For Infographic Friday, we have a blog written by digital marketing agency SEO Savvy about how to strategically create and publish an infographic that returns its value tenfold.
An infographic can inspire a career change or participation in a charitable cause. It can bring awareness to a brand, convey a complex subject, or it can simply teach someone how to grill the perfect steak at a summer barbecue.
Graphs, charts and diagrams can’t do this on their own, though. A strategy and careful planning can help you combine these elements to tell a cohesive and compelling visual story.
Infographics can also be used as a digital marketing campaign. Whether you already have a marketing strategy or are still formulating one, these three considerations should be part of any infographic production and promotion process.
- Know Your Audience: Who’s the infographic for? How can it help them? Are there websites or social platforms where this type of content would fit well?
- Use Search Validation: Is your target audience already searching for this subject online? How can you optimize the content to ensure they find it? How will you measure your results?
- Impressive Design: What is the best way to visually represent the information? What type of images, graphics and overall presentation would appeal to your target audience and influencers?
A General Overview of the Infographic Process
Before we get started with best practices, here’s an overview of the process of creating an infographic.
Phase 1: Strategy
This is the most important step. Without a strategy, your infographic could miss the mark. Think about your goals and your audience. Aside from your readers, think about potential influencers, too. Then plan accordingly.
Phase 2: Ideation
Infographics can be cool—but that’s not a reason on its own to produce one.
Sure, lots of people want to know how to deep fry a turkey around Thanksgiving, but a how-to infographic on the subject might only be relevant to businesses in the cooking and food preparation space. Not a campaign for every business attempting to capitalize on the seasonal search traffic.
Make sure the idea supports business goals and strategy and that it’s backed up by research.
Phase 3: Copy
Combining copy and graphics can be tricky. Poor execution can confuse, rather than inform, your audience.
Keep it simple and focused. More data usually means using less copy. Let the data tell the story.
Phase 4: Design
People view as many as 5,000 ads a day now, compared to 500 in the 1970s.
That’s not the only difference. These days, consumers are in control, clicking away or changing the channel when they don’t like what they see.
Cut through the advertising clutter with impressive design. It will go a long way toward captivating your audience.
Phase 5: Promotion
Being mindful of your audience and validating your ideas in the planning stage will give you a good idea of the channels to promote the infographic once it’s finished.
Infographic Best Practices
Visual storytelling is the best format for the 65 percent of your audience who are visual learners.
If you have a lot of data, conveying it via text and images in an infographic can allow for an engaging and easy-to-digest presentation. With so many elements—data, text, and graphics—the process can be surprisingly easy to get wrong.
These best practices can help you avoid some of the common pitfalls of producing an infographic.
Know Your Audience
You have to know who your audience is in order to educate, entertain or inspire them with an infographic. Give them an engaging, relevant and valuable content experience, and they’ll repay you with customer loyalty and even brand advocacy.
- Audience Research: Mine social media platforms to determine who is interested in your infographic idea. Already have an audience in mind? Use surveys to discover their preferences and pain points.
- Relevancy: You’ll likely uncover an abundance of information while researching your audience. Focus on only the details that are relevant to your business offerings. If you sell free-range, grass-fed beef, targeting people on the Paleo or other high-protein diets could make sense. Keep the subject fun. An infographic about how to grill the perfect steak would be relevant to your product and audience—plus have widespread appeal.
- Buyer Search Cycle: Determine where in the buyer search cycle you want to target your audience with an infographic. Using the grass-fed beef example, this data-loaded content format could be helpful for spreading awareness about the health benefits of the product. It could assist customers in the evaluation stage: which cuts of meat to buy based on flavor or health benefits. Of course, you could also share useful grilling tips for information seekers.
Use Search to Validate
Don’t forget about search traffic! If you’ve covered an evergreen topic, something your audience has consistently asked or searched about over time, the infographic can drive organic traffic to your site and help you earn exposure long after hitting publish.
These search marketing best practices can help you confirm people care about your subject and will find your infographic once it’s live.
- Keywords: Use SEMRush, Google Trends, Answer the Public or other keyword research tools to check that your infographic idea is being searched online. For example, “How to grill grass-fed beef” has low search volume, versus thousands of searches for “how to grill the perfect steak.” Target the phrase they’re more likely to search for and build relevant ideas around that.
