Crafting a Sound Instagram Strategy

instagram strategy
Courtesy Salesforce Canada

I posted a few weeks ago about Instagram strategy, but recently got this new infographic (at the bottom of the post) from Salesforce Canada that I knew you would enjoy.

Just in case you need some convincing that Instagram impacts your market performance, check out the stats in the first part of the infographic:

  • Instagram use is increasing — from 15% to 20% now use Instagram
  • Instagram is the most popular of the photo sharing apps, although still far behind Facebook and Twitter for image sharing
  • Instagram almost owns the mobile market with users accessing and sharing through smartphones and tablets
  • Instagram users check the app at least once a day
  • Instagram engagement is 15X greater than Facebook

As a B2B site, I don’t use Instagram, but I do for some of my clients, with great success.

Here’s a little anecdote in case you’re not sure about Instragram’s usefulness. My daughter is an actor (yes, actress is too sexist for today’s generation). She’s forever on Instagram to check out what friends post, but she also uses it for headshots, movie stills, and other promotional activities. Recently, her best friend got a part on CBS Once Upon a Time (playing Anna from Frozen for 9 episodes — which is very cool BTW). Almost immediately, her Instagram started blowing up as fans scoured her pics to find candid shots with her friend. More importantly, folks followed her from Instagram to her website, where visits exploded even though the site isn’t even finished yet (Check it out at and like her shots). You’d have to talk to her agent to see how many inquiries she’s gotten from Rebecca’s accidental Instagram strategy.

So, what are the defining elements of a sound Instagram strategy?


As with any social network, branding is critical for marketing success. Because Instagram is a photosharing platform, visuals like graphics and photos are the overriding element of your Instagram strategy and should reinforce your brand image (much like on Pinterest, which we talked about earlier).

Even though your Instagram strategy should include sharing images unrelated to your brand, your brand logo should be prominent.

Focus on your website

A website is really the hub of any social media marketing strategy, so your Instagram strategy should send engaged users to your website where they’ll see more about your products and services and purchase.

Based on data from Salesforce Canada, brands within the luxury market use an Instagram strategy more than other firms, with firms selling intangibles, like financial services, employing an Instagram strategy the least of any industry.

Content marketing as part of Instagram strategy

The rules for content marketing on Instagram mirror those for publishing on any other social platform, including your blog — publish high-quality content on a consistent basis and balance non-promotional images with images of new products or other promotional pieces.

If you’re a brand like Apple or Samsung, showing images of your new smartphone before its release generates huge interest so you can get away with being more promotional. If you’re like most brands, an 80/20 split between non-promotional and promotional pieces is likely more effective.

So, what do you do with that 80% of images that are non-promotional? Is this simply a waste of time? No, non-promotional images define your brand, as well as increasing engagement with followers that spreads your brand around Instagram. Images that are fun, surprising, unusual, or otherwise interesting garner the most engagement. Images evoking an emotional response fair very well, although you should keep it somewhat upbeat.

Finally, those 80% images can humanize your organization. Show images of employees, especially from team building activities or doing good things for the community, like volunteering for Habitat for Humanity or at the local soup kitchen. Consumers enjoy buying from brands they see as human, especially when they act responsibly.

Since Instagram is part of your overall digital marketing strategy, be sure to write clear, concise, interesting descriptions and include hashtags to make images more searchable.

Avoid oversharing or posting images totally irrelevant for your brand. So, content marketing in your Instagram strategy is really walking a tightrope between too much and too little, as well as too business-related and too off-topic.

Monitor your Instagram strategy

Monitoring your Instagram strategy means tracking performance, but it also means listening and responding to users. Responding might mean offering a discount or simply responding to a comment, reposting user-generated content or following followers.

Monitoring performance is a little trickier.

Use analytics to tweak performance based on established SMART goals for your Instagram strategy. Monitor images to see which images perform best and what times create the most engagement. Determine the ROI of your Instagram strategy by creating conversion funnels that assess sales based on source and be sure to include both last touch and first touch that result in conversion.

Need help?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get the 1st chapter of our book on digital marketing analytics – FREE, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media.


Say Cheese: Perfecting Your Instagram Strategy

Via Salesforce

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He Has a Great Personality: Using Digital Footprints to Segment Markets

personality word cloud
Courtesy of Lambiotte and Kosinski and the Proceedings of the IEEE.

Isn’t that the line when someone tries to fix you up with a blind date — he or she has a great personality. It’s usually code word for ugly.

