This succinct truth says you can’t know whether you are reaching your goal unless success is defined and tracked. Data visualization is technology that lets corporate executives and other end users see data to better understand information in context.
Hundreds of tools are now available to chart, create dashboards and better measure and mange data. They range in price from open source to thousands of dollars per year. They range is sophistication from “drag and drop,” plug-ins and widgets to java script that is likely to involve a web developer.
The growth of data visualization says a mix of data and narrative is now a better way for businesses to tell their story.
Which tools are best to tell your story? While price and software sophistication play a role, the more important criteria are:
How you define success?
What measures are most important to manage?
Once you’ve answered these questions, here are 14 of the best data visualization tools. They are grouped by categories to help you be a better storyteller with data.
PIE, LINE AND BAR CHARTS
COLOR BREWER: Originally designed with federal funding and developed at Penn State — is really for choosing map colors, and is worth spending some time with if plan to make many more. You can choose your base color and get the codes for the entire palette.
EXHIBIT: Developed by MIT, and fully open-source, Exhibit makes it easy to create interactive maps, and other data-based visualizations that are orientated towards teaching or static/historical based data sets, such as flags pinned to countries, or birth-places of famous people.
INSTANT ATLAS: enables information analysts and researchers to create highly-interactive dynamic and profile reports that combine statistics and map data to improve data visualization, enhance communication, and engage people in more informed decision making
TIMELINE: Is a fantastic widget which renders a beautiful interactive timeline that responds to the user’s mouse, making it easy to create advanced timelines that convey a lot of information in a compressed space. Each element can be clicked to reveal more in-depth information, making this a great way to give a big-picture view while still providing full detail.
HERE IS TODAY: is a great example of an interactive timeline which continues to zoom out to give relative times all based on today. It seems simple, but is an example of several good aspects of data visualization design. It compares today with a month, then a year, then century, etc. It isn’t overwhelming the reader with all the data at once, or forcing the person to choose only one interpretation.
TIMEFLOW: Allows you to create time-based diagrams easily and quickly. Designed for journalists, it allows for a variety of different ways to visualise the data and help you understand any underlying trends.
VISUAL.LY: Is a combined gallery and infographic generation tool. It offers a simple toolset for building stunning data representations, as well as a platform to share your creations. This goes beyond pure data visualisation, but if you want to create something that stands on its own, it’s a fantastic resource and an info-junkie’s dream come true.
PIKTOCHART; Is a web-based tool that has good free themes and a whole bunch more for the paid version) for creating simple visualizations. You can drag and drop different shapes and images, and there is quite a bit of customization available. You can also add simple line, bar, and pie charts using data from CSV (or manual entry). The invfographic in our previous blog, 6 more studies prove Digital Marketing ROI was created with Piktochart.
GOOGLE CHARTS: The seminal charting solution for much of the web, Google Charts is highly flexible and has an excellent set of developer tools behind it. It’s an especially useful tool for specialist visualizations such as geocharts and gauges, and it also includes built-in animation and user interaction controls.
NVD3: Is a library meant for reuse. The project takes all the power of D3 and distills them down into common chart types. I really like this idea because it gives you constrains and prevents you from running wild with different designs, while at the same time making the code much easier and more approachable if you are just getting started in data visualization.
TABLEAU: Places great emphasis on the ability to create visualizations without the need for any technical skills (scripting). and has a relatively easy to use interface. As with other products of this nature its utility is firmly anchored in visual exploration of data using every format imaginable. It is not a data mining tool or a text analytics tool, but sits in the traditional business intelligence camp, albeit with a rich visual interface.
BarnRaisers are big believers in the wisdom of Peter Drucker and practitioners in data visualization. Let us show you how we use them to better tell the s story of your business and achieve your goals.
Which of these 14 tools are of interest to you? Do they convince you of the power of data visualization? Do you want to use them better tell the story of your business?
