According to WebDAM, the human brain processes visual data 60,000 times faster than text. And there’s more: 65% of your audience are visual learners. So what can you do to capture their attention?
What a lot of people are doing is that they are using infographics as a visual way to reach their audience. Infographics let you share complex information with your audience in a simple, image-based format.
According to Unbounce, demand for infographics has increased by 800% in the last two years. Here’s how the growth pattern looks:
Copyblogger published an infographic in 2012 titled 15 Grammar Goofs. To date, that infographic alone has generated 6,000+ tweets, 49,200+ Facebook likes, 1,700+ LinkedIn shares, 1,700+ Google+ shares, a gargantuan 176,500+ pins and more than 230 comments.
That example shows how powerful infographics can be, but it’s not just about creating the infographic. To achieve success you also have to make sure the content is in sync with your business and you must promote it massively so you can get consistent quality traffic and inbound links. Otherwise you are wasting time and money, and who wants to do that?
Don’t let that happen to you.
If you want to create infographics with the potential to send 60,000 plus qualified visitors to your site every year, you’ll want to read this post from start to finish. I will walk you through everything you need to know for success. Here’s what I’ll cover:
- The Elements of a Good Infographic
- How to Come Up With Infographic Topics That Actually Work
- How to Create a Useful and Shareable Infographic
- Getting the Infographic Designed
- Distributing Your Infographic
- Testing Different Types of Infographics
Download this step by step infographic creation guide that you can use today to create your own infographics.
The Elements of a Good Infographic
Let’s face it. Not all infographics are created equal.
Some truly address users’ needs; others sink into well-deserved oblivion.
How do you make sure you deliver the first kind? I’m going to let you into a secret: the majority of the infographics that go viral on social media networks have three elements in common: a consistent method, a unique story and trusted statistical data. Pay attention to those as you create your own infographic and you will be poised for success.
1. Method: I’m sure you agree that the method you use to create your infographic can affect its perceived value. As with any other content marketing decision, the end user (prospective customer) is the person who matters most in your content marketing decisions.
Of course, you have a choice. You might decide to present the infographic by using sequential data, graphs, flow charts – whichever you choose, here are some points to follow so that your good idea doesn’t go bad. Optima Worldwide has some enlightening examples of infographics gone wrong.
Make sure you also match your headline to your audience and topic. For instance, if your audience likes “how to” blog posts, they will probably love “how to” infographics. If your business is tech-related, your infographic headlines have to suit your tech-driven users.
2. Unique story: The second most valuable element of a good infographic is a story that connects with your readers emotionally. One way to do this is with familiar images. In the screenshot below, the marketing infographic features a character in a superhero outfit.
That reinforces the message of marketing intelligence, strength and telepathy.
Even if your topic isn’t new, a unique story will spice it up and stir the emotions, says the Storytellers site.
Here’s an example of the power of storytelling. Even though it’s not about an infographic, it makes a powerful point.
About a year ago, Jon Morrow wrote a blog post at Problogger that changed the lives of virtually everyone who read it. It was centered around a story of how the author quit his job, moved to paradise and got paid to change the world.
That post went viral, and got 9,500+ Facebook likes, 2900+ tweets and over 150 comments. Just like Jon Morrow, you can supercharge your infographic by infusing story into it.
In fact, since 93 percent of the most engaging posts on Facebook are photo posts, telling a story in this graphic format makes it even better.
One option for your infographic is to tell the story of experiments you have carried out and strategies you used to achieve a result. But there’s another option – using other people’s trusted research to create a new story. I’m talking about using statistical data.
3. Statistical data: Most of your target audience won’t be interested in an infographic that’s just based on your personal opinion, without the data to back it up. If you want to establish trust, you need to communicate value with verifiable sources.
The truth is that with most topics, someone has already written about them. All you need to do is find and reference that data. If you look at infographics that really do well (like this and this) you will see that they all have multiple data points.
Using trusted statistical data tells potential readers that you’re not the only one who believes in a particular fact. Other industry experts can authenticate it too.
Mr. K has a different agenda: his sales pitch is focused on what his training courses have done for other people like you in the past 3 months.
So he says to the prospects, “The training video will share 15 success stories of guys who have successfully lost up to 20 pounds in the past 3 months and the 3-step plan to get your own results.