Unlike in dating, in the case of target marketing, personality may be your golden ticket.

A brief history of segmentation

Segmentation began in the 1950s and was dominate by demographic variables like age, income, and gender, not because these were the defining characteristics of consumers, but because that’s what information was available. Prior to the 1950s, in what marketers call the production era, most energy was focused on producing products and satisfying consumer wants and needs was inconsequential. But, with increased competition and more product differentiation, marketers like Smith argued for consumer segmentation as a tool for improved market performance. He argued:

Segments should be based on consumer/user wants and a company should be better able to serve these needs when it has defined some segments within a larger market.

By 1974, a formal definition of segmentation comes from a seminal paper published by Wind and Cardoza, which identifies market segments as:

A group of present and potential customers with some common characteristic (s) which is relevant in explaining (and predicting) their response to a supplier’s marketing stimuli.

As better sources of information arose, especially with modern digital marketing, more information is available about consumer personality, including lifestyles, media usage, attitudes, and other non-demographic characteristics. Segmentation moved from identifying target markets based on demographic variables to rich market persona, built on deep personality data.

Personality and marketing

First, let’s get an understanding of what we mean by personality. According to Boundless personality is:

Personality is the combination of behaviors, emotions, and motivations that comprise an individual human being. Over time, these patterns strongly influence personal expectations, self-perceptions, values, and attitudes.

But, the use of personality in marketing, especially for segmentation, is relatively recent. For much of its short history (the discipline of marketing is only a little over 80 years old), marketing was heavily influenced by economics, such that economic variables like pricing dominated discussions of positioning products for various market segments. It’s only within the last 10 years or so that marketers began trying to understand personality and how personality factors impacted consumer behavior.

Likely the first use of personality in marketing was not for understanding consumers, but for imbuing personality into products.  Brand personality encouraged consumers to buy certain products whose personalities they liked — a practice that remains very effective today.

Increasingly, marketers use consumer personalities to segment consumer markets and create options for positioning brands to attract consumers based on personality. And, digital marketing offers rich data for understanding consumer personality, segmenting consumer markets based on personality, and helping brands reach consumers who share certain personalities.

Big data: using consumers’ digital footprints

Understanding consumer personality is challenging because, short of doing expensive market research, what consumers think and feel, how they live their lives, and what things they value is inaccessible. With the advent of social networks and mobile devices that create a digital footprint of individual consumers, such information is readily available.

In a special issue of the Proceedings of the IEEE published in December, researchers from Namur University in Belgium and Stanford in the US discussed the use of consumers’ digital footprints to infer personality, which is useful for marketing segmentation and selective reach of messages to a particular segment based on personality as well as personality-driven search engines and recommender systems (like Netflix’s and Amazon’s related product recommendations).

When we talk about personality, we’re talking about fairly stable traits. People differ across 5 broad personality styles: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Facebook’s myPersonality project

In 2007, researchers created the myPersonality project; offering Facebook users access to psychological tests resulting in personality data from over 6 million users (users controlled whether their personality results became public in the anonymous database and access to that database is highly restricted to researchers). Below, you can see what an individual’s personality profile looks like.

5-factor personality model
Courtesy of Lambiotte and Kosinski and the Proceedings of the IEEE.

Facebook data shows not only messages (which are mined for text data regarding values, attitudes, and lifestyle), but relationships with other users and likes (brand page and post likes). Mining this data shows personality differences across geographic regions like the one below showing neuraticism (upper) and extroversion (lower) across the US.

personality differences across the US
Courtesy of Lambiotte and Kosinski and Proceedings of the IEEE.

This pattern of Facebook likes helps predict demographic variables, as well as psychological ones such as:

  • religious views
  • political leanings
  • sexual orientation
  • intelligence

Mobile data

Mobile devices send information about geolocation, colocation with others, physical states (such as running, walking, and not moving), and call data records, as well as emotional feelings using apps such as EmotionSense.

Using digital footprints

We’ve just scratched the surface of using digital footprints, but the marketing implications are enormous.


Knowing more about customers and their personalities opens up vast possibilities for new product development (NPD). Sure, text analysis provides huge benefits when developing new products, but adding the personality component helps greatly.

For instance, let’s say your existing customers are extroverts. You could research digital footprints of other extroverts to understand their wants and needs to develop new products for that segment. Since you’re already successful with extroverts, going after this market rather than another target market usually results in higher market performance.


We know personality is a huge determinant of how consumers respond to market messages. For instance, someone who’s neurotic will respond better to messages about safety, while an extrovert will respond better to messages about connectivity.

