One of the biggest things that happened recently in content marketing was the infographic. This particular aspect of content marketing really became popular over the last couple of years. And then it kind of died. Like many trends, it was jumped on, done to death, and then discarded by the majority.
Or was it? Is there still a place for the infographic in today’s content marketing arena? It’s a pretty crowded arena.
In this article, I’m going to look at the problem behind infographics today. Then I’m going to identify the five things you can do to ensure that your infographic has a place in the content marketing landscape.
The problem with infographics right now (clue in picture)
When infographics became big a few years ago everyone wanted to have a go. They were easy to make, and even if you couldn’t do them yourself, you could find a designer to create one for you.
Whether that designer used a template or created from scratch, times were good. If your infographics were exciting (and back then they all were simply because they were new) they had a pretty solid chance of going viral.
The problem is that it’s all rather crowded right now. Do a simple Google search and you’ll see some incredibly attractive infographics that quite rightly have received hundreds of thousands of hits and been responsible for some pretty spectacular inbound marketing. It’s hard to compete with that.
But it’s not impossible to compete with that. You just need to know how to do it right.
It’s obvious that these days it takes a lot more than a pretty face (design wise) to make a big splash in the world of infographics. If you’re going to have a marketing tool that brings you leads, you need to have a solid idea of what you are doing.
There are five distinct areas that you need to excel in if your infographic is to gain traction quickly, and bring you leads.
Like all great content marketing, a good idea is important. Infographic production is no exception. If your idea doesn’t grab peoples attention and engage them, it really isn’t worth your while spending money on designing an infographic around it.
But having a good idea doesn’t mean just ‘having a good idea’. The idea has to lend itself to infographics. For example:
Does the idea have a visual thrust? In other words, can what you are trying to say be done visually?
Taking a random industry here, is it possible to convey ‘the five big trends in management accounting’ in a visual manner? It’s arguable that it is, but it’s also arguable that this is only possible if you work hard at finding the visual elements behind those five big trends.
Is your idea backed up by solid data?
The very best infographics out there right now (and over the last two years in fact) have been backed up by solid data that is valuable to the readership. Good data helps to tell a story. People like numbers. If you have data, you have a better chance of making an infographic that gains traction.
Timing is everything with infographics. This is all about making sure that you have something that is ‘of the moment’. Your audience needs content that is relevant to them right now, and it’s your responsibility to ensure that this is what you deliver. Every time.
If you are lucky, you should be able to jump onto something that is trending. It’s a rare industry that doesn’t have at least something exciting happening in it, so check out news sources and other areas such as social media channels to find out what topic in your industry is ‘on trend’. If you can find something that is trending, and you can write about it with the data we spoke about in the last section, you should be able to make a timely infographic.
If your infographic is timely, it will be viewed as more valuable by your readership. It also means it will be found in search.
Note: Don’t forget the data. You can have the timeliest infographic on the Internet, but if you don’t have data that shows you know your stuff, it will fall flat.
Never underestimate the value of good timing. Remember that Google and other search engines look for content that is up-to-date. This kind of thing ranks highly.
Way back at the start of the infographic boom, design seemed to be the only thing that mattered. This is because infographics were new and a visual medium, so the more visual your infographic, the more it stood out.
That has changed. Now, the design of an infographic has to be carefully worked out and managed so that it has the ultimate level of impact.
One good idea to think about is to look at all your pieces of data and see if you can hang a visual element around that. For example, if you have an infographic that has data about chickens, when you are really talking about stock prices (it’s possible), it would be worthwhile sourcing a good picture of a chicken and making that the background or the main feature of the infographic.
This may sound a little silly and opportunistic, but it does give the visual element real impact. Think of all the stock price infographics that are out there. It’s doubtful that any of those will have a background image of a chicken.
Essentially, if you can hang an interesting visual around some of your data you have a head start in the impact stakes.
Make sure that your data is easy to follow, and the infographic itself is easy to follow. You’re likely to be including some quite complex data, so if you have an infographic that is designed to be read easily you are onto a winner.
This is where many people fall down with infographics. They might choose a template online or some kind of development platform online that brings in the DIY element, and stuff their infographic template with data. It’s only later that they find out that the infographic is practically unreadable.
Remember that you’re designing for human beings.
Finally, when it comes to design always try and test it with some real people. Find a colleague, or someone who’s able to cast an objective eye on proceedings, and ask them to tell you if they can understand your infographic.
You need honesty here. A friend of mine tested his infographic out on his five-year-old child and that worked perfectly.
The Promotion (within the infographic)
Like all good content marketing, you will go nowhere unless you can promote. Promoting your infographics is absolutely vital if you want to reach your audience.
Aim for setting up your infographic on the website that you wish to drive traffic to. Get your Webmaster to set up a special page to host the infographic, and this will allow for links to happen. You’re doing this for one simple reason. You want to showcase your infographic on the site that you need people to come to.
You also need people to share your infographic, so you need to ensure that you make this happen with embed code that is easy to click and use. If you’re not technically well versed in this particular area, ask a web developer to do it for you. Essentially, in layman’s terms, you want to have a piece of code on your site that someone can copy and share on twitter, Facebook and any other social sharing site that they use.
This piece of code is vital to the sharing aspect of promotion. So it has to be right. Remember to ask your Webmaster to include the preview display in the code, and a link to the full infographic on your site.
Promoting it to the world
Now you need to get that infographic out to the world. Your infographic should be responsible for a large number of links. Even pretty standard infographics are generally successful in the grand scheme of things, and do bring their creators a reasonable amount of traffic.
How about taking that one step further though, and creating an infographic that you promote effectively and carefully so that you get a lot of traffic rather than just a ‘reasonable amount’?
One good strategy is to approach blog owners in your industry. Tell them you have a great infographic and ask if they’d like to publish it. More than likely, they are happy to do so. Infographics look great on blogs, so it works out best for both of you.
Obviously, share heavily on social networks. And then share again. Infographics are visual, and if they are spotted on a twitter feed, for example, they could go viral. This is the beauty of promoting it. One simple share anywhere could be responsible for a massive amount of traffic.
Set up your sharing so that it happens systematically. Consider sharing an infographic at least once a day for a couple of weeks. This is a promotional event, and there’s nothing wrong with doing this. You have created a product that adds value to your audience’s lives, so you have a right to promote as much as you need to.
Don’t be afraid to go cross platform either. This is not duplication. Remember you’re promoting a product and that you should be able to put it on social channels.
Encourage re-tweets and likes as much as you possibly can. Your aim is to get that infographic in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Social media is a perfect vehicle for this.
Amazingly, many people who create infographics aren’t aware of the syndication possibilities. Just like with blogging, where there are hundreds of blogging directories that you can submit your blog to, infographics can also be submitted to directories.
Here is a short list of some infographic directories that will allow you to syndicate and further disseminate your hard work.
So there are some ideas on how you can make your next infographic (or indeed your first) a winner. The basic principles are clear:
- Infographics are still valuable and still relevant
- You need to ensure that the idea is one that is viable and backed up by solid data that is valuable to your audience
- It is important to ensure that the timing is right and that you are ‘on trend’ with your infographic
- You need to work hard on your design so that it not only looks attractive but is also accessible to your readership
- You need to work even harder on promotion to make your infographic something people will see
Don’t be afraid to test your infographics with colleagues or partners in business. Aim for simplicity and visual impact and you really can’t go wrong. As long as you work hard to promote your infographic on an intense level so that the maximum number of people see it, you should find that it does bring you traffic.