Data Visualization: A Practical Approach for Absolute Beginners

Do you know that the human brain is capable of processing an image 60000 times faster than a text?
This statistic stems from tests conducted in the field of science.
It is now exploited by many companies that manage a ton of data per day, data from databases, CRM or spreadsheets.
These companies now favor the visual to decrypt complex data.
Often attached to Big Data, data visualization is a tool for studying large volumes of data.
Here’s all you need to know about data visualization especially when operating in the field of commerce and marketing.
How to define data visualization?
According to marketing experts, data visualization can be defined as version 2.0 of visual communication.
It consists of transforming complex data into simple visual representations to facilitate the understanding and exploitation of data.
The goal of this strategy is to make information accessible to everyone, or more specifically to people who can make decisions based on the data collected.
But how to represent complex digital data in a simpler way?
First of all, remember that the process of data transformation in the field of data visualization is the same as the type of digital data to be studied.
The processed data can then take different forms:
chronological representation, pie chart, video animations, computer graphics and many more.
These graphic representations have one thing in common: the ability to synthesize the information communicated through the data so that it is accessible to as many people as possible.
Note that the data visualization technique has always existed except that it has taken another dimension with marketing and with the amount of information to be processed.
To practice data analysis by visualization, start by gathering the raw and relevant data about what you want to process.
For example, if you manage a B2B company, gather the demographics you have about your prospects or customers.

Also take into account the actions they lead through the web to mention the number of downloads, clicks or visits.
Note also other essential information such as the problems they encounter on a daily basis.
Now that you have all the data collected, process and format them so that they are sorted in the same format.

This step is important because if the data to be processed is not on the same scale, the visual representations that you will make may contain errors.
Now format the data so that it makes sense. During this operation, make sure that the most important information is put forward so that it is understood at a glance.
If you’ve done well with data visualization, the data you’ve processed is now easier to understand.
The different trends are clearly visible thanks to the use of colors and shapes.
Specificities of the data visualization
Now that you know what data visualization is, know that it contains many technical specificities. To find the best graphical representation, you need to do a lot of work.
Your goal is to extract the information conveyed through the data and to facilitate communication.
If you want your site to pay attention to the information you convey through the encrypted data converted into a chart, make sure that the chart you have created is aesthetically pleasing.
However, do not impress your targets too much with a graphic that is too flashy to hide the information you want to convey.
Understand the principle of data visualization
Remember that data visualization helps to understand the meaning of information. It is also an effective communication tool.
Charts that you create to represent data attract your targets better and the information you provide is more easily retained. You need to exploit the aesthetic side of your graphics because it ensures a better understanding of your prospects.
In addition, do not focus too much on aesthetics when you represent data through graphics. If they are too impressive, your targets will linger and neglect the meaning of the information to be transmitted. In short, you must give aesthetics to your graphics without exaggerating.
What qualifications to do data visualization
Certainly, data visualization is an effective marketing tool when it comes to communicating encrypted data to as many people as possible.
If you want to achieve a graphic representation worthy of the name, you must master different areas including cognitive science and technology.
If you master the technology environment, you will have no trouble choosing the software and applications that will allow you to draw the most appropriate graphics.
As for the sciences of cognition such as the sciences of perception and psychology, you must have the right bases to identify the most effective method for communicating information.
Exploiting data visualization to develop its business related to commerce
If you own a B2B company, you do not have to remember the amount of data you have to manage on a daily basis.
If you want this data to be accessible to as many people as possible, you need to integrate a data visualization process with the devices that process this data every day.
You can then better communicate the information to your targets. Indeed, once the data present in the commercial CRM is mounted in graphical form, the most relevant information is highlighted.
Your sales representatives can then adopt a more effective commercial approach. In summary, will data visualization contribute to your success if you are a business?
What are the best data-visualization tools?
The tools of data visualization are multiple except that one identifies some which are more powerful than others.
To help you make a choice, we have chosen some effective tools that you can use for a data visualization worthy of the name.
The choice of these tools depends among other things on your sector of activity. If you are a startup or a marketer, here are some data-visualization tools that you can exploit:
Google Data Studio

It is a free cloud tool signed by Google.
With Google Data Studio, you can report from Google suite data ( Google ADS for example)
Thanks to its connectors and an API, it can also manage external data sources. It is easy to use and does not allow the creation of dynamic reports from scratch or using a template.
Periscope Data

Periscope data is a powerful platform dedicated to Data Analysis. It can gather all the data from your company and create reports.