Courtesy of Lambiotte and Kosinski and the Proceedings of the IEEE
Courtesy of Lambiotte and Kosinski and the Proceedings of the IEEE

Extraverts also have different social network characteristics from introverts. Notice in the graphic, who extroverts (on the right) have both larger and more diverse social networks, while introverts (on the left) have dense relationships within concentrated groups. Thus, messaging travels differently between introverts and extroverts. Likely, introverts are more influential because of their deep relationships (strong ties) within small groups, while extroverts generate a wider awareness of the message because of their diverse relationships across many groups (weak ties) — based on Granovetter’s notion of strong versus weak ties.

Obviously, extraverts have some strong ties, as well, but their major benefit is in their ability to spread your message.

Facebook already allows message targeting based on some personality characteristics coming from purchased databases — such as Personicx. Data allow targeting based on personality within a broad range of characteristics such as family composition, dwelling location (ie. urban versus rural), their media watching habits, hobbies, what they like to eat and drink, preferred sports and teams, technology use, and many others. You can also target based on what they buy, which infers not only personality, but how personality acts on their behavior. I commonly advise clients to use Facebook sponsored posts because of these personality targeting options and the relatively low cost of reaching a particular target audience.

Better understanding of consumer behavior

New insights come from using digital footprints data — a type of data whose volume and richness never existed before. For instance, the knowledge that introversion and neuroticism vary in some systematic way across geographic regions is not only an interesting insight from digital footprints, but has strategic implications. For instance, marketers might use geographic shortcuts to selectively target individuals with certain personality traits.

Likely new insights will come from further investigations of personality data from digital footprints.

Caveat to using digital footprints

Of course, using digital footprints has its drawbacks. The most serious drawback of using digital footprints in the privacy issue and issues of who controls your digital data. For this reason, many consumers opt out of sharing private data and avoid platforms that don’t conform with their desires for privacy, such as Gmail and Facebook.

Need help?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get the 1st chapter of our book on digital marketing analytics – FREE, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media.


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Are You Tapping into Emotions in the Buying Process?

emotions in the buying processIn a recent post, I attempted to debunk the notion that we’re rational consumers — citing research showing how emotions are important for guiding decisions and how advertisers create content that taps into emotions in the buying process. Today, let’s focus on emotional intelligence as a means to segment your market and use deep understanding of emotions to affect the buying process.

Emotional intelligence

If you accept the research that consumers use emotions in the buying process, the pressing question is how you detect emotions.

In the old general stores, you detected emotions because you were face to face with the customer and could judge her emotions. That’s still true in service situations — just think of the old bartender who listened as patrons poured out their problems. Of course, using the emotions detected within the service encounter requires a certain emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence?

According to the leading researchers in the area of emotional intelligence, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, emotional intelligence is:

the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.

These researchers theorized 4 steps involved in emotional intelligence:

  1. Perceiving Emotions: The first step in understanding emotions is to accurately perceive them. In many cases, this might involve understanding nonverbal signals such as body language and facial expressions.
  2. Reasoning With Emotions: The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritize what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that garner our attention.
  3. Understanding Emotions: The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings. If someone is expressing angry emotions, the observer must interpret the cause of their anger and what it might mean. For example, if your boss is acting angry, it might mean that he is dissatisfied with your work; or it could be because he got a speeding ticket on his way to work that morning or that he’s been fighting with his wife.
  4. Managing Emotions: The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of emotional intelligence. Regulating emotions, responding appropriately and responding to the emotions of others are all important aspect of emotional management.

Combining emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence (IQ) yields personality, which is a topic for another day.

Emotional intelligence in the buying process

A recent scholarly study suggests marketers need to move beyond cognitive notions of consumer behavior — I think, therefore I do — to understanding how emotions impact the buying process.

Supporting their contention, the authors point to research showing a clear link between emotional intelligence and specific buyer behaviors, such as impulse buying, and emotions such as self-esteem.

Research suggests consumers with a higher emotional intelligence use a heightened understanding of their emotional state to make product choices. Hence, the notion of emotional marketing was born.

Emotions in the buying process

Here’s what Neil Kukemuller of Demand Metric has to say about emotions in the buying process:

Key in emotional marketing is understanding the underlying reason why a customer enters the market. A customer shopping for high-end baby clothes isn’t necessarily looking for an outfit to cover up her little one to meet societal standards of wearing clothes. Instead, she is probably trying to satisfy her emotional desire to dress her baby attractively to project an image of fashion and sophistication. Knowing this underlying motive, which often results from effective market research, helps in developing highly impacting ad messages.

