Infographic Creation Tips: Design, Data, Distribution Strategy

Over the last 3 years, we’ve been designing infographics for clients, we’ve learned a lot about succeeding with infographics; whether success means driving traffic, links, or building a brand and social channels.

Like with any piece of content there have been huge successes, from infographics we never could have dreamed would drive the levels of traffic they did, to infographics that we thought were a sure hit, that did well, but not as well as we thought. Though these peaks and valleys we examined our campaigns to better understand what helped virality. Below are what we call the 3 D’s of infographic strategy that might not guarantee your data visualization will go viral, but will give it the best chance to do so.

1. Design

Many would say this is the key to a great infographic going viral, but I would argue that it’s one of the last things to look at if an infographic does not do as well as you would like.

Let me explain what I mean. The design of many online marketing strategies such as infographics or even websites reaches a value plateau, where making something look better does not increase the value or conversions (in this case driving traffic, getting shared, or gaining links) of that product. Thus, the ROI actually decreases as you invest more time and money into making something “look better”.

Infographic Tip: I will not dispute the fact that design does play a role, but just be careful when choosing the company to execute an infographic campaign, that they are not spending a majority of the time (and your money) on the design, and missing what matters most (data and distribution).

2. Data

Data is the backbone of your infographic, it provides the value, and is the primary reason your audience will engage with what you have built. There are a few key parts of the data that we have learned over the years that can make or break the success of your campaign.

The data must be accurate

There are many places on the web to get data, and as long as you source your content, there is no reason that there should be inaccurate data in your infographic.

The data must speak to your primary customer type

Much like with any marketing channel, targeting your consumer is key to driving conversions. Understanding first who your customer type is and then gathering the data they will care about, gives your infographic a higher probability of being successful.

Infographic Tip: Understand related and relevant things that your target persona would be doing at the same time, or just before they buy your product. This will help you create an infographic that grabs their attention while they are in the part of the buying cycle that has the highest probability of aligning with your product.

The data must help your target persona

We have found that the best infographics help your target audience in some way. This can be in the form of a “Guide to doing something”, or “tips for choosing the best…”.

The data must grab them emotionally (make the laugh, cry, or relate to your data)

Along with helping your consumer (as outlined above), there should be a data set within your infographic that strikes an emotional string with your customer type. This can be something that makes them chuckle a little or even feel sadness in some way. The primary goal of this part of the infographic is to help build that emotional connection that will lead to a conversion (share, or link, or awareness of brand).

The infographic should contain at least 3 different sets of data

Many times we see “infographics” that have 1 piece of data and don’t provide value (thus just being what I would consider a “graphic”).

Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration – Jeffrey Zeldman

Much like a piece of thin content that provided no value and was devalued by Google in their Panda Update, infographics can have the same problem.

Infographic Tip: We would suggest building out at least 3 content areas within your infographic that include a mix of data, graphs, and text-based content.

The data should not be short lived

There are tons of infographics that, because of the data sets they have used, their accuracy is short lived. A rule of thumb we like to live by when creating infographics is that if your data can’t still be used 6 months from now, and be accurate, it probably does not belong in a long term content infographic strategy.

3. Distribution (Marketing)

I am sure most people have heard the adage “if you build it they will come” used when it comes to any piece of content or website on the web. The days when a piece of content could be built or website designed and not marketed has long since passed. Not only do you have to design and gather some great data, but you will also need to distribute (market) your infographic to help it earn value. Below are ways in which you can distribute and market your infographic.

  • Infographic Directories
  • Social Media
  • Blogger Outreach
  • Conversational Marketing
  • Reach out to the people who originally had the data, and let them know you found it so valuable that you created a graphic about it

8 Insights For Creating Awesome Infographics That Drive Traffic

Over the past few years of designing infographics, and executing marketing campaigns around awesome infographic or data visualization designs, we have gained a few insights into what works well when executing an infographic strategy. At its core, this type of strategy is about creating high-value in-depth visual assets that entertain, give insights, and provide value to the primary customer type. Then marketing those graphics to influencers and through targeted visual social channels. These influencers then spread them throughout their networks, thus driving a huge amount of inbound traffic (and gaining links) to whatever website the infographic is on (which is why it is so important to have a place on the clients site to put it).

Infographics Are informational representations of content coupled with data.
Data Visualizations: Are visualizations of data and stats.

All data visualizations are infographics, but not all infographics are data visualizations

Tips & insights for creating high-value infographics

  1. Having a publishