It’s a data driven world that we live in. One of the newest buzzwords on the web waves is still ‘Big Data’, and companies large and small are utilising its power to make better, smarter and safer marketing decisions all around the globe.
And with all the buzz – and indeed, all the data – flying round, marketers are increasingly finding new and innovative ways not only to utilise the data, but also to present it in visually appealing ways to followers of their respective brands.
The reason is simple – everyone loves statistics. The CxOs in the boardroom back up their big ideas with facts and figures. Journalists and bloggers can expect lots of clicks, tweets and engagement by throwing some revealing percentages and numbers into their articles. And the everyday person likes to share impressive/shocking figures with friends on social media or wherever they might be.
Data is interesting. It’s memorable. It’s sharable. It impresses. It shocks. It gives rise to conversations and debates. It helps people make decisions – where to go, whom to vote for, what to buy.
Indeed, data can do no end of good for a marketer’s engagement and interest-retention purposes. However, it is possible to overdo data when we present it to our audiences. That is to say that if all we do is bombard our readers with lists of numbers, fractions, percentages and statistic-oriented forecasts, then we will lose them.
The trick, then, is to present data graphically. We need to display it visually in a way that catches the eye and entrenches into the memory.
It’s a tactic called data visualisation, and it is indeed one of the most valuable assets in the content marketer’s arsenal.
The idea behind the practice is to take some really impressive data and make it easily consumable – and the idea behind this blog is to give you some tips on how you can do just that.
Storytelling With Data Visualisation
Data and storytelling? That’s as oxymoronic as science and creativity, isn’t it?
Well, I have some mathematician friends who insist that the amount of creativity that’s involved with the deep sciences is more than my pitiful imagination (as a writer) could possibly fathom. But, putting intellectual pursuits aside, as a marketer I know that both data and storytelling are imperative for success – and that the two in fact enjoy a beautiful marriage under the same roof of data visualisation.
As digital marketers, we need to be creating continuous streams of content that contribute to our overall brand message, which itself serves to work towards achieving the brand’s larger goal. To this end, it is our job to convince our potential and existing customers that by buying our products or services then their lives will essentially be better. This is the story that we constantly tell in all the blog posts that we write, the tips and advice that we give, the competitions that we run, the comments that we leave on Facebook (et al), and the likes and the shares and the love that we bestow upon our fans on social.
In short, it is our brand story and our brand message all wrapped up into one ongoing and varied rhetoric, the purpose of which is to convince our existing and potential customers that they are making the right choice by spending their money with us.
It’s effective – it must be, for we’re all in work. But just think how powerful your message, your argument and your story will be when you’ve got some solid, indisputable data to back it up, when you’ve got tangible, measurable evidence to consolidate your viewpoint.
And then think just how sleekly and convincingly you can make these points hit home if they are visualised beautifully.
Consumers need to be convinced by your story, and data offers the necessary reassurance.
As I’ve mentioned, an excessive use of data points will do nothing but overwhelm and put people off. But, by selecting the key facts that have the most impact, and then weaving them into your ongoing brand story in a visually appealing way – now that is what conversions are made of.
In a post about data visualisation it would be remiss of me not to touch on infographics. Indeed, of all the options that you have to start visualising your data – bar graphs, pie charts, flow charts, spider diagrams, word clouds etc. – infographics are by far and away the best.
Arguably, of course, all of the above could fall under the ‘infographic’ umbrella term. But I’m talking about those well-designed, thoroughly thought-out graphics that contain lots of information in a strikingly visual representation – like this one from Visually:
Has my point been made clearer by the inclusion of this infographic, that not only contains some brilliant actionable tips and information, but some hard, researched data to back up the claims it makes (and I’ve made)?
Of course it has, so I’d like now to finish by directing you towards some great online tools that you can utilise to start visualising your data and building it in to your content marketing strategy.
Data Visualisation Tools
- Excel: You’re probably already using Excel. You might even be creating the odd chart to help visualise your business reporting. But it can of course also be used for data visuals that you can include in your content output. You’d fall short with the tool if you tried to make some full infographics like the one from Visually above, but nonetheless you can use Excel to create some very colourful and striking graphs, timelines and charts.
- Picktochart: Picktochart is a great tool for creating your own infographics, and has the added bonus of coming with a free trial. Simple to use and effective, you might even get all you need from the free version.
- Canva: Another good infographic tool is Canva. One of the most convenient and well-known of its kind, Canva is user-friendly, intuitive, and cheap (free in most cases, but upgrades are very affordable). It can also be used for designing ad banners, business cards, documents, advertisements, posters, presentations or social media images – plenty of opportunity to squeeze the most out of your newfound data visualisation enthusiasm.
How do you use data visualisation in your content strategy? If you’ve got any tips, head to the comments section below – we’d love to hear them!