Data Storytelling Is Always On Trend

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Gilt wanted to replicate the tailored experiences of brick-and-mortar shops.
Gilt wanted to replicate the tailored experiences of brick-and-mortar shops.

The tale of all data as meaningful is a tall one. “Data is used for problem solving,” says Jessica Langdorf, VP of solutions planning, analytics, and optimization for online engagement solutions provider TouchCommerce. “So without there being a problem to solve, there would be no purpose to the data.” Telling stories through data helps marketers identify problems (or recognize opportunities) and zero-in on a solution.

What are you looking for?

The first question to ask, Langdorf says, is, “What am I trying to solve for?” The answer, she notes, becomes the story's overarching theme and helps distinguish between data that's actionable or not.

For instance, members-only online shopping site Gilt Groupe wanted to replicate the deep customer understanding that brick-and-mortar retailers have—such as customers' sizes and preferences—in an online environment. So, Gilt launched Your Personal Sale late last August. Gilt pairs its inventory with a shopper's data—including browsing behaviors, past purchases, and stated preferences—to create 24-hour, customized sales. The brand also adds third-party demographic data to its users' records. This enables Gilt to characterize new users who haven't yet developed behavioral patterns into personas and target them with relevant sales and messages early on, according to Tamara Gruzbarg, senior director of customer analytics and research at Gilt.

“As they interact with Gilt more and more, we're able to gather more information and move to a true one-to-one targeting with personal sales,” Gruzbarg says.

The brand also uses data to tell stories of how members' preferences change throughout the customer lifecycle. For example, Gilt launched its loyalty program, Gilt Insider, this past July. In the program, members earn points by engaging with Gilt—such as by making a purchase or referring friends. Based on their total points, members are placed into three status rankings: Select, Premier, and Noir. Members can use their points to redeem rewards, such as free shipping or early access to a sale. To see how members' reward preferences differ at various status levels, Gilt analyzes members' transactional information and segments users based on their spending and frequency of visits.

The brand also conducted research to determine what loyal customers valued and what would strengthen their loyalty. The data showed that new members who may be unsure about the products or experience, place a higher value on free shipping and easy return policies. However, loyal members who are more familiar with the brand and engage with it frequently prefer early access to designer sales, Gruzbarg says.

Where are you looking?

Not only can stories change from customer to customer, but they can also change from channel to channel. For example, 50% of sales for members-only shopping site HauteLook come from mobile devices, says Lani Kuramoto, HauteLook's director of integrated marketing. To see how mobile app users differ from mobile browser users, the brand segmented the two groups and compared their log-in and purchase levels over time. Broadly speaking, Kuramoto says, mobile app users engage more than mobile Web users.

As a result the company promotes its mobile app through all of its member communication channels on a regular basis, she says.

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