Infographics have become the favorite tool among marketers. It isn’t any wonder as they can be educational, entertaining and great for engaging with the audience. But creating a good infographic isn’t always easy.

The Ultimate Guide to Infographic Marketing

© Shutterstock | Sergey Korkin

This guide will look at what infographics are all about and why they are such good marketing tools. We’ll then provide you tips on the do’s and don’ts of infographics, before equipping you with a simple 6-step guide to creating effective infographics.

WHAT ARE INFOGRAPHICS AND WHY DO THEY MATTER?

What is an infograph? The Oxford dictionary definition states it is “a visual representation of information or data, e.g. as a chart or diagram”. Furthermore, the dictionary claims, “a good infographic is worth a thousand words”.

Indeed, an infograph is a representation of information in a graphic format aimed to help make this information easily accessible and understandable. It can convey a story within a glance and provide information to its reader much quicker than a written document.

Infographics have a number of benefits on their side when it comes to highlighting information.

  • Quickly communicating a message
  • Simplifying and visualizing a large amount of information
  • Noticing patterns and relationships in data
  • Monitoring changes in specific variables during a specific timeframe

Furthermore, infographics are often used in the business world for high-level views of data.

Another great benefit for infographics is that they come in a variety of designs. Different infograph designs include: bar graphs, pie charts, histograms, line charts and mind maps, for example.

Below is a short and informative video about infographics:

Why are infographics good for marketing?

As the above already showed, infographics have plenty of benefits and they can be powerful tools in sharing information. In fact, infographics predate the use of writing as a communication tool. The early cave drawings were among the first infographics in human existence.

The main reason for their popularity is the simplification of information. People prefer to view a summarized and visual collection of data, as this can save time and energy. With an infograph, the person is able to instantly see the main point.

In fact, studies have shown repeatedly how 90% of the information we remember comes from a visual impact. A good infograph will stick in your mind and create an impact – perfect for advertising.

In addition, infographics are efficient tools for catching someone’s attention. In the business world, using an infographic can increase customer engagement. Customers are more likely to stop and view an infograph than spend minutes reading a long leaflet with no images.

Finally, infographics are an efficient way to disseminate information. This makes them a powerful tool for marketing. People tend to be more focused on reading information from infographics and in the age of the social media, they tend to pass on the interactive and engaging things they see. Since infographics are visually pleasing, but also contain new information, people find them easily sharable.

Great and not so great examples of infographics.

THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF INFOGRAPHICS

Whilst infographics tend to be extremely useful in disseminating information, creating an effective infograph isn’t as easy as it sounds. Some practices are better than others when it comes to infographics.

Below we list the most common good and bad practices of infographics. By understanding these points, you can make sure you emphasize the useful aspects and avoid the lousy things.

The do’s of infographics

The first thing you should always do with an infograph is to tell a story. You don’t want to just pour data on a chart and slam it online. The infograph should always include a beginning, middle and an end.

Learn from Pixar how to tell a story.

The information you are trying to disseminate should always say something interesting. Use the information carefully to tell a story to the viewer.

Consider asking questions such as:

  • How can I introduce the topic to the viewer? (The beginning)
  • What is the main message I’m trying to project? (The middle)
  • What do I want the viewer to take away from the information? (The end)

You probably have plenty of cool data at your use and a mind full of ideas. But make sure you keep your message simple. Infographics are at their best when they aren’t filled with too much information. Your story, and the main point, should be concise and simple enough to understand.

If your infographic looks messy, long, or it contains too much small text, the viewer is unlikely going to maintain interest. Remember the power of infographics lies in their ability to simplify a message. The famous mantra of “less is more” definitely applies to infographics.

Whilst visual information is more appealing to people, you also need to remember that your infograph is likely going to compete with many other visual cues. In fact, between 2010 and 2012 the search volume for infographics increased by over 800%.

The popularity of infographics means you need to think outside of the box.

Your message should be interesting and the way you present it must be quirky, surprising and fun. Do look for different ways of visualizing the data and consider unique uses of color and font.

Furthermore, the typical infograph outline tends to be one column, highlighting information in vertical format. But you could opt for a multi-column approach, break the sizes of sections or even change backgrounds for each part of the infograph.

