Storytelling with data using Measureful and Google Analytics

Friday, March 07, 2014 | 10:08 AM

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The following is a guest post from John Koenig, CEO at Measureful.

The democratization of data within organizations over the last few years has put data even more under the purview of marketers. This shift has created a necessary discipline in digital intelligence: data storytelling. Data storytelling strives to create a clear, more meaningful picture of complex metrics through effective storytelling techniques. 

Combining Measurable and Google Analytics brings together a powerful measurement and presentation tool to help quantify efforts and present a compelling case. Google Analytics is the vehicle for discovering stories, while Measureful brings these stories to life.

A Beginning, Middle and End

A top down, linear approach following these 3 steps helps keep your marketing reports focused and your audience tuned in.


1. What happened? 

If you’ve built even a basic Google Analytics strategy, you’ll have already identified your objectives or KPIs (key performance indicators). Start each report by covering these first. Be short and concise with KPIs and focus on basic performance to set the tone for the rest of the report.

These are most often a conversion event such as revenue or a user-defined goal such as a new lead. This is one portion of your report that should be fairly static. Objectives generally don’t change frequently and thus other portions of your report should roll up to these. The narrative of your report will largely be focused around explaining changes to this key group of metrics.

2. Why and what caused it?

This is where most reports fall into trouble. Even if you have access to large amounts of data and reports, it doesn’t mean you need to use all of it. The reality is you only have the attention of your audience for a small amount of time so be selective, focus on bringing together cohesive points, and leave everything else out.

This means your reports should be dynamic and change each month. That’s right, your reports should change. If they aren’t changing you’re not telling a story, you’re regurgitating data.

Focus on identify 2 to 3 subtle narratives to focus on but do not bypass exploratory and quantitative analysis. You still need to begin each period analyzing changes and interpreting data to determine the most effective points. This is analysis work, but if you’ve set up a strategy, this doesn’t have to be time-consuming or overly complex. 

I suggest looking at 3 areas to help build your storylines -

1. Attribution
2. Campaigns
3. Outliers

If Revenue (your KPI) increased last period, drill into theAll Traffic reporint in Google Analytics and begin to attribute why this change occurred. It is not importatnt to  report on every segment and dimension but instead focus on why this change occurred.


This is also the portion where you can outline any specific campaigns that were run during the period and include metrics specific to these and their performance.

Lastly, look for outliers. While these may not be immediately apparent, both Measureful and Google Analytics provide tools for helping with these. In Google Analytics, set up rules in Intelligence Events. With Measureful, use the Smart Reporting feature. This works similar to Intelligence Events, but runs automatically and covers trends for many different segments and time-periods. Turn it on and let it help you identify unique stories in your Google Analytics data.




3. What’s next?

Give your story an ending by reiterating your points, making recommendations and covering next steps. This is where you can push your agenda, ask for more budget or suggest some new strategy or tactics.

Storytelling in Practice

Gerber relies on a sophisticated measurement strategy using advanced Google Analytics features to quantify marketing efforts and drive campaign decisions. John Robbins is the Digital Marketing Manager at GerberGear.com and is responsible for a myriad of digital channels and campaigns and is expected to report on performance.

John leverages both Google Analytics and Measureful to help keep the whole team easily informed and knowledgeable of key findings and changes.

Tying it all together with Measureful

With analytics data in place, the linear approach is easily applied and the Gerber Monthly Marketing Report built using Measureful’s WYSIWYG editor.

For example, Gerber’s top-line of metrics were setup to provide a quick view of performance for the month while two over-time visualizations were add for context. Measureful’s reporting platform includes automated narratives with analysis on performance versus the previous month, year and compared to the 12-month average. 



After a bit of analysis, it’s clear that a few channels performed very well and thus the focus of the reports begin to take shape around these narratives. While Gerber’s digital strategy goes well beyond the contents of this particular report, it's most effective to report on the metrics that are important to business objectives. Measureful helps Gerber focus a report on the key take-aways and points and thus steer an audience’s attention to what’s most critical.

And finally, it’s helpful to end a report with clear points and next steps.



Gerber went from long and time-consuming marketing reports that were often overlooked to a 4-page, focused report that drives home the main points in their marketing and analytics strategies.

Data storytelling is an essential skill to effectively cross the chasm of understanding and ultimately action. Charts and tables do not necessarily mean you’ve done a good job of communicating important findings. Meausureful can help weave Google Analytics data into a coherent narrative, and turn your data into a powerful communication tool.

Posted by Aditi Rajaram, The Google Analytics team