91% of marketing leaders believe successful brands use customer data to drive business decisions (source: BRITE/NYAMA)
87% agree capturing and sharing the right data is important to effectively measuring ROI in their own company (BRITE/NYAMA)
40%-60% annual growth increase is occurring in the volume of data available every year; in media intensive sectors and financial services, the increase is 120% (source: Fathom)
The facts indicate company leaders believe understanding data is a critical component to business growth. And more of it is coming at us in ever increasing rates.
Data visualization is the art and practice of gathering, analyzing, and graphically representing empirical information. More and better data visualization tools have come to market from software services like Tableau, Fusion Charts, Google Chartsand Visual.ly to help better display data. So, there is no reason business leaders shouldn’t be able to fulfill their data dreams.
But it’s not the data. It’s what you do with it.
Software doesn’t find the insights in the data, people do. Before companies jump into Big Data, they should be asking: Have we mastered the principles of little data?
To help, here are 8 guidelines for great data visualization.
BEGIN WITH BASIC DATA PRESENTED AS SIMPLY AS POSSIBLE: Great data visualization begins with measurements that are readily available, come from a reliable source and are easy to understand. For example, the line chart below for a coffee shop chain uses just profits by key beverage and time. But it shows very clearly what types of drinks are going to be the most profitable and when. It gives all the information the owner requires to order, promote and maximize revenue and profits.
CHOOSE AXISES THAT ADDRESS KEY STRATEGIC ISSUES: If you want data to provide answers, you have to set it up by addressing the right questions. How you choose and define your axises serves as a primary guide. The chart below plots software companies based on based on their “vision” and “ability to execute.” The axises address a key strategic issue that can provide answers like likely winner and losers based on positioning and competitive advantage. The company data is telling because the criteria is clear.
PROVIDE A USABLE LEGEND: The definition of the legend plays an important role in motivating action. The data visualization below of expenditures per student for New York state schools offers a telling picture of where education monies are going, what are areas of greatest need and how they might be redistributed.
ESTABLISH SEGMENTATION: If you want actionable insights from data, it helps to establish segments or groupings that create differentiation. The chart below shows the Top 100 Entrepreneurs, divided into three segments. From this chart, it’s clear that not all entrepreneurs are created equal. If you want to understand what makes great entrepreneurs, the data tells you to focus on the “Rocket Ship” segment and probe into what makes them tick.
FACILITATE DISCERNMENT WHEN SHOWING A TIME SERIES OR GEOGRAPHY: When showing time or geography, incorporate colors, coding, history or forecasting to provide perspective or context that shows where things are headed. The “stacked graph” below on unemployment in the US by industry (time series) and the cost of chronic disease care (geography) show how how to display time series and geographic data, effectively.
IDENTIFY CLUSTERS: When looking at many variables, use clusters to show the data in ways that creates groupings that lead to conclusions. The Cluster Analysis below was created to identify the college basketball teams that were most likely to win the NCAA’s based on defense. As you can see, clustering the many variables that were examined helps to clearly show the teams that have the most potential.
TELL A STORY WITH THE DATA: Good data analysts are storytellers. Effective data visualization is often helped with text. Simple headlines or text boxes help explain what the data is saying and the actions that should be taken. This example below from Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, shows how data visualization might be presented to the C-Suite.
CREATE AN ACTIONABLE SCORECARD: The data dashboard your company creates should be based on Key Performance Indicators. KPIs are one of the most over-used and little understood terms in business development and management. They are too often taken to mean any metric or data used to measure business performance.The role KPI’s play is much bigger and more important. In fact, KPI’s are one of the most important guideposts for any business. Every business should have them. Here’s one of the best definitions I’ve heard: KPI’s are an actionable scorecard that keeps your strategy on track. They enable you to manage, control and achieve desired business results. The KPI dashboard below for a call center is simply laid out, easy to understand for decision making and incorporate a little from each of the previous critical components.
Native Advertising is not a new idea. Advertisers, publishers and marketers have created numerous offerings that blend branded advertising with editorial content. In the past, there have been media properties like advertorials and e-zines. They had their day in the sun and then faded into the sunset.