In my earlier post, I showed how brands manipulate (no negative connotation intended) consumers’ emotions through advertising and brand messaging. Certainly, recent Super Bowl ads hit the emotional nerve centers heavily, with positive results.

But the marketing implications of emotions go beyond simple manipulation because, as discussed above emotions and emotional intelligence affect buying decisions. Effective sales people sense consumer emotions and modify their presentation to match the emotions of their prospect.

Can the same thing be done on a larger scale?

Can businesses detect emotions and match their messaging to the these emotions?

Can this be done on a large scale?

Emotions in the buying process: Detect, Segment, Match

Detecting emotions in the buying process:

Up until a few years ago, you’d need an expensive market research study to detect emotions in the buying process. Today, big data offers detection solutions by monitoring the digital footprint left by consumers on social networks and mobile devices. Data provide insights into how consumers feel about brands, highlighting deeper emotions than simple liking, to show the range of emotions consumers feel when they evaluate your product.

Savvy companies use this emotional understanding to benefit their brands in several ways:


Different consumers feel different emotions in the buying process. In the example above where the mother buys baby clothing based on feelings of status, another might feel emotions of security that drives purchase of clothing touting its flame retardance or its natural fibers.

Segmenting the market based on these emotions allows marketers to position their brands to match emotions in the buying process and for targeting specific market segments with appropriate messages that push the right emotional buttons.

Matching emotions

Deep emotional understanding also suggests fruitful avenues for new product development and managing improvements to existing brands by matching products with the emotions prevalent in the buying process of their target market.

For instance, detecting frustration associated with the product offers opportunities for creating new products or modifying existing products that reduce frustration.

Final thoughts on emotions in the buying process

  1. Emotions have a significant impact on buyer choice — playing a role that’s likely bigger than cognitive evaluations of the brands features — including price.
  2. Emotions critical in the buying process go beyond simple liking to deeper emotions such as fear, hope, anger, frustration, etc.
  3. Detecting emotions is possible using the digital footprint left by consumers on social networks and mobile devices (such as instant messages).
  4. Market segmentation based on consumer emotions is not only possible, but likely has a bigger impact on market performance than other types of segmentation variables, such as income and lifestyle.
  5. Matching products to consumer emotions offers huge opportunities to create successful new products and make improvements to existing products.

Need help?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get the 1st chapter of our book on digital marketing analytics – FREE, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media.

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5 Tips for Using LinkedIn for B2B Lead Generation

socialconversion-resized-600Continuing on the theme of B2B lead generation, let’s talk about the behemoth of lead generation: LinkedIn. Recently, we posted about using LinkedIn for lead generation so take a look at that post, but today I’d like to focus our attention on using Company Pages on LinkedIn as a tool for lead generation.

In case you’re unconvinced of the value of LinkedIn for lead generation, take a look at the graphic from HubSpot (using data from over 5000 B2B and B2C companies) showing the massive conversion of website visits to leads — a conversion rate that dwarfs all other social networks COMBINED.

LinkedIn company pages

According to Buffer, 80% of LinkedIn users say they want to connect with companies on LinkedIn and users are 50% more likely to buy from a company they’re connected with. Despite this, Forbes contends only slightly more than 50% of firms use LinkedIn company pages and most of those just created a company page in 2014.

Here’s an excerpt from the Forbes article:

Google generally reports LinkedIn company pages within the top 1-2 pages of results. This is “free money” for small- to mid-size companies. Reports one respondent: “I am a self-employed housecleaner, pet sitter and house sitter.  Many of the clients I have worked for in the last five years tell me that they found my LinkedIn site while doing a Google search and were interested in meeting me in person. I am also grateful for the LinkedIn recommendations. It is not uncommon for someone to tell me that after viewing my LinkedIn profile and reading the recommendations that this is a deciding factor on whether or not to contact me and/or use my services.”

So, what does that mean for businesses?

LinkedIn is a great opportunity. Not only does it boast the highest conversion rates, but the competition is still learning the ins and outs of using LinkedIn for B2B lead generation, so you’re not trying to play catch-up.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can use LinkedIn company pages for B2B lead generation.

B2B lead generation with LinkedIn company pages

1. Build relationships

At the heart of a successful LinkedIn campaign is building relationships with potential buyers and company pages are a great way to do that (although I recommend key executives also create LinkedIn profiles that support B2B lead generation in addition to company pages).

