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The Art of Data Storytelling

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5th October 2023 in

A marketer skips into a boardroom full of executives. She’s ecstatic about the results of her latest campaign.

She loads her 43-slide presentation and dives into her report, leaving no stone unturned—every impression is accounted for, every like has been analysed, every click measured. Halfway through slide four, she notices something strange; glazed eyes and fidgeting thumbs.

Her deep dive, while commendable, was not at all what the executives wanted to hear.

When it comes to presenting data, success isn’t measured by how much you can cram into a single PDF. It’s measured by how relevant that information is to your audience.

In this post, we’ll journey through the three distinct layers of presenting marketing metrics: the panoramic ‘Top Level’ view for decision-makers, the insightful ‘Middle Level’ for strategists, and the intricate ‘Bottom Level’ for the hands-on experts.

Understanding these levels will help you craft pitch-perfect presentations every time.

A diagram showing the level of detail to share with different marketing stakeholders.

The level of detail you should include in your marketing reports, categorised by audience.


The Panoramic Top-Level View

The Top-Level view is designed for executives, non-marketing stakeholders and brand partners. It should provide a concise summary of your data while stripping away the details.

At this level, you’re painting with broad brushstrokes. Highlight significant metrics such as Return On Investment (ROI), overall campaign performance, brand visibility, and revenue generation.

Did sales surge post-campaign? By how much? These are the headlines you should present at this level. Save the granular details for a different audience.

Framing your insights as a story is also effective at this level – starting from where the brand stood before the campaign and moving to where it is now, highlighting the major accomplishments and lessons along the way.

Streamlining your information in this way allows you to cater to the decision-making pace of top-level stakeholders by offering clarity without risking information overload.


The Strategic Middle-Level View

The Middle-Level view is primed for marketing professionals, strategists, and collaborators. Your goal here is to strike a balance, diving deeper than top-level summaries without becoming mired in raw data.

At this level, your presentations should be about the mechanics behind your outcomes. Which marketing channels drove the most traffic? Did the influencer collaboration or the revamped performance media campaign net more leads? Distinguishing between these contributors offers clarity on what’s working and what might need tweaking.

Taking SEO as an example, if a recent effort led to a noticeable increase in organic traffic, you might explore metrics like the top-performing keywords, page load times, and mobile vs. desktop user behaviour. However, you wouldn’t necessarily get into the intricacies of every backlink or the crawl errors for every single page.

Crafting your presentation at this level requires a blend of insight and foresight. It’s more about understanding the strategic decisions that have already been made and less about narrating a journey.

Balancing your approach in this way not only equips your audience with actionable insights but also empowers them to drive future marketing strategies with confidence and precision.


The Granular Bottom-Level View

The Bottom-Level view is tailored for those deeply involved in day-to-day marketing operations – the internal marketing team, campaign managers, and data analysts. This level dives deep, offering a comprehensive exploration of the raw data underpinning your campaign.

While it might seem like information overload to some, for this audience, the more detail, the better. Extending our SEO example, this level would delve into specifics such as individual backlink sources, granular on-page SEO changes, page-specific crawl errors, and even detailed user interactions with SERP results.

This depth enables thorough analysis, highlighting successes and pinpointing areas that might benefit from adjustments.

It’s essential to recognise the intensity of the information at this level. Before diving into such comprehensive data, ensure that the audience has both the expertise and the appetite to engage with it meaningfully.


Crafting Your Data Narrative

In the realm of marketing, understanding your audience extends beyond campaigns—it’s equally crucial when presenting data. Whether you’re offering broad insights to executives or dissecting the finer points with data aficionados, striking the right balance is key.

By aligning your data delivery to the top, middle, and bottom levels we’ve discussed, you’re not only communicating with your audience but paving the way for more informed and strategic decisions across the board.

Remember, in a world awash with data, the marketer who tells the best story will inevitably win out.


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