Is Native Advertising, like its predecessors? Or isn’t it?
Native advertising is a concept encompassing both an aspiration as well as a suite of ad products according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). This aspiration is advertisers and publishers aspire to deliver paid ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that they belong.
The suite of ad products is:
IN-FEED UNITS: Is in a publisher’s normal content well; is in story form to match the surrounding stories and allows for an individual to play, read, view or watch without leaving to a separate page.
SEARCH ADS: Present their content in a format and layout that is readily available to organic search engine results and links to a page like the organic results.
RECOMMENDATION WIDGET: Is a form of native advertising where an ad or paid content link is delivered via a “widget.” A common recommendation widget unit is integrated into the main well of the page, does not mimic the appearance of the editorial content feed, links to a page off the site.
PROMOTED LISTING: Is found on sites that typically do not have a traditional editorial content well, they are designed to fit seamlessly into the browsing experience, are presented to look identical to the products or services offered on a given site.
IN AD: Is placed outside of the editorial well, contains contextually relevant content within the ad, links to an offsite page, has been sold with a guaranteed placement so the agency knows exactly what content will surround it,
CUSTOM/CAN’T BE CONTAINED: There is no limit to the possibilities when an advertiser and publisher work together on custom units. This group includes examples that don’t neatly fit into one of the above groups, or, as in the case of custom playlists, are too platform-specific to warrant their own category but need to be on a marketer’s radar as native advertising options.
The IAB is conducting a special E-course on Native Advertising in August. There will be three different courses; one on August 5, 12 and 19. I’m teaching this E-course.
But is Native Advertising going to stick around? 12 experts tell us if Native Advertising is or isn’t here to stay.
What native advertising has done is take the old advertorial model and given it a big shake up… what we do now is create content that doesn’t necessarily talk about the brands, as this is not what connects with readers. – Inez Albert, APAC
We believe native ads are quickly becoming the de facto ad format on mobile and increasingly moving into desktop. – Doug Anmuth, J.P. Morgan
Native advertising is one of the most promising ways of engaging consumers with brands. A recent native advertising test by Hearst within Harper’s Bazaar produced a click-through rate of up to 1.5% compared to the industry average of 0.1% on traditional online banner ads. - Alex Attinger, Digitalbox
Native ads can be effective if there is a solid strategy behind them and the ads are measured appropriately. With many large websites making a majority of their revenue from native ads, it looks as if they are here to stay. – Alison Blumer, Ine.
Native Advertising is really advertising that is disguised within the context of editorial content, and studies have shown that consumers believe that such advertising is misleading. – Ari Brandt, MediaBrix
With native advertising old things are new again, even if the “new” is evolving and developing at an incredible speed. – Kim Davis, Ripley PR
Brands spend massive amounts of money on paid media. Instead of trying to convince an audience what the brand wants them to do, the advertiser should instead invest that same money in creating content the audience finds useful. – Sam Ford, Peppercom
For native advertising to work and engage relevant users, advertisers must deliver valuable content that indeed deserves to match the form and function of a site. – Stefanie Mosca, MNI
It has been found that the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop, look and read. – David Ogilvy
Native advertising is a disruptive technique that is positioned to change the advertising business model. For content marketers, native advertising has unique implicatons. It opens up a method of content distribution many marketers have ignored, making it a potential key to getting more eyes on your content. – Mark Sherwin, Content Marketing Institute
The basic rules make sense but where does native fit with muck-raking, awkward, scurrilous, investigative journalism? Native surely won’t want to be associated with highly controversial stories. – Raymond Snoddy OBE
Brands will need to increase their budgets and plan better campaigns. Publishers will need to better integrate native ads so the ads do not interrupt the reader experience and are honest, ethical and transparent. Consumers will need to warm up to the new form of advertising which is meant to be helpful and engaging. - Danny Wong, Blank Label
Social Selling is the use of social media to interact directly with prospects, to answer questions and offer thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy. It’s about discovering people who may eventually be interested in what you’re selling – then making yourself useful to them.
