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The role of data visualisation in data-driven marketing
December 5, 2019

The role of data visualisation in data-driven marketing


Data is a precious commodity. And business leaders that resist its game-changing potential risk losing more than their competitive edge. They may disappear over the horizon of a flat Earth. The more you can control data, the better you can tune into your audience to influence their wants and needs. 


What is data-driven marketing?

Data-driven marketing is the process of using big data to improve customer experience. Sourced from customer engagement information, the data analysis allows you to understand your customers and predict their future behaviour


CMOs could be daunted by the thought of not only sourcing, organising and analysing customer data, but also applying it to their marketing strategies. But you can breathe easy—it is not a task that requires a team of data scientists to accomplish. The main premise is that you do use the data you aggregate. Don’t be like your great aunt that locked away her ornate plates in a display cabinet. Data is meant to be used – dive in, pull it apart and put it back together again to help you understand, segment and target the right customers. 


Why your business needs data-driven marketing

Data-driven marketing is fundamental in today’s marketing landscape and all business endeavours in the knowledge age. All business decisions must be backed by data, or companies could struggle to differentiate their products. They also run the risk of losing their competitive edge! 


The goal of data-driven marketing is to personalise and enhance customer experience. And this is only possible by extracting valuable insights from the data. 

How data-driven marketing can benefit your business  

Leveraging data in marketing provides an organisation with the building blocks to connect with customers, influence their decisions and improve on products and services to better suit market demands. Data-driven marketing is not only a route to increasing revenue. It’s the route. Here’s more on how data works for you.


  • Personalised marketing: Conveying the right message to the right audience at the right time. By understanding the customer profile in-depth, you can create customised campaigns that connect with their needs and ensure their expectations are met and exceeded. For example, you could set up an automated mailer to first-time customers that congratulates them on their first purchase, and suggests similar products that may draw their interest. Personalised marketing makes customers feel recognised and valued, which is a sure way to reduce customer churn. 


  • Targeted communication: With data-driven insights, marketers can segment their target market and communicate precise, tailored messaging to each specific persona. The persona represents a group of customers that have similar traits like age and buying patterns. By grouping similar customers together, your approach becomes more customer-centric than product-centric, and you’ll notice the difference in customer engagement. Targeted communication nudges customers and prospects further down the marketing and sales funnel.


  • Multi-channel reach: Marketers can reach out to their audience through multiple digital marketing channels such as retargeting, paid search ads or targeted email campaigns. The greater the reach, the more chance of achieving your marketing goals. This approach is most effective once your data analysis is automated through marketing analytics software, for instance.



  • Improved products: Data provides a deeper understanding of your customer needs. Customer analytics gives you valuable feedback on your products, like which are selling well in what regions. This input helps you fine-tune your products and messaging quickly and improves your value chain. Continually improving your products should result in an improvement in brand perception. 


How to implement data-driven marketing easily


Implementing data-driven marketing in your business may seem complicated, and you may not know where to start. Luckily, it no longer requires a bunch of data nerds to establish a workable strategy.


And once you have your strategy, you can implement it incrementally, starting with the areas that’ll create the most significant customer impact. You’ll see the outcomes of your efforts quickly.

Here are a few pointers to get you started. 


  • Automating processes: You will need to automate marketing processes so you can gather reliable data easily. For example, software packages like Hubspot or Active Campaign can handle repetitive tasks like email marketing or social media posting. Choose a tool that suits your marketing goals and offers a long-term partnership. Then, when the processes are automated, you can integrate data smoothly into your marketing strategies. 


  • Enabling team collaboration: The marketing department will gather and analyse tons of information. It’s important to share the data findings with other colleagues to maximise data use in your business. Some software programmes facilitate easy collaboration. When your organisation is sharing data, it can also lead to improved levels of data literacy as everyone benefits from the power of data-driven insights.


  • Competitor analysis: Keep track of what your competitors are doing well at and where potential opportunities lie. If you’re on top of trends, you’ll be able to maintain your competitive edge and continually boost revenue. 


  • Continual measurement: Constantly monitor what digital efforts are working and which are not. Naturally, you’ll do more of the successful actions. And when you spot anything that’s not producing the desired results, quickly change your approach. Then monitor the outcome again. You and your team will continually measure the success of your digital campaigns and adapt when you’re not reaching your targets. 


What is data visualisation?

Every business gathers increasingly large quantities of data. Sorting through the available data in its raw format would take far too long. Once you have sourced and collated the data, you need a way to analyse the text- or figure-heavy details quickly. 


Data visualisation is a visual representation of data that simplifies complex information into easy-to-understand chunks. It displays the data with visual objects like charts and graphs, which allow users to recognise patterns and trends that may have gone undetected. As an exec or manager, you get valuable business insights for immediate, strategic decision-making. 


Vizlib Line Chart


It is an effective business intelligence tool because it is visual. And humans are visual learners. Data visualisation, or dataviz, allows the learning or message to sink in quicker than reviewing page after page of a spreadsheet.


In recent years, dataviz has moved far beyond the capabilities of Excel spreadsheets. Modern software now displays findings with sophisticated visualisation tools like Scatter charts, Pivot Tables, KPI objects, dials and gauges. They make your data story clear and convincing to your audience. 



Vizlib Activity Gauge


Data visualisation – marketing use cases 

Data visualisation shines a spotlight on your customers. It helps focus your strategy, engage customers effectively and improve the customer experience. For example, monitoring and analysing in-store and online transactions or buyer demographics. 


You can leverage it internally to improve team performance with data analysis. Measure the performance of the marketing and sales team by visualising their achievements on a marketing dashboard. (More on marketing dashboards later). 