With this tool, you can easily convert your encrypted data into easy-to-understand graphs or reports. It is powerful but quite expensive to buy count more than 1000 € per month for basic versions, it often offers a free test of 7 days to see if the solution can be interesting for your business.

Periscope is also able to output illustrations in heat map format.
Chartio was designed to enable startups and marketers to better exploit data.

This tool has a number of connectors including Microsoft Azure, Google BigQuery, MySQL, Amazon RedShift, CSV Files, Oracle, Google Analytics, Google Sheets and many more. The tool is also paying ($ 150 / month / user or $ 249 / month / team.
Chartio integrates two modes namely SQL and drag, You will not have any problem for getting started, which seems easy thanks to the videos and tutorials provided online.
The slogan is quite ambiguous: Avoid falling into the routine with report creation and focus on analyzing the data that matters to your business.

An effective tool for more data reporting. This solution works in an SQL environment.
You can integrate multiple SQL databases and execute ad-hoc queries.
With this tool, the pain is much less important because starting from 50 dollars per month you will be able to do a complete immersion with regard to data visualization
The tool is self-service and offers the creation of interactive dashboards in real time it is also possible to send reports via Slack or email from Holistics.

Designed for data analysts, Holistics provides an ideal workspace for analyzing your data. The integrated analysis helps you create external dashboards with which your partners/customers can interact within your own application.

This tool is a true reference in terms of data visualization: It allows you to create graphs, tables, maps or infographics from any type of data.

You will enjoy an intuitive interface.
To transfer data, a simple drag and drop are enough.
The graphics that you will realize with this tool are automatically updated.

Tableau allows you to integrate the analysis into your own web application (via an iframe) so that your customers can view the reports / analyzes related to their data.
To exploit all its performance, count $ 70 per user per month.

With Qlick, make quality reports and easy-to-understand graphs from a remarkable amount of data.

Qlick contains two tools namely QlikView and QlikSense.
To import data, you just have to drag and drop and you do not need any technical knowledge.
The tool is compatible with any type of data.

It’s the tool you need if you want to better understand your data for better use. It is able to analyze different types of data from a large number of sources.
Afterward, it creates personalized dashboards and graphs that are easy to understand.
Looker works with subscriptions ranging from $ 3,000 to $ 5,000 per month for 10 users and $ 50 per month for each additional user.
Toucan Toco
This data visualization tool is particularly powerful and is aimed at large companies. To be more precise, it is a Data Storytelling tool that will allow you to create high-quality reports.

As for the interface, you will have no problem with the grip because it is mobile compatible and allows users of tablets, and other mobile devices to enjoy a neat interface.
Toucan Toco is a way to easily access your data wherever you are and when you want and especially on your mobile devices!
If you are a developer
If you run a developer business or are an independent developer, there are a number of tools that can make your life easier.
FusionCharts is one of them

Fusion charts is a Javascript mapping library and contain a large number of graphics as well as 1400 maps that you can use in the processing of your data.
The interactive dashboards and maps that can be created with this high-quality tool, the formulas range from a few hundred euros to several thousand for companies that manage a large number of developers.
Impossible to make a listing of data visualization tools without mentioning Exhibit.

The exhibit is an open source data visualization software that allows you to create interactive maps and developers to create web pages that support sorting, filtering and rich visualizations.
The exhibit is integrated into a larger project: SIMILE, which focuses on developing robust, open source tools that enable users to access, manage, visualize and reuse digital assets.
Conclusion on data visualization tools
There are many data visualization tools, free tools, and other very expensive tools, if you are processing a large volume of data, you are certainly aware of the need to entrust some data analysis tasks to powerful tools.
Data visualization is neither more nor less than a means of facilitating the processing of large amounts of data through neat user experience and easily recognizable and identifiable visual elements.
New digital uses now require decision-makers to understand data more precisely to facilitate decision-making.
In terms of data processing, things have evolved enormously with artificial intelligence or machine learning.
Science fiction is getting closer and closer to reality, and some choices, once entrusted to human intuition, are now supported by computers with unlimited computational powers.
If decision-making is accelerated and extraordinary amounts of data can now be processed, it is more than ever necessary to understand and synthesize this treatment to allow humans to maintain control over the machine.

