The Do’s and Don’ts of Delivering Actionable Data Stories


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In our new guide, Dashboard Harmony: How to use data storytelling to deliver actionable reports, co-written by the analytics gurus at MaassMedia, we dive into the nitty-gritty of data storytelling. Please find an excerpt on the do’s and don’ts of delivering actionable data stories below:

What does your audience really care about? What motivates them? What keeps them up at night? Use this information to translate metrics into consumable chunks of information that they can apply to their decision-making process.


Lose focus on the recommendations you are sharing by attempting to explain complex methodologies. Over time the value of your expertise and recommendations will speak for themselves without the need for lengthy justification.


Provide information on how the business will be affected by your team or individual standpoint.

“Although we’ve decreased the budget, organic or low-cost initiatives such as email marketing continue to bring in 12% of converted traffic.”


Forget to elaborate on key findings.

“Churn went up by 6% in Q3.”


Provide relevant details in order to make your story memorable.

“Churn slightly increased by 6%, following a problematic week of poor PR coverage. We are currently monitoring reputation metrics to see if we can recover from such a big hit in the near future.”


Generalize your audience.

“The conversion rate rose by 2.5% this month.”


Take time to understand who your audience is and why this information is important to them.

“The outbound team is on track to meet their conversion goals. The conversion rate has risen by 2.5% this month. This is the highest increase we’ve experienced all year, but proves that combined display and social initiatives are paying off.”


Forget to look at data that is of secondary importance occasionally.


Collect data that isn’t necessarily reported on each week or month.

Often data can remain quite consistent for long periods of time but then changes because of a product launch, seasonality or a specific marketing campaign. Collect and monitor this seemingly superfluous data, but only call it out when there is something of interest to report on.


Allow your team to get lazy with their reports. It’s easy to build something out and then forget about it, but every dashboard can benefit from a second look and a makeover.


Evaluate and refresh your dashboards at least every one to two months.

Your business is continually changing and evolving, so your reporting must do the same to align with those fluctuations. In doing so, you’re building relationships by developing new ideas and concepts without being prompted.

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Holly McKendry

Sweetspot Marketing Director. Wakeboarder & travel enthusiast. Communication Studies graduate of Texas State University, San Marcos.

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