3 Steps to Effective Data Visualization

How to use data visualization to turn your data into insights everyone can understand

How many times have you opened your latest analytics report and not understood what you were looking at? Is it a spreadsheet with endless rows and columns? Or maybe it’s a few cherry picked KPIs that tell a nice story, but don’t show you the full picture.

Reports not only need to be immediately understandable by their designated audience, but they need to focus on the metrics that matter.


This is where data visualization comes in. Modern data visualization tools allow you to connect disparate data sources, and display that data in a way that is easily understandable. In some tools, you can even combine, transform, and apply calculations to your data to allow for greater flexibility, and the ability to drill into data to see greater detail. These tools can offer many benefits for employees of all levels, but it’s important to understand how to make best use of them.

1. What are your measurement needs?

Before you build your first dashboard, map out exactly what needs to be measured.  Is the success of a campaign being determined by the number of leads collected? Do you need to understand what sources are driving these leads, and what costs are associated with acquisition? Or are you more concerned with what content is getting the most attention, or what the shelf life looks like for an individual blog post. Establish your goals first, then you’re better be able to create the right visualizations for your team.

2. Who is your audience?

Who will need to be looking at these dashboards, and what level of detail will they care about? A CMO will be far more concerned with understanding the overall ROI per channel for a marketing campaign, where as a marketing manager may want to know details like which individual ad is driving the most engagement. These hierarchies can be built using drill paths, which allow users to start with a big picture, and continue to click to find more detail as needed.

3. What’s the right data visualization tool for your needs?

There are many tools out there that promise some version of this new data utopia, with varying levels of performance. Google has recently entered the game with their free Data Studio tool, which is very flexible, albeit limited in the types of data sources that can be connected to it.

We’ve recently partnered with Domo, a best-in-class data visualization tool. After some due diligence, it became clear that Domo would be the most powerful tool to meet our clients’ needs for 3 reasons: Domo offers a deep bench of external data connectors, a multitude of tools for transforming and combining data, and a highly customizable visual interface for displaying data.

Simply put, it’s awesome and we’re pretty obsessed with it.

If you’re thinking of adding data visualization to your 2018 New Year’s resolution, call us. Our data science team would love to help.


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