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Data Visualization Techniques for Marketing

By Anna Maria Virzi | September 12, 2019 | 2 Comments

MarketingData and Analytics

Marketing and data analytics practitioners possess ocular superpowers. When they look at a sea of numbers in a spreadsheet, they’re able to spot trends that mere mortals cannot see. Unfortunately, this chasm perpetuates left brain/right brain personality stereotypes.  What’s more, there are potentially problematic consequences: Marketing and business leaders – inundated by all sorts of data —  may tune out signals that require an action when flagged by marketing and data analysts.

That’s where data visualization makes a difference.

I reached out to Katherine Dillon, chief creative officer, Gartner L2, for her POV. Here’s her take: “When we design at L2 we have always considered ‘delight’ as a factor in our choice of visuals. We always wanted to engage our members in our research by making the visuals interesting and in some cases surprising. In my view Isotype helps get at that notion of delight.” Isotype, which stands for international system of typographic picture education, incorporates pictorial representations or icons to help tell a story at a glance and assist with recall.

Let’s look at the presentation of three data points about a key feature in B2B manufacturing websites. This chart, below, shows the percentage that use a Find a Supplier or Distributor locator in the primary navigation menu of 87 index brands.



In this case, the isotype visual design plays a supporting role to the data. And rightly so. As Katherine points out: “The isotype… shouldn’t distract from the data takeaway but delights and makes a report with 30 pie and bar charts more engaging.”

For a comparison, I took the same data points and dropped them into basic pie and bar charts. While the graphic is serviceable, it’s not memorable. This underscores why marketing analytics leaders need to apply storytelling techniques when presenting marketing and other relevant data in their presentations.  


Gartner clients can see the research report, “Tell a Compelling Story Using Data Visualization Principles for Marketing,” for other best practices in data visualization. 


Leave a Comment


  • Volker Zeng says:

    Dear Anna,
    Thank you for this interesting article.
    I think the International Business Communication Standards (IBCS) contain some interesting guidelines and recommendations which are very useful for creating charts that transmit this type of messages.
    Rule EX 1.1 for instance could be very helpful in order to find appropriate chart types.
    You can find more information about it on
    Best regards, Volker

    • Anna Maria Virzi says:

      Volker, Thank you for calling attention to the seven-point SUCCESS framework by International Business Communication Standards. I especially like the recommendation: Simplify – avoid clutter.