You Ask, I Answer: Visualizing Qualitative Data in Dashboards?

At my MPB2B talk this week, one of the attendees (I didn’t get their name) asked, “What are your suggestions for visualizing qualitative data in dashboards?”

First, you can render some of it as-is; in text, for example, one of the most popular and least helpful visualizations is the word cloud. Second, all qualitative data has metadata, and much of that is quantitative, so determine which metadata points make the most sense, such as number of records (counts), language data for text, descriptive data for images, etc. If you need to display qualitative metadata, make sure it’s relevant to the purpose of the dashboard.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

back from the road in today’s episode at my marketingprofs VW forum talk this week one of the attendees who I apologize didn’t catch their name, asked, what are your suggestions for visualizing qualitative data in dashboards non numerical data.

And there’s two answers to this one.

You can render some qualitative data as is.

In text for example, one of the most popular and personally I think the least helpful visualizations for text is the word cloud.

everyone’s familiar with it, people love it and make like love making little shapes like tea pot and stuff like that, but not super helpful, but it is that is one example of ways that you can use qualitative data.

More important is that almost all qualitative data can can be rendered quantitatively the all qualitative data has metadata or data about the data.

And again, that’s almost all quantitative.

So determining which data metadata points makes sense.

And then rendering those.

Let’s say, for example, you download an extract 100 tweets, right? a tweet is a string of unstructured text data.

It is qualitative in nature.

So what can you extract from that? Well, you can extract for example, the word counts from each the number of records, it’s 100 of them, obviously, for example, is there a link shared and yes or no? How many tweets have links in them? Is there a picture or other form of media attached? Yes or no? How many of that is there? If you have access to natural language processing tools, you can look at something like how? What’s the tone or the sentiment or the emotion in the text? What are the parts of speech in text how many nouns how many verbs have many adjectives If there are rich forms of media like audio or video images, again, using machine learning technology, you can make some determination like this is a picture of people was a video of, you know, coffee cups or something like that.

But you also have descriptors about those media types, how large is it? How long is it? How, what’s the screen size? With a lot of especially marketing data, you will get usage data is especially true of things like YouTube, YouTube will tell you how, what percentage of the video hasn’t been watched.

So from any given individual piece of qualitative data, you can extract all this metadata and then those if you think about having a spreadsheet, the tweets are in the first column, and then you have additional columns for each of these numbers.

Those are things that you can visualize as is, or you can start to do computation on those.

So what is the average number of verbs used in tweets? What does the AI average length of this this collection of tweets.

Were using tweets as the example of any qualitative data customer service calls, letters to the editor, whatever it is, anything is not numbers.

So you can do the averages you can and then you can take those numbers and do even more computation standard and exploratory data analysis is breaking the core tiles.

What’s the mean? What’s the median? What’s the standard deviation? What’s the some? What if you want to get super fancy, you can start doing things like logarithms on them to change scales, you can scale the data can normalize all your columns on zero to 100.

So there’s a there’s different ways to transform all of these metadata aspects of your qualitative data.

And then you visualize that.

Here’s the problem.

If you just do all that visualization, you’re gonna end up with like 75 or 100 different columns.

One One of the things that you have to look at is what makes sense to visualize what are the things that are actually relevant.

And this goes back to another section of the talk talking about KPI mapping.

You have all these numbers, which ones correspond to actual things of value.

Right? So there’s a technique.

Well, there’s many, many techniques.

But if you think about just doing what’s called multiple regression, where if you have this spreadsheet of 100 numbers now, and you have some kind of outcome that you want, like number of clicks on the link, for example, if if we’re talking to this example, pile of tweets, you can use statistical software or machine learning software to say what combination of all these columns 123 510 what combination of these columns in which columns have the highest mathematical relationship to the outcome that we actually care about? This is essentially supervised learning.

And if it turns out it’s, you know, tweets that use more verbs or tweets that are longer, or tweets that have an image attached.

Doing that kind of analysis will give you that correlation.

These that column seem to have the highest mathematic relationship in combination.

So to the outcome that you care about, like clicks, then you run a testing plan to see if it is in fact, using more verbs gets you more clicks, you have that insight from a testing plan, testing a hypothesis.

And after that, that’s what goes on the dashboard.

You would say, okay, we know clicks is important.

Put that on dashboard.

And we know the number of verbs use has the strongest likelihood of impact and that’s we’ll put that on the dashboard to anytime what you doing visualization of a KPI.

It’s generally good.

Do the KPI and then do the one or two or three variables that have the highest mathematical relationship to that KPI somewhere else near That on the dashboard so that people can see, that’s what happened.

This is why they can see they can see the big number and then they can see all the little numbers that contributed to it, but only the ones that have that mathematical relationship.

So that’s, that’s the catch with this approach.

If you wanted to go all out, you could have a very, very cluttered dashboard very quickly.

And that completely defeats the point of the dashboard.

If you would like the entire session, the entire marketingprofs session, which was on building better dashboards, I’m going to put a link in the comments in the show notes below.

Go and click on that link.

And you can watch the video you get the transcript, listen to the audio and get some links to some dashboard templates.

So the link is below.

But it was a really good question again to the person who was in the session.

Thank you for asking it.

Hopefully this provides even more context.

As always, please leave your questions below.

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I’ll talk to you soon.

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