It’ll also help you analyse your marketing campaign performance with the data you gather from tools like google analytics and social media analytics. You’ll have immediate insight into which campaigns are reaching their targets and be able to make improvements on the fly.


Data visualisation can benefit your business externally too by improving brand awareness. You can include visualisations in your content marketing. Publish original research in the form of visualisations like charts or infographics. But make sure the data is relevant to your audience and provides them with new insights. Your findings could even be displayed humorously through channels like Facebook or Instagram to attract the customer’s attention. You could also include visualisations in email campaigns to add context and urgency.


Image credit: Piero Zagami


The benefits of dataviz in marketing

Once you have access to relevant data, the findings can be displayed visually. Visualisations enable you to steer your audience to a particular conclusion, like convincing the CFO to increase the department’s budget or your first-time buyer to immediately make another purchase! Other benefits include:


  • Product placement and inventory management: Gain insight into which products to place where and also predict sales volumes to manage inventory effectively. 
  • Uncover trends and patterns: Visualising data makes the insights pop. And these insights reveal opportunities. A chart or table which displays website analytics could reveal factors that influence customer buying behaviour. 
  • Simplify complex data: Simplify your data so your audience can get the right insights at a glance. Your visualisations should make the data digestible and should guide them towards a specific action. 
  • Create a compelling data narrative: Create a data story that takes your audience through a journey and persuades them to the right decision. For instance, justifying that budget increase to the CFO. Your data story will begin with a high-level view of the situation, then progressively show in more detail what the team has achieved. Only show relevant data for your audience and use language that’s familiar to them. This will make them feel more connected and lead them to the right conclusion. 



  • Improve SEO: Use visualisations to manage your website’s SEO by mapping out your internal link structures. With healthy links, you’ll boost your SEO as search engines can crawl or search your website more effectively. 
  • Encourage data literacy: Leading visualisation software is easy-to-use and requires little or no coding skills. Data is not only easily accessible, like in data-driven marketing, but is also easy to analyse and visually demonstrate the findings. It boosts data literacy levels because the visual data message sinks in quickly.


Vizlib Timeline visualisation making dataviz fun and more accessible


How to implement data visualisation easily

Data visualisation is a skill that you and your team can learn and implement incrementally. You don’t need to master it overnight. Choose one or two fundamental metrics to visualise initially, like marketing ROI. Use the findings to make data-driven decisions and boost your department or business’ performance!


Begin by selecting the best method for visualising your data. Choose the visualisation that will best suit your data type. For example, a scatter chart is suitable for large quantities of data, while a pie chart is great for comparing two or more datasets. For visualising multiple data types, use a Line chart, Bar chart or Table. To show the flow of resources or provide detailed sales-related info, try a Sankey chart.


Vizlib Bar Chart


Next, create your visualisation with intuitive Business Intelligence (BI) software like Qlik and Vizlib’s value-added products for Qlik Sense. Remember to keep it simple and aim it at your audience.


Then, you’ll be ready to analyse the trends and patterns. Use these findings to generate effective data-driven marketing campaigns. For example, if a Distribution map shows a high concentration of customers in a particular region, you can design a campaign to target that specific audience. Perhaps run a promotion for that region, like free shipping.


For the more data literate team, you might like to follow the cycle of visual analytics. This method would suit a team blessed with techies or good data analytics skills. Apply the iterative process to get to the heart of what your customers want. 



Begin by:

  • Asking questions to determine what you’re trying to measure and why. For example, ‘Are we meeting our sales goals?’
  • Get the data that answers your questions. You might need to implement new processes to automate and collect the right data, like utilising a new software programme. 
  • Review and analyse the data findings.
  • Develop your dataviz plan and choose the visualisation type best suited to the data story.
  • Extract the insights and analyse the trends and patterns the data reveals. 
  • Share the data findings with your team and colleagues for easy collaboration. 
  • Begin the cycle again, with a new question or if a business anomaly arises. 


Best practices for implementing dataviz effectively

  • Know your audience and speak to their needs. Include only metrics relating to them. For example, a funnel conversion rate for CFOs, traffic sources for your marketing team or marketing profit for management. 
  • Don’t try and be clever, rather be clear: Great visualisations are simple. Don’t make them too flashy. It detracts from the data message.
  • Publish only relevant findings: Findings must be relevant to the target audience. Don’t include every pretty visual on the subject! Though it’s good to provide context, don’t over clutter the dashboard! 
  • Steer the data story: Visualisation objects like reference lines or gauges help guide the audience’s focus and ensure your data narrative is clear.


Vizlib Combo Chart with Reference Line


  • Don’t go overboard with colours. Use them to segment data and add clarity, not for decorative value. Need more info on using colour wisely, click here


If you’d like to learn more about creating data visualisations that hook your audience and prompt the right decisions, you can dive in here


Marketing dashboards for persuasive data stories

Data visualisations are displayed on a dashboard. Much like your vehicle’s dashboard, a data dashboard displays vital information about your business visually. Here are a few types of marketing dashboards you and your team could use to create persuasive visual communication:


  • Marketing KPI dashboard: Tracks the essential marketing KPIs for C-level execs and enables them to make strategic decisions quickly.
  • Marketing performance dashboard: Shows how all your campaigns are performing. This one is great to show to a CMO or marketing exec as it provides insight on campaign spend, for instance.
  • Web analytics dashboard: Provides information and insight into your website traffic like the bounce rate or conversion rate, so you can continually improve content and keep your customers engaged.


Venturing into the world of data is not only a vital step in marketing, but it’s also easy to do with the right, user-friendly technology. Implementing data-driven solutions will prevent you from falling behind the competition. Though you may need to venture beyond your known world, the adventure will ultimately be worthwhile for your department, business and especially your customers! 


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