The Ultimate Guide to SQL 2008 End of Support

On July 9th, 2019, Microsoft will end support for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2. This doesn’t only mean that Microsoft’s call centers won’t be able to squash bugs and resolve technical issues with your organization. End of support opens the door for serious consequences that could significantly disrupt your entire organization.
If your organization has yet to begin migrating to a newer SQL Server deployment, you’re not alone. In a recent data analysis of 100,000 servers, we found that 43 percent of all SQL Server instances run either SQL Server 2008 or SQL Server 2008 R2. This significant segment of organizations with aging SQL Server deployments must act to upgrade their database architecture.
To assist in this upgrade process, we have compiled the essential considerations that organizations should make before SQL EoS approaches. Read on to ensure your organization is fully prepared to upgrade after SQL Server 2008’s end of support.
The Consequences of Inaction
Some organizations resist upgrading from SQL Server 2008 for a variety of reasons. However, resistance is not a sustainable long-term plan. Unfortunately, organizations that have not yet moved away from SQL Server 2008 are already coming into this process very late. If an organization running SQL Server 2008 doesn’t begin their upgrade process soon, they will be susceptible to a range of consequences. Let’s break those down a bit further:

Security Risks – When end of support for SQL Server 2008 arrives, all security updates will come to a complete halt. This could be catastrophic if your organization hosts sensitive data. With more than four billion records stolen by hackers every year, your organization will be at great risk when security updates end.
Compliance Risks – It is likely that your organization uses software or follows regulations that require supported database platforms to function. For example, under PCI DSS, many online payment platforms require vendor support and will not process payments until the compliance issue is resolved. This is also true for regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and SOX, which carry serious penalties. Organizations should also be prepared for a timely audit following SQL Server 2008’s end of support.
Financial Costs – Plenty of expenses can arise if an SQL deployment is not upgraded in time. This can stem from the aforementioned security and compliance risks, where your organization must pay fines or spend labor hours putting out security-related fires. To avoid these consequences, Microsoft will offer extended support, priced at 75 percent of the perpetual license costs. This can be a significant expense – especially since many organizations have hidden, excess SQL Server licenses scattered around their databases.
Reputational Losses – Security and compliance concerns can cause serious blowback from customers and key stakeholders. When a cyberattack occurs, 20 percent of organizations report losing a significant number of customers – and 30 percent report revenue losses directly tied to the attack. Parties ranging from shareholders, investors, customers, and even the general public lose trust in your organization if these consequences come to fruition.

Potential Solutions
Rather than being intimidated by the risks and consequences of not upgrading their SQL solution, organizations should view SQL Server 2008’s end of support as an opportunity to innovate. With a new version of SQL Server, your organization will enjoy better performance and productivity, greater data security, and less burden on interpreting analytics. When seeking to upgrade and seize these opportunities, organizations should consider two primary options: Azure SQL Database, and SQL Server 2017.
Azure SQL Database
Azure SQL Database is very similar to previous versions of SQL, except it is designed specifically for the cloud. One of the primary reasons that organizations choose Azure is due to its great scalability and high availability. However, Azure offers more than that – it’s designed for the future of the cloud, with the ability to store and process data on a petabyte scale.
This cloud-based solution is especially enticing for those upgrading from SQL Server 2008. Through their Azure Hybrid Benefit program, Microsoft offers free extended security updates for up to three years to help users ease into their Azure deployment. Using this benefit program, organizations have to potential to save up to 55 percent on database costs. For organizations seeking to implement cloud-based solutions as part of a digital transformation effort, Azure is likely the ideal choice.
SQL Server 2017
An upgrade to SQL Server 2017 is a very straightforward process that will be familiar to organizations that previously utilized SQL Server 2008. SQL Server 2017 runs on-premises in a similar way as its predecessors, but with significant quality of life upgrades. It introduced a new graph database structure that enables users to add graphs and nodes, and a range of new technical functions that SoftwareONE can discuss with you.
However, many organizations that upgrade to SQL Server 2017 are especially excited about the integration of Python code and its compatibility with systems that run on Linux. The integration of Python enables organizations to customize their deployments and enable machine learning and advanced analytics. SQL Server 2017’s compatibility with Linux is also significant, allowing a greater amount of standardization within organizations with Linux deployments.
Building a Roadmap
Once your organization has decided which type of SQL database is best suited to their needs, they should create an IT roadmap. A road-mapping process allows organizations to predict the demands of their SQL Server environment over time, allowing them to predict changes and challenges. The details of a roadmap will vary depending on which version of SQL Server is chosen – however, a few basic considerations will remain static.

