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Data-Flow Diagram: Data Visualization to Analyze Your Digital Marketing

If you have worked with large volumes of data before, you already know the importance of data visualization. An example of a visualization tool is the Sankey diagram, which shows the flow of data values.

Data analysts use it to show the relationship between data values. The benefit of data visualization is that it helps analyze raw data by representing it in a visual format for decision-making.

The Sankey diagram is also referred to as the flow diagram. Its main features are nodes and links. The nodes represent the entities while links connect the nodes.

The purpose of this guide is to take you through everything you need to know about the Sankey diagram. If you need help in visualizing complex data, this guide is all you need.

Without further ado, let’s get down into it.

Why Should You Consider Using the Flow Diagrams

Data visualization plays an essential role in decision-making. The Sankey diagram is ideal when you have a many-to-many mapping between nodes.

So, why should you consider using the flow diagrams?

  1. It makes it easier to communicate data through visual representation. You can draw conclusions and make better decisions from the diagram.
  2. The flow diagrams are essential when representing complex data. Your target audience will only need to look at the visual design to understand the information. For instance, you can control a problem before it becomes a challenge.
  3. It acts as a good reference point. You can use the Sankey diagram as your reference point. Besides, in case of a similar challenge, you’re sure that you can use the Sankey diagram with ease.

Tools To Visualize Sankey Diagrams

The internet has large volumes of data. In January 2021, the global number of active internet users was 59.5%, which is 4.66 billion.

As businesses, organizations, and individuals continue to use data, this creates a need for visualization. Lucky for you, there are various tools to use to represent data in a visual format.

You can use tools like Microsoft Excel, Tableau, Power BI, and Google Sheets. Want to know how these tools work? Let’s have a deeper look!

1.   Excel

The first tool we will look at is Excel -the most popular tool for data visualization.

Step 1: Open Excel on your computer

Step 2: Create a new worksheet and fill in your data, which you will use when creating the Sankey diagram

Step 3: Click on insert, then select my apps.

Step 4: From here, install the Power User or ChartExpo for Excel. You will need either of the apps when creating the Sankey diagram.

Step 5: if you’re using Power User, click on it and select create Sankey diagram option. With ChartExpo for Excel, clicking on it displays the various chart options. Click to select the Sankey diagram.

Step 6: Select your raw data from the worksheet. Click OK to create the Sankey diagram.

That is how easy it is to create Sankey charts on Excel. You can edit the chart or customize it using the different features. The benefit of using Microsoft Excel is that it is easy and does not require coding skills.

2.   Creating Sankey Diagram using Tableau

When you have more complex data and want to use a visualization tool other than Excel, Tableau is a suitable solution.

At the organization level, dealing with large volumes of data requires a visualization tool. Tableau makes it easy to visualize data flow in a Sankey diagram. Unlike Excel,

Tableau is an online data visualization tool.

To use it, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Open Tableau software from your computer browser

Step 2: While on the dashboard, click on connect data, then select Excel. Well, that is if your data is on the Excel sheet. Click open.

Step 3: However, you can also select open with legacy connection from the drop-down arrow.

Step 4: Drag & drop the data you want to create the Sankey data into the ‘drag sheets here’ section.

Step 5: Next, customize the data and features as you want them to appear on the Sankey diagram. These include the data values, name, graph type, color, size, and path.

A drawback to using Tableau is that you should have design skills. You will need to create custom SQL when creating a visual format for your data.

Tableau is an excellent visualization tool for professional data analysts. If you do not have data representation skills, it can be challenging to use the software.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Sankey Diagrams to Visualize Data Flow


  1. They are easy to visualize, especially when you’re not dealing with complex data.
  2. It is easier to draw conclusions based on the insights from the Sankey diagram.
  3. Sankey diagrams help you make future predictions by comparing the patterns of the datasets.
  4. Sankey diagrams offer insights that drive decision-making.
  5. Sankey diagrams are essential when you want to identify data inconsistency.


  1. It may be difficult for a regular person to understand the data in a Sankey diagram. Not everyone can interpret the data with ease.
  2. A mistake in data representation can lead to poor decision-making.
  3. Sankey diagrams can be complex to follow the links and patterns. Hence, it can take longer to draw insights.
  4. You need design skills to use online visualization tools like Tableau.
  5. Sankey diagrams with similar widths are hard to understand.

Final Verdict

The Sankey diagrams are used when visualizing the flow of data in energy and manufacturing businesses. The goal is to represent complex data in a visual format and understand the relationships in the datasets.

And there you have it! You can now use visualization tools to present data in a visual format.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Sankey Diagram?

It is a visualization tool that shows the flow of data. It has links and nodes, which help with data visualization.

Which tools can you use to visualize a Sankey diagram?

The best tools to use for visualizing a data flow are Excel, Tableau, and Power BI.