Wondering how you can make the most of data visualization? There isn’t a single business that can’t benefit from visual exploration of its own data—or external data related to the business. Visualization can help everyone from sales and marketing professionals to customer service and product development teams make informed decisions and create smarter strategies.

We chatted with data analyst and visualization pro Lindsay Betzendahl, Director of Analytics and Innovation at Beacon Health Options, to hear why “data viz” is such a great tool for businesses. Here, she gives us a few ideas to put your data into action with the help of a freelance data visualization expert.

1. Create content that tells in-depth stories and educates customers.

In the hands of savvy content marketers, data visualization can foster trust in customers, help you soft sell your products or services, or give your content a unique angle.

“78% of U.S. online news consumers trust articles more when they can easily access the data behind the claims.”—“How access to data affects trust in news,” data.world

Customers online can be wary of being oversold. Create an interactive visualization to soft sell while telling a compelling story. But be sure to keep it simple. “Great data visualizations tell a story without a lot of backstory,” says Betzendahl. “They’re simple, engaging, and to the point.”

2. DESIGN CONSUMER-FACING VISUALIZATIONS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING.

People use social media primarily to interact, share, and learn. Creating a shareable graphic can start a conversation and boost engagement.

“In the business of data visualization, there’s a degree of psychology—how you direct people to see what you want them to see,” Betzendahl says. “Certain design elements can guide people to come to a predetermined conclusion.” But she warns against going too far. “You often see infographics with images that are skewed for the sake of making a big splash. All of a sudden, one circle is twice as big as another when the number isn’t actually doubled. If you aren’t paying attention to trigonometry, you might see something and feel that something is much larger than it truly is.”

3. Identify a problem your product or service aims to solve.

“Data visualization can give customers a reason to believe—and to buy,” Betzendahl says. Motivate customers with data that identifies a problem, then positions your company as a solution to that problem. If you’re a data protection and security company, what’s more effective: telling people they should use your product for peace of mind, or showing customers a visualization of how many people get their identity stolen per minute across the globe?

This can work internally too. Whether you’re pitching a new product or recommending an upgrade to a system or a process, data visualization can be very persuasive.

4. GIVE TEAMS DATA THEY CAN USE TO DO BETTER WORK.

Betzendahl suggests having a data visualization expert create interactive dashboards tailored to the teams or individuals using them, then letting them play around to uncover their own insights.

“Exploratory dashboards give you the kitchen sink,” she says. “Instead, highlight what you want them to see first. Create a dashboard with a clear story and direction. Give them an edge and let them explore and learn from there. Storytelling is a key factor in effective data visualization.” Gather data related to previous sales, buyer habits, reviews, and demand, then put the visualizations in the hands of your sales, marketing, and design teams. The sales team might find a new market to target, the marketing team might update your messaging, and your web designers might find pages to optimize.

5. Answer burning questions about your business, like a drop in sales or a significant change in traffic.

“The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.”-John W. Tukey

Sometimes data can answer questions—and present truly innovative solutions. Identify trends in a snapshot, which can help you zero in on what worked and didn’t work so that you can iterate for better results.

Ready to get started? Browse data visualization experts on Upwork and post a job today.

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