Once upon a time, storytelling was fairly straightforward. Marketers and advertisers wrote compelling copy that resonated with audiences, and journalists reported on issues and trends through clear, long-form prose.
But the industry has seen a number of changes since then. Today, there is more content—and more places to engage with that content—than ever before. And as technology evolves, consumer behavior is changing. As content marketers, we must seek to meet these evolving audience demands, which includes determining which content they find most engaging.
Of course, we can’t always perfectly predict the type of content that will resonate best with readers— if we did, our job would be easy. What we do know is that 90% of information sent to the brain is visual, and 65% of people are visual learners. And today, posts with images get 200% more social shares than those without images. This data presents a unique opportunity for content marketers who want to increase brand awareness: Words alone are no longer enough to drive people to action. We must complement words with something much more visual, such as an infographic.
What to Know About Infographics
Simply put, an infographic refers to a collection of data, charts, images, and minimal text that tells a relevant and action-oriented story. The goal? Raise awareness about a given topic, increase engagement with your brand, and ultimately, encourage users to engage with your organization or product.
From a business development perspective, infographics offer your organization a way to capture your desired audience. Forty-two percent of marketers report that infographics and other original graphics resulted in the highest level of engagement among users—more than any other form of visual content, according to a report from Venngage. These tactics allow you to stand out in a crowded internet landscape curated by search engine giants like Google and social media platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn.
When to Consider an Infographic
When it comes to content, there’s a golden rule seasoned marketers know to be true: Think before you act. In other words, it can be easy to decide to produce an infographic because “your competition is doing it.” But if you’re going to produce this type of content successfully, you need to do it with intention. The reality is that not every company needs an infographic, and your time and resources might be better spent working on a different project, such as a paid social campaign or an email newsletter redesign. If you’re not sure whether an infographic is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I hope to gain from producing and distributing this content and how might an infographic help me reach my goal?
- Who is my target audience and will this cohort be receptive to a visual story? What action (if any) do I want them to take after engaging with my content?
- What story am I trying to tell and does that story lend itself to a more visual format? Is it, for example, particularly data heavy?
- How will I measure success?
- What are my key performance indicators (KPIs)?
These questions will provide the groundwork for you to move forward with an infographic (or not, if you determine it doesn’t meet your current goals and priorities).
Time for Production
The process of creating an infographic is often a challenging one. After all, it’s not as simple as designing an image or writing a blog post. Content marketers must leverage copywriters, editors, designers, and, in some cases, data analysts, to produce a piece of content that is not only visually engaging, but also flows naturally and reads in a way that makes sense. Sure, you can create a few designs and slap on some data points, but you won’t be doing your brand any favors. Humans are naturally drawn to stories. If your infographic fails to tell stories using original imagery and creative copy, it won’t resonate with your audience.
That’s why it’s important to engage your creative team (including but not limited to content strategists, copywriters, editors, and designers) early on in the process. That way they can strategize ways to work together and familiarize themselves with how they plan to illustrate the story from the very start.
Once you’ve given your team a chance to review the project, task your copywriters and content strategists with producing a detailed outline of the infographic. Be as specific as possible—ask them to write a proposed title and create compelling section headers and supporting copy throughout. Encourage them to incorporate specific data and make design suggestions throughout the document to provide your designer with additional creative direction. For instance, you might suggest a callout to highlight a specific sentence or data point that you’d like to feature.
This way, once it comes time for the designer to create the graphic, the story will have already been fleshed out.
But even clearest and most detailed outline will likely need to go through a few rounds of edits before the entire team agrees that it’s ready for publication. And that’s a good thing. Infographics take time, so it’s important to ensure the highest quality before you make it public. Every time you post a piece of content, whether that be a case study, e-book, blog post, or infographic, it’s a reflection of your brand. As a result, you want to make sure your content upholds the highest standards, from both a design and editorial perspective. One grammatical error or slow-loading graphic can impact your brand’s reputation.
If you think the work is done once you’ve finalized the infographic, think again. One important, yet often overlooked, aspect of content marketing is distribution, namely where your infographic will live and how it will be disseminated to your audience. Where an infographic is hosted is sometimes out of the hands of the people who produced it, but we recommend creating a unique landing page to drive users to through your website and marketing activities like social media posts, paid campaigns, and email blasts.
Then, use Google Analytics to create custom UTM tags. This will allow you to track significant data points, including how long people are spending on the infographic (time on page) and how many leads this piece of content has driven (conversions). These statistics will be especially useful if and when you need to make the case to internal stakeholders that content is worth the investment because it directly impacts your company’s bottom line.
As the media landscape continues to change, some professionals have expressed frustration about where the industry is headed. But it also presents creatives with an opportunity to use their skills in a different way. Writers are no longer simply writing articles for publications. Designers are no longer illustrating magazine covers. There’s now an opportunity for brands to become storytellers, and infographics give writers, editors, and designers a chance to flex their creative muscles—all while helping businesses be successful.