How to Use Data Visualization in Your Content Marketing Strategy
June 10, 2015
By Tony Adragna
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a fact or a data point may just be worth a million. In a data-driven world, marketers are finding innovative ways to present data in a visually appealing way. This tactic is known as data visualization, and it has become a valuable asset to content marketing strategies. Data visualization takes data and makes is easily consumable, which is why it is so valuable. Here are some tips and ways to use data visualization for your content marketing strategy.
Sherlock Holmes said, “The temptation to form premature theories upon insufficient data is the bane of our profession.” Although data can provide powerful insight, it can also be dangerous when not used appropriately. The data you use in data visualiziation must be carefully evaluated. If you are using data generated by someone else, ensure the source is reputable and trustworthy. If you use data obtained internally, ensure you’ve taken all the statistical steps necessary to have sound data points to base conclusions because data truly could be “the bane of our profession” if marketers don’t use it wisely.
Tell a Story with Data
Storytelling makes data more than just data. It gives data meaning and makes it memorable. Data visualization can help to tell the story, but you have to know the story before you present the data. To tell an effective story, start by knowing your audience or target persona. Knowing your audience’s characteristics and objectives will help you to tell a story with data that resonates with the
Once you have identified the target audience, create a content marketing offer like an eBook, guide or how-to article that connects to your audience’s pain points. Utilize the data you have to support and drive your story within the text. Additionally, you can also place data visualization within your story to highlight important and noteworthy data points.
Presenting Data in Content Marketing
Sure, you should add data visualization to your content marketing offers, but how should you present it? What does data visualization look like anyways?
Data can be visually presented in a number of ways including through infographics, timelines, maps, charts, and graphs. While the method you choose will depend on the type of data you are presenting, it is important to keep a few best practices in mind:
Context: If you remove all the story and context around the data visual, will it still be understood by the viewer? Viewers should know how the data is relevant even if the graphic is presented in isolation. Why? We’ll get to that in the next section.
Design: Good data visualization design is simple. Related data points are grouped together, while data that deserves emphasis stands out with contrasting colors. Numbers should be rounded and text should be minimized for quick reading. In addition, research by a Yale professor shows that 3-D imagery should be avoided when the data can be presented in a more simplified manner. Last but not least, ensure that you add our company logo and information to spread your brand awareness as the visual is shared through social and online channels.
Actionability: Data visualization when used by itself should convey an action. Data is useless without action, so it is critical that the data presented is actionable.
Use Data Visualization to Attract, Not Convert
Although an infographic, chart, or data map is extremely beneficial to content marketing, it is much less powerful if you gate this visual content behind a form and landing page. Reason being, data visualization should accompany your content marketing offers. Data visualization will help to draw attention to the content offer because it’s more viral in an online environment that is already swarming with written content, but it should only be used as a starting point in the path to your content offer that will convert a lead.
Outside of this reason and in the spirit of data, here’s some data about why visual content is so much more effective at attracting visitors - visuals are processed 60,000X’s faster than written content. Thus, they are more likely to generate a click than text because the human brain processes this information faster. Attract visitors using data visualitation but use your data-driven content marketing offer to convert those visitors into leads.
Data Visualization Tools for the Design Illiterate
One of the best things about data visualization today is that it doesn’t take a full design team to create one. With many user friendly tools available online, marketers can easily add a data graphic to their content marketing strategy.
Google Charts: Create embeddable charts and data graphics for your website. The caveat with this method is it will require some development knowledge.
Excel: You likely already utilize Excel to make internal graphics for reporting, but this tool can help graphics and charts for your content offers as well. Although creating an infographic would be unwieldy, it’s great for charts, timelines, and graphs.
Piktochart: This is a great tool to make infographics that are far from being dull. It’s also fun and easy to create a quick visual. They offer a free trial so you can try it out before buying or just use the free version.
Infoactive: One study found that interactive content is preferred by 86% of buyers. You can make data visualization more appealing by making it interactive with this infographic tool. Interactive data visuals, like those made by Infoactive, also help you to keep data fresh by collecting as you present it.
Data visualization is a great asset for marketers to utilize in their content marketing strategy when executed properly. Let the team at SmartBug Media help you with this execution. Request to speak with us for a consultation!
About the author
Tony Adragna was formerly an Associate Consultant for SmartBug Media. Using his project management and digital marketing background, Tony helps implement their inbound marketing strategies. Read more articles by Tony Adragna.
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