Involve the Right Stakeholders – Ensure that parties such as members of IT leadership, database administration, and upper level management are involved. These parties have in-depth knowledge about goals that could be helped or hindered by upgrading instances of SQL Server.
Consider Long-Term Business Goals – Consider where your organization is now, and which goals key stakeholders are aiming to accomplish. For example, an organization that takes digital transformation efforts seriously may want to consider how Azure SQL Database will impact that initiative.
Identify Sources of Overspending – Be sure that there are no current licensing or compliance issues that will be exacerbated by moving to a newer SQL database solution. As well, identify any future concerns that could result in additional expenses. Otherwise, spending will continue to grow uncontrolled.

When to Use Advisory Services
It’s not easy to overhaul your organization’s database infrastructure, especially on a limited timeframe. Even just the process of road-mapping can be extremely complicated, depending on the complexity of your organization’s software deployments. For this reason, many organizations choose to rely on third party experts to assist in their upgrade process.
Take inventory of your organization’s current knowledge involving an SQL upgrade. Ask your IT team the following questions to get a very general idea of their current SQL Server knowledge:

Do you know how to leverage clustering and virtualization?
Do you know how to create a failover strategy?
What is your current knowledge of Microsoft’s licensing rules?

Do you have the skills to optimize licensing spend while maintaining compliance?
If your organization falls short of one or more of these considerations, you’re not alone. The process of upgrading a Microsoft product like SQL Server is too complex for many organizations. This is why third-party migration services are key to a seamless upgrade process. Organizations that try to handle an SQL Server upgrade on their own without the proper expertise often end up spending too much money to be compliant, or fall out of compliance entirely.

5 Essential Tips for Developing a Sales and Marketing Alignment Plan

If that sounds like a win to you, let’s get down to business on how you can develop a sales and marketing alignment plan in your organization.
1 Ensure you have the right infrastructure in place to support alignment
Before you build out a killer sales and marketing alignment plan, take a step back. Do a review of all of the software and processes that each of your teams is currently using. How many disparate systems are being used? Are there any points where both teams are using the same software to accomplish different goals?
This may not necessarily require an overhaul of the systems you’ve invested in; although, if you are using many disjointed systems and there is a lot of manual labor involved in tracking and managing everything, you may want to see how you can combine or integrate solutions to simplify adoption and tracking.
When it comes to tools of the trade, there are some core essentials. These are the basics you’ll want to have in order to set your teams up for success with aligned sales and marketing goals.
Using a combined Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system will provide a more complete picture of the entire, combined process and allow for quicker and simpler tracking and reporting. It will enable easier handoff by allowing for clear definitions of handoff points and eliminating accidentally duplicating efforts.
Having everything in one place can also help identify any gaps in the strategy or areas that could be improved. This includes the potential for increasing lead quality and velocity and finding opportunities to upsell to current customers.
Collaboration/communication software
Having a communication or collaboration tool in place can help your teams find success through their ability to simply just talk to each other. A messenger app like Slack can be a great way to open up communication between teams. This especially holds true when you have teams that are new to working with each other. In this scenario, calling might feel awkward. And email may be overkill. Being able to quickly send an IM creates a system of fast responses (critical when you have a lead on the line) and facilitates teamwork.
An additional benefit to having a collaboration tool is that you’ll have a record of conversations to refer back on. This can come in handy for those forgetful folks and in he-said-she-said situations.
Beyond the basics, there are some other tools that can be helpful in keeping everyone on the same page.
Getting everyone aligned around goals on paper is great. We’ll touch on how you can define those goals and document them in tip 4. But days get busy. And people can forget what we’re working towards. That’s when dashboards come in handy. Whether it’s a spreadsheet that acts as a scorecard with your key measurables that get emailed daily. Or an online dashboard that feeds a monitor in the office in realtime.
Takeaway: Make sure before you get started, you have the right tools and technology to be successful implementing and maintaining alignment.
2 Define the teams’ responsibilities
No doubt your sales and marketing teams know their respective roles inside and out. But how about when it comes to understanding the inner workings of the other side? Could your sales team articulate the primary function and responsibility to marketing? What does marketing know about sales daily challenges?
It’s critical here to make sure not only the leaders of each function are well aware of the other, but that the rank and file within each organization understand each others world. Even more important, that they respect the role each department plays in driving revenue.
Takeaway: when building an alignment plan, make sure both teams aren’t just aware of each other. Make sure they are aware of the role they play in supporting the goals of the other side and the organization at whole. A rising tide as they say.
3 Define the smarketing internal champions
Once roles and responsibilities are defined across the teams, it’s time to decide how to best align them into one common mission.
Combined or aligned leadership
Who’s in charge? Especially if smarketing is a new initiative, it’s critical to have somebody named as the champion- someone to be held accountable. Aligning two separate teams can be a big process and it requires focus, cooperation, drive, and enthusiasm.

