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Infographics: Why They Absolutely Need To Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Toward the end of each academic year, I’m asked to speak to a class of journalism majors about the role of graphic design in journalism. For years, my presentations revolved mostly around business-to-business (B-to-B) magazine design and how a manuscript became a finished layout. As B-to-B magazines have disappeared at the same time the evolution of content creation has migrated to marketing departments, students in business-writing classes have requested information specifically about infographics and how to create them. My staff and I have created countless infographics for clients over the years, but I have never “looked under the hood” as to their effectiveness. But the fact is, no form of content has more eye-popping statistics:

  • An infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a purely textual article.
  • Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3X more than any other type of content.
  • Publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who don't.
  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000x faster in the brain than text.
  • People remember 80% of what they see, compared with just 20% of what they read.

John Medina, author of the “Brain Rules” book series, states that vision is how we’ve always apprehended major threats, found food sources through hunting and gathering, and learned about our environment. Medina has researched that when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later; however, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. So, human nature combined with the behaviors of digital content consumption has created the perfect storm for infographics.

But before you start an infographic project, there are some simple tips you should understand in order to get the most out of the medium.

Tell a Story
After the data is collected, you should tell a story about that data and narrate that story through content that connects together in a logical way. Certain trends may become unearthed during the research process, so if your numbers are telling a story you didn’t expect, you may want to communicate that story in your infographic as fresh insight. If you know where the data will lead you ahead of time, make that your theme. Short thematic written sentences should lead into the charts on a repetitive basis throughout your story.

Mixing chart formats is always best practice. Understand that certain types of data are made to fit various chart formats better than others. For instance, a pie chart may be the best way to represent a data set that has no more than five criteria and neatly amounts to 100. Bar graphs are best when each bar criterion is a percentage of 100%. I like to provide a mix of graph styles with one or two graphs that are out of the ordinary, combined with large callouts -- usually a percentage number for simple entry points.

When it comes to branding, infusing the infographic with your brand takes it out of template-ville. Templates can be a simple way of getting the job done, but brand-sensitive marketing managers are going to understand the importance of standing apart from your competition. Your company’s visual-identity standards should extend into infographics and, although this can prove to be a difficult exercise, it’s an important one. A strong design team will understand how to bridge the gap between infographics formats by at least utilizing corporate colors and typefaces. These elements should be mandatory requirements, as well as a boilerplate footer module.

Make sure your infographic is part of a wider tactical plan. Once the design is complete, your job is just beginning. Placing your infographic in as many logical places for audience reach is paramount. The resources section of your website, Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are no-brainers. Placing keywords, embedding codes and attaching to a written blog are all great ways to get the message out, as well. There are tons of resources on the web for tips on nurturing and conversion.

Last, interactive infographics are becoming more popular. This requires another level of interpretation and planning. In order to make this truly worth your while and the hours of programming to be on budget, be sure to have a clear idea of the value behind decisions to make aspects interactive. Understand that mobile view will change the way people consume the content, and plan for the variables that not everyone on their phones will see it as interactive.

Posted by Scott Shultz on 05/04/2018 at 9:46 AM