If you’ve been reading about SEO or content marketing, you may be wondering: What is an infographic?
An infographic is a piece of visual communication. Online infographics are produced by web designers and are usually comprised mainly of graphical elements with minimal text. The graphical elements of an infographic include one or more of the following:
- Other stock or custom-designed images
Infographics are based on the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words. They are particularly useful in business communication for conveying complex types of information such as:
- Technical, complicated products and services
- Complicated or numerous product and service benefits
- Complicated value propositions
- New-to-market products, services and value propositions
- Statistical analyses
- Timeframe comparisons
- Geographic analyses
- Lists and categories
Infographics are widespread in blogs, business websites and slide presentations — and are also common in print media.
What Is an Infographic Used For in Marketing?
Several years ago, online infographics started to catch on in SEO and content marketing. Infographics were probably “discovered” by content marketers, who are always on the lookout for fresh ways to present business information.
Infographics are made to order in that regard. Plain text, particularly when used to convey difficult concepts or a high level of detail, can be quite daunting to online readers. In contrast, an infographic, properly designed, can convey such information in a matter of minutes or even seconds.
In many cases, visualized information is also better understood retained by readers, making infographics extremely effective for not only grabbing reader attention, but also influencing reader actions (such as making a purchase).
SEO specialists began to use infographics as a link building tactic, and the practice became extremely popular in the early 2010s. There were essentially two ways to use infographics to build links to a client website:
- Create an infographic on-site, and encourage relevant blogs and websites to link to it.
- Create an infographic to be published off-site on relevant blogs and websites, and embed a link to the client website within the infographic.
Because infographics were something of a novelty at that time, they were probably overused; websites and blogs were flooded with infographics and they lost some of their punch. Today, infographics are still extremely effective for SEO, content marketing and business communication in general — as long as they are executed with skill.
How to Create a Great Infographic
Now that we’ve looked at, what is an infographic, let’s consider: What is a great infographic? Here are five tips that will help you create infographics that get attention and drive action.
- Don’t try to do too much with a single infographic. Just as thousands of words of plain text on a web page will overwhelm the reader, an infographic packed with tiny images or hundreds of arrows pointing in different directions will lead the reader to give up.
- Don’t rely on stock images. Today’s online readers have seen hundreds of infographics. If you’re using the same stock images they’ve seen a hundred times, they won’t pay much attention to your infographic. Either create custom imagery or modify stock images to make them stand out from the crowd.
- Don’t overdesign your infographic. Design elements walk a fine line between enhancing and obscuring communication. Infographics employ the same best practices for readability that apply to web pages. These include ample use of white space, easily readable fonts and easily readable color contrast.
- Size your infographic to fit the publishing site. An infographic that is too small or too large for the web page frustrates readers. The designer should know the publishing site in advance, so as to create the design in the appropriate pixel width, which is usually as wide as the page will allow. The length of an infographic can be as long as necessary to convey the information, but the more compact the infographic, the better. Designers and marketers must also consider how the infographic will display on mobile devices. If you want mobile viewers to read your infographic, responsive web design techniques should be used to create it.
- Creating an infographic takes a team effort, with a copywriter and web designer working in tandem to turn ideas and text into visually powerful content. There is no single creative process for an infographic, but there is always give and take between writer and designer. To get the best results, you’ll need to guide your creative team by giving it the key creative details — the point of the infographic, target audience, important data points, publishing site, and the desired action you’re looking for from the reader.
Budget Wisely for Marketing Infographics
Infographics definitely enhance content marketing and SEO campaigns. However, infographics can hardly be created out of thin air; making them marketable requires a great deal of skill, as we have just seen.
And, not only does the creative process require top design and copywriting, it also requires skillful creative direction from marketing strategists. The topic must be one that appeals to customers, prospects and/or off-site publishers; the topic must be new or given a fresh treatment; and the topic must be relevant to your business.
Creating an infographic can take anywhere from a day to several weeks to complete, depending on the complexity and how many layers of approval are required. Once the infographic is completed, the process of marketing infographics to off-site publishers will involve a good deal of additional time.
In short, producing and marketing infographics can be an expensive proposition. The good news is, these tasks go faster and more efficiently with an experienced team. If you make infographics a standard part of your online marketing execution, you’ll find that every successive infographic not only becomes less costly, but also becomes more effective.
Practice makes perfect.