Not to get too philosophical, but that’s one of the big challenges of building a culture of growth and optimization: getting the word out. That’s why a data storyteller is one of the key members of any testing team.
In fact, “communication and data storytelling” was noted as a critical skill for a person who leads testing and optimization efforts, according to a survey of marketing leaders who conduct tests and online experiments.1 The must-have skills rounding out the top three were leadership and, the obvious, analytics.
A data storyteller is part numbers-cruncher, part internal marketer, and part ace correspondent from the testing trenches. He or she is someone who can take the sheer data of testing — the stacks of numbers, the fractional wins and losses, the stream of daily choices — and turn it into a narrative that will excite the team, the office, and (especially) the C-suite.
Storytelling doesn’t just mean bragging about successes. It can also mean sharing failures and other less-than-optimal outcomes. The point is not just to highlight wins: it’s to reinforce a culture of growth, to generate interest in experimentation, and to explain why testing is so good for the company.
“Our test success rate is about 10%,” says Jesse Nichols, Head of Growth for Nest. “We learn something from all our tests, but only one in 10 results in some kind of meaningful improvement.” That means that a big part of the data storyteller’s job is to keep people interested in testing and show them the value.
If you’re the data storyteller for your team, here are three points to remember:
And remember that it won’t always be small victories. “The things you’re so sure are going to work are the ones that go nowhere,” says Jesse. “Then you do a throwaway test and it makes the company an extra $500,000.” That’s a story that everyone will want to hear.
1Source: Google Surveys, U.S., “Marketing Growth and Optimization,” Base: 251 marketing executives who conduct A/B tests or online experiments, Oct. 2016.
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