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How to Power Marketing Presentations With Data Visualization & Win Over Your Audience

Data Visualization for Marketing Presentations

Data Visualization for Marketing Presentations We’ve all been there. We’re five minutes into (what we thought would be) a riveting, data-driven presentation, yet a quick scan of the room reveals the audience is staring blankly at our data tables as we drone on. Or worse, someone asks a pointed question about what they do or don’t see and the discussion goes completely of course. Yikes. Perhaps the best advice I ever received in this regard was so simple yet incredibly smart: “Try it as a line graph.” I had presented a data-backed presentation and robust recommended next steps, but whether it was boredom or data suspicion that crept in, I failed to make my case. After the weeks I spent looking at a spreadsheet, I took that visionary advice. When the day came to remake my case, that line graph immediately won my critics over. When done thoughtfully, data visualizations have the power to change perspectives, far more quickly than a spreadsheet or bullet points on a slide. Data visualization allows us to take complex or even simple data sets, and present them in a way that allows us to see context, make comparisons, and enable decision-making.  The good news? Giving your data a visual identity is easier than you think.

The Case for Data Visualization

This is going to sound cliché, but we marketers really do have more data at our fingertips than ever before. And visualization is key in order for us to really leverage that data to tell a story and win over our bosses, colleagues, and customers. Here’s a simple example. First, the spreadsheet version: What can you take away from this example in just 5 seconds? 10 seconds? 30 seconds? July 2018 and December 2017 seemed to be big months. There was definitely some growth in the last two years. But how much? Is it consistent? How are we trending? Now, let’s look at this data as a line graph: Data in a Spreadsheet Whoa! 2018 outperformed 2017 by quite a bit overall. However, 2017 traffic was on the up and up, and that momentum slowed in 2018. With the exception of a mid-year spike, 2018 traffic was flat, and dipped below year-over-year totals by the end of the year. Data in a Line Graph The beauty here? As we prepare to deliver the data to our audience, we can draw some pretty important conclusions at a glance, helping us quickly arrive at what we need to find out next: What caused that big spike in July 2018? Is it an outlier or did we have an effective campaign running? What did the tactical mix look like throughout 2017? What were the top pages contributing to steady growth? Did we make major changes at the beginning of 2018? This not only helps us dig deeper into our data to understand trends and opportunities, but also prepare us to craft a narrative and answer the questions our bosses, colleagues, or clients will undoubtedly have about performance. After all, flashing a spreadsheet and then telling someone traffic is up year-over-year overall but flat month-over-month for the current year is not going to deliver much wow.

How to Get the Storytelling Started with Data Visualization

Creating a narrative, choosing your data set, perfecting your visualization, and adding context are essential for being able to persuade any sort of action or reaction with data. But whether you are using a simple Excel graph or a custom data visualization tool, here are some great tips to get started. 

Tip #1 – Start with your story and frame it for your audience.

Let’s say you’re presenting the results of your most recent marketing campaign to your internal stakeholders. It can be tempting to throw up any data point you can get your hands on, trying to see what sticks. Don’t do that. Your boss probably doesn’t care about how many shares you got on that one blog post or how many seconds someone spent on a video. They care about new prospects, re-engaged prospects, or advocacy. 

  • Stay laser focused on your objective: What are you trying to achieve with this presentation? A bigger budget? A promotion? A shift in tactics internally? Every data visualization included should tell that story. Too many data points can muddy the narrative and reduce your impact. 
  • Use your audience’s lens: Focus on the data you know is most important to your audience. Think of previous presentations you’ve done with them. Was there a particular data visualization they loved or one they pushed back on? Edit accordingly. If it’s your first time presenting to this audience, then use what you know based on job titles or culture in your office. 

One mistake it can be easy to make as marketers, is slipping into marketing lingo (e.g. sessions, shares, click-through-rate, bounce-rate). One simple shift if you’re presenting outside of your team, is shift your language to focus on meaningful business metrics. For example:  Instead of saying visitor, say potential prospect. 

Tip #2 – Design for comprehension.

Data visualization is so awesome because it’s able to allow humans to quickly make comparisons and decisions quickly, even with a complex data set.  So create charts with comprehension in mind. If your audience is staring at a graph trying to figure out what it means, they’re probably not listening to your supporting narrative. So make it easy for them to understand. Here are a few things to keep in mind:  Label Everything: This seems straight forward, but nothing is worse than when someone pauses you mid sentence to ask you to clarify your data set. So, label your chart, axes, legend, and so on. Also include a note on time frame and data source. Make sure all labels are visible and not obstructed by other text.  Chart Type: Choose the chart type that most efficiently illustrates your point:

  • Bar charts are best for comparing discrete values. 
  • Line charts are intended for a continuous data set.
  • Pie charts show the element something else is made up of, and are not ideal for comparing values.
  • Stacked bar charts are best to compare different items and show the composition.

