Statistics get a bad reputation.
Some critics say don’t use them in your content. Others argue to only use stats if they are interesting. But what makes a stat interesting?
I do agree that statistics should help content marketers tell a story. Stats should connect with the reader. But honestly, everything is subjective. Statistics deemed interesting or surprising may only resonate with some of your audience.
So, let’s get real: You should add stats to your content.
To help my fellow content marketers, I’ve outlined a framework to understand how to add stats to your content.
3 Factors for Adding Interesting Stats to Your Content
Okay, you already know adding stats to your content is useful. But when should you add them?
You may include a stat to support your stance. Or, honestly, you just need to add a stat because your editor put it in every content brief.
The reasoning doesn’t matter. What matters is how you add the stats to your content. Remember, your goal is to help readers make informed decisions.
1. Build Empathy
Storytelling is the foundation for your content. And every good story engages its readers by building an emotional connection.
It’s not enough for your audience to understand your topic. Instead, you should aim for readers to experience shared feelings about the subject.
Using empathy as a storytelling tool can persuade readers to invest more in your content. Rather than reading the first paragraph or two, they might feel compelled to finish your article.
You can apply this technique to your statistics. Give context about the study by outlining the participants surveyed and why the source conducted the survey. A detailed description makes the statistic more than a number but a story with real-life characters.
2. Identify Pain Points
Beyond adding credibility to your content, statistics can help address your customers’ pain points. Oftentimes, buyers may not always recognize their pain points.
Customers have blind spots. So, content marketers play an important role in helping buyers navigate through their potential issues.
That navigation may look like adding a statistic to show the consequences of not remedying their pain point. Or it could highlight a positive stat revealing the success of finding a solution.
Using statistics in this manner is effective when producing product-led content. That way, you can center your product as a likely solution.
But use this technique sparingly. You don’t want to use scare tactics to connect with your audience.
3. Personalize Insights
Critics are correct that statistics can appear in content because a content marketer is just ticking a checkbox on a to-do list. But you can remedy that issue by personalizing the insights behind the statistics.
Let’s say you’re marketing to food truck chefs in urban markets. It’s not enough to state that 34% of food truck chefs find success after 2 years. Instead, give personalized insights about how your target audience can reach that success despite the grim number.
You also can couple your stats with insights from subject matter experts in the field. Rather than asking experts about a topic, ask them their opinion about a stat within a specific study.
Framework for Adding Stats to Your Content
You’ve done the research. You’ve found the stat. The next step is to add the stat to your content. How you present the stat to your audience will make it interesting.
Your audience doesn’t retain every tidbit of industry information. (Nor should they.) Sometimes, a reader’s limited knowledge makes a stat difficult to understand. To combat this issue, you’ll want to offer context about the statistic.
Consider answering these questions:
- What makes this stat significant to the reader?
- How can I describe the significance with a comparison, analogy, or metaphor?
- After learning about the significance of the stat, will the reader be enticed to learn more?
Syed’s tweet is an effective example of how to add context to a stat. This simple context framework includes: (1) stating the statistic (2) making a well-known comparison, and (3) providing insights related to the stat.
Simply including a random statistic in your content without context or explanation is not likely to be effective. Instead, you should carefully consider why you want to include a statistic in the first place and how it fits into the overall theme and message of your content.
You can’t sprinkle stats in your content like it’s food seasoning. It won’t make the article (taste) better. Instead, you may leave readers with more questions than answers.
Scrutinize why you need a stat in the first place. Then, bridge the gap between why this stat matters and how it connects to the reader.
In this Hubspot article below, the writer starts with a relatable question. Then, the paragraph takes the reader on a quick journey of pain points. To round it out, the writer adds a stat to connect the reader’s experience with a target group.
Stats are more than words on a page. They represent actual people who took the time to complete a survey and give their perspectives about a topic. You can liven up your boring stats with the help of visuals.
Visuals break up the monotony of text blocks. They also make it easier for readers to quickly grasp a concept without much mental effort.
Content marketing tools like Canva allow anyone to design graphics in a matter of minutes. You can create pie charts, bar graphs, or even animations. But I recommend keeping it simple for your audience.
Check out the example below from Sprout Social. The writer included multiple stats in one graphic along with the original source. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice that the image of stats complement the text.
Moving Forward With Statistics
Statistics are one part of telling a story. It’s not a magical solution that will instantly turn your poor content into an amazing work of art.
However, statistics can add credibility to your content. They can provide readers with data to improve their decision-making.
Content marketers have the great honor of guiding their readers with well-chosen statistics from original sources.