Which of these fitness experts are you likely to buy from? I think Mr. K will definitely win, because he understands that data, visuals and proof are what his core audience wants. It’s the same with infographics.
How to Come Up With Infographic Topics That Actually Work
Your readers’ attention spans get shorter every year, according to The Guardian. And that means you need to deliver infographics that grab their emotions – and their attention. In this section, I’ll show you the best ways to come up with topics that inspire them to read further.
Basically, it’s all about the research – and here’s where you look:
1. Trending topics: What’s happening right now in your niche? Are there keywords you can target? Are people talking about the topic? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then you’ve got a worthwhile idea for an infographic. Use resources like Google Trends, Alltop’s Holy Kaw and others to find these.
2. Evergreen topics: Some topics never die. Year in, year out you see them in forums, Facebook pages, Twitter streams, LinkedIn groups and other platforms. Find one of these and you have a great topic for an infographic.
See if you can spot which of the ideas below is evergreen and which is a trend:
- How to Install WordPress in 5 Steps
- How To Customize Your Own Blog Design
If you said the first one, you’re right! That’s because while blog customization is not for everyone, anyone who wants to start blogging will want to read the tutorial.
Create infographics based on ideas your readers and customers are familiar with and want to know more about.
3. Controversial topics: If people are debating a hot topic that you can find information on, that’s another good candidate for your infographic. Here are three examples :
- Why Not All American Youths Should Go To College
- How To Lose 20lbs of Fat in 30 Days without Doing Any Exercise
- Affordable Businesses You Can Start with Little or No Money
Why are these topics controversial?
First, they’re debatable. People who read these titles will be thinking:
- Isn’t college education the best legacy for youths?
- How on earth can someone lose 20lbs of fat in one month with no exercise – is it really possible?
- Can someone truly start a business with no money? I mean zero investment? Personally, I doubt it.
If they’re asking questions about your article title, they’re already hooked, which is why this is a good technique for deciding on infographic topics.
4. Most viewed content: Find out what content is doing well on other sites and use that data to come up with infographic ideas.
For example, you can check out the most viewed YouTube videos, as Leading Media did, and extract insights that help you to choose topics.
You can also visit document sharing sites to identify content that is doing well. There are thousands of trusted sites, but here’s how it would work with Docstoc.com.
Step #1 – Visit www.docstoc.com
Step #2 – Check the homepage for featured content chosen by the editors. Alternatively, if you don’t find a topic that interests you, search the site, using your target keyword.
Step #3 – Check the results for the top content.
The screenshot below shows popular content in the marketing and advertising niche. The infographic has had 3879 views since publication in July 2014; that’s more than enough for a profitable infographics campaign. Use the titles of popular content to inspire your own infographics titles.
Of course, the title alone is not enough. Promotion is key. I’ll discuss infographic promotion in a while.
How to Create a Useful and Sharable Infographic
Once you have a topic, it’s time to create a useful and infographic. Everyone has their own definition of “useful” content.
I think useful content is well-researched with actionable tips for the reader, like the post you are reading now. For other people, useful content could mean short and simple steps required to achieve a particular goal. As I’ve said before, it’s all about what the reader wants.
Making it shareable is easier because there’s research from Buzzsumo, one of the kings of shareable content, that you can use to set benchmarks for infographic creation.
Buzzsumo analyzed 100 million articles to figure out why some content was more shared than other content. The study found:
- that including images increases the number of Facebook shares.
- that infographics are among the most shared content.
- that appealing to emotions results in more shares.
- that people share what they find useful.
You can use the results of the Buzzsumo study to help you create a shareable infographic.
Let’s get back to the question of emotions for a minute. People take action based on what they feel, so you have to get them to feel.
This pie chart from okdork.com highlights the popular emotions you should invoke when creating your infographic:
Amazement, amusement, anger – it almost doesn’t matter as long as they feel something. Make people feel and they will want to share that feeling – and your infographic!
Finding the data
As I’ve said before, the data is as important as the visuals in creating an infographic. So where can you find valuable, verifiable data? You don’t want to end up like the social psychologist accused of faking research results, do you. Don’t worry; depending on your industry, there are several data sources you can trust.
