Convincing Stakeholders: 3 Ways to Add Persuasive Power to Your Data Visualizations
Sometimes the biggest ideas are best expressed in very few words. Others still can be summed up in a single image. When it comes to communicating information to the executive team, whether you’re reporting results or getting buy-in for a brand-new project, the clearest and most succinct way is always the best. And data visualizations offer just that.
Visualizations enable data to be delivered in a targeted and often simplified way that presents the high-level takeaways without getting bogged down in the nitty-gritty – perfect for reporting to leaders in your organization.
Internal stakeholders are keen to have visibility on decisions and be armed with the most pertinent and accurate information for making decisions of their own, but are often unfamiliar with the details of the data itself. They really just want to see the bottom line.
What are the trends? What story is the data telling? And how can we best react to that? Here are some key considerations for presenting data visualizations to your stakeholders.
1. Tailor your message to your audience
When delivering any message, it’s essential that you know your audience inside out. Who are they? What do they care about? How do they best like to receive information?
What’s important to a senior executive in one department will be an extraneous detail to another. Your finance manager will be laser-focused on how much your project will cost the business, but a sales director will be more invested in how it will utilize their department and how it will generate revenue.
Take the time to refine your message for each group and ensure that your emphasis aligns with their priorities and goals. Different types of data visualization will resonate better with different people. Sometimes a single line chart can be enough to communicate a trend, but for others, a detailed, responsive diagram might be the best to provide the depth of information required.
Ultimately, data visualization is about simplifying the complex. Exactly how simple it needs to be depends on your audience.
“The importance of data visualization in digital analytics can’t be understated. Visualization helps us to identify, prioritize and communicate actionable insights. By making the complex and technical seem simple and accessible, good data visualization empowers decision makers around the business.” – Molly Evans, Digital Analytics and Optimization Manager at Plusnet
2. Complement visualizations with a compelling story
Great stories move us. They light up a topic and inspire change. In much the same way, the narrative that accompanies your data visualization must be clear and compelling.
For your best chance at securing support from stakeholders, your story needs to be attention-grabbing, timely and backed by facts.
Data visualization on its own, while packed with useful information, won’t be helpful if it isn’t easy to decipher. Similarly, a powerful narrative based only on historical knowledge or intuition isn’t going to hold water with the executive team. It’s only when the two are combined that great things happen.
However, this isn’t to say that self-directed explorations of data visualizations don’t have merit. When a visualization is interactive and easy to navigate, it can be valuable to let stakeholders explore data at their own pace. One example of this sort of data is in Decibel’s industry-leading journey-mapping and management tool “Journeys”.
Journeys, put simply, is a visualization of all the pathways that your customers take through your website and app and the quality of the experience associated with each – measured using Decibel’s Digital experience Score (DXS®).
Journeys can help your executive team understand:
- How funnels and journeys differ: Identify how your visitors are actually moving through your funnels
- Why people visit/see a page they shouldn’t: Use the page filter to focus on Journeys that include a specific page such as “call us” (may indicate a problem) or “payment”.
- Funnel step progression: Toggle between two adjacent steps in the funnel filter to see how visitor behavior changes.
- Who is making repeat visits: View Journeys and look for a path with many instances of the same page showing in one route.
- Journeys pain points (Using DXS Heatmap and Progressive DXS): Explore the best experience paths (green) and worst experience paths (red). (As seen in the above diagram)
- Hybrid behaviors by using page roles: Use a role and group together similar pages (such as PDP / PLP) and see how they perform.
Decibel’s proprietary Digital Experience Score (DXS®) is the world’s first all-encompassing metric for objectively measuring customer experience on websites, web applications and native apps. Powered by machine-learning, Decibel’s proprietary algorithms process hundreds of smart new digital interaction metrics to automatically score customer experiences.
3. Make your story actionable
You’ve come to the end of your presentation. You spent hours perfecting your slides, adopted your very best power stance and spoke with confidence. So, now what? Does your audience leave, move into the rest of their day, and promptly forget all of your important points? If you aren’t prepared, that’s exactly what may happen.
The goal of sharing your data visualization should be to equip your audience with everything they need to make a decision and take action. Make your recommendations clear, and make sure you tie those recommendations to overarching business goals. This is particularly important in the case of achieving stakeholder buy-in.
After the meeting, don’t leave it too long to follow up to ensure team leads, managers, and executives plan to act. And it will almost certainly be useful to send along your data visualizations with a clear-cut summary as a reminder of the crucial data points for future reference.
Become more persuasive with the right journey management tool
Before diving into your next stakeholder meeting, are your data visualizations effective even without the added strategic persuasion?