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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

Google Analytics will now filter out bot traffic

(BUSINESS NEWS) Bender won’t be happy that Google Analytics will now automatically remove bot traffic from your results, but it’ll help your business.

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In the competitive, busy world of online content, Google Analytics can help businesses and online publications deliver what their audience and consumers want. Now Google is finally taking the step of filtering out bot traffic in your Google Analytics reporting. This is excellent news!

In the world of websites, online news sites, blogs, and social media, bots are the bane of our existence. In their finest form, they are the electronic equivalent of junk mail. At their worst, they can carry malicious malware and viruses to your site and computer. They can even flood the internet with unfounded rumors that can have an impact on people’s opinions–stirring the political pot or lending misleading numbers to drive unfounded rumors, such as wearing a mask is dangerous. No it’s not! Chalk that nonsense up to bots and crackpots.

For businesses that rely on Google Analytics to determine what content is not only reaching but also resonating with potential customers, filtering out the bot traffic is crucial to determining the best course of action. Bots skew the data and therefore, end up costing businesses money.

Bots set up for malicious purposes crawl the internet looking for certain information or user behaviors. Bad bots can steal copyrighted content and give it to a competitor. Having identical copies on two sites hurts your site and can dink your SEO ranking. However, good bots can seek out duplicate content and other copyright infringements, so the original content creator can report them.

However, it is important for companies and content creators to know if their content is actually reaching real live humans. To this end, Google will start filtering out bot traffic automatically. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) actually provides an International Spiders and Bots list, through which Google can more easily identify bots. They use the list and their own internal research to seek out bots in action, crawling through the internet and confusing things.

Google says the bot traffic will be automatically filtered out of the Google Analytics results–users don’t have the choice. Some may argue there is a good reason to see all of the data, including bots. Many businesses and online publications, though, will be relieved to have a much clearer vision of what content genuinely appeals to humans, to readers and potential customers. It is a welcomed advancement.

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Business Marketing

Opportunity Zones: A chance to do good

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Opportunity zones offer a chance to breathe new life into economically-distressed communities.

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Opportunity Zones are a beautiful mechanism for growing communities that are struggling, but some critics have put this process in a negative light. The following is an expert’s perspective on just this topic.

Jim White, PhD is Chairman and CEO of Post Harvest Technologies, Inc. and Growers Ice Company, Inc., Founder and CEO of PHT Opportunity Fund LP, and Founder and President of JL White International, LLC. His new book is a heartfelt rallying cry for investors: Opportunity Investing: How to Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds, launched March 31, 2020.

Dr. White holds a B.S. in civil engineering, an MBA, and a doctorate in psychology and organizational behavior. He acquires struggling businesses to revive and develop them into profitable enterprises using his business turnaround strategy.

In his own words below:

BY JIM WHITE, PHD

Every investment vehicle has a twist some folks don’t like. Real estate, stock options, offshore tax havens, and even charitable gifting can be criticized for certain loopholes.

Likewise, some detractors have pointed to opportunity zones, a newer investment vehicle unveiled in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017. This bold, bipartisan plan allows for private investment capital to be channeled into some of the most distressed communities in the nation, serving the struggling residents and the investors alike.

Personally, I believe it is one of the noblest initiatives to emerge from Washington in years.

I grew up in a sharecropper cabin in what would have been an opportunity zone in Salem, South Carolina. What would an influx of investment dollars have meant to my low-income community? More and better-paying jobs to offset unemployment. People relocating to my town for those jobs, reversing population decline and increasing real estate values. New life breathed into local businesses. The increased tax revenues could have helped improve failing infrastructure. Social challenges, like crime and drug use, could have decreased. Better resources for my family and our neighbors, such as health care and education, would have emerged.

Today, there are nearly 8,800 distressed communities dotting the country that have been identified as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). These neighborhoods were designated from census tracks, treasury, and state leaders as communities that would benefit from an influx of investment dollars directed through Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) to reinvigorate businesses, rebuild infrastructure and bolster residents.

As our economy continues to falter, more and more businesses file Chapter 11 and unemployment soars under COVID-19, I believe we are heading toward a painful expansion in designated opportunity zones. Even with the latest round of CARES stimulus money many people will have no way to rebound from this crisis.

One of the unexpected consequences of the coronavirus quarantine is that many businesses are discovering that, in reality, they can succeed through working remotely. This success is a double edged sword, meaning that if a business can thrive with employees working offsite then commercial real estate will suffer. And when companies no longer require brick-and-mortar locations, a local domino effect ensues; ancillary businesses, from cafés to gyms to print shops in and around a commercial office environment will subsequently close. The ripples will be felt through many other industries, including construction, transportation, energy, and retail.

Qualified Opportunity Zones and Qualified Opportunity Funds are instruments that can help stop a downward spiral. When a sponsor is able to present a project that meets the objectives of the QOZ initiative, both the QOZ and the investors benefit. That’s a win!

And, it’s not only urban centers that benefit from investment dollars. Forty percent of opportunity zones are rural. Even with often plentiful food, water, energy and other natural resources, deep poverty exists, and too many of America’s 60 million rural residents lack access to education and healthcare. A declining population often goes hand in hand with failing infrastructure as tax money for repairs dwindles. Many households lack broadband, something the vast majority of Americans take for granted.

Despite the challenges, rural residents are often surprisingly resilient and resourceful. According to The Hill (“Rural America has opportunity zones too”), rural residents create self-employment opportunities at a slightly higher rate than the national average. Their challenge is to connect with investors and access funding, more of which is directed to small business investment on the coasts.

In fact, many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know about Qualified Opportunity Funds. If a business is located in an opportunity zone it is eligible for direct funding by reaching out to the QOFs with a specific request for funding.

More than any investment plan that’s come before, I believe opportunity zones have the greatest capacity for positive social and economic impact. Spread out over many communities, these investments can help our nation flourish as a whole.

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Business Marketing

Gloves that translate sign language in real time

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.

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Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.

This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.

This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.

The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.

The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.

According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.

“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”

What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!

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