When data is thought of in a marketing context, two polarising ends of the spectrum come to mind. These stretch between the Excel heavy world of CRM and the opposing and glitzy world of datatainment that is often focussed on sports fans.

There is a midpoint however. A midpoint where data can be used as compelling marketing content. However, to do this is not as easy as tweeting some percentages or inserting some customer feedback into a written article. There are in fact five key factors marketers need to consider to turn data into compelling content.

  1. Know Your Audience

It might be the oldest rule of effective copywriting, but it has greater application when using data as content. Beyond knowing the fundamentals of what your audience wants, you must understand how data literate they are to ensure what you present them with isn’t overly sophisticated or underwhelming. Given the importance of visualisation in how you use data as content, you will also need to know how your audience consumes visualisation styles and formats to ensure data is presented in both an understandable and appropriate way.

  1. Make Headline News

Perhaps the second oldest rule of copywriting is to grab the reader’s attention. A data point is a great way to instantly demonstrate your brand’s quality, bust a myth, create concern and entice people to keep reading. This is pivotal in the world of online content, where lower audience engagement means we live in the era of skimming. Data can help negate this by generating intrigue and encouraging audiences to scroll down or read-on.

  1. Show Audience Knowledge

Audiences want to know more than ever that a brand has their interests at heart. One way to do this is to communicate data you have about your audience back at them – particularly with regards to their needs and lifestyle. This will show that you are tuned in to their reality, understand their problems and will therefore be able to develop an offering that can enhance their lives. Additionally, it will help demonstrate that although we live in a digital society that your brand understands audience’s offline realities.

  1. Show Scale

Data can easily demonstrate the scale of your marketing and insight efforts to your audience. By showing how many of your audience have spoken too in your research efforts you will show the lengths you’ve gone too to understand their needs. Using data to demonstrate the size of your business or customer satisfaction levels will also communicate that many others are content with using your brand. This will install confidence for potential acquisitions, nudging them in your direction.

  1. Data Isn’t Enough

Despite all the above, data alone isn’t grounds for great content. It needs to be accompanied with strong visualisation to make it understandable for audiences of all levels of data sophistication. This visualisation needs to also fit into a bigger narrative. The data you use as content will need to lead into, or form, the centre piece of the message you are trying to deliver. Failure to do these will lead your audience to simply be presented with numbers that they may not understand.

In short: know how your audience consumes data and then display data in a way that grabs attention and shows understanding to allow you to build confidence and engagement for your brand.

Jack Miles

Jack Miles


Jack Miles, Research Director, Northstar Research Partners.