialists craft a unique blueprint incorporating data analytics with your content marketing execution and strategy. This is a well-refined process as we actively utilize data structures to define and enhance digital journeys.
Instead of trying too hard to lead public taste, let existing conversations do the legwork for you. Listen to what is being said and tap into that, then apply it to your analytic data to decide on the best course of action for your narrative. This would give you an overall direction in crafting unique unignorable social funnels.
Make Virality Your Goal
Online behaviors have made it incredibly easy to build momentum for your online marketing campaign; you just need to make the right movements and encourage social media shares in the right way. Virality should be your target, so you need to introduce an element to your narrative which makes users want to share and get involved. You can achieve this either by reaching out to them directly or by having them reach out to you.
When you are designing the viral element of your campaign, remember to refer to your acquired data once again. You approach should never be a catch-all one; instead, you need to know precisely which angle you are targeting to reach your primary demographic. The data will tell you what is resonating with the groups you need to target, and how best to reach them.
It all comes back to data. This is your reference point, your platform upon which you can build, so don’t lose sight of those analytics when your marketing campaign is taking off.
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