In addition, an effective infograph takes advantage of visual metaphors. Instead of simply writing down “3 out 4 recruiters check candidate’s social media profiles”, you could use small human figures and highlight three of the figures with a specific color, for instance.

You should use common associations as well. For example, if you are talking about holidays, you could incorporate planes, the sun and beach into your infograph. In short, if you can say it with an image, then do so.

Finally, an infograph must always reveal its sources. You didn’t plug the data from thin air – if you did, you should check the don’ts of infographics below – and you need to let the viewer know the source.

Infographics can often be used for commercial and research purposes and by including the source, you make life easier for the person who’s using your data. Not to mention, you show accountability and transparency. The sources don’t need to take a centre stage; just include them at the bottom in smaller print and include URLs if possible.

This is how experts create an infographic.

The don’ts of infographics

Perhaps the most important thing to avoid with infographics is not to create them just for the sake of it. Yes, infographics are a powerful tool for businesses and they can be a great way to catch people’s attention. But if you don’t have anything to say, you shouldn’t just force a message on your infograph. Always have a message and a story to tell before creating an infograph.

In addition, while you can certainly use infographics for marketing purposes, you shouldn’t ever use them just for this purpose. Don’t push your brand, product or service through an infograph, as it won’t give you the kind of engagement you are looking for.

Don’t get over excited with data, even if you have plenty of it available. You shouldn’t include every piece of information on the specific topic – only the data that supports your message and is a central part of it.

For instance, you could gather plenty of information regarding the use of social media, but not all of this information is necessary for telling a story. You can’t expect to reveal everything, but you should narrow your focus. Perhaps you just want to highlight the amount of time children spend on Facebook, instead of including all the age groups.

As well as avoiding stuffing your infograph with data, you also shouldn’t include too many cool features to your design. It’s easy to get overexcited about the different opportunities – You could use so many different colors, images, metaphors and fonts. But adding design tricks just for the sake of it can lead to a messy and confusing design.

Infographics come with a headline and the key to a good headline is not revealing the main argument. Let’s say your main message is that “Ketchup is the favorite condiment”. This is straightforward and people might look at it and move on. It doesn’t have the hook to ensure people read on or pass on the message. Your headline should give a sneak peak to the story, but not reveal the main argument. For example, “World’s favorite condiment revealed” or “What do people put on their plate?” could have a more hooking effect.

Finally, although perhaps most importantly, you shouldn’t lie in your infograph. You shouldn’t plug data out of thin air, you shouldn’t distort existing data to suit your message and you shouldn’t omit anything that might be crucial for getting the real picture. If you do so, you are only hurting your brand.

KEY STEPS OF CREATING AN INFOGRAPHIC

If you want to avoid the classic mistakes and ensure your infographics are informative, engaging and effective, the following steps will guide you through the process.

Step #1: Select your topic

First, it’s crucial to pick the topic for your infographic. This will ensure you define your message clearly and outline the objectives for your project.

You should start by asking what is your area of expertise. What topic would relate to your business or the product? In terms of marketing, it’s important to relate the infograph to your business. Otherwise, consumers might find it a little confusing. It’s especially important to ensure the topic is appropriate in terms of your brand image.

If you have data already gathered, you can look at it and wonder what message you would like to communicate to your audience. Perhaps you’ve done market research and found that people who use your product are also fans of ice cream. Why is that? Could you present it in a fun way?

Consider carefully whether an infographic is the best way to communicate your message. Could you perhaps make a video or write a blog post instead? As mentioned above, don’t create an infograph just for the sake of it.

As well as using your existing data, you should also look at the trends within your industry. What’s currently the hot topic? You could check out Google Trends for inspiration or keep your eyes on social media chatter.

Finally, you can also find topic ideas from your old content. Perhaps you’ve written a blog post in the past that continues to be popular. Is there a way to turn it into an infograph?

Step #2: Identify the target audience

You should also identify the target audience for your message. Who are you trying to reach? Consider narrowing down the target market by looking at metrics such as:

  • The age
  • The gender
  • The education
  • The profession
  • Whether they are a consumer or a business

Just like with any marketing, you must understand what appeals to your target market. If you are reaching out to 40+ lawyers, you probably shouldn’t be using youth slang and images relating to current youth culture. Different things appeal to different people.

When you have your target audience identified, you can look more closely at data on the things they like. What are they currently interested? What information matters to them?

