Why Graphic Content and Data Visualization Are Good for Business

Various marketing channels crowded with competing messaging means marketers are constantly under pressure to create compelling content. Online platforms used to highlight messaging and promote branded content require a steady infusion of fresh content to keep audiences engaged. Developing a continuous stream of fresh content that generates audience interest can be challenging for any brand. However, it can also be an opportunity in terms of visual content marketing.

In the content-hungry world of online media, there’s more potential for evergreen content that can be used to create engagement over time. The need to constantly create compelling content is driven by people who are scouring the Internet for information that can help them understand market trends, compare competing value propositions, or aid decision-making. In many cases, brands are sitting on a lot of data that could position them as thought leaders, provide the insights audiences are seeking, and attract people to their business. While many brands use static infographics to share market intelligence, brands can also use existing standards for graphics processing and open-source technologies to turn the same data into engaging, interactive visualizations.

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Data visualization tools are becoming common to enhance visual storytelling around brand value propositions. News media have used data visualizations for years to present data and information that adds more dimension to their stories. The New York Times is known for creating highly engaging and interactive data visualizations to tell stories in different formats (examples are accessible from the personal blog of data visualization expert Mike Bostock. The growth of the “visual Web” gives brands more opportunities to present data as graphically enhanced experiences to draw viewers in and support larger narratives. Nowadays browsers are more capable of displaying images and graphics that drive more engaging experiences for viewers. The popular SVG or “scalable vector graphic” format supported by leading browsers such as Firefox, IE9, Chrome, Opera, and Safari allows the creation of dynamic data visualizations that work cross-platform and scale to nearly any screen resolution — enabling more responsive designs. Now, with open-source JavaScript libraries like D3.js (data-driven documents) — one of the most popular open-source solutions for creating custom data visualizations to display in browsers — and Snap.svg, creating interactive, informative data visualizations is easier than ever. The performance benefits of graphics extend to the content’s ability to increase traffic and audience views.

Want to drive more views to your press release? Simply add graphics. PR Newswire research shows a significant increase (more than 29 percent) in online views when interactive media, charts, and graphics are included in press releases featuring photos and video. Marketers should take full advantage of their ability to drive traffic using visual content marketing tools that can be easily repurposed and indexed by search engines. Aside from adding visual interest to text content, data visualizations should be created to function as social objects that can be shared and extend a brand’s reach beyond its owned media and proprietary touch points.

Text-based search results continue to be the dominant route to accessing information online, but pictures are still worth a thousand words. The “Pinterest effect” — Web interfaces designed to function like a visual search engine — has impacted the way people expect to find information and view search results online. Pinterest traffic grew 111 percent in the six months leading up to November 2014, making it the frontrunner in a category that more than 10 percent of users cited as a primary source of information when researching brands. It’s no secret that images do a better job of telling stories by tapping into the highly visual centers of viewers’ brains. Research by 3M Corporation has shown that people process visuals up to 60,000 times faster than text, making imagery a much more effective way to convert searches into visits. Graphics designed for the visual Web allow marketers to combine the power of metadata with simple JavaScript and HTML functionality to create content that drives more engagement than text alone.

Thanks to data visualization tools, customer intelligence that may no longer be of immediate use to a brand could be a valuable evergreen content asset to support a narrative about market trends or company performance. For example, this visualization showing the volume of Uber rideshares originating from various San Francisco neighborhoods. Highly engaging data visualizations sprinkled throughout the Internet are like breadcrumbs that marketers can use to steer customers actively looking for insights toward their brands. Although research budgets used to produce data insights may be a sunk cost, that data’s value can be extended over time, repurposed as visualizations that support narratives and boost traffic for brands willing to invest in data as a visual content marketing asset.

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