For example, while the pie chart allows us to see a breakdown of traffic sources, the placement of legend, the close color families, and a similar proportion of the individual pieces make it difficult for a true comparison. With the bar chart, however, you can easily see how the traffic sources stack up next to one another.  Data in Bar Graph Color: Incorporating color to help tell your story can be very powerful, but can also lend confusion. A few practical things to consider: 

  • Don’t choose colors that are low contrast. Consider the fact that you may be presenting on a different monitor and the audience will be further away from the screen. 
  • Use the same color to represent data from the same grouping or data set (e.g. all points from 2018 are in green and 2019 in yellow.)
  • Be careful about using colors that have significant meaning on their own (e.g. bright red is always going to set off an alarm bell, whereas green tends to indicate something is good.)
  • Use accent colors to highlight really key data points. This can draw your audience’s eye immediately and increase comprehension. 

A couple final thoughts here: 

  • Add call-outs to your slides so you can help your audience understand a data set really quickly (e.g. Sales reached an all time high in June 2019).
  • Keep your data ordering intuitive such as ordering by value, time period, or alphabetically.

Tip #3 – Create for context.

We should always anticipate, any presentation we create, can and will be passed along for others to consume, without the benefit of our verbal narrative. So, it’s important that your data visualizations have enough context so the impact can be understood with or without verbal support.  What do we mean by context? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Is this good or bad? What would you expect? This is definitely a frequently asked question from marketers as we are evaluating campaign or channel performance. One of the most important contextual markers you can add to a performance slide is a benchmark from previous data or third-party industry data. 
  • Why? Data visualization can help us understand the current situation, but they can also help us answer the “why” behind a data set. Context in this situation can reveal hidden insights, which can really change the minds of our audience. For example, let’s say you are charting MQLs over time, now plot that against another variables which may drive fluctuations in MQLs, like website traffic, paid investment or frequency of events. This might help you determine whether overall web traffic is irrelevant, but paid investments are critical.
  • What should we do next? Now that we understand the context for our data and what is driving it, the next question is what should we do next? Always include next steps related to your data visualization. 

Side by Side Bar Graph Finally, looking at the same data as in our previous visualizations. This example dives into July 2018, with the added context of 2017. In this graph, we can easily see a spike in social caused our July 2018 increase. Now, we can add a call out to shout out to testing a paid social campaign or a contest that was running at that time. 

Tip #4: Be careful not to mislead your audience.

Data can be really powerful, if used wisely. But if we don’t understand or interpret it properly, it can also drive bad decision making. So as a presenter, definitely do these things to keep your data representation free of misleading information:

  • Start your key at zero (and keep it consistent): It can be tempting to make that 3% increase look like 50%, but don’t change your scale unless it’s really pertinent to the data set, and then call it out. 
  • Understand your data: If you (or your team) is pulling data from a tool like Google Analytics or Hubspot, be sure you understand the nuance or context of your data points (e.g. what’s included in that site conversion rate, how you’re categorizing a new user, what is the criteria for SQL versus MQL.)
  • Include context: Be careful not to omit the context or drivers of the data set you’re aware of, even if they don’t necessarily fit your narrative. For example, if you had a great Q3 for leads, but the first half of the year was down, don’t omit that context, just to make Q3 appear better. That context will probably change your tactical mix, investment levels, and next steps. 

Show Don’t Tell

To be really effective marketers, we must review and analyze data in order to make our own decisions about a tweak in tactics or a strategy overhaul. Our ability to illustrate to our colleagues, bosses, and customers how data insights inform our decisions ultimately impacts our ability to move forward with our plans.  So practice! Find that colleague who can review your latest graph and see what their first takeaway is. Do your presentation with a smaller group before you bring to your boss. See what they respond well to or question, and edit accordingly.  Data is power. Data visualization is powerful. [bctt tweet=”Data is power. Data visualization is powerful. @Alexis5484 #datavisualization #marketing” username=”toprank”] Many marketers aren’t using the data they have to its full potential. Set yourself on a path to better data and analytics utilization with these tips for overcoming common barriers.

The post How to Power Marketing Presentations With Data Visualization & Win Over Your Audience appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Marketers are still asking, what is B2B influencer marketing? Here’s a definition I’ve been using over the past 5 years or so:

B2B influencer marketing is activating internal and external subject matter experts with engaged networks to advocate and co-create content of mutual value that drives measurable business goals.