Aligned management: The leadership from both teams will come together, create an aligned strategy, and work together to execute. This is the most common method and the easiest to rally behind.
Combined management: Leadership from each team will be combined into one team with shared goals. This will at the least require a restructuring and is by no means, however, necessary to achieve success.

However your team decides to manage the process, it’s necessary to gain complete buy-in from all management so they will be able to properly encourage and motivate the employees day-to-day in the trenches.
Takeaway: No one likes too many cooks in the kitchen. Make sure you define how your alignment plan will be managed.
4 Align your smarketing to the sales funnel
The buyer’s journey should be the common thread that helps bind your sales and marketing teams together. Whether they call it a sales funnel or the buyer’s journey, it’s similar in that the customer is moving from the awareness stage to consideration, and ultimately to the decision-making stage where they are making a purchase (hopefully from you).
Sales and marketing alignment requires everyone to be working from the common understanding of who the ideal customer is and what that journey looks like in your specific buying process. Are you driving customers to a demo? Or a free trial?
Define MQL & SQL
The MQL definition is the backbone of sales and marketing alignment and aside from defining who is leading the initiative, this is the next most important step. For a full breakdown on this topic, you can reference Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) vs. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). But in a nutshell, here’s how LeadFuze defines MQL & SQL:

Marketing Qualified Lead: A lead judged more likely to become a customer compared to other leads based on lead intelligence, often informed by closed-loop analytics.

Sales Qualified Lead: A prospective customer that has been researched and vetted — first by an organization’s marketing department and then by its sales team – and is deemed ready for the next stage in the sales process.

MQL is not only a definition that will be outlined in your plan, but it’s also a critical metric to track. Marketing can take a look at quarter over quarter, what is the percentage of MQLs? And from there, what is the conversion rate from MQL to SQL? And even one step further, how many of those SQLs made it to customers? Businesses are of course coin-operated and that last metric is where you can really start to measure the cha-ching.

So with all of that, define MQL and SQL, thoughtfully and purposefully. The reality is, a lot of times sales has one definition, and marketing has another and that’s why when the two get together – they end up pointing fingers if they don’t have a unified definition.
Handoff process
Once MQL and SQL are defined, you need to spell out the handoff between the two teams. Is it an email? A CRM notification? What’s the follow up like? Does sales try once or two times?
One of the biggest points of contention between misaligned marketing and sales teams is the handoff. If not carefully defined, the blame game and finger pointing can ensue when numbers are down. Marketing has been handing over unqualified leads that aren’t ready yet, sales has been taking hot leads and not reaching out quickly enough.
It’s vital that the handoff points and next step responsibilities from each of those points be clearly defined and understood by everyone involved in the smarketing process.
Another important part of this process will be pinpointing when and how leads can be handed back (including feedback) from sales to marketing when they are found to need more nurturing.
Here are a few questions to consider:

How will sales be notified when a lead reaches MQL status?
When will sales follow up?
How will sales communicate lead quality to marketing?

