Data analysis isn’t something that comes naturally to many of us. As someone who studied communications and graphic design in school, the phrase “pivot table” even now continues to trigger a brief flash of anxiety. Over the years, I picked up a data toolkit though osmosis, working alongside talented growth marketers, informaticists, and BI analysts in fintech and healthtech startups.
Tech companies thrive on data-driven decision making, even when it comes to creative, emotive work such as writing an inspiring origin story, defining core values, and conjuring up client personas. Our work was recently featured in the trailer and curriculum case study for Udacity’s new Data Foundations nanodegree. Students around the world got a quick look at how we use data in communications at Uncommon Bold — and hopefully were inspired to develop analytic skills to bring back to their own careers.
The videos show us pointing at spreadsheets and charts. You might want to know what we’re really doing on those laptops. Here are five of our favorite ways to use data in communications strategy:
Build data-driven personas using public profiles. All you need is a short sample list of email addresses for leads or clients to build a detailed demographic look at your company’s key personas. Use LinkedIn and Crunchbase data to fill in gender, region, title, years of experience, degrees, and anything else you can find. The results are often surprising, always insightful. You can learn more about this persona process here.
Measure competitor messaging. Identify 3–5 key terms that are important to your segment and your marketing. Pull the homepage text from your competitors and measure the frequency of these words. Wordcloud generator tools can be an easy shortcut, especially during the discovery phase. Are you the only company promoting a certain big idea? Which are the most overused terms?
Publish your own original research for content marketing. Is there a fresh question you can answer? Interesting insights from your own internal data or new ways of looking at public records — either way, there’s a lot of communications value in talking about what your company stands for by publishing data analysis. Bonus points for data that you present in an interactive graphic or make available for other people to continue investigating.
Color-code quantitative sentiment data. Interviews are a big part of brand research — asking employees, clients, and other influencers to talk about the company yields pages and pages of juicy transcripts. Presenting qualitative information from these interviews can be tricky, though. I’ve found that color-coding feedback — red for negative, yellow for mixed, green for positive, and gray for not-mentioned — can turn raw transcripts into interesting and easy-to-understand data visualizations.
Score media coverage. Rate your media coverage based on the value of the publication and the depth of the coverage. Creating a simple algorithm from these numbers turns a list of press clips into something you can measure, graph, forecast, and use to inform your media relations work. View a sample of media scoring in action here.
Do you use data in a creative way in your communications and public relations work? I’d love to hear your ideas for ways to bring data into brand strategy!