As the groundswell around influencer marketing rises and becomes a normal part of the B2B marketing mix, the volume of information and misinformation on the topic also increases.

One of the most popular questions people also ask about B2B influencer marketing focuses on what makes a good business influencer? By now we all know that popularity alone does not make someone influential. It’s certainly important, it's just not the only thing.

As B2B marketers mature in their understanding of the role influence plays and how the dynamic of brand content co-created with industry experts plays out with customers, they begin to realize that other factors matter. Topical relevance matters of course as well as resonance of the topic amongst an influencer’s community.

B2B Marketing Influencers

The intersection of individual expertise, how well that expertise resonates with followers and the size of network creates a baseline of characteristics when evaluating whether a certain influencer might be a match.

But there’s more than that. Understanding what makes a great influencer is both art and science, soft and hard skills. The success of identifying, qualifying and engaging influencers is also directly tied to how they will be engaged and to what end.

Some people reading this might think that influencer marketing isn’t the magic pill some are playing it up to be. There’s a reason for that, because it’s not magic. It’s more like alchemy.

The reality is, there’s no one formula for the perfect B2B influencer, but there are some common characteristics that B2B brands should look for in varying proportions according to what’s important to a program or activation. I call those characteristics:

The 5 Ps of B2B Influence

Proficiency - In B2B marketing, the vast majority of those considered influential possess deep expertise in the field they work in. This is a significant difference from many B2C influencers who are often self proclaimed as influential with clever media creation skills.

As B2C influencer content and engagement tactics evolve, some are crossing over into B2B with a trickle of opportunists successfully creating influence amongst B2B audiences not solely for their expertise, but for a combination of adept social media content creation skills and some expertise. B2B marketers who do their due diligence will be able to filter accordingly.

Popularity - While network size is not the only thing, nor is it the most important thing, it is definitely a metric to consider. Some marketers swing in the direction of ignoring audience size altogether because of lower engagement rates with popular influencers. This is simply foolish. All things being the same, I’ll take 2% engagement of an influencer with a million followers over 2% from someone that has 1,000 followers.

What matters is how network size factors in with the type of influencer you need. For example, popular influencers aka “brandividuals” are often best for top of funnel content. Niche domain expert influencers are better for middle and end of funnel content. Engaging a brandividual and expecting conversions is just naive.

Personality - If you’ve worked in B2C influencer marketing and been exposed to all the characters there, B2B is going to seem a bit dry. Now there are some colorful characters in the B2B influencer community, no doubt. But personality is often a trait that needs to be uncovered when you’re working with some types of business influencers.

The good news is that savvy influencer marketing practitioners know how to plant the seeds that can grow and blossom within an otherwise introverted influencer. You don’t need them to be a colorful character, ripe with personality per se, but you do want them to connect with the passion they have with their craft and how their expertise can help others be successful.

Publishing - Content is the media that conveys the ideas of influence and while B2B influencers are not expected to produce the same types and quantity of content as in B2C, it is ideal when there’s a platform where the influencer publishes. At a minimum, that would be social networks but to be a B2B influencer, it’s most likely that also includes articles contributed to publications if not research, books and presentations.

Promotion - The value a B2B influencer brings beyond adding expertise and credibility to brand content is the ability to share what they helped create with their network. Trust of brand content is at a low, especially with advertising. Customers yearn for authentic content and the right kind of influencer collaboration can give them that, delivered via the influencer’s own distribution channels. That means social networks for course but also potentially blogs, email newsletters, podcast, LinkedIn Live, contributed articles or columns in industry publications.

I know some people reading this are thinking there could be even more P’s like being Prolific, Persuasive or Passion. Yes, there could be so many more but we have to draw the line somewhere! It's important to be able to manage the data and insights necessary to factor these characteristics into selection, qualification and engagement.

Some of these traits will not fully reveal themselves until you work with an influencer on a few content activations. Others will fluctuate over time and that is normal. It's important to understand that influence is a temporal thing. It is not fixed or permanent. It’s important marketers realize that before they disengage an influencer in the short term due to lower performance. The same goes for high expectations after great performance.

Organic influencer engagement is a little dynamic and what you don’t spend on paid influencers like an ad buy you will (in part) need to invest in relationship management, education and even tips that will help the influencers be more effective.

B2B brands with high influencer churn or low performance often apply “ad buy” perspectives to a what is actually a relationship driven effort. Mismatched expectations are not helpful for anyone, so think about the 5Ps as you evaluate and nurture your influencer community. Consider where of each your ideal influencers need to score on the 5 Ps in order to be a good match for the kind of activation you have in mind.

When there’s 5P alignment, there's happiness: for customers, influencers and your B2B brand.

The post 5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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