These indicators answer a few critical questions: How are we doing on these four KPIs? How does that compare to last year? These questions could have been answered with line charts showing the growth of these metrics over time, but that doesn’t do anything to make it easier to answer those two questions. All a more elaborate graph would add is clutter that stakeholders would need to sort through to answer their questions.
Additionally, the metrics are chosen to support a few key insights. Revenue provides a peek at the overall health of the business, and the other three KPIs illustrate how well the theoretical program has done at bringing in customers and encouraging them to spend at the company.
…except when more is moreOther times, analysts choose to add more—grouping related insights in other ways to reinforce them. For example, take this chart of email deliveries, a key metric for CRM systems:
The updated title helps point the user toward what they should get out of the graph. Adding labels to the values makes comparison quick and easy. Combining the delivery count with the related rates makes answering the question posed by the title straightforward.
The trick to a chart like this is in the details. Switching the color of the bars from a bold blue to more subdued grey keeps it from drawing too much attention away from the lines. Since this is a dual-axis chart, attention must be paid to scale. And because this chart compares millions of email deliveries to three percentages, it’s easy to give each an appropriate scale that accurately represents the data and the relationship between the two groups.
Visualization as narrative
Data visualization is one of the best tools for translating abstract data into something stakeholders can act on, much as a story conveys its themes with concrete plot and action. A mindful analyst can use compelling visuals to tell a story that is clear and concise in a way that all their audiences can understand. For successful customer marketing programs, that kind of insight is crucial to stakeholder decision making.