Getting Your Team Started with Data Visualization: The Basics of Training for the Marketing Department

Data visualization is essential to communicating your marketing department’s vision. Here’s how to get your team up to speed.

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Data and numbers can only speak for themselves to a certain extent. To engage a board of directors or an executive marketing team, presentations with good visual communication are necessary.

Basics of Visual Communication

Some forms of visual communications convey information more accurately than others. Bar graphs work well because they show aligned lengths next to each other for comparison, which is one of the best ways human brains can see and understand information.

Angles, such as in pie charts, and slopes, as in a line chart that covers a certain time period, are about midrange on what a human brain connects with. Color hues and bubble charts with circles of different sizes are less easy to understand.

The type of chart used to present data depends on what information you want to show. For example, a line chart over time can accurately depict fluctuations in sales or cash flow data collected for a few months or a year at a time. Bar graphs or column graphs are useful for comparing hard numbers against each other. A pie chart, while more difficult to read, can include data with more continuous variables to help convey a broader mental picture.

Visual Communication Software

There are several good visual communication software packages on the market. Choose software that works for your company’s culture and aligns well with the complexity of your data sets. Here are some to try:

  • Tableau is fast, easy to use, coordinates well with all types of data, and will suggest different types of charts to use for displaying data. Its purpose is to provide insight with a product that is intuitive to use.
  • Sisense focuses on complex data, including immense data sets from multiple sources. It combines data coming from different sources, analyzes them, and provides useful ways to display them for the best comprehension.
  • FusionCharts allows users to create different charts and graphs by plugging in existing data numbers. This software offers more than 90 charts and more than 1,000 maps that can be used to convey information.

Presenting the Data

A good presentation takes into consideration the audience the data will be shared with. An executive dashboard is one of the most helpful ways to present data to busy company leaders. A dashboard can display several types of visual data on one screen so the user gets an at-a-glance overview of company performance in real time. A good software package can help pull together an effective dashboard.

Reports and conference presentations are used to disseminate information to a wider audience. Instead of receiving all the information all at once, audience members get the pieces of information that will be most useful to them.

A data team creates the best presentations when it considers three things: what data or information needs to be shared, which chart or map will represent those data best, and who the audience will be.