What They Are, Why They Matter, & How To Use (and Not Use) Them
Infographics—this word combines “information” and “graphics” to form a marketing term you’ve probably heard bandied about. The question is this: should infographics be part of your marketing mix? In this post, we’ll examine what they are, why they matter, how to use them effectively, and mistakes to avoid when creating and using them.
What is an infographic?
An infographic is an image collage that communicates things like statistics, compelling points, and other data that’s meant to educate and inform.
How are they used?
People use infographics in print and digital media, but they’re especially popular these days online. You’ll find them in blog posts, social media (they’re quite popular on Pinterest), news articles, and websites.
Why are they so popular online?
They’re popular because they combine two common ways people learn—through text and through visuals—into one neat, attractive package. They’re easy for people to “consume.” Viewing an infographic and comprehending the main points takes less time than reading a text-only article (and the infographic is often easier for people to comprehend as well). They’re also popular with business owners because, as HubSpot points out, “Businesses that publish infographics grow their traffic an average of 12% more than those that don’t.”
OK, so how do I make an infographic?
Because infographics are so prevalent, you can find plenty of user-friendly online tools—tools that are helpful, even if you’ve never “designed” something in your life. One such tool is PicMonkey (you’d use the “Collage” option). The folks at HubSpot recently offered a FREE PowerPoint template that walks you through designing your own infographics. And Small Business Trends reported back in July that Google has released “Databoard for Research Insights” where people can review Google research, select relevant pieces, and turn it into an infographic (within the Databoard itself) that people can share or embed on their websites/blogs.
Of course, the tools mentioned above cover the design aspect, but we should take a step back and talk about content, which brings us to our next point.
What makes a good infographic?
Your infographic should…
- Have a clear, focused message. You can’t cover every breed of dog in one infographic, but you could create a compelling infographic on the five best dogs for households that have kids. (And this would be a great infographic for a pet store or veterinary office to use in newsletter, website, and social media.)
- Use minimal text. Yes, you need to communicate your point, statistic, data, but you should do it in as few words as possible. Tight, tight, tight—that should be your copywriting mantra.
- Have words and visuals that complement and reinforce one another. So, going back to our dog example, you might use silhouettes of each dog breed and then provide a snippet of compelling info inside the silhouettes.
- Cite sources. You want people to trust the data you’re feeding them, right? Don’t leave them wondering where you got your info on this stat or that interesting fact. Include references at the end.
- Flow naturally. An infographic tells a story. It should be easy to follow, easy to read (in terms of the words used, but also the font type and font size), and a reasonable length. People shouldn’t have to keep scrolling, scrolling, scrolling—if you find that’s the case with an infographic you created, it probably means you have TWO infographics, not one. Go back and tighten your focus.
- Be easy for people to summarize. This is always a good test. Share your infographic with a few people and ask them to sum up what they learned. If they can do so easily, great. You have a winner. If not, go back and revise.
- Be easily “shareable.” HubSpot walks you through how to create embed codes for your infographics, which helps make them instantly shareable, which is the whole point!
How much info is too much info to convey in an infographic?
Remember, you don’t want to overwhelm people with info, and you don’t want them to have to scroll on for an eternity. The Content Marketing Institute recommends no more than 10 data points, and we think this is a good rule of thumb as well.
Do you have examples of strong infographics?
Head over to Visual.ly, which is home to the largest infographic database online. You can see performance stats, too, which will give you a sense of what sort of infographic will work well with your target audience. (You can also receive a complementary infographic template, just for signing up for their newsletter.)
Is there anything else I should remember before, during, or after I create the infographic?
Yes. Promotion! You can submit your infographic to some free directories to build some buzz (like Visual.ly). The Content Marketing Institute has a list of others to consider here.
So it sounds like I should add infographics to my marketing mix.
Infographics, when done right, can be extremely compelling, and yes—they’re a nice addition to your marketing mix, along with other content like white papers, email newsletters, blog posts, case studies, etc.
But, like anything else that becomes popular, infographics have lost some of their novelty, simply because they’re so common. People are used to seeing them. And not everyone likes them, either. Ragan’s PR Daily posted this interesting commentary titled “8 Reasons Infographics Are Overrated.” It’s worth the read. The article’s larger point is important: if you opt to use infographics, they should be only ONE ingredient in your marketing recipe, not the whole recipe itself.
So, tell us: have you created any infographics? We’d love to see them! Share the links in the comments below.