Mixing up your content strategy with different types of infographics
Humans are visual creatures. We’re wired to view and value images more than any other media. For example, did you know we have the ability to process imagery 60,000 faster than text? Or, the fact that we retain 80 per cent of what we see compared with 20 per cent of what we read, and just 10 per cent of what we hear. Data compiled by an Ethos3 infographic proves the power of human nature simply can’t be beat.
However, this isn’t a science lesson. With a passion for all things content marketing, you can bet we’re talking strategy, SEO and, in this instance, graphics – more specifically, infographics.
Infographics are a cornerstone of any content marketing strategy. If created and amplified correctly, they have the power to explain a process, promote a brand and showcase your company as one that is creative and versatile.
However, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating infographics. When factoring in goal, topic, layout, colour and design, there are limitless possibilities. To make it easier on budding infographic-creators, they’re often split into a number of categories such as timeline and geographical – all of which we’re going to explain!
First things first, let’s dissect the ins and outs of infographics in more detail…
Infographics: A definition according to the Cambridge Castleford Dictionary
The word infographic is a portmanteau of the words infographic and graphic. This gives major clues into what an infographic is; a visual representation of valuable takeaways, facts and figures all wrapped up in a digestible and aesthetically engaging format.
Let’s take a look.
Here, you can see an infographic example from conservation leader World Wildlife Fund, detailing the effects of food waste in Australia. This is an archetypal outline of a well-structured infographic, featuring some of the most important elements:
Every successful infographic should clearly convey a concept or tell a story. It should be obvious why you’re telling it, and who you’re telling it to. This helps educate your audience and show that there is a point to your infographic.
The inclusion of relevant, reliable and recent data helps connect the dots of your story and give it weight. As with any other piece of content, it’s still important to correctly cite where you got your data from. This is often included in a separate box at the bottom, unless it’s your own research.
Good copy is needed to create a successful infographic. These short sentences provide context to the data and tie the overall story together.
In an infographic sense, simple is better. You shouldn’t include too much text as this will detract from audience engagement, which defeats the object of creating an infographic! Instead, stick to short and punchy statements to maintain strong readability and interest.
Of course, as the second half of the portmanteau, you can guess there’s a strong element of visually-appealing design work involved in a successful infographic. However, there’s more to it than the inclusion of pretty pictures.
Images must meet brand guidelines, be sourced correctly and fit with your theme/story. Along with symbols and images, creators can also include graphs and charts to back up stats and add another dimension to the infographic.
Benefits of infographics
Every month, WordPress users around the world publish around 70 million posts collectively, according to the online publishing platform’s own data. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if you publish a certain fast food chain’s 11 secret herbs and spices recipe, or any other engaging content for that matter. Without a point of difference, you’ll simply blend in amongst the competitor crowd.
Thankfully, infographics are here to save the day. Not only are they visually appealing and great at getting your audience’s attention, they also provide an array of other benefits, including:
Infographics are sharable
From blog posts to social media and everywhere in between, infographics are easily shareable across a number of different platforms – and best of all, people are more inclined to engage with them rather than traditional blog posts. Research from Bit Rebels found that on LinkedIn alone, there was a 629 per cent difference in the number of shares when comparing a standard blog post to an infographic.
Yes, 629 per cent.
Often, when publishing an infographic, an embed code is required. When people come to share your graphic design, they’ll copy this code, which will create an automatic link from their site to yours.
It’s easy to recycle infographic content
Being consistent with content uploads is hard enough, let alone having to think of engaging and evergreen topic ideas. That’s why many businesses are looking to infographics. Not only does this type of graphic design offer a refreshing insight into your content, it’s also great for recycling and repurposing previously-used content,
Nowadays, it’s becoming extremely popular to ‘slice’ infographics into smaller sections. These are then easy to share separately, whether across social media or used to back up another blog post. This can drive further engagement and help you get the most out of your original graphic design piece.
Infographics increase credibility
The research, time and experience that goes into creating a successful infographic is a clear indication of a business that has that little bit extra to offer. This may, in part, be the reason why infographics have such a high engagement rate – not everyone has the resources to do them. Therefore, if you’ve collated a range of valuable data and takeaways in an easy-to-read layout, you’ve given your target audience everything they need in one visually appealing space – without the need to visit numerous sources to find the information they require.
Simply put, you’ll become the one stop-shop (expert) for all things relating to your industry!
