B2b content can be dry to read if not accompanied by a graphic or two. The issue arises when images are chosen at random and not to support the purpose of the content. This is why b2b content like blog posts, websites, landing pages, whitepapers, etc.  often choose charts and graphs. However, you aren’t restricted to these if you can interpret your information creatively.

In fact, I am so tired of reading marketing reports that contain bar chart after bar chart that simply illustrate the percentages stated in the paragraphs! It’s dull and uninspiring. Not all graphics are made equal…and here’s why.

Take this example of two different data visualizations (from Tableau.com). One is a bar chart and the other is a more creative way of showcasing the data so that the viewer gets an immediate sense of what the data is expressing.

A common use for this type of visualization is an infographic but I’d encourage you to adopt this level of interest more often in reports, case studies, and even a blog post or two.  It’s an amazing alternative to a common chart or graph. And can add additinal insight e.g. the Criticaly Endagered list.

When to use a graph or chart in your b2b content?

If you are choosing to insert a chart or graph make sure you follow these basic rules to make the addition as complimentary as possible.

There are four types of data to present: Comparison, composition, distribution, relationship. And there are many types of charts and graphs to choose from for each one. To help you choose, make sure you have a clear understanding of what the purpose of the graph is and it will give you a better selection of appropriate types to choose from. For example:

  • Comparing values? Try a bar, pie, column
  • Parts of a whole? Choose from pie, stacked bar, stacked column,
  • Distribution? Scatter plat is a good bet
  • Analyzing trends? Line or Column are a popular bet
  • Relationship? A bubble or scatter plot are good options

Think about how many variables you want or need to show. Are you displaying in groups or over time?

TIP: The general rule of thumb is that if you can clearly see the data and make the conclusion from a table then it makes sense to leave it that way (in a table). Consider using a graph if you’re looking to convey a message or relationship that isn’t clear within the table itself.

Need help choosing a graph?

Need some guidance on what type to choose? Here is a useful tool to make this a bit easier http://labs.juiceanalytics.com/chartchooser/index.html or this one here from Extreme Presentation offers an excellent source of support for choosing and using charts and graphs https://extremepresentation.com/tools/

Always use your brand colours and fonts if you can. Make sure your labels are clear and it’s always a good idea to add a bit of context to the graph itself just in case the image is used elsewhere e.g. social media.

Here’s a comparison just changing colours within a PowerPoint bar chart (the second are the WindWater Marketing colours) ie. branding.

Notice how I chose simple, flat bars. I often find that 3-D and shadows distract from the data and don’t add anything to the chart itself. Keep this in mind. If you are using a colour gradient, make sure it’s for a reason (representative of something) and not just a ‘style’ choice.

Using B2B images

If you need a visualization for more conceptual (as opposed to data) driven purpose, then images work well here.  Effective images not only break up content and make content more enjoyable to look at, it also makes it relatable and increases understanding around more complex points. It’s important to look at who your content is including and representing. I see many business owners subconsciously putting themselves in their images not realizing that it can be inadvertently making others feel not included. To deliver a balance of individuals make sure you have a good spread of representation in your images.

If you find it too difficult to source images that speak specifically to your content, this seems like a great time to hire a photographer for some custom photography. Keep notes around the concepts you need to capture and start noting ideas that could reflect this concept. This last step is where the creativity enters and I understand that a lot of typically non-creative folks find this step difficult.

The trick is to boil the concept down to the bare minimum then apply literal scenes that represent it. For example, your original concept may be ‘Strategically Analyze Client Data’ but then you need to whittle it down to Analyzing Data. From here you can apply it to physical representations like multiple computer screens with data reporting, team discussion around table of reports, presenting data to team with whiteboard. When the images are paired in context with the copy it relays a sense of the original concept.

I’ve worked with Three Crowns for great results. I brought in a shot list and worked with Dana to grab the shots that I had in my head. Plus, it was fun!

Images should be used to help communicate the main point or a single point within your text e.g. trend, story. Graphics should be used in a way that can instantly help the reader understand a complex point.

TIP: Charts and graphs CAN be used to illustrate ideas and concepts. Think about how you use a whiteboard in a brainstorm session to visualize discussed concepts. This is less common but don’t let it stop you!

Data visualization software for b2b content

Tableau and other data visualization software is a wonderful tool to help you visualize your data in a way that adds to the understanding. Using data visualization is a key piece of your b2b marketing. You may not have the time or budget to enlist your graphic designer for every graph but if you’re creating an opt-in, you’ll want to make it visually stimulating and ‘shareable’.

A lot of the software listed below has a wide range of use from content and reports, which is my focus here, to custom dashboards, team analysis, and presentations.

Once these b2b content graphics or images are made you can use them in your social media content, downloadable content, reports, emails – you name it. Build them into your marketing and squeeze every last drop from the effort used to make them.

Think outside the bar chart! I cannot convey my disappointment at seeing a long list of bar charts in a whitepaper or report. To me (and likely others) it just shows you don’t care about the reader interest. And for those “but Carolyn, it’s all about the data” people, it’s just narrow-minded to put the work load of deciphering your data on the user or reader. The point of you publishing b2b content graphics is to spoon feed your ideas to your prospects – not confuse them to the point of abandonment. If putting numbers into chart form doesn’t aid your cause then keep it in a table.

Looking to up your graphics game? Check out these players! There are more than listed below and a simple Google search will help you out but the list below will get you off to a great start.

https://eazybi.com/ Amazing software to use within teams to help analyze and show data correlations. It integrates and imports data from various platforms.

https://www.tableau.com A visual analytics platform. Want to start paying attention more to your data to drive your business? This is worth looking into.

https://chartio.com/ Create custom charts and dashboards for teams.

https://infogram.com/ A valuable tool for those looking to dip their toe into infographics or use better graphics in reports, slides or social media posts.

https://extremepresentation.com/tools/ a consolidation of tools

https://prezi.com/ a presentation tool that now has a Design feature to make interactive charts part of your presentation.

https://looker.com/ A cloud-based analytics platform.