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4 ways data visualization can help new online marketers (and 3 mistakes to avoid)

(MARKETING) Data visualization has become an important part of any marketer’s job, despite being somewhat new to the scene. Here’s why, and some quick tips to help you avoid failure.

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You’ve got enough to worry about

When you first enter the online marketing world, especially as a new entrepreneur, managing a new campaign can seem intimidating. There are hundreds of potential variables and metrics to consider; modern technology makes it possible to pull tons of new data from even basic user interactions, but when you see that data all at once, it becomes almost impossible to make sense of it. Data visualization is a relatively new trend, focused on providing this information in a more intuitive, visual way.

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At its most basic, data visualization is an automated process that converts numerical information into visual information, such as translating a complex web of statistics into a straightforward series of charts and graphs. According to data visualization experts at datapine, data visualization “offer(s) a more dynamic approach to presenting data compared to the rigid, linear nature of Powerpoint or the numbers-without-a-story approach of Excel.”

But what is it, exactly, about data visualization that’s so beneficial?

How data visualization helps new online marketers

These are just some of the most important benefits:

  1. Data consolidation. First, data visualization gives you the ability to consolidate complex patterns of data, sometimes collected over many years or across many different dimensions, into singular, all-in-one projections. If you can combine these visual aids into a single dashboard, this factor of consolidation increases further, making your job as a data analyst or marketer that much more streamlined.
  2. Identifying high-level trends. Next, visualizing data in simplified shapes and constructs helps marketers identify high-level trends they may miss when scrutinizing individual figures. For example, it’s one thing to look at a series of alternating numbers and make a guess about how they relate to each other, and another to take a step back and see a linear growth pattern develop over several bars in a graph. Visuals, especially ones that incorporate shapes and colors, give you the 10,000-foot view, which you can’t see getting lost in the weeds.
  3. Time savings. Using data visualization software saves you time as well. Rather than consulting multiple individual sources, or sorting through individual data points on your own, you can take a glimpse at your projections at a distance, forming a conclusion relatively quickly. The more time you spend involved in data visualization, the easier it will become, and your efficiency will grow even further.
  4. Communicating data more efficiently. Finally, data visualization isn’t just for you. It will also help your clients, partners, teammates, and bosses understand your work better. Think of it as a communicative tool that helps you translate the fruits of your labor to outside parties in a more efficient, apparent way.

Top 3 mistakes to avoid

However, data visualization isn’t perfect. When you use it, you’ll need to be wary of these three critical mistakes:

  1. Ignoring fine data points and outliers. One of the biggest mistakes people make in data visualization is ignoring fine data points and outliers. Visuals help you identify high-level trends, but high-level trends don’t always tell the full story. For example, your “average” user might spend a minute on each page of your site, but that doesn’t tell you about the polarization between users who bounce almost immediately and users who stick around indefinitely.
  2. Becoming over-reliant on visual projections. Visual projections are nice, but if you become over-reliant on them, you’ll lose your ability to see data on a ground level. You may end up forgetting what data points feed into what charts and graphs, or you may start neglecting certain data points altogether. It’s important to use visual projections as a tool to help you understand your data, not as a total replacement.
  3. Neglecting qualitative factors. Most data visualization programs rely on quantitative inputs to make their projections. Quantitative data is good—it’s objective, it’s measurable, and it’s easy to categorize—but it isn’t the only type of important data you’ll need to consider. Qualitative data should be just as big a part of your marketing efforts. Qualitative data doesn’t rely on numbers, but instead relies on qualitative inputs from your target audience, such as open-ended survey responses or forms of user feedback. If you grow too accustomed to quantitative data visualization, you could end up neglecting these important forms of data.

No matter how you look at it, data visualization is a growing trend, both in popularity and importance. As we gather more data, it becomes increasingly necessary to understand that data and interpret it correctly. Visualization makes data more approachable for a wider range of business owners and marketers, and once you understand and compensate for its few weaknesses, it becomes an indispensable tool for growth in any industry or application.

#DataVisualization

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. When he's not consulting, glued to a headset, he's working on one of his many business projects. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Business Marketing

A personalized daily digital marketing checklist

(MARKETING NEWS) For all businesses, it is not only essential to develop an digital marketing strategy, but also necessary to utilize it in order to gain customers, and ultimately make a larger profit. This app can help.