LinkedIn recommends a 5 step process for building effective relationships based on social media best practices:

  1. Establish your presence
  2. Attract followers
  3. Engage followers
  4. Amplify your message through your network
  5. Analyze results and refine your strategy

You’ll attract followers as you post fresh, valuable content (see next tip), but there are other ways to build your network on LinkedIn.

  • Ask employees to follow your company page
  • Invite customers and prospects to follow your page
  • Include a follow button on email correspondence and your website
  • Reach out to influencers for follows. The best tactic I’ve found is to give influencers a reason to follow you by following them and mentioning them in your content.

2. Content marketing

b2b lead generation

Looking at the types of content getting the highest engagement (see graphic), LinkedIn finds stories that humanize the brand or its employees get the highest bang for your buck. Followed by employment and tips.

Posting a variety of content, on a consistent basis is the best practice on LinkedIn, just as it is for other social networks. This content should consist of sharing website content updates, as well as crafting unique content to share with your connections on LinkedIn. I automatically share my posts on LinkedIn using SproutSocial (which is about the only social media automation I recommend, as social media should be social and personal).

Content marketing raises awareness of your brand and establishes you as an authority. As with all content marketing, make sure your content is SEO optimized. For LinkedIn, SEO optimization is particularly important as Google preferentially displays LinkedIn content in search results.

Remember to include a clear (but subtle) call to action (CTA) in your LinkedIn posts. Linking back to your website is a great way to increase your lead generation results.

Content marketing includes content curation and is also a good way to encourage followers by sharing updates from influencers and target companies in your own updates. You can’t expect amplification of your message unless you’re willing to share the great content produced by others.

LinkedIn updates should occur at least once per day (with no more than a couple per day). LinkedIn contends sharing posts in the morning works best, although my sweet spot is at 2 pm, as folks return from lunch. Experiment to see what timing works best for you.

3. Branding

LinkedIn company pages are an extension of your brand so they should support your branding efforts. That means not only carrying forward your visual branding, but offering a clear brand message that supports your overall branding. The description of the company page is the most valuable branding real estate on the page as Google SERPs contain the first 156 characters from this description.

Here’s my company page, b2b lead generationwhich clearly contains SEO-rich text, but doesn’t reflect my new visual branding:

The lesson here is to update all your social networks each time you change your branding. And, another case of the cobblers kids having no shoes. [Update: fixed my branding and uploaded the new image]

4. Target the customer journey

I’ve talked about this before — content should match the needs of folks as they travel the customer journey. In today’s digital world, B2B customers do most of their information gathering online, not waiting for your salesperson to show up. In fact, many B2B customers prefer to purchase online — that’s how IBM created a billion dollar business selling computers online in the 90’s.

Don’t look at your content as a teaser or preface to B2B lead generation — it’s the main event. Give visitors all the information they need to work with, not just a few tidbits. Include sample pricing rather than forcing them to fill out a form to get prices from a salesperson.

Your efforts should carry customers from awareness through post-purchase, so including information on using, answer questions about installation or use, and encouraging feedback are all important factors in providing for the entire customer journey.

Showcase pages allow brands to target specific audiences and engage with them. These pages are extensions of your company page designed to highlight specific products and provide content specific for that target market. While LinkedIn positions Showcase pages as tools for brands to highlight specific products, Showcase pages can also be used to target different markets with content that resonates best with that particular audience.

5. Analytics

No marketing campaign is complete without analytics to assess performance and provide information to tweak the campaign. LinkedIn provides some good analytics to track performance of your LinkedIn company pages including clicks and other interactions. Make the most of these analytics by doing conscious testing — headlines, post types, post times — not just monitoring passively.

Need help?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get the 1st chapter of our book on digital marketing analytics – FREE, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media.





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Data Visualization: Providing Data Insights that Cause Change

the internet economy
Courtesy of BCG

Great data insights don’t mean much if the folks controlling change don’t understand them or don’t have the time to pour over columns of data. Enter data visualization; the key to getting data insights to cause change that improves your market performance.

Big data/ big headache

Big data isn’t a new thing; it’s the size of data that’s new. In just the last 2 years, we’ve generated a zetabyte of data from scanners, mobile devices, web connected devices, television, and computers.  To put that in perspective, every 2 days we create as much data as we did from the beginning of time until 2008!

And, every 2 years, we create 90% of all the data in existence.

By 2020, experts predict there will be 50X as much data as exists today.