Infographics are great for web traffic and SEO
Long gone is the idea that Google can’t read images. As image-driven social media sites continue to dominate, Google is beginning to recognise the power behind images, and thus, choosing to reward those who use them.
If you create an image-based piece of content that is both captivating and interesting, such as an infographic, you should naturally drive traffic to your site. Better yet, if people start engaging with it, Google may reward you if it recognises that people like what you’re publishing. This is all part of Google’s specialised ‘page rank’ algorithm that indexes websites higher based on engagement.
Infographics are easily understood and remembered
Every brand wants to be remembered – for good reasons only, that is. Infographics automatically give your target audience something to remember thanks to the perfect combination of stunning design work and valuable takeaways.
There you have it, the proof is in the pudding – infographics are crucial for any successful content strategy.
You’ll probably come across infographics on websites, blog posts, social media channels and email newsletters, or any other platform where data can be presented.
But what types of businesses are utilising this fun and fresh way of delivering information?
Every Tom, Dick and Harry
Simply put, everyone.
Whether you’re a specialist in skirting boards for circle houses or a chocolate teacup manufacturer, it doesn’t matter – absolutely any business or operation can reap the rewards of infographics.
Let’s break down two common categories of businesses that are well suited to introducing infographics into their digital content strategy:
Imagine you’re the marketing manager of a chocolate teacup company. You don’t need us to tell you this is quite a unique offering – unless you’re spoilt for choccie crockery choice?
Didn’t think so.
Infographics work extremely well for specialist businesses who offer a niche product or service as they’re able to explain complex or uncommon topics in an easier and more engaging way. This refers back to creating a digestible piece of content that makes it easier for your reader to understand your message and get those valuable takeaways.
Using an infographic to illustrate a tricky topic rather than a standard blog piece is great for keeping your reader’s attention.
At the opposite end of the scale, if you’re a business selling a rather common product or service, infographics can help set you apart from the crowd. Choosing to present key information in an engaging format like an infographic gives you a point of difference – especially if competitors stick to standard blog copy only. Your target audience will see that you have the creative freedom to step out of the box and in turn have something unique and different to offer them.
To find out how many businesses use infographics, Infographic World surveyed 100 businesses and 1,100 consumers. The communications company discovered that 56 per cent of those queried used infographics as part of their wider content strategy, and 84 per cent who used them considered infographics a medium effective.
Unfortunately, if Infographic World’s data is anything to go by, there’s still an estimated 44 per cent of businesses who are yet to reap the rewards of infographics. With the aforementioned benefits, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t – after all, a huge amount of audiences respond well to visually-stimulating content…
What types of audiences respond better to infographics?
As infographics are comprised largely of graphics, it’s easy to see why they are so popular amongst visual learners. Thankfully, 65 per cent of people are visual learners (Data compiled by the previous Ethos3 infographic). With such a huge portion of the population responding so well to image-based content, the 44 per cent of businesses who are yet to use infographics are missing out a world of untapped potential.
However, infographics don’t discriminate. Everyone can enjoy their features as long as the creator is giving them exactly what they are looking for, i.e. valuable takeaways and information. For example, if they come to your infographic and it’s lacking in interesting content, they’ll simply move on (probably to a competitor).
Avoid losing out on potential leads by ensuring your infographic provides a targeted answer to a question, such as, “what are the best wine and cheese pairings?” Now, who wouldn’t want to discover this delicious answer?
This infographic by Greatist is a prime example of this problem/solution or question/answer format that works so well to maintain engagement – and could also come in handy after one too many wine pairing experiments!
As you can see, this infographic (that we’ve separated into a 2×2 grid format) not only gives the answer on how to deal with a hangover (page four), it gives information on how to prevent it in the first place, at several different stages. This meets the ‘one-stop-shop’ ideal we mentioned previously and will likely get people referring back to it time and time again.
So, what are the different types of infographics?
By now, you should be well aware of what an infographic is, the benefits of them and the different types of businesses who can reap their rewards. So, as promised in our intro, let’s take a further, more in depth look into the varying categories of infographics.
Because humans are wired to view things in chronological order, timeline infographics are an effective and easy way to show the history of a product or service. The inclusion of dates, statistics and visual aids helps paint a clearer picture of important events that have happened over a timeline, making for a compelling narrative.
This screenshot from a History Degree infographic detailing the history of gaming is a great example of this infographic type:
Not only have they perfectly captured the theme and given a nod to the synonymous old-school gaming style, all information is clearly laid out in clear chronological order. Reading the full infographic is a must.