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clearpath digital marketing

There is no doubt that starting your own business can be overwhelming. Along with promoting your business at events, meetings and in person, digital marketing strategies play a key role in the success of a company. For all businesses, it is not only essential to develop an online presence, but also necessary to utilize it in order to gain customers, and ultimately make a larger profit.

Simply creating a website and Facebook page for your business is not enough. However, software tools can help simplify digital marketing. ClearPath is a tool that organizes and creates tasks to optimize your online marketing. By creating to-do lists for you based on your online marketing strategy, you can focus on the areas of marketing that improve your business, all the while receiving useful tips and advice.

Using ClearPath is pretty straightforward and only requires one prerequisite. Before beginning, you must have a website.

If you are already lost, don’t panic. ClearPath can help you develop an online presence. Once your website is linked up, you get to choose the marketing channels that you would like to focus on. These include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), email, social, content, analytics, local, pay-per-click (PPC) and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Again, if you are lost, ClearPath is there to help you strategize.

After ClearPath analyzes your site, they start sending you customized tasks based they believe can improve your online marketing.

As you finish each task, you can simply check it off and it will disappear. New tasks will appear each day, and some may even repeat as they need to be updated.

Whether you are well-versed in digital marketing or not, staying updated with the newest ways to optimize your business online is a constant struggle. Tools like ClearPath give people a place to start. Although I don’t think it can supplement an active and experienced digital marketer, it is a tool that can help small businesses that cannot afford to add to their team yet. At the end of the day, it aims to save you time. And since time is money, your business will hopefully be more profitable.

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Business Marketing

Simple logo creation tools perfect for any freelancer

(MARKETING) You already know that even if you’re a solo writer, or lone developer, you need a brand in today’s online world. If you’re on a budget, check out these logo creation tools!

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Freelancing is a major part of the landscape nowadays. In that capacity, you’re running your own one-person business. As such, you need to brand that business. You know that, but let’s discuss the actionables.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “branding”, I immediately envision logos (which is super convenient because it brings me to my next point). You should absolutely have a logo as a freelancer, even if it’s simply just your name in a rad – but professional – font.

This will be useful on your website, social media, on invoices and beyond. You can even pop that bad boy into your email signature!

Ideally, you should hire a graphic designer that knows what they’re doing – you’ll get the best results. But if your budget is zero dollars, don’t you dare ask a professional for free work.

Instead, if you want to develop a logo for your personal freelancing brand on the cheap, check out five of our favorites below and see what works for you. The best part? These all have some free components.

  1. Picfont: Let me start with personal experience. My freelance logo (which is the cover photo of my Twitter), is literally just my name in a script-like font, and was made using Picfont. You can upload a blank background (or pick from fun royalty-free backgrounds) and choose from a variety of font options. Pick what you like, shape it out, download, and use. Easy
  2. Looka (formerly Logojoy) is also a great, easy-to-use online logo maker. You simply type in your company name/your name and go through a process of selecting colors and styles that you like. Looka then generates a selection of logos based on your choices. For an example, I created the logo for The Tidbit using Looka.
  3. Online Logo Maker: a wonderfully self-explanatory name. This logo maker is almost like a combination of Picfont and Logojoy. You can play around with different fonts, colors, and symbols to make a logo that fits you. This option also features high-quality Vector files.
  4. Canva is a great option because you can design a multitude of material (including flyers, presentations, graphs, etc.) If you’re planning to build a full-on portfolio with supplemental materials in addition to a logo, Canva may be your best bet as you can design everything to have a similar look – which is incredibly important for branding.
  5. DesignEvo: Their website describes it best, “DesignEvo is a free online logo maker with 8,000+ templates that anyone can use to bring to life a compelling, unique logo in minutes.” They have a drag and drop interface and hundreds of fonts.

Take some time to test drive these sites, play around with different logo types, and see which one gels best with you and your freelancing-self. Happy branding!

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Business Marketing

How to use offline marketing to your advantage in a digital world

(BUSINESS) We often become obsessed with new marketing strategies, favoring the internet over some traditional methods that continue to drive traffic timelessly.

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Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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