Takeaway: Agree on your goals, how those goals are defined and the responsibilities of both parties at various stages of the goal lifecycle.
5 Reduce, reuse, & repurpose all marketing & sales materials
Chances are, if you haven’t officially declared smarketing a thing at your company, your teams might be working off two different understandings of buyer personas and the buyer’s journey. For example, was sales focusing on big-ticket enterprise while marketing was driving small business owners to free trials?
The language, metrics, and materials they’ve used to understand and communicate with prospects and customers may have been varied up to this point and both teams need to be speaking the same language.
Content Audit
Now is the time to do a little organizing and potentially clean-house. Our go-to method is creating a content audit workbook. The content audit begins by marketing taking inventory of all existing content. Think blogs, ebooks, guides, etc. Include the document tile and hyperlink to its location at a minimum. If you want to be super helpful and win the A++ award, add in which persona the asset is targeted towards and a quick summary of the topic. This should be a living, breathing document going forward that sales has access to.
In fact, if you have been doing your content right, sales should feel like they hit the jackpot with a plethora of content to aid them in their sales process.

No jackpot alarms going off in your office? Wait, sales doesn’t use everything that the marketing team worked so hard to create? All too often, salespeople aren’t aware of or can’t find marketing materials. These materials support their customers in the moment which leads to them creating their own assets.
If you find this to be true with your teams, use it as a learning experience.
Content wish list
Now that the lines of communication between sales and marketing are open, gone are the days when sales is off creating random. Sales can now pass content ideas to marketing. Is there a question that always comes up with prospects near the end of the buyer’s journey? Write a blog post about it or work it into nurture sequences.
If you go with the content audit workbook we mentioned, sales can add their content wish list items right in the doc.
This is also where you should ensure that everyone is speaking the same language. The message, tone, style, and focus should match up across teams and individuals.
Takeaway: Bring sales and marketing together on marketing production discussions. No, this isn’t a blank check for sales to lob requests over to marketing. But marketing also doesn’t get to just create content in a vacuum. Working together on what works at various stages of the funnel will grease the wheels along the whole journey
Everything is better when sales and marketing are vibing as a team and working towards common goals. But remember, it’s a process and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Any steps you take towards opening the lines of communication and breaking down the age-old sales and marketing battle is a step in the right direction.

3 Things About Digital Marketing Your Boss Wants To Know

Marketing is a profession that is mired in confusion, buzzwords, and complexity. It can be hard to know where to start your day as a marketer, what goals to set and ultimately what your purpose in life is (especially if you work for a brand). I’ve always found that in situations like that, it is best to find out what is most important to the person that signs your paycheck. With that said, here are three things your boss want you to know about digital marketing:
Inbound is great, but I want customers – If you are all about tracking metrics such as “website visits”, “social likes and shares,” or “MQL’s, SQL’s, Opps, etc…” that’s all well and good, but I will tell you a secret: there are only two metrics your boss really cares about. How many new customers did your digital marketing programs help create and how much REVENUE did those customers bring in?
Cost per lead>Number of Leads Generated – Phenomenal! You got 500 leads from that trade show when a bunch of untargeted prospects through their business card in a fishbowl to win an iPad. That effort cost you $20 per lead and you got one customer out of it. I hope you are sensing the sarcasm. Better would be: you got 250 leads from a webinar demoing your product. That effort cost you $10 a lead and you got 8 customers out of it.
What’s working and What’s Not? – As a marketer, you’re doing SEO, blog, tradeshows, webinars, email campaigns and you have hired a marketing agency to take care of your SEM and PPC, you’ve got everything covered. Your boss does not care how many digital marketing (or offline marketing) programs you are trying your hand at, all he or she cares about is which ones you are executing on. If you aren’t able to tell what’s working and what’s not so you can fine tune or trim the fat – your boss does not give a rip.
Honestly, there are probably more and of course what matters to your boss also depends on who you directly report to. However, I imagine the above are some very solid starting points for you to consider when you start to build your digital marketing plan and goals. The takeaway here is that the goal as a marketer ultimately is to help influence the bottom line for your business by generating new customers through effective digital marketing programs and channels. What are some things your boss cares about as it relates to digital marketing?