- Optimization: Include your targeted keyword in your image file name and use descriptive image alt text. Since Google can’t crawl the infographic itself, write page or post content to accompany the infographic that’s optimized with your target keyword phrases as well.
- Page Speed: Attention spans are getting shorter. Eight seconds is all you have to catch your audience’s attention before they get distracted and move on. Some users can lose focus in just 2.8 seconds. A quickly loading infographic is key, so make sure you compress your infographic image file and don’t upload a file size that’s too big (see suggestion below).
- Social Sharing Buttons: People like and share infographics three times more than any other content form. Those are actions that could drive traffic back to your site. Reap these benefits by including social sharing buttons.
- Metrics: Don’t forget to measure whether the infographic is meeting your goals. Are people sharing the content? Is it driving organic search traffic? Are you getting mentions from your outreach goals? Have other sites wrote about or shared the infographic?
- Promotion: Get more mileage out of your infographic by promoting it on social channels. Since infographics tend to be rather large image files, consider publishing segments instead of the whole image.
Reach out to websites that have covered the topic and to influential sources in your business space. To use our steak grilling infographic example again, you could contact cooking and outdoor recreation sites. Vendors of related products like barbeque sauce or grills might also be interested in publishing it.
Another idea is to send the infographic to relevant publications before posting it on your site. Ask them to consider the data and the story it tells. Giving publications an advanced look can increase the chances they would pick it up, since they could be first to publish.
First impressions are important with visual content. The human brain processes images in just 13 milliseconds.
If users don’t like what they initially see, they won’t keep reading, and they won’t share. The key is keeping your copy and design clear, consistent and concise. Customize to your audience’s preferences. Earn trust by offering current, accurate data.
Design Best Practices
- Clear: Make sure your design is visually appealing and easy to understand. Choose size, dimensions, colors and resolution that fit with your target platforms. Select a font size that is readable at a smaller scale, such as 600 pixels wide. The infographic image shouldn’t exceed 1200 pixels wide. Anything larger could leave users scrolling left and right because the image is too big for their device screen. Don’t clutter the image with unnecessary labels or illustrations. Create visual hierarchy and a main focal point to help guide the reader through the content.
- Consistent: Consider using a brand style guide to keep your design consistent. A good rule of thumb is to limit yourself to one to two font families and a minimal number of font styles. As for color, stick with one to two dominant colors and two to three accent colors. Use a current color pattern and design guidelines to avoid a dated-looking infographic. Align the design theme with the subject and aim for quality.
- Concise: The goal is for the design to bring the story you’re telling to life—not bury it under graphics. If you’ve already covered a point visually, you don’t need to represent it with copy, too. Keep it down to 3-5 main categories.
- Customize: Be mindful of how the design supports your brand and caters to your audience. Using contrasting neon colors might not be the best choices for an infographic about grilling organic, grass-fed beef—or really any infographic, for that matter. Colors and an overall aesthetic evocative of quality and clean living would fit better.
- Accurate: Charts and other design elements should make the data easier to understand. Be careful not to visually misconstrue the facts. Readers won’t be happy if your infographic led them to burn an expensive cut of meat.
Copy Best Practices
- Clear: Ask your writing team to leave big, academic words at home. The average American has a reading level of around 7th or 8th grade. If covering complex topics, such as the science of meat and butchery, remember to break down terms. Avoid long, complex sentences. Keep copy clear and simple.
- Consistent: Employ a comprehensive creative brief that aligns with your brand and audience goals. Keep the voice and tone on brand. Determine the story you want to tell and stick to it.
- Concise: Let the graphics tell the story, too. Avoid redundancy. Don’t overwhelm or bore the reader. Watch your word count. Edit and condense copy to keep the story concise.
- Customize: Speak in the language of your audience.
- Accurate: Cite facts and statistics correctly. Health-conscience readers may already know about the benefits of free-range, grass-fed beef, so make sure not to give them contradictory information.
Make Your Content and Infographic Memorable
Information holds power–the power to solve problems, to inspire healthier, fuller lifestyles and simply to entertain.
With its appealing visuals and compelling story, an infographic is one of the most effective ways to convey that information. Help your customers live better lives with your infographic and they’ll remember your content or your brand.
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SEO Savvy was formed in 2007 by three professionals with diverse experience in complementary realms of Internet marketing.