- Hubspot marketing statistics
- The US National Library of Medicine
- Business case studies
- Wikipedia (but only if the article has been verified by the editors)
- Marketingprofs Library
- Decision Analyst
Research from professional bodies can be helpful too, as can corporate blogs and spreadsheets, documents and white papers from industry analysts.
The data you need to create a useful and sharable infographic content will be scattered around multiple sources and materials – it’s your job to find them, collate them and put them to good use.
How to structure and outline your infographic
When you have collected your data, read what you have aloud. Use your instincts to figure out if it seems useful or if you still need more information.
Knowing your purpose will also help you with structure. Ask yourself these two questions:
- Does the infographic provide actionable advice? Many infographics are about giving information that readers can use. One example is this web redesign guide from Quicksprout.
- Is the infographic for entertainment? Perhaps you’re tapping into the “laughter is the best medicine” vibe, grabbing people’s emotions by evoking humor and passion. Mashable’s infographic on the cost of being Iron Man 3 is a good example of an entertaining infographic.
When you’re clear about whether you have the right data to suit your purpose, it’s time to start structuring your infographic.
The image above from Crazy Egg shows the basic outline for an infographic. This is a good starting point, though it’s not set in stone. Be prepared to change the structure if that would better suit your audience or your purpose.
Still need more?
Labs42 provides an outline that it says has produced great results. I’ve fleshed out that structure with my take on what each section should include.
- Header – This is where the infographic title or header will appear. This is where you use the advice I gave above on finding topics and titles to write something that will hook the reader. You need to be creative. Hubspot’s Corey Eridon says your title can either make or break the reach of the infographic.
- Subheader (optional) – The subheader is optional, but if you use it, it is where you further explain the title. For example, if your title is “How To Monetize a Blog”, the subheading can be “A 5 Step Approach to Help You Make Money Today.”
- Section 1 Header/Key message – You key message should be located in the first section of your infographic, right after the headline. This could be the main issue that people are struggling with relating to your topic.
- Section 1 Supporting Data Points – This is where you start using the data you have collected to support your claims and give your key message meaning. You can also use charts, icons or images in this section.
- Section 2 Header/Key message – In this section, you want to maintain the flow. Using our blog monetization example, if section 1 highlights the major hurdle bloggers go through when trying to monetize their blogs, you could expand on the point.
- Section 2 Supporting Data Points – Support and validate every statement with charts and statistical data points. Don’t just tell people what to do, show them proven results.
- Section 3 Header/Key message – In this section, add another key message for your readers. Ideally, let the message flow from section 1 and 2.
- Section 3 Supporting Data Points – Support your key message with data points, charts, mascots, icons etc and other visuals.
- Depending on your topic/idea, you can add more sections and back them up with data points.
- Key Takeaway/Call to Action – Sometimes you can make an infographic clickable. But the more common way to include a call to action is by adding your complete URL. For example: “for more information, visit: www.yoursite.com”
- Sources – List the websites where you got the data for the infographic. See the example below.
Understanding color psychology
You’re almost ready to design your infographic but there’s one more issue to think about before you reach the design phase: choosing the right colors for your infographic.
Color choice can affect the impact of your message. Believe it or not, many content marketers and designers don’t understand the power of the color red. According to Color Wheel Pro, red is an intensely emotional color associated with power and action. That means you can use red on call to action buttons to increase conversion rates.
Check out the graphic below for more information on color psychology.
And read my guide on how colors affect conversion rates so you can take charge of the colors you use for headings, hyperlinks and buttons.
Getting the Infographic Designed
Now you’re ready to design the infographic. There are two ways to go about it,. You could either design it yourself or you could simply hire a professional.
Hiring good designers is easier than ever thanks to the wide range of freelance marketplaces around. I’m going to show you how to find and hire great designers at Dribbble, Fiverr and Odesk, but these tips will work for any place where designers hang out.
Hire a good designer at Dribbble: If you want amazing infographic designs, Dribbble is a great place to start. It’s not cheap, but you won’t regret it.
Step #1: Visit dribbble.com
Step #2: Sign up for free and upgrade to pro membership ($20/year) so you can search the entire database and hire the best designers.
Step #3: Search, using the filtering tools to find some suitable candidates.