That’s a lot of data.

But, data doesn’t mean much unless you can do something with the data — and here we’re most concerned about using big data to improve market performance.

Unfortunately, the character of big data is that it’s not only BIG, it comes at your extremely fast so, unless you have a tool that provides automated insights quickly, you’ve lost all advantage from having the data. You need to go from data collection, to analysis, to visualization, to strategy quickly or risk falling behind.

Here’s what Gary King, professor at Harvard University had to say about the big data revolution:

There is a big data revolution. But it is not the quantity of data that is revolutionary. The big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data. The revolution lies in improved statistical and computational methods, not in the exponential growth of storage or even computational capacity

Thus, when we talk about the big data revolution, we’re talking more about interpreting that data — putting it to practical use — than the amount of data generated, which is pretty uninteresting by comparison.

Data visualization

Data visualization is a little like herding cattle — it’s expensive and time-consuming, but, ultimately, necessary if you want to generate profits from your cows.

Of course, data visualization is only 1 means of corralling big data into something useful. Data analysis using statistical tools to generate descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive data analysis also synthesizes meaning from big data.

Even with data analysis, data visualization makes it easier to see not only descriptive data like height, age, and income, but predictive analytics reflecting the relationships among data, and prescriptive data showing the best alternative solutions.

Data visualization tools

Of course, the fall-back position in data visualization is static tools that produce boring line graphs, pie charts, and bar graphs. Even with bright colors, tools like Excel and SPSS produce pretty boring visualizations.

But, regardless of the tool, data visualization, at its best, should uncover new patterns of relationships not visible to the naked eye. Hence, the key to effective data visualization is the ability to capture patterns and relationships in clean, simple visuals that allow the signal to stand out from noise contained in the data.

Some tools for data visualization involve automated analysis of data as it comes in, while other tools involve manually creating infographics or other data visualizations that provide insights. Today, we’ll focus on automated tools used to analyze big data.

A subset of these data visualization tools are interactive, meaning individual users can customize the visualization to match their needs. For instance, a brand manager may wish data visualizations of a granular nature to observe nuances within the data, while the VP Marketing may wish data visualizations providing overviews across the various brands, with less granularity. Key to interactive data visualization is the ability of users to expand analysis; allowing the VP to deep dive into a piece of data to see more granularity.

If you’re interested in exploring options for data visualization, check out this post for a good list of available tools.

The problem of unstructured data

Unstructured data — words, images, video, and all other non-numeric data — represent 80% of the data available according to IBM and other digital data experts. But, the tools available for data visualization of unstructured data lag far behind those for visualizing quantitative data because the statistical tools necessary to derive meaning from unstructured data reflect a similar lag.

Tag clouds or word clouds are a rudimentary type of data visualization that transforms words into a graphic reflecting the frequency of word usage.

Association trees depict relationships

Courtesy of Information Management
Courtesy of Information Management

among words used. For instance here’s an association tree from Information Management showing relationships between customer sentiment about a brand:

Cubism Horizongraphs  is a tool for analyzing video and audio files. Using this tool to analyze call center interactions or sales presentations offers insights about customer problems, decision factors, and intentions.

Analysis provides data visualization insights from multi-dimensional data from a variety of sources, thus providing a 360 view of a customer or prospect.

Courtesy of Information Management
Courtesy of Information Management

Network Graphs, like this one, show semantic relationships from large, contextual datasets. In this graph, you see the relationships between the characters in Les Miserables.


Data visualization for unstructured data: Software

New tools for using unstructured data to create data visualizations crop up all the time. Some of the big boys, SAP, IBM, SAS, and others have tools that adapt to unstructured data. In addition, here are some specific tools for handling unstructured data visualizations:

Datawatch provides a solution that creates visualizations from structured and unstructured data and, most importantly, integrate across data types and sources. Options for data visualization includes tables and grids, surface plots, stack graphs, and spread graphs. All data visualizations are interactive and they offer a dashboard for integrating across data. They offer a free trial and training, but don’t display pricing on their website.

Workday Big Data Analytics provides a solutions for data visualization for both structured and unstructured data.

MarkLogic provides a solution, Tableau, for visualizing structured and unstructured data that doesn’t require coding or IT support.

Zoomdata provides data visualization for semi- and unstructured data using tools like Hadoop and NoSQL to create interactive dashboards for visualizing historic or real-time data.

Need help?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get the 1st chapter of our book on digital marketing analytics – FREE, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media.

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