Traditionally, stories are seen as the opposite of data. You either have a poignant narrative or cold, hard facts. Content either appeals to reason or to emotions. If a person is creative, they can’t be analytical; if they’re good with numbers, then they’re probably not good with words.

You can forget about all that. Modern marketers will tell you that analytical and creative thinking are equally important to effective content creation. Simply put, statistics and stories work better together. One earns trust, while the other supplements it by making an emotional connection. One creates an image and the other grounds that image in reality.

What do we mean? Most people are aware that “world hunger is a major problem.” If you said, “Approximately 842 million people suffer from hunger worldwide. That’s almost 12 percent of the world’s population of 7.1 billion people,” the reaction would be a bit stronger at best.

How about this? “As we speak, almost 850 million people across the world are starving to death.”

Statistics are boring, and words can be vague and trivial. Combine them right, and you’ll get memorable content sparking a powerful reaction. When it comes to content creation in 2019, you should share both data and stories for best results.

Combining Stats and Stories: A Win-Win Approach

Content marketers have found combining statistics and stories to be a winning formula for all parties involved. A study by infogram comparing text-only articles to articles containing infographics or charts showed that stories with data visuals received significantly more social engagement. Every fifth reader scrolled all the way down to the end of the articles that contained data visuals.

According to TechTarget, stories with data denote a process of rendering data analyses in layman’s terms with the aim of influencing a business action or decision. However, data stories should do more than merely influence decisions as far as content creation in 2019 is concerned. They should share interesting information that isn’t widely accessible, engage audiences, and answer a series of pertinent questions, with “so what?” being the most important of them.

Data stories explore and clarify how and why data alters over time, normally using a series of interconnected visualizations. Visualization is a crucial part of data stories, but not the only element. Data storytelling is similar to data visualization, but with a clear goal and a poignant narrative. A good story should have an open ending to encourage critical thinking, leading audiences to form their own conclusions.

How Should Brands Tell Data Stories?

Brands are embracing data stories in 2019, because they can help achieve essential outcomes. One successful approach is by turning the customer experience into a story. A good story makes the data more valuable and meaningful.

The customer interface itself is a story for and of customers of Nationwide Retirement Readiness, who can see not only exactly how much they have saved for retirement, but also how much they’ll actually need, how much they can expect to receive when they retire, and what amount remains between them and their goal. This is possible due to charts and graphs provided by the company, which is in the financial services industry. If that weren’t enough, each customer’s profile includes personalized suggestions and prompts about how to save more.

Everyone Loves a Good Story

A personalized data story is a great way to celebrate your relationships with your customers because all people love a good story that revolves around them. Brands can use personalized data stories to encourage customers to share data with them, knowing it will be used for creative and practical purposes.

Content creation in 2019 does wisely to follow Spotify’s example of a great way to thank customers for all the useful data they have provided. We’re talking about Spotify’s Wrapped campaign, where the company gifts the data back to its clients. In late 2018, every Spotify user got an email prompting them to log in to the site and access an interactive, customized experience that included data about the most-played genres, artists, and songs as well as the total minutes streamed.

As they immersed themselves in this experience, Spotify’s Premium users got extra data and opportunities, including the chance to have their Wrapped share card displayed on digital billboards in scenic locations like Piccadilly Circus in London and New York City’s Times Square.

Stop Trying to Choose! 

Both stories and data have their upsides and downsides for content marketers. Sometimes, you just need one or the other to create content effectively. However, you shouldn’t need to choose – content creation in 2019 is embracing the fortes of both data and description to the benefit of brands.