If you want to paint a picture of demographic or location-based data, geographical infographics (try saying that five times fast) are a great option. Maps are often a key focus of this type of infographic and help to accurately convey area-based information.
Here’s a fantastic example of a geographical infographic from VinePair, showcasing the different (and delicious) wines of Italy.
Be sure to read the full infographic!
If you’re looking to show the differences between two separate products or services, or even make one seem better than the other, opt for a comparison infographic.
Often, this type of infographic is split down the middle, either vertically or horizontally, with one option on each side. Comparison infographics are great for easily showing differences between two entities, without the need to scour the web – which can help readers make more informed decisions.
The above example from Online Courses.org (via BusinessInsider) takes a complex subject and dissects (pun intended) into an easy-to-read format.
This infographic style is ideal for businesses wanting to visualise a process. Each step of such is often represented by boxes, shapes or illustrations and joined together by lines, dots or arrows. This creates the path for the reader to follow.
Flowchart infographics are typically used to help customers find the answer to a question based on their own decisions, just like this example from 24 Hour Fitness.
From reading the full infographic, you’ll find out which exercise from the sports group is most suited to you!
If you hadn’t already guessed, a data-centric infographic focuses on … well, data. If you’re looking to present the results of a survey, target important statistics or backup an argument with relevant figures, this infographic option is for you. You’ll often find graphs, pie charts, percentage figures and data-driven illustrations within this style, with bold fonts clearly stating all of the must-read inclusions.
The above example comes from The Lakers (via Buzzfeed), which breaks down basketball legend Kobe Bryant’s 30,000 career points. As you can see, there’s a great mix of numerical graphics showcasing the various data points of the infographic which helps keep the reader engaged from start to finish.
This style of infographic is ideal for those wanting to showcase the steps in a process – think step 1, step 2, step 3 etc.
This way businesses can take a larger idea, and split into easily digestible chunks, while showing a route from start to finish. Examples for process infographics could include anything from how to debone a chicken or how to set up a specific photo-editing programme.
This example from For Sale by Owner perfectly demonstrates how a process infographic should be done. There’s a clear distinction between each step, with arrowed lines helping navigate the reader around the page.
Last but by no means least we’ve got list infographics. Once again, the title is a big indication on the focus of this style – the trusty list format. This type of infographic is both extremely straight-forward and effective. It simply displays a list of examples, tips or resources. This makes for easy skimming and gives the reader everything they need in an easy and clear list format – simple!
The above example comes from NetCredit, with the title, ‘20 Ways to Communicate Better at Work.” You can see a snippet of the tips, all of which are accompanied by eye-catching and relevant graphics to increase readability.
Secrets to creating a successful infographic
So, there you go. You’ve learnt why infographics are so important, who can benefit from including them in a content strategy and discovered some of the most popular styles. Before we love you and leave you, it’s time to recap on everything we’ve talked about and let you in on the secrets to creating a successful infographic.
Start with a strong idea: While you may be sat there thinking ‘duh’, let us explain. Despite the ideal ‘quality over quantity’ being referred to by many in various scenarios, some businesses are still championing the reverse – quantity over quality. Yes, Google rewards those that are consistent with publishing new content, but the search engine also recognises when such content isn’t up to scratch, i.e. when people aren’t engaging with it.
If you just throw a bunch of words and a few images together just to get it on the world wide web, not only are you putting yourself at ranking risk, your target audience will be far from impressed. Instead, spend time researching a great topic, back it up with relevant and recent statistics and pop it in a one heck of a visually eye-catching format!
Keep it simple: With a strong idea on the table, it’s time to bring it to life through graphic design. For this next tip, we’re introducing another trusted idiom – less is more. If images, icons or symbols aren’t adding to your final product, there’s no point including them.
Instead, like you’ve learnt, infographics have the power to take a complex subject and transform it into a simple and easy-to-digest visual form. If you pair a tricky topic with an abundance of graphics, you’ll create a mind-numbing information overload!
Promote it: You’ve spent time and resource creating a show-stopping infographic. However, it’s not over yet. Don’t let your graphic design work sit there collecting dust. Instead, ensure you’ve got a solid marketing strategy behind you. From promoting on social media platforms to making sure readers can easily embed it, there’s a lot you can do to ensure the most relevant people view and engage with your efforts.
While infographics may look fairly simple to create, the amount of work that goes into them is extraordinary.