There's a familiar mantra echoing throughout many online marketing departments: Data drives decision-making. In reality, this is more of a half-truth than a complete assessment of the situation. Data along doesn't allow businesses to gain clear and thoughtful insight into their buyers.
Customer information like demographic, behavioral, attitudinal and transactional data provide the ammunition that marketers need to understand their purchasers to a much greater degree. Accordingly, data visualization is a strategy that many companies have begun to incorporate to recognize patterns in raw data that help paint a picture of their buyers, both in terms of segmentation and persona building.
As much as marketers can benefit from data visualization from an internal perspective, it's also a powerful way to convey complex information to buyers as a means of content marketing.
What is data visualization?
In the simplest terms, it's a way of putting bits of information into a graphical format that makes it easy to understand (1). By doing so, companies can visualize patterns that may not have been totally apparent just using spreadsheets and looking at data in the aggregate. For instance, data visualization may bring to light the connection between time on page and the number of leads generated in a clearer manner when a company looks at its Web analytics. With this information, marketers can evaluate their strategies and potentially put less time and effort into tactics that don't perform as well, while improving higher-value campaigns.
Why use it?
With data-driven marketing using visualization tools, companies can see the correlation between elements of a marketing campaign. They can measure and track response rates based on either customer or campaign metrics and use this insight to create more powerful online marketing.
How can data visualization be applied in content marketing?
One of the major realizations that content marketing professionals have had in the past several months is how much information is absorbed visually. On average, a visitor to a website will read just under 30 percent of the words on a page, but people who scan for information are more likely to read around 20 percent of the text on a screen (2). As a result, many companies are trying to push for a greater visual element of their websites, integrating infographics and video alongside blog articles and other text-based content marketing. Even when someone dedicates their entire page visit to reading, they're still not going to pay attention to everything published on the site. This may a lot to do with the way people assimilate information, but it's also influential in terms of creating a marketing campaign.
People are genuinely interested information that is presented in a visual format. In fact, the amount of visual content published on the Web has increased 9,900 percent since 2007 (3). It makes sense: Web users comprehend graphical and symbolic stimuli much faster than reading the textual equivalent. This is what can make data visualization such a powerful tool for online marketing.
While it may not explicitly qualify as content marketing, several interactive graphical features published by The New York Times took on a life their own after they hit social media (4). For instance, the NFL Playoff Simulator gave football fans the chance to see how their favorite team could potentially end up in the Super Bowl (5). Although it's less useful this late in the season, the simulator is an ingenious way to get people excited about both the sport and engaged with The Times. It inspires interest and drives traffic.
Data visualization has a place for marketers in analyzing their own campaigns, but also in giving potential buyers a new look at information they can use to make purchasing decisions.
1. "Why Marketers Need Data Visualization"
2. "How Little Do Users Read?"
3. "Visual Storytelling: Why Data Visualization is a Content Marketing Fairytale"
4. "Why Graphic Content and Data Visualization Are Good for Business"
5. "How Each Team Can Make the N.F.L. Playoffs"