Case studies range from Fortune 500 companies to start ups. Size doesn’t matter. Steps to success always include:
Listening to social media for key topics that indicate an unmet need or pain point
Giving out relevant content or advice without worrying about getting something in return
Demonstrating the wherewithal to stay connected
Does Social Selling “Show me the money?” Here are 6 case studies that prove Social Selling ROI.
AT&T: Put together a new sales team to re-build business relationships with a Fortune 100 company in Atlanta. They decided to take an entirely new approach that heavily favored building relationships through social media. They had to try something new. Relationships with a key client had suffered in the past five years, creating strain and sales had dried up. With training from Mark Schaefer and support from our internal team, they began implementing a content strategy aimed at strategic “persons of interest” from the former customer. Inside of 18 months $47 million in brand new business was awarded to AT&T, directly attributable to social media outreach.
IBM: Traditional ways of finding B2B customers for hardware and software products – telemarketing and email – were not producing the same results when applied to selling web-based services such as cloud computing and data security. IBM launched a program called “intelligent listening” within social media to learn what conversations about cloud computing were going on, what trends and issues were being discussed, and what the hot-button topics in the field were for users. Sales reps could simply check an RSS feed, find some content that fit the context of any discussion they were seeing, and upload them to social media and also to their new individual rep profile pages within the IBM site. The result was 10 orders the first day, and orders for product during the quarter that were 4X higher than during the same time the year before.
INCONTACT: A call center software company, trained half their team to learn and engage with customers through Social Selling using LinkedIn and the marketing automation software, Eloqua. Within a year, the half of the team that was trained saw a 122% increase in revenue for those sales reps using LinkedIn; 157% increase in revenue for those sales reps using LinkedIn & Eloqua. Now the entire company is trained in Social Selling Here is a brief video to explain the story.
INDIUM: Social Media in manufacturing is a rarity. Several of their engineers (17 or so, and 73 blogs.) write blog articles to share their expertise with customers, prospects and people who have questions about the technical applications related to solder. They shifted from traditional white papers to blog articles, supported by extensive measurements. Video is part of the mix too, to develop high value conversations, and this rolls over into trade show attendance. The video highlights key points for success and insights. SEO improved significantly. Leads increased significantly while trade-show costs decreased 75%.
HUBSPOT: Focused social media on solving customers’ problems as a way to earn leads. For example, HubSpot is first to release guidebooks their target market needs to create success. When something changes in online marketing, HubSpot is there with a guide to manage the change. They share the best advice, fast and have earned a reputation as THE educational resource for the market they serve. They give knowledge and advice (content) away free and make sure it’s the very best stuff possible. This (now) famous software start-up exploded onto the scene in 2006. Two years later they hit $2.2 million in sales and $52 million 4 years later.
LOGMYCALLS: A call tracking service, practiced a“150 Blog Posts in 50 Days” effort. “With a company our size, the commitment has to be significant in order to produce 3 unique and useful blog posts a day,” says Inbound Marketing Manager, McKay Allen. “After all, we also produce 2 original marketing webinars each week, monthly case studies, a variety of marketing White Papers, and some humorous and awesome marketing call tracking videos.” The result of this original and relevant content: An 400% increase in leads within 90 days.
Do these case studies prove the ROI of Social Selling to you? Could your organization benefit from Social Selling training?
Social Selling is the use of social media to interact directly with prospects, to answer questions and offer thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.
Social selling is not hard selling. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s about discovering people who may eventually be interested in what you’re selling – then making yourself useful to them. For salespeople, especially in B2B industries, its purpose is to establish relevance to prospects rather than interrupt their daily lives with cold calls and sales pitches.
It’s not a buzzword. It’s a real way for generating revenue and results. Here are 27 facts about salespeople who are Social Selling.
IBM saw an Increase of 400% in sales in a Social Selling Pilot Program (source: IBM)