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Data Visualization: The Underutilized Superpower of B2B Marketing

The continued digitalization and reliance on data-driven decision-making has defined the current era of business. As marketers in B2B tech spaces, it’s one of our biggest challenges to translate the complex data we’re given into cohesive and compelling narratives that move minds.

Data visualization is one of the most powerful tools in allowing us to do just that.

We are inherently visual creatures. The human brain is wired to more quickly recognize, comprehend, and recall images than text. We evolved to spot food in a distant bush or the slight movement of a predator in the grass; our ability to distinguish trends, patterns, or outliers are supercharged by our visual recognition.

According to Tableau, “Data visualization is the graphical representation of information and data. By using visual elements like charts, graphs, and maps, data visualization tools provide an accessible way to see and understand trends, outliers, and patterns in data.”

The cartographer and data visualization pioneer, Jacques Bertin (b. 1918) was one of the first to structuralize the eye’s abilities. He created a set of “Retinal Variables” which denote the different means through which information can be visually codified.

The positive implications of making data more accessible and understandable by the masses can’t be overstated.

Let’s do an exercise: imagine you’re a product marketer at a software company. Or, maybe you don’t have to imagine and this already describes you. You have a new edge computing solution going to market early next year, and you’re tasked with marketing it to a combined audience of software developers and enterprise leadership.

That’s tricky, right? At Centerline, we’ve developed proprietary mindsets to help marketers understand complex audiences like developers. Software developers are a very technical bunch, and they don’t always respond well to the emotional pulls of traditional marketing efforts. But leadership has decision power, and if they don’t resonate with your product it has no chance of success. Both audiences respond well to stats and data, but there’s an understanding gap between the software developers and the leadership.

According to a study in the Harvard Business Review, “Decision making increasingly relies on data, which comes at us with such overwhelming velocity, and in such volume, that we can’t comprehend it without some layer of abstraction, such as a visual one.”

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Data visualization is your golden ticket to reaching those disparate groups like enterprise leadership and developers. Marketing is about the balancing act of generating interest and retaining trust. Data visualization tells audiences that they can trust your information and that your attempts to make it more compelling are true value-adds, not manipulation intended to misguide them.

Visualizing data allows you to show the supporting figures that both audiences want, but in a way that’s visually captivating and can follow a narrative structure that numbers on a screen alone cannot.

Data is the ultimate tool in the modern world. The more deftly you can wield it, the more effective your marketing will be. But data visualization is not one-size-fits-all. As you might imagine from the examples above, the options are endless. That’s where creativity and strategic thinking come in.

In a recent Experian report, half of survey respondents cited data visualization tools that help enable insights to be easily communicated as a top need. And in our own 2021 Content Consumption report, we discovered that B2B buyers are putting a premium on trust and credibility—which means they want information backed up with data. But without quality visualization, raw data is at best meaningless and at worst overwhelming to the point of negative association. This applies to every stage of the sales funnel. Whether attracting a brand-new prospect with a cool infographic on your social channels, engaging a lead with a free ebook, or cinching the deal during a live demo—data visualization is your friend.

The good news is it’s easier and cheaper than ever to showcase data visually. But that means your audiences are getting used to seeing information presented this way, and you have to work harder to make your visualization stand out. It’s our role as marketers to present information in a way that hooks the audience at every step of their journey.

It’s a challenge—but as creative marketers, we love those.

Read more B2B marketing insights on the Centerline Digital blog.