Don’t just focus on the message, but also the style. Young people might not be as easily shocked or surprised. On the other hand, older people might prefer cleaner and leaner infographics. Ensure you don’t make stupid or out-dated assumptions about your target market, though. For example, not all women get excited about fluffy pink things. In fact, a full on pink and glittery design might come across as misogynistic.

Step #3: Conduct research on the message

When you have your message ready and your target audience defined, it’s time to start researching the topic more closely. What data supports the key message?

Your data processing should follow the format of:

Gathering data (e.g. surveying people/reading up on research) -> aggregating all of your data -> analyzing your data -> finding the arguments for supporting the message

Remember you can use outside data as well. Statistics and data are available from sources such as the World Bank, Google Trends, Infochimps national census databases, and so on. Try to ensure your data comes from an established and legitimate source. This gives your infographic more credibility and authority.

Step #4: Create your infographic

Once you have all the raw data available and you know the target audience, you can start designing the infographic.

First, you should write the story. You want to create a compelling narrative that ties all of your wonderful data together. Come up with a powerful headline, and create the beginning, middle and end to your story.

Some tips from MIT on story writing.

A written narrative can aid you during the designing process. Perhaps you can pick out cool aspects of the message that can easily be turned into an image. Come up with different ways to support the storyline with images, colors and such visual aspects.

During this process, it’s important to keep in mind the points covered in the previous section. Focus on clarity, innovation and highlighting the message. Ask yourself “How can the data be visualized in a way that the reader understands the message?” A good infograph is above all easy to understand, not a puzzle to be solved.

It’s important to brainstorm a few different ideas and design for separate infographics. The first idea isn’t always the best; don’t be afraid to tweak and think outside of the box.

You definitely want to test the infograph with real audience before you unleash it to the world. You could ask the team to show it to their friends and family, or conduct a small focus group session online. Either way, gather feedback and make changes accordingly.

Step #5: Promote your infographic

When you’ve created your masterpiece, you can’t simply add it to your blog and Tweet it once. Don’t wait for the world to find it, but promote your lovingly created design.

Ensure the infograph is easily sharable – i.e. include buttons for instant sharing on different social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You should also provide an HTML embed code to ensure people are able to add the infographic to their content.

Promote and share the content on your own social media. To make posts a bit different and unique, you can choose to include a different thumbnail for each post and to accompany the link with a different message.

Always include relevant hashtags to your posts. If you sent out an e-mail letter, then consider adding a link to the infograph along with a thumbnail to your message.

But it’s not just you and the viewers of the infograph who can do promotion. First, you might want to share your infographic on different infographic directories. There are quite a few free options out there, although you can also increase your chances by paying for a bit of promotion.

Some great sites include:

In addition, you should reach out to bloggers as well. You can find influencers and active bloggers in related fields to your infographic and contact them about posting your infographic.

For example, you might find a blog post on a similar topic to what your infographic is all about. Contact the owner and tell them how you liked the post. Ask if they’d be interested in viewing an infographic on a related topic. They might say ‘yes’ and find your infograph so good they want to feature it on the blog.

Step #6: Measure the impact

You’re not done just yet. You shouldn’t just conduct a bit of promotion and then forget about the project. It’s also essential to measure the impact of the infograph.

According to Social Media Explorer, the focus should be on measuring:

  • Awareness – Focus on tangible metrics such as:
    • Inbound links
    • Page views
    • Searches
    • SEO ranking
    • Subscribers
  • Engagement levels – Measure tangible metrics like:
    • Average time viewing the infographic
    • Comments
    • Social sharing

Furthermore, when it comes to measuring the impact of an infographic, and more importantly the return on investment (ROI), there are two competing opinions. Some believe ROI doesn’t matter at all, since infographics are only about ‘engagement’.

On the other hand, others believe only by proving a profitable ROI can you justify creating infographics. The reality lies somewhere in between. You should measure both tangible and non-tangible metrics, as outlined above.

While it’s definitely worth measuring the cost of creating your infograph in relation to the monetary benefits you obtained, the financial metrics don’t tell the whole story.

Once you’ve gathered data on how your infographic was received, utilize it on your next project. It can be a great way of improving your infographics and ensuring you become the master in creating them.

99 – The Ultimate Guide to Infographic Marketing

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