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Why Infographics Should Be an Essential Part of Your Content Marketing Plan for 2016

Visual content is a powerful strategy for grabbing attention and sucking in your audience. It’s seductive, promising to quickly impart knowledge with a lower “effort threshold” required by the reader.  Somehow, whenever we see an infographic, we cannot help being drawn to study it. Maybe we are hardwired to seek out information sources that are visually pleasing and that break down complex subjects into a format we can easily absorb.

Whatever the reasons, it’s pretty clear infographics are exploding right now. Some of our clients are achieving impressive results with infographics, and whether it’s deployed as a lead magnet or as a free, downloadable resource any visitor to your website can download right from the page, we’ve put together this exclusive, deep-dive study into infographics so you can take advantage of the visual content revolution this year!

Find why visual content works so well, why it’s more important than ever to include visual in 2016, how much more quickly pictures are absorbed into the brain than words and more.  Hold on tight – here we go!

Section One: Consider What You’re Up Against

In all human history, we have probably never been faced with as much information to consume on a daily basis. There is a wealth of media in all formats available to the target audience of your business blog, 24-7. Some of it is coming at them whether they ask for it or not, but mostly, they are going after the information, choosing what they want to digest, and what they do not.  Every day, the number of pieces of social content that are shared number into the hundreds of millions. The majority of marketers now realise the need to add value to their audience through content marketing, so they are all piling in…..with more and more content.

It’s a veritable snowstorm of information!

With so much to choose between, readers can afford to be very discerning. Of course, sub-standard content will never achieve the results you need, but the sad thing is that it’s perfectly possible that even well-written content could fail to make enough of an impact. The average human attention span online is just 8 seconds! That’s not a lot of time to grab someone’s attention, and if you present them with a block of text, there’s always a higher proportion of users that will simply turn elsewhere.

Even highly relevant information might not be enough on its own to hold the attention of your audience. What you need is something that provides great value, that will educate, inspire, and illuminate, but most of all, be interesting and enjoyable to study. An increasing amount of buying decisions are made around online research done before purchase, so it’s clearly essential you provide lots of useful information on your website – but how to present it in such a way as to capture the attention of the largest audience possible?

Drumroll, please…..

Section Two: Enter Visual Content Marketing – A.K.A. “Infographics”

The smart choice for businesses faced with an important concept to convey and a busy and distracted audience, infographics have for some time now been gathering momentum. To begin with, they were used by government departments and in the education sector. Since then, they have exploded into just about every sector you can imagine.

What’s the secret of their success?

A good infographic presents information in a way that is easier to absorb and understand.

A great infographic makes information highly memorable, so your audience will continue to benefit from the information, maybe years after it was first created.

It’s not about turning words into pictures for the sake of doing it. The written word is still used, just not where a picture can do the job instead. In a great infographic, you will find words and pictures working together to open up a topic and help you understand it in a logical sequence. Which leads us neatly to….

Section Three: Why Infographics Get Higher Page Views than Text Posts

The first place that infographics score highly is in attracting attention.  Did you know, for example, that a mere splash of color increases the brain’s willingness to read by up to 80%?  Or that our brains can process images 60,000 times faster than text?

Now, you do! It’s not that your readers are lacking in intelligence. It’s more that they have so many demands on their time, and an infographic offers the brain a pleasing treat, a visual feast if you will. We cannot help being drawn to great infographics, and will study them not just once, but many times. If it’s helpful, we are far more likely to download the file and save it for future reference. Maybe we will send a copy by email, or print it off and keep it by our desk (more on this in a minute.)

This is why it’s well worth investing time and money into a good infographic – once you have someone’s attention, you are far more likely to be able to retain it. They will follow on to your written posts, and see what products and services you offer. They may sign up to your email list or take advantage of an appropriate special offer. None of these good things would have happened had you not first got their attention and interest. It’s an old formula, but it still works well even in today’s increasingly technological marketplace!

Moving on….

Section Four: Different Types of Visual Content – Deciding Which to Use

Infographics come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. Some use a theme or metaphor – for example, a growing plant shape for an infographic depicting food variety changes over the years, or a rocket shape for an infographic about launching a new business. You can have a flow-chart style infographic to show a process, or a chart style one to depict comparative information.

Some are incredibly long and detailed, some are square and brief, some have a simplistic color scheme, others have quite complex ones – one of the great things about infographics is how easy it is to make yours totally unique in appearance as well as in content!

Deciding on the style of your infographic is largely dependent on what type of content you need to convey, but careful consideration of your target market is also important at this point. If you are employing a graphic designer to help you, make sure they are fully up to speed on the sort of audience you are looking to attract, so they can take this into account when coming up with concepts. (Also, you need to make sure they know what your main goals are for the infographic – see Section Eight for more on this….)  There are many inspiring examples of great infographics out there. It’s a good idea to save the ones you like to a folder on your computer and use this as a source of ideas for designs.

Here are a few popular visual content categories you might want to consider for your next infographic:

  • Checklists
  • Survey Responses
  • Case Studies
  • News Stories
  • Topic Research
  • Emerging Market Trends
  • Cheat Sheets

These useful tools are not restricted to a page on your website, either. They can be used in print media, in slideshows, as PDF downloads, posters, diary inserts, promotional items – the list goes on and on!

Section Five: Why Quality over Quantity Matters in Infographics

You really need to pick just the key points to feature in your infographic. For each point, then decide if it can be conveyed by an image or by words or a combination of both. Obviously, the main reason people are coming to your infographic is because they want the distilled wisdom, in a “just the bits you need to know” format, so anything that falls outside that category is best left out.

Ruthlessly cut back your content until you are sure it contains no more than the essentials. Don’t be afraid of creating a big infographic, especially if it’s a big subject, but ensure that all the information is highly relevant and necessary to the topic. Then, it comes down to how attractively you can present your information. Winning infographics have a combination of instantly-understandable images alongside more detailed text that helps their audience answer a specific question – for example, how to dress for a black-tie event, what role a certain company played in creating a new industry, how famously creative people structured their day, and so on.

For content ideas, consider frequently asked questions from your contacts, old blog posts that worked really well as written content, evidence of confusion in your market (such as two similar-but-not-the-same technical descriptions that people often get back to front), stories, keywords and search terms used by your target market – really, anything that there is a thirst for knowledge about, that your company have the answers for (or can easily find them with a little research.)

Section Six: How To Distribute Your Infographics and Make People Want To Share Them

You’re ready to release your brand-new infographic into the big wide world. Wait! Before you hit “publish”, consider:

  • Does the infographic have your company name/URL visible somewhere? Consider the scenarios we mentioned earlier: users might print it off, forward to a friend (as an email attachment), upload to social media, or feature it on their websites. Ensure you will benefit from all this spreading of your message by including your details somewhere in the graphic.
  • This is a big moment. Shouldn’t you let some people know it’s about to happen?! Plan to notify your contacts by email, and consider other companies with a similar audience to you that might like to share it with their audience too. By building up some anticipation, and then synchronizing the release of the infographic across lots of different channels and partner sites, you can really get some momentum from the minute it goes live.
  • Are there some really key contacts who you are trying to win over to your business that you can share this with before it goes out to everyone? Sharing it individually with a few people (“this doesn’t go live until next week, but here is a preview just for you”) makes them feel important and special.
  • Are there industry-specific publications or websites that might be interested in featuring your infographic? This could add some valuable fuel to the fire!
  • Do you have a channel for feedback from your audience? Whether it is by an online comment section, a social media channel, or a dedicated email address, you should include an invitation to provide feedback and interaction with your release of your infographic – this can provide some really useful material for future topics
  • Could you even leverage your infographic as a speaking topic? There have been some successful content marketing pieces that have gone on to provide speaking opportunities for their creators. Consider launching the infographic in a dedicated webinar if you think this could be a good way to increase your audience and add more value to your subscribers.

Section Seven: Some of the Ways You Can Measure the Success of Your Infographic

It’s finally out there…great. Now to see how well you did. Consider tracking some of these metrics:

  • Web Traffic
  • Number of Downloads
  • Number of Social Shares
  • Sales Inquiries and Quote Requests
  • New Followers to Social Media Channels
  • Increased Search Results
  • Email Subscribers
  • Open and Click Rates on Emails
  • Press Mentions
  • Audience Feedback

It’s good to stay engaged with your infographic for a while after it goes live. Monitor results, be ready to tweak areas in response to feedback, make notes of ideas generated for future posts, and consider re-sending it to media outlets that may have declined the opportunity the first time round.

Sometimes, a piece of content marketing like this can be launched to a fairly muted response, only to go viral weeks or even months later. Keep tabs on this and be ready to react if it does happen – a piece of viral content can propel your company to previously unscaled heights!

Section Eight: Some Final Thoughts on the Power of Infographics

Visual Content Marketing is a potent strategy that can be deployed in many different circumstances, but it’s not a good solution for every topic. Use it strategically, and intersperse with keyword-rich written content marketing pieces for best effect.

Not only does it take more time and effort to produce an infographic than a blog post, it’s also something that is likely to stay around for a long time. The sort of topics that work well for infographics are “evergreen” – that is, containing principles or information that will stand the test of time – so a news item that is likely to be irrelevant in 12 months is probably not a good subject for an infographic.

At LeapGo, we have seasoned graphic designers and marketing pros amongst our website development team. We help clients all over the country, from SMEs right up to multi-country operators, with digital marketing strategies that get great results for their sales and profitability. If you have more questions that this post has not answered or some experience you would like to share, why not make use of the comment section below? Alternatively please contact us directly to discuss any projects you may have in mind.