Why marketers need to get more visual in a world of data overload

Why marketers need to get more visual in a world of data overload
Liz Morrell is a freelance business journalist and content creator with more than 20 years writing experience, including 15 in retail and associated sectors. She is a regular contributor to MarketingTech but also covers a number of other industries in her freelance capacity. Contact her via LinkedIn or at [email protected]


In a world of data overload, the stress of trying to wade through all the information we are inundated on an everyday basis as consumers can be overwhelming. And it’s a big problem. New research by Esri UK suggests that more than a third of Brits feel stressed daily thanks to the amount of data that they receive.

And much of it is thanks to irrelevant marketing communications and spam email – a cause of stress by data overload for nearly half of all Brits (47%). The study, which surveyed 1,000 adults across the UK, suggested that 61% of consumers said that the need to read and keep track of such a wide reach of information in their lives is a major concern for them, with a further third (34%) saying that the sheer volume means that they struggle to absorb the content of what they do manage to read.

The consequences are worrying for marketers since nearly half (44%) said their solution was to deliberately ignore communication they received – with 14% even going to the extent of hiding devices to avoid checking them.

So what’s the solution? It’s unlikely marketers are going to cut down on the amount of communication they send as they strive to win consumer attention but the research suggests that marketers who look to embrace visual communication better could achieve greater recall rates than those that don’t.

Esri’s survey showed that 60% of those surveyed said that they found maps or graphics easier to understand and digest than lots of text. The survey is further supported by research from Mindlab that suggests that individuals use around 20% less brain power absorbing visual information than text – with recall therefore higher.

Lorna Nightingale, head of marketing at Esri UK, said that marketers must relook at how they present information if that want to improve cut-through and recall of their messages. “As consumers, we can all relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed by our constantly-connected culture. Marketers have benefitted from communication channels which are just a click of a button away instantly updating the news feeds the news feeds of their target audience,” she said.

However Nightingale pointed out that this is having a detrimental effect on consumers forced to process ever-increasing amounts of information. “Marketers and businesses need to understand the pressure this is putting on individuals and seek new ways to present information, marketing communications and news. Visualising data is proven to be easier to digest, understand and recall. The phrase ‘a picture can tell a thousand words’ has never more true!” she said.

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