Data visualisation

We recently covered how you can use data visualisation to blow-up user engagement. Getting started is incredibly easy. Just sign-up for a DataWrapper account, insert data, and you’ve got yourself a great little visual that represents at least a full-page of data or information.

And that’s the beauty of data visualisation. It essentially compresses pages of information into one easy to read and digest diagram. This allows marketers like you, to give your customers with critical information without bombarding them with indecipherable data.

Right now, there are two types of data visualisation. Communicative and exploratory. Exploratory data visuals are diagrams (which branches out further based on the type of analytics used), commonly used behind-the-scenes by marketers to measure and look for patterns, find key relationships and uncover insights for business benefits. It’s incredibly helpful when you’re planning your content marketing strategies.

Communicative data visualisation, however, is an effective tool used by marketers to communicate (sell) ideas to customers and is what we will focus on in this article. It not only enhances your content, it also boosts engagement—one of the most coveted ROI in content marketing as it generally means more leads and conversions.

Another bonus that comes with the use of data visualisation in marketing is that your customers are able to make smarter, data-based decisions. Having data from a reliable, reputable source also provides your customers with the support they need to justify their decisions to either themselves or other stakeholders.

To start using data visualisation is easy. For most campaigns, simply putting data into a software and churning out a diagram is the fastest option. But with the influx of (big) data coming your way, you’ll find that custom data visualisation is a better way to visually represent all that information into one palatable graphic. One that’s easy enough to digest, but complex enough that it stays relevant for years on end—

One that’s easy enough to digest, but complex enough that it stays relevant for years on end—like the billion-dollar-gram by independent data journalist, David McCandless.

You can use data visualisation to compress all that data (sales numbers, market position, untapped market, etc…) into a useful diagram so your audience is able to see the patterns and correlations you want them to see, or understand the story you want to tell (or sell). The whole point of it is to have your audience focus on the information that’s important to you.

Sight is faster than touch

We know that data visualisation isn’t strictly a cure-all marketing tool you use for every campaign. However, when used right (and executed well), it can have an incredibly uplifting effect on your campaigns.

The reason data visualisation works so well isn’t because of fancy design or some other clever marketing trick. It’s due to something more basic than that. McCandless was curious about why graphical representations of data were effortless understood, that he collaborated with physicist Tor Norretranders to come up with a diagram that shows the bandwidth of our 5 senses.

The result was mind-boggling. The amount of information that goes into your head through your eyes, is 10 times more than your next best sense, touch. At 1250MB/s, our sight transmits data almost as fast as a computer network—which explains why videos and other visual representations of data work so well.

With data visualisation, you’re effectively speaking two languages at the same time—the language of the eye, which sees patterns and colours, and the language of the mind, which is about words, numbers and concepts—each enhancing the other.

Applying data visualisation in B2B marketing

While using data visualisation is a given in B2C (especially in the news), making a case for it in B2B is a bit harder. However, the concepts behind using visuals to enhance your messages still hold true. The B2B people you’re targeting at, are just as susceptible to visual messages as the targets in B2C marketing.

Here’s an example in which data visualisation can be helpful. Imagine a scenario where you need to find a way to convince a group of salespeople that their company’s market position is secure for now, but an impending wave of new technology will sink them if they don’t adapt. They dominate their market position within their niche, but from a larger perspective, their market share really amounts to almost nothing.

How else are you able to convince this group of hardened technology salespeople that their source of (very significant) income is threatened, and that they must look further ahead to stay relevant? With a well-designed infographic or data visualisation (or a combination of both) or course.

Ideally, the diagram used can show their dominance within their niche being eclipsed by the competition’s overall market dominance by a large margin. Like the proverbial drop in the ocean. What good would dominating that little drop do for their business in the long run?

With a well-designed diagram, a whole stack of data can come together to convey a single fact. It might seem a round-a-bout way just to send a message, but you can be sure it’ll be incredibly effective if your campaign or project revolves around that one message.  

Tools for data visualisation

For now, the best examples of data visualisation are those created for public consumption—created by custom software, or through the hands of a meticulous designer. Creating these highly complex and beautiful amalgamation of art and science are time-consuming, but would ultimately be worth it when you see user engagement soar. However, if you’re not looking to win any design awards, you can still use software to create diagrams that deliver the impact you want.

In fact, there are quite a number of software available in the market you can choose from. These include products from SAS, Tableau, and a whole host of other tools and platforms that straddle the line between free, and premium. With some of these tools, you’re also able to create static data visualisations or dynamic ones that evolve with your data.

There’s isn’t a specific tool that we’d recommend over the other, but there are certain data visualisation tools (like Raw), that allow for customisable data visualisations. While these custom diagrams are incredibly time-consuming, the result might be worth the effort.

So start experimenting with the tool that works best for you, and get started on making data visualisation a part of your campaigns.

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