How to succeed with digital storytelling

Successful digital storytelling teams all share some basic characteristics. In this guide, we’ll run through some of the practices the world’s leading content teams have used to succeed at digital storytelling.

Choosing a solution

The first — and one of the most consequential — decisions that will impact your success is your technology solution. This will impact how easy and cost-effective it is to produce and publish stories at scale. 

As mentioned in the previous section, there are two parts to this decision. First, you’ll need to decide if you want to go down the developer-led, designer-led, or writer-led path. 

There are pros and cons with each approach, and your decision will usually depend on the makeup of your content team. For most teams looking to operate at scale on a fixed budget, the writer-led — no-code and design-done — digital storytelling platform is usually the best choice. 

Second, you’ll need to choose a specific platform or vendor. There’s a lot to consider here, so we’ve written a guide on how to go about this here.

Get training

Every platform — even no-code platforms with relatively intuitive user interfaces — has a learning curve. While trial-and-error is one way to go about it, the faster way is to get help from the experts.

Shorthand’s experts in digital storytelling offer a range of free webinars on how to get started with digital storytelling. They’ll run through some of the basics on how to produce, publish, and measure the success of a story. More advanced webinars will walk you through how to create more eye-catching techniques, such as scroll-based animation.

Sign up for Shorthand's training webinars.

Define your theme and brand identity

For digital storytelling to work at scale, you don’t want to re-invent the wheel every time. For this reason, it’s helpful to work from a theme which presents the major elements of your brand identity — such as your font, colours, layout, and logo. 

This will make it easier for you to focus on creating more impressive visual stories, knowing that you have the ‘basics’ taken care of. It also means you can allow other team members to create stories — even those who are functionally design-illiterate — with confidence that they’ll stay on-brand. 

Create a content calendar

No content team can operate effectively without a content calendar. There are many different content calendar templates, and your approach will depend on the size of your team and your existing process. Some teams plan out six months in advance, while others just look to build a runway of six or so weeks. 

If you’re getting started with digital storytelling, it’s worth building some flexibility into your calendar, as you figure out exactly what your content publishing process will look like. We recommend starting with a shorter content pipeline — perhaps focused on one or two story types — before expanding to other genres as you get more established. 

Learn more about how to create a content calendar.

Analytics and reporting

You don't need to be a data scientist to succeed at digital storytelling. However, you do need to set goals, measure results, and iterate your content accordingly. 

While many content producers don't feel entirely comfortable working with data, it's worth spending some time learning the basics. There are few successful content teams that aren't also actively reporting, in a data-driven way, on the impact of their work.

Before you get started, make sure you have baseline data from content published to your CMS. It's up to you what you measure — some teams focus on dwell time and exit rates, while others have specific conversion goals, such as newsletter signups, trials, or marketing-qualified leads (MQLs). 

Once you have a baseline, set some initial goals and track the performance of your digital stories against this baseline on a regular basis. Some content teams publishing a lot of content will pull data from their analytics platform every day. Other teams will look every week or two.

Once you have gathered data, you'll want to analyse it. Exactly what this analysis looks like depends on your resourcing and the level of expertise you have in your team. For some teams, it will be enough to note general trends. Others may wish to run experiments and A/B tests to boost performance and conversion rates.

Finally, you will want to report on your content. Even if you don't have a formal reporting process for your content team, we recommend getting in the habit of producing a report every month, regardless of whether anyone is asking for it.

The structure of this report can vary hugely from team to team, but typically you'll want to include:

  • a nice chart(s) showing trendlines for your key metrics
  • a short summary of what the data shows
  • a summary of the content you have produced
  • any changes you are making to your content strategy as a result of the data
  • finally, any other evidence — anecdotal or otherwise — about the impact of your content. 

Iterate and learn

It's easy to slip into comfortable patterns when producing content. With a busy content calendar, many content teams can feel like they're stuck on a hamster wheel, meeting self-imposed publication deadlines.

Once you have a good analytics and reporting process in place, it's worth taking the time each week to think about how you can expand and improve your digital storytelling content. 

Usually, teams start out producing one or two types of content as digital stories — usually feature stories, annual reports, or other ‘special’ types of content. As they experience good results, many teams start to look at other types of content that could be usefully produced as digital stories. Take a look at our section on use cases for inspiration.

Think also about how you can optimise the stories themselves. With an established digital storytelling platform, you will be able to easily produce stories that look and perform better than content produced with your CMS. But this is a relatively low bar. 

Look to other digital storytelling teams for inspiration. Shorthand rounds up the best digital stories on the web in their newsletter. Sign up here.

Also, continue to upskill your team. Shorthand offers free webinars, running from the basics of digital storytelling to more advanced and specialised techniques and features.


The great thing about digital storytelling is that most of the best digital stories on the web are public. This means you can study them, get inspired by them, and borrow their most effective techniques. As mentioned above, Shorthand publishes a regular newsletter with the best digital stories on the web. And if you have a question about how a specific story was made, the Shorthand team will be more than happy to help.


Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of the Definitive Guide to Digital Storytelling. We hope this gives you the knowledge and tools you need to start creating stunning digital content that gets results — whatever your metric. 

Learn more

  • Shorthand offers free training in digital storytelling. Sign up here. 
  • Every two weeks, Shorthand sends out a newsletter roundup of the best digital stories. Subscribe here.
  • You can publish your first digital story for free with any Shorthand plan. Sign up here.

Any other questions? Contact Shorthand’s experts in digital storytelling.