Why Circulation Marketers Need Visual Analytics

February 28, 2011  |   Marketing   |     |   0 Comment

Are you drowning in data? Do you dread the day when your manager asks you about a certain metric that you didn’t even know about? The amount of data produced by circulation marketing builds up fast. From web engagement to lifetime value, it can be hard to represent everything in a concise way that stakeholders understand and appreciate.

An Excel graph is the basic form of data visualization we almost all work with. It shows us trends over time, and it is easily understood in the few moments a manager has to look at it. But the human brain can comprehend a lot more than a trend line, even in a few moments. And with new products like Tableau Software and Tibco Software to help us, we need to go further in helping our stakeholders understand all the various metrics that affect our businesses.

How would visual analytics help a typical circulation marketer? For one, more items can be graphed in the same space. A typical excel graph allows for two, possibly three dimensions – x for time, y for quantity and bubble size for a different quantity. But a product like Tableau Software allows you to use x, y and size like Excel, but also color, geographic maps, patterns, shapes and filters for other dimensions.

In this circulation marketing dashboard example, we see a circulation report, renewal report and geographic representation of subscribers. But contained in each chart are multiple dimensions we can use to view our data. In the circulation graph, the number of new orders is represented with both a label and the thickness of the line, whereas color shows publication. For the renewal report, thickness shows the size of each expire pool so you can tell where a low renewal rate will really hit your net circulation. Filters on the left side allow you to drill down into the numbers for a single publication. The map breaks down all paid subscribers by country and by industry segment.

In analyzing lists, response rates, new orders, circulation, renewals, lifetime value, satisfaction and what happens on the web, we need to get smarter about the reports that we produce. Excel tables will still have their place as the source data to feed our visual dashboards, but because we need to get more information into less space, we must start using more sophisticated visual analytics tools.

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