10 Ways to Market to Data Visualization Users

If you think that when you're done building your data visualization (data viz for short) that you can simply send an e-mail with the subject "The Sales Pulse app is now available" and users will come flocking, you're going to be very disappointed. This scenario almost never happens. In fact, you can count on users meeting your e-mail with great indifference.

One study found that most applications or solutions that are built for business users have low adoption rates simply because the users were never aware of the application to begin with. You have to put some effort into making your audience aware of your product and the ways that users can benefit from it.

Just like marketing e-mails and thousands of ads that users are exposed to on a daily basis, users will see your data viz as just another app. It won't stand out unless you do something to market it. To gain the attention of your audience, you need to provide a reason for them to use your data viz and then provide reasons for them to return to it repeatedly.

Here are some of the most important techniques for marketing to your users.

Ensure data availability and accuracy

This technique is of key importance. If users can't trust your data, your data viz will never be used. Period. Ensure that your data viz is always painting accurate pictures of the correct data. If the data is found to be unavailable or unreliable for any reason, users are unlikely to revisit the data viz.

Use buy-in and ownership to engage users

You want to ensure that you're targeting the correct key performance indicators (KPIs) and gaining the audience's buy-in. This is also critical from a future advertising and word-of-mouth standpoint. Users will tell others about the value of your data viz, which will help others find and use it.

Give each data viz the right name

It can't be emphasized enough how important a name is. This is certainly true of book titles and movies. Also, think about how many e-mails and Twitter hash tags go viral because of their titles. Great data visualizations use words that directly describe what they show.

Use internal social media platforms and intranets

Many organizations have internal social media platforms, such as Salesforce Chatter and Yammer, which is like a corporate version of Facebook for enterprises.

As soon as a data-viz project launches, create an internal company group by using a tool such as Yammer and invite your team to join the community. It's a great way to create excitement by

  • Posting regular visual updates

  • Adding new screen shots

  • Starting conversations about a particular data viz

  • Highlighting the comments of expert users

Using a social network to discuss upcoming meetings or interesting trends in the data is a great way to attract other users and provide a place for the data viz to grow and attract new users.

Go live on internal platforms

You should treat the announcement of your data viz as you would treat the marketing for a product launch. Depending on the size of your audience, the cost of the data viz, and effort required, you may be able to go live on a social media platform. Your announcement can be as simple as conducting a short webinar for users or as big as a formal event with keynote speakers, prizes, and live use cases presented by your superusers (the major stakeholders).

Do away with training

When someone says that he's going to train users to use his data viz, that statement is a sure sign that he's living in the Dinosaur Age. Ease of use (EOU) is in, and training is out! With the emergence of apps that take two seconds to download and another three seconds to start using, few people will tolerate the need for training. That's why keeping things simple is so important. Apps are successful because they do one thing, and they do it very well. Follow the same line of thinking for your data viz, and it will prove to be successful.

Make sure that the data viz looks great

A house that's for sale needs to have curb appeal; it has to look good from the street so that buyers will want to check out the inside. In the same way, your data viz needs to look good so that people will want to dive deeper into it. Without providing an attractive package, you won't be able to get users to enter the data viz, so why would you expect them to use it? Having a good user interface is a must.

Provide 24/7 accessibility

Allowing users to access your data viz anytime and anywhere is critical for user adoption. With the click or tap of a button, they should be able to view and use your data viz regardless of what device they're using: a mobile device, a tablet, a company laptop, or a desktop computer.

Provide speed and reliability

Yes, speed is a huge factor! Just imagine accessing an app on your phone and then having to wait a long time for it to load, but it crashes after 10 seconds. Most users instantly delete an app that performs that way, and a smaller percentage of users will take the extra step of providing bad feedback in a review. The same goes for your data viz. If your data viz doesn't work correctly and quickly, you can expect users to give up on using it — or, worse, to spread the word to other users that the data viz is a dud.

Speed the delivery of your data viz

Delivering your data viz in a short cycle is a key component of building and maintaining momentum with your user base. You can use this momentum to build interest for future releases. You should deliver even the most complex data viz in two to three months maximum. This usually sets the stage for great future releases and opens discussions about how to further enhance the application.

Taking six months to a year to build and release your first data viz is a surefire way to ensure that you'll have no users.

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