Pitch infographics as a content format to a client or your boss and you run the risk of being met with a blank stare.
Because for some, infographics are a thing of the past.
Infographics Aren’t Dead, They’ve Just Had a Change of Purpose
You see, around 2012, everyone was producing infographics – often of very low quality.
Link builders used and abused the format to death.
Almost regardless of the topic and design, you could fairly easily land coverage on top-tier publications by using infographics.
Look at it from a journalist or bloggers perspective. Literally hundreds of marketers creating content which you can write a quick intro for, post, and embed the visual.
The problem with this was that the format became saturated.
All too often someone would pitch up a “bright” idea in a content strategy meeting:
“Let’s design an infographic!”
The quantity being produced increased over a few years and the quality declined.
Sometime around late 2016, top-tiers stopped publishing infographics at anywhere near the same frequency as they had been doing in prior years.
How do I know?
A few years back, I was producing somewhere between 200 and 300 infographics per year.
Thankfully, most were of a high design quality. But even now, I can look back and feel a little embarrassed as to some of the approaches and “quick wins” we took.
I’ll never forget a series of “sleep hack” infographics we rolled out for a bedding retailer. In reality, the first one was great – “11 Sleep Hacks Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know.” It landed coverage from many top-tier publications and some fantastic links (e.g., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Metro).
We then had the idea to change the title a number of times with a different design, yet pretty much the same hacks to roll out:
- Sleep Hacks for Students
- Sleep Hacks for Parents
- Sleep Hacks for Travellers
You see the trend?
Looking back it’s a little bit embarrassing.
But it worked.
Every time we rolled these out they landed big links. Win!
We probably relied too heavily on infographics a few years ago but they worked – until late 2016 when many journalists started replying to outreach emails with “sorry, we don’t cover infographics anymore.”
Despite this, we still use infographics in many campaigns and our two most successful pieces of content this year were both infographics.
Infographics Should Be a Key Part of Any Content Strategy
The problem with infographics a few years ago is that they were being used with a format-first approach.
Marketers were simply deciding to publish an infographic without much thought to the story and data behind it.
Infographics simply became an easy way to land links.
Times have changed.
But the good news is that, when used in the right way (as a way to present data and tell stories in a visual way), infographics are still highly effective.
Here are eight benefits to using infographics.
1. The Human Brain Process Visuals Better Than Text
It’s perhaps no surprise that our brains process information presented to us in a visual format far better than text.
In fact, it has been reported that we process visuals 60,000 times faster.
It makes sense and it’s one of the reasons why a well-designed infographic remains one of the best ways to increase engagement.
Think of it this way:
As content consumers, we’ve been overloaded with information in recent years. While there are definitely times when a 10,000-word guide is what’s needed, that isn’t always the case.
Data has a bad name for being boring and not really very to most of us, however, when you visualize it, it can take a new form and attract those who likely wouldn’t read it when presented in another format.
2. Infographics Are a Great Way to Tell Visual Stories
The reason why infographics found such a bad name for themselves is that marketers were using them simply as a way to land links. Rather than focussing on a story-first approach and determining the most suitable content form to present data and information, they became a way to land easy links.
We did what we’ve always done as SEOs… abused a good thing when we have it.
It’s no surprise that journalists got fed up with mediocre infographics and it’s still a mistake to pitch out saying ‘We’ve designed this infographic…’
I’m sorry, but no one cares that you’ve designed an infographic.
Journalists cover stories, not content.
It’s the data and stories behind an infographic which matter most but when you can present them in a visual way, stories can really come to life and be seen far more positively than simply sending out a press release or linking to a blog post.
A nicely designed infographic is a powerful content marketing tool; just be sure that it’s the right format to tell your story, however.
3. Infographics Are Easy to Digest
Not everyone has the time to read long-form content, nor do they always want to.
There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t use infographics to supplement your other content efforts, however.
A great example is my recently published guide on “How to Create Perfectly Optimized Content: 16 Essential Elements.” It’s a few thousand words long and fairly in-depth, however, the guide was summarized be a simple to understand infographic.