Step #4: When you find designers you like, see if they have done something similar to the design you want. To do that, click the name of any designer. Here’s what you’ll find:
Step #5: If the work looks good, click the “hire me” link. You will soon have a qualified designer to help you with your infographic design.
Hire a good designer at Fiverr: If you want to minimize costs, consider hiring your infographic designer from Fiverr.
Step #1: Visit Fiverr.com
Step #2: Type “infographic” in the search box and click “find services.”
The highest rated designers are shown first.
Let’s assume you decide to hire the first designer.
Step #3: Click the infographic placeholder to view the designer’s profile. Here’s the screenshot:
Let’s analyze this designer and what you stand to get if you choose to hire him/her:
- You get an amazing infographic. That’s what the designer claims, but do you know for sure? With so much competition, you need amazing content to stand out, so it’s important to assess this (perhaps by looking at other examples of the designer’s work).
- The designer submits your infographic to 25+ high PR websites. Many of these are more like directories because they accept infographics from virtually everyone. But if your goal is to generate 60,000 plus visitors a year from your infographic, you can’t afford to ignore this bonus.
- You get the design for just $5. You might think that $5 is way too cheap, but many of the highest rated designers are masters at what they do, and have the right software, icons, and toolkits to design amazing work for you.
Step #4: Read the pitch, so you can get to know what the designer has in store for you. What kind of person is s/he? Scroll down the Fiverr profile page and you’ll find more details on the designer’s services:
Step #5: If you decide to hire the designer, look at the right side of the profile page and click “ORDER NOW.”
You will get information about the average response time (5 hours) and how many people are ahead of you. In this case, it’s 62, so you will have to be patient. 🙂
Step #6: You will be redirected to PayPal to complete the payment. Afterwards, you’ll fill the order form with your title, data points and other information for the designer.
Hiring a good designer at oDesk: oDesk.com is a popular freelance job site where you can find highly qualified infographic designers. If you want several designers to apply, you must create your own job ad copy.
Step #1: Write your ad copy – If you’re not a copywriter, you could simply model someone’s ad copy and create a better version for yourself.
Here’s a template you could tweak:We’re looking for a professional who can design a good looking infographic. If you’re interested and can deliver within 3 days, we want to work with you. Please send samples of your past designs.
Step #2: Post a job – on the homepage, click “post a job” to begin the process of hiring a designer:
Note: You must be a member of oDesk before you can post a job. Sign up for free, and then you can post your job.
Unlike Fiverr, where the rate begins at $5, you may have to pay industry rates at oDesk. Check out existing Odesk ads to see what businesses typically pay designers for creating infographics.
When you have your ad copy, you can look beyond Odesk and post a job at any of these 7 freelance job sites to have more choice of designers.
How do you make your decision?
The first designer you see on Dribbble, Fiverr or Odesk may not necessarily be the best fit for you. Here’s what you need to think about:
- Does your designer have at least some of these top ten qualities?
- Does their design style fit with your brand? Check their previous designs to see. There’s nothing wrong with asking the designer to show you samples of past work.
- Is the designer passionate about discussing your vision and your brand? If not, look for someone else.
Once you choose a designer, get in touch. Each site has rules about the best way to communicate with service providers. Usually this means communicating through the site. If you attempt to bypass this and get the designer’s email address, you could be banned.
If everything goes according to plan, you will soon have an infographic. The next step is to put it on your site.
How to Format and Publish an Infographic on Your Site
In most cases, your designer won’t help you publish the infographic. That’s your job, and it’s pretty easy.
There are two options. The first is to keep your infographic private and just upload the graphic to your site, the same way you add photos to your WordPress site. But if your goal is more traffic, why would you want to do that?
Instead, you want to make it easy for people to share your infographic. According to Hubspot, the right social sharing techniques (more on this in the next section) can give your infographic consistent exposure.
To get those benefits and generate 60,000 plus visitors a year, you need some HTML embed code so people can put your infographic on their own sites, with a link back to yours.
How to Generate the Embed Code
Before you generate the embed code, upload the full resolution image of your infographic to your blog post or web page. This is the page people who share your infographic will link to. Resize the infographic to fit your webpage or blog post, and set it to open in a new browser window – so that the reader can stay on your infographic page.
I’m going to show you how to use Siege Media’s online embed code generator to create your embed code:
How do you fill the blank spaces in the screenshot above? I’ll show you.
- Site Name: This is your domain name (www.yourdomain.com). When people share your infographic post, they will need to attribute it. Fill this box and your domain will appear at the top of your infographic. People may decide to delete this message, but it will still serve as a reminder that you need to be credited for your infographic. It’s not a public domain image.
- Post URL: This is simply the URL where your infographic is located. This is the page people will link to when they start to share your awesome design. Copy the exact post address from your browser and paste it here.
- Image URL: Go to the post, right click on the infographic and click, “copy image URL”. Copy and paste the address here.
- Image Alt: This is important for SEO purposes. Simply type the name of your infographic e.g. How to increase your sales.
- Width of image: What size is your infographic? Input the width here. As a default, 650px will work for most blogs, but readers can also resize the image if they need to.
- Height of image: Don’t make your infographic too long, because it could reduce engagement. Leave the default as specified by Siege Media, and it will automatically adjust to the right width.
- Embed box width: How wide do you want the infographic embed code to be on your blog page? You may decide to make this smaller than the infographic width. If the width of your infographic is 650px, you could make the embed code box 450px. It’s up to you.
- Embed box height: Leave this set to default and it will automatically adjust to the width you specified above.
- Preview: The preview shows how your embed code will look on your blog post/webpage.
When you’re done, copy the embed code generated and paste it into the html panel of your blog post/web page editor where you want the code to appear. Add it beneath your infographic to make copying and sharing easier. Include a call to action (like “share this image on your site” above the embed code.
This is what it will look like.
You can find another HTML code generator at infographic journal. There are also several WordPress plugins that generate embed codes. You can also code the HTML manually (if you’re a WordPress code nerd) or learn how to generate the embed code in 5-steps at Hubspot.
Pro tip: It’s important you let your readers view the infographic in its original size so they can follow it easily. To do this, grab the URL to the full image and add a link below the infographic that says: “click here to enlarge image”.
Distributing Your infographic
Infographics are massive – that’s no exaggeration.
Web Marketing Group shows that infographic creation is increasing by 1% every day. And the number of infographics listed in Google’s database has increased 800% in two years.
That makes distribution essential for getting traffic benefits. Everyone loves a good infographic, but how do you get people to see yours? Here are some strategies to try
Hire someone from Fiverr to submit your infographic. Not all sites will accept it, but you will get a huge boost in traffic and inbound links. When I searched, there were some great choices:
Submit your infographic yourself, using these lists as a starting point: 100 sites to submit your infographics.Quick Sprout has an easy guide you can follow.
You should also make WordPress sharing easier by using a social sharing plugin like Digg Digg. You can also install the Lightbox Plus plugin. It makes it easy for people to view a larger version of your graphic, and get more excited to share it.
Lastly, you should use other promotion channels. You can get your infographic noticed through other methods like blogger outreach, guest blogging and press release distribution.
Testing Different Types of Infographics
To get the traffic benefits of creating infographics, you need to know what works and what doesn’t. To find out, you need to test them.
The image next shows two infographic layouts. How do you determine which one is best for you?
Just create two different infographics on the same topic, using the same outline but with different layout. Promote them simultaneously and see which one is most successful to identify the best layout for your business.
If you want to split test using different fonts, then Template.net’s top 50 fonts for infographics designs will be helpful.
Also, it’s true that your infographic will generate web traffic, but hits are not the major way to measure business growth. Page views and comments matter for marketing, but your main focus should be on growing your email list, attracting paying clients/customers to your offers, and selling your products.
According to Aberdeen Group, businesses that have a strong sales and marketing alignment achieve 20% annual growth rate. On the other hand, businesses with poor sales and marketing alignment have a 4% revenue decline.
Use the infographic you created to gain more qualified leads for your business and always optimize for conversions. You must align the promotion of your infographic and other content forms to boost your sales.
Creating and distributing useful infographics is no longer optional; it’s a business necessity.
Piktochart provides a list of 8 types of infographics you probably should create at some point in your marketing career. This is a good starting point.
Have you had any success creating and distributing valuable infographics for your business?