Collect and leverage in-house data to improve your product and your marketing.
Why it's a good idea
Most businesses generate some data — but not all businesses know how to use it to their advantage. By sharing your data sets, you can create highly marketable assets that earn PR, links, and attention.
Companies with strong data stories tend to be perceived as more authoritative, trustworthy, and likely to be market leaders.
Further, some companies can publish interactive data aggregates that not only market well but also improve and enrich their product’s underlying user experience.
As with most things, data is inert unless you do something with it. In this case, the best examples we have are interactive in some way. They’re attractive to journalists and end-users alike.
- They offer up an interpretation and a narrative by which context is attached (why does this data matter? Why should you care?)
- They encourage references (exclusive, trustworthy, frequently updated)
- They encourage remixing (open-source data sets, downloadable, embeddable)
Some examples go above and beyond and help add additional utility or enriched functionality to a product.
Below is a selection of my favorite data-stories and marketing assets.
My personal favorite data story is the Shopify Black Friday, Cyber Monday interactive.
Each year during the crazy holiday shopping weekend, you can see sales live as they happen with a minute-by-minute counter of order and transaction volume. It’s fascinating to watch.
This type of assets suits the company well, as it’s proof-of-concept demonstration of both capabilities, reliability, and popularity for prospective site owners (many of which may be on other platforms and see reliability issues during high volume times),
Once the event is over, it’s aggregated into a nice interactive piece as seen here.
Website analytics is a tough business, but Statcounter has stuck around since 1999 based on their creative data-driven marketing.
Their global stats cover browser and device market share, and the data sets are regularly referenced across several leading industry sites.
It’s an interesting play that underscores the underlying technology and helps keep the Statcounter name notable and visible within an audience of people interested in browser and device market share data.
OkCupid was one of the biggest dating sites around, and much of their success was based on the first-hand data they shared. It was outrageously good for acquiring links and press coverage. It also hit very well on social, which at the time was fairly nascent.
The data came from surveys of users, which were a lot like quizzes. Part of the platform’s promise was that it used data generated by surveys to match you with others. This process both encouraged engagement and added real value to the user experience.
They’ve since rebooted their data blog, but it’s just a shadow of what it once was.
Each year Spotify leverages the data generated by their music platform to produce year-end aggregated experiences.
Here’s the 2020 Wrapped collection. It includes things like:
- Top Tracks
- Top Artists
- Top Female Artist
- Top Podcasts
- Best Hip-Hop Songs
Spotify also does a personalized version for each subscriber, which earns them massive amounts of social shares.
Both are excellent examples of data-driven marketing assets that add value to the product and enhance the customer experience.
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center, a DC-based political think tank, has built a business on providing data to the press. References to their studies count in the tens of millions. This is an extreme example, but marketers should note the types of content they produce and data narratives’ marketability.
Pew Research produces various content types — text articles, interactives, and raw data-sets. They also make the raw data-sets publicly available after “a period of time,” which may allow others to re-use or reinterpret the data.
Christie’s auction house leverages its data to recap some of the most exciting, interesting, and expensive items sold each year. The latest iteration of this content type is a video (with accompanying text content piece):
From ONE to 1,733,906,375: Christie’s 2020 in numbers .
This content works because it establishes authority and shows off a year’s worth of highlights. It’s also a great way to repurpose content created for the auctions.
WalletHub is a personal finance site competing in a very competitive space. They rely heavily on studies and statistical data, which they offer up to the various press. This play is very popular with local newspapers, so you’ll see many studies that cover all 50 states.
These studies are great for link building and PR. As a bonus, they tend to rank pretty well and get in front of journalists as they’re researching — which in turn, often earns in-content citations at major publications.
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I'm a developer, marketer, and writer based in Appleton, Wisconsin.