Working with data isn't just about the numbers. You know that the process of data pulling, reporting, analysis, and attribution, produces valuable insights that can change the course of a project or strategy. But how do you turn those insights into action? How do you persuade key people that something needs to be done, by using your data to tell a story. Without a story, data is just numbers. Those numbers can tell you what happened, but they can't tell you why it happened, why it's important, and what you can do about it. That's where data storytelling comes in. Data storytelling is the practice of conveying data insights to a specific audience using a clear and compelling narrative. Data has a lot of stories to tell, and no two people will tell exactly the same one. Everyone brings their own perspectives, experiences, and biases to data storytelling. And you'll find out about navigating some of those challenges in a bit. For now, let's think about how to create stories with data. A data story has three main components, the data itself, a compelling narrative, and clear visualizations. Together, these pieces should engage your audience by explaining what you learned, and how you can use that information to take action. Let's take them one at a time. First, data. Think of your data points like the characters in a play. If they're all on stage at once, it can be hard to know where to focus your attention. So you need to be selective about which numbers you highlight. The most important data points are your lead characters, while others could play supporting roles, and some may not need to be in the scene at all. To decide which data points are important, it's crucial to understand the questions you're trying to answer. For example, maybe you work for a toy company that's measuring the results of a new social media campaign. Your question could be as simple as asking whether this new campaign is more efficient than the last one. For that question, your main data point might be return on ad spend. But remember, you need to understand the question you want to answer to know what data to use. Being clear about your questions and the data you can use to answer them is also the first step in planning your next piece of your data story, the narrative. The narrative is like the plot of a play, it's what happens in the story. A well-structured narrative is engaging, memorable and persuasive. Once you've picked the data points and insights that answer your questions, you can start building a narrative that conveys them effectively. In the toy company example you'd explain how the ROAS data you've gathered compares to the previous campaign and how those results can impact your future efforts. In other words, your data story should explain not just what your insights mean, but why they matter to your audience and what they can do about them. That doesn't mean you need to have all the answers. In fact, some of the best stories create space for discussion. But appealing to your audience with a strong narrative can draw attention to your insights and encourage others to take action. You'll learn more about how to create an effective narrative in just a bit. Now that we've explored a simple narrative structure, let's get into the last element of data storytelling: visualizations. Data visualizations are graphic representations of data that convey information. Data visualizations are like the costumes, lightings, and stage set of a play. They focus attention and help the audience understand what's happening in the narrative. Visualizations can take the form of charts, graphs, infographics, or other illustrations. A well-placed visualization clarifies trends and expresses relationships between data points. Returning to the toy company example again, we could choose to represent the ROAS data as a series of numbers. But if what we want to do is compare the current campaign to the last one, it's a lot clearer to convey that relationship with a bar graph. It gets the point across quickly and clearly. You'll learn more about visualizing data and making presentations accessible to different audiences in a later course. Data storytelling is a powerful tool, and one that's in high demand for digital marketing and e-commerce roles. Using data, narrative, and visualizations, we can engage audiences, communicate insights, and influence big decisions. Up next, we'll explore more about how to structure data stories.