The Master Report: Storytelling with data

This was a sponsored post by Nugit under the Master Report series. 

When it comes to figuring out what to do with the data collected, a lot of brands remain unsure. While mining insights can elevate their marketing and content strategy, many brands are still lost as to how to go about doing it. With recent research from Kantar Millward Brown stating that only 15% of ads deliver messages which consumers can quickly absorb, the call for better storytelling is now greater than ever.

In a conversation with Marketing, Rod Strother, vice-president of digital experience at StarHub, said the telco studies raw data across its platforms, and maps it back to offline consumer behaviour. This allows the brand to come up with key trends, benchmarks, insights and action points.

“Understanding the perspective of the consumer is important when creating the right story lines; and data sits at the core of this endeavour,” he said. Echoing the sentiment was Karl Mak, co-founder of SGAG and MGAG, a content site specialising in the creation of branded content and memes. In a conversation with Marketing, he revealed that the use of data has become critical to the organisation’s creative process.

“This is often with the goal of telling better stories to our audiences,” he said.


Data also helps track the effectiveness of a brand story, according to StarHub’s Strother. Not only does the use of data benefit customers, it is also of value to marketing teams when communicating with different stakeholders.

This is because business decisions need to be based on the solid foundation of clean and credible market data. Hence, with reliable data, Strother said the telco is able to identify top performing content to understand what type of content resonates with its audience.

Over time, this can allow the brand to develop best practices.

“Data lends credibility to the story we are trying to tell our key stakeholders. It also makes the content measurable so that we can track its effectiveness,” he said.

Added Mak: “The use of big data in content creation helps us to pinpoint and do more of what the audience likes and on the flip side, do less of what the audience dislikes. On top of this, data also helps us to discover unique insights on content formats and trends that aid us in our innovation process.”


When it comes to picking the right talent for the storytelling process, Strother is of the view that data storytellers need to be skilled at handling large sets of data. This will allow them to pick out the most important insights, and hence, create the most impactful visualisations.

“They also need a good understanding of the business and should be able to address the specific concerns of stakeholders,” he said. At the same time, brands also cannot neglect the actual storytelling process as storytelling is incredibly powerful at communicating data.

“Having a skilled data storyteller helps tremendously in developing engaging narratives which creates engagement between the respective stakeholders and the insights you are trying to get across,” Strother said.

Meanwhile, for SGAG’s Mak, diversity is a key factor when it comes to picking the right storyteller for the job. Hence, storytellers need to be a “Jack of all trades, master of 10”.

“We look for diverse storytellers across various backgrounds with different perspectives and experiences to add into the creative mix. At the core of it, all our storytellers are a data-driven bunch who are highly iterative and experimental in their creative work,” he said.

Looking within your data analytics team is also an option, according to a recent Analytics conference organised by Marketing. In a panel discussion, industry players discussed the value data analysts bring when it comes to the visualisation and storytelling process.

According to Kelly Yoong, head of analytics solution for SmartHub at StarHub, data visualisers play a very important role because of the value they add in the storytelling process. Having great graphics opens up room for conversation – which visualisers are good at creating.

“Doing so leads to more avenues being explored that will in turn give more budget for marketers to delve deeper into, and as such, data analysts are vital in the storytelling process,” he explained.

He added that data analysts can help change data to a story, especially when it is being presented to senior management. Agreeing with him was Roy Goh, director of service delivery/management (analytics) at Merck Sharp & Dohme, who added that being able to visualise was key in conveying the right stories.

More tips below from Nugit:

Storytelling with Data: Unlocking revenue through data storytelling

Brand marketers often ponder two major things – one, how to capture the attention of their audience, and two, how to make them remember key brand messages. Until the day comes when neuromarketing is fully realised, how do we get into a consumer’s mind? Especially within the digital space? The answer sounds relatively simple: you follow their “clicks” and use that data to tell them a story they want to hear.

Storytelling with Data : Case study - Focusing on the right questions in data storytelling

Data storytelling is about creating persuasive stories where analytical insights are organised as a guiding pathway, taking audiences to the original source of data. To know more about examples from Nugit on how you can use data stories to influence and drive better marketing strategies, click here.