By Jason Miller published November 17, 2013

12 Insights for Visual Content Success with Infographics

lightbulb showing internet connectionsSome marketing skeptics claim that infographics are dead. I disagree. I think bad infographics are dead, and always have been. Well-designed and executed infographics, on the other hand, are not just alive — they are a thriving and essential part of any integrated content marketing strategy.

With all the competition for consumer attention on the web, it takes more than just creative wording to rivet eyeballs. An infographic is a compelling way to use visual content to tell a rich story at a glance.

Here are some of the reasons why infographics are the perfect way to capture consumer attention:

  • Visual content is at an all-time high: Social media sites that focus exclusively on images are swiftly gaining in popularity. In February, TechCrunch reported that the percentage of online adults using Pinterest (15 percent) had almost caught up to the percentage using Twitter (16 percent). Facebook recognized that Instagram was going places when they purchased the photo-focused app for $1 billion in 2012. Today, Instagram has 150 million monthly active users. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all get the power of the picture and have added better image-sharing functionality to their platforms over the past few years.
  • They put the “I” in image: Of course, words are still the best way to communicate many types of information, but according to a 2011 study by Skyword, the total views of a piece of written content increase by 94 percent when visual content, such as an image or infographic, is embedded.
  • Competition improves quality: The number of infographic vendors continues to grow, prompting lists of the best infographic design companies, such as this one just published by Visibility Magazine.
  • Big data is big: We have more access to data than ever before, and data is the very core of infographics.

Indeed, the competition to create an infographic that’s viral-worthy is fierce, so you need a solid plan.

5 steps to creating killer infographics:

  1. Come up with a concept to tell a timely story
  2. Find or capture striking, reliable data to back it up
  3. Design a visually winning infographic
  4. Set clear marketing goals
  5. Follow through on these goals with a marketing plan

That last step is one that harried marketers often treat as an afterthought or even skip, but without it, the other steps are pointless.

My experience (working at Marketo and LinkedIn) has shown me that a company’s blog is the best permanent residence for an infographic, and that it’s a smart practice to offer an embed code for readers to easily grab so they can share the image elsewhere. Great infographics have wanderlust — they beg to travel and be consumed; that’s why you can find them all over the web. So, the more seductive your infographic — and the more desirous companies, organizations, and individuals are to repost your infographic on their blogs and social media — the greater the chance of spreading your infographic and brand message quickly.

Why go through all this trouble for one piece of marketing content? The answer is four-fold:

4 benefits of a successful infographic

  1. It attracts attention: An infographic is a visual interpretation of your brand message; a rich combination of words, data, and pictures in a fun format that can be easily shared.
  2. It has viral potential: A viral piece of content is valuable — almost sacred to a brand. It’s the Holy Grail of content from which consumers drink heavily. If you can get your infographic to go viral, you’ve won.
  3. It is fuel for your social and demand-gen programs: An infographic is easy to share on any medium, so it’s great content for social media sites, email marketing campaigns, and even in an eBook or on a printed brochure. It can be multi-purposed to the hilt.
  4. It attracts SEO linkbacks: If influential people or companies link to your infographic from their websites and blogs, you get more than just a bigger audience — you also earn higher search engine rankings. Search engines consider an incoming link to your site from another reputable site proof positive that you are a bona fide content source.

3 secret channels to showcase your infographic

Beyond your usual marketing channels, there are a few strategic places you can place your infographic that many companies don’t seem to take advantage of, which is inexplicable to me, since these channels are cheap-to-free and take very little effort. Here are my top three essential channels to utilize:

  1. SlideShare: This presentation-sharing technology has been around for a while and is available to LinkedIn members to showcase their work visually within their profiles. A lot of LinkedIn members use SlideShare to display portfolios, for example. SlideShare recently upgraded its technology to host, display, and share infographics right from a company’s profile page. Displaying your infographic on LinkedIn gives you insight into analytics and lead gen right from that page.
  2. Infographic directories: There are plenty of online directories that allow you to display and then track traffic from your infographic back to your website or other call-to-action destinations. Search for your favorite using SearchRank’s Quick List of Infographic Directories.
  3. Press releases: The days of hiring a publicist to issue a press release are long gone. Now, you can easily submit your release to online distribution services, such as PRWeb. Because many companies still distribute dry, text-only press releases, if your release includes creative and informative visual content front and center, news outlets are more likely to notice it and include it in their stories.

Infographics, when properly designed and executed, are popular marketing tools because they work. But they’re not necessarily for every company, and aren’t guaranteed to go viral, which is why a small faction of critics claim they aren’t valuable marketing content. In my experience, whether an infographic is a huge hit or not, it’s always a sound investment in your content marketing.

For more ideas on using visual content, such as infographics and images, to make your content stand apart from the competition, check out Joe Pulizzi’s book, “Epic Content.”

Cover image via Bigstock

Author: Jason Miller

Jason Miller is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, leading the content marketing and social media strategy for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. Previously, he was the Senior Manager, Social Media Strategy, at Marketo. He led the company's social media efforts by increasing engagement, optimizing for lead generation, and driving revenue. He also played a key role in developing Marketo’s content strategy by developing many of the top performing resources and most viral visual content pieces. Before Marketo, Jason spent more than 10 years at Sony Music Entertainment, developing and executing marketing campaigns around the biggest names in music. When he is not building campaigns, creating remarkable content, and tracking the ROI of social, he is winning awards as a concert photographer, singing 80's metal Karaoke, and winning at Seinfeld trivia. Follow Jason on Twitter @JasonMillerCA.

Other posts by Jason Miller

  • http://www.KrishnaDe.com/ Krishna De

    Jason thanks for sharing these tips – I agree there is an art to creating meaningful and well designed infographics as part of your visual marketing.

    By the way – I think you have a typing error – Instagram now has 150 million monthly active users.

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Thanks for the comment Krishna. Will check on that stat and correct it.

  • Floriefemay

    Yes! Dead and Bad infographics are way too different. The 12 insights are very well explained and it is an A plus if the graphics have well designed images, plan and has a reliable data in it.

    I think when you hit the key element of making infographics you can able to generate the benefits!

    Remarkable insights! Thanks for sharing one!

    I found and I “kingged” this on the Internet marketing social site – Kingged.com
    and left a comment.

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Thanks for the comment! Glad to hear that you found it useful.

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  • http://blog.wishpond.com/ Adella @ Wishpond

    Hi Jason. You really have put it all together here! We’ve mainly used Pinterest to promote our infographics. One thing I really like about Pinterest is it allows us to track how many people have shared our infographic. It’s a great way to track pinning activities to identify the pinners’ tastes, the most repined content & the most pinned topics. Have you tried it before?

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      I have a board called “Kick-ass Inforgraphics” that I pin to, but to be honest, I really need to pay more attention to Pinterest overall. Thanks for the comment, really appreciate you chiming in.

  • Allison Schoner

    Infographics are very popular now. People love to see concise, visual information on one page. They key to a successful infographic is a great distribution strategy http://studioone.com/blog/distribution-kings-hand

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Agreed! Thanks for chiming in Allison.

  • Ted Hart Karczewski

    Thanks for this great article and Skyword shout out, Jason.

    I think it’s important for non-designers to try their hand at building a storyboard for their infographic concepts. I’ve found it very effective to look at infographic creation the same way I might look at scripting for a print ad or tv spot. Get a full 360 degree view of the scene you’re trying to set before you go out and put “pen” to paper. It will save on revisions moving forward.

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Thanks for the comment Ted, I am a big fan of Skyword : ) Love the idea around building a storyboard.

  • http://www.onfiremediaonline.com/ ‘TC’ Teresa Clark

    Hello Jason,

    What a superb and informational article! Truly enjoyed reading it and agree that we need to come up with a timely story and set marketing goals. This is what I do when creating infographics to use as content.

    Customers are an excellent source of content. Not only will they know why they purchase from you, they may also have some stories regarding how your product or service helped them. Have a 3rd-party interview your customers. Ensure that whoever is interviewing your customers is asking them open-ended questions rather than yes/no questions. This gets your customers speaking more about distinct connections with your organization.

    Thanks again for sharing,
    ‘TC’ Teresa Clark

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Thanks for the comment Teresa. Nice addition regarding customers as an excellent source of content, I couldn’t agree more.

  • Joe Cardillo

    Good stuff! Nice to see someone hammering home how important story and strategy are. Will definitely be sharing this with people I know.

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Thanks Joe!

  • http://kayakonlinemarketing.com/ Randy Milanovic

    I would add… make the info graphic part of a bigger campaign to compound the potential results of all components.

  • http://www.referralcandy.com/ ReferralCandy

    Infographics today are really beautiful! Most of them are done by professional designers, and are simply stunning to look at. Coupled with accurate and compelling data/stats, and it’ll very likely be shared quite frequently in relevant fields.

    It is especially useful when trying to explain heaps of otherwise dry data, and can segregate information into bite-sized, digestible chunks. Additionally, as you have mentioned, having an overarching concept to tie the entire infographic together is quite crucial as well.

    Lastly, sharing it on popular visual websites (especially Pinterest) can be very helpful in getting exposure for your infographic!

    Thanks for writing this article!

    -hum