Why does it work?
Because it not only visualizes the advice put forward in the text but allows a reader to refer to it visually. The infographic gives context to the content and makes it easier to understand and implement.
Don’t always assume that content formats need to be used in isolation. Use them together to drive engagement and present consumption options for your readers.
4. Infographics Are Linkable
The reason why infographics became overused is because they became a great way to land links, often passively.
I’ll never forget the first infographic I ever (badly) designed myself; sometime in early 2013 in the months following Penguin: “Where to Source Guest Blogging Opportunities.”
Essentially, it was a visual guide on how to find sites who would accept a guest blog.
Pretty cringeworthy, thinking back.
However, this was right at the start of guest blogging becoming widely used.
I landed links from publications such as Social Media Today without doing anysort of outreach to promote it.
I literally shared it on social a few times and managed to get the blog post, which it was hosted on ranking.
This was the power of infographics back in 2013; a content snowball where one publication covers and links because they’ve seen it on another.
And that can still happen now – so long as there’s a great story.
Think about it this way.
Journalists are busy people. If they can quickly consume data in a visual way, without having to read through a lengthy press release, they’re in luck. So long as the data is solid and there’s a story they can pull, it’s a great way for them to build an article.
There’s one big difference nowadays, however.
Very few journalists who cover infographics actually embed them.
A recent campaign of mine earned over 150 links from publications such as Huffington Post, Bleacher Report, Glamour, and many others. Yet I’d estimate than less than 10 percent actually used the infographic.
Because they didn’t need to. They used the data as a base for their own article and worked in the images and visuals which they wanted to use to add value.
The infographic was a great way to earn editorial links but wasn’t the sole reason why the link was earned.
It was the data behind it.
If anyone tells you that infographics don’t earn links anymore, they’re wrong – and probably still pushing out mediocre ‘how to…’ listicle infographics which most of us stopped using years ago.
5. Infographics Are Shareable
As well as being linkable, infographics are easy to share.
Whether that’s on social, between team members or even within blog posts and articles; they’re a great way to share information with others.
In fact, 80 percent of marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing and that tweets with images receive 18 percent more retweets than tweets without images.
Why not consider slicing up your infographic into social-sized cards which can be shared across social? A great way to repurpose and drive further engagement from the content.
6. Infographics Help Establish You as an Expert
If you take a look at those who have built up a name for themselves in the business community (aside from those simply respected in search), we see the likes of Brian Dean and Larry Kim.
It’s perhaps no surprise that these guys are heavy users of (well designed and well thought out) infographics.
You see, given that infographics are shareable and linkable, they’re a great way to help establish yourself as an expert; so long as there’s the right distribution strategy in place.
Carefully plan a series of informative and engaging infographics, combine with a solid outreach strategy, and watch your engagement grow.
7. Infographics Can Help to Increase Sales
Infographics are a great sales tool.
Remember the statistics around the human brain consuming visuals better than text?
Let’s say you’re a SaaS brand and you’re showcasing what your platform can do.
Why not visualize as an infographic?
Rather than writing out the processes, benefits, and comparables, an infographic could make it instantly obvious to potential buyers as to why they should choose you over the competition.
An infographic doesn’t have to be used as a link building or PR tool.
Think about how you could educate your prospects in a visual way and give it a try.
8. Less Infographics Are Being Promoted Today
There’s no doubting the fact that (finally) there are less and less mediocre infographics being produced.
In many ways, there are fewer infographics being promoted full stop.
The good news is that we’re past the stage where the reaction from journalists and consumers is: “Oh no, not another infographic…”
So long as it’s used as a format to visually tell a story or present data, they remain a great way to attract attention.
Just be sure that it’s the most suitable format and that you have a solid promotion strategy in place.
Don’t waste your time pitching to publishers as an infographic. Simply share the data and the stories and let the infographic enhance these to content consumers.
Infographics aren’t dead, they’ve just been misunderstood and misused for some time.
Bottom line: they’re still a fantastic format when used for the right purpose and can bring fantastic benefits as part of a wider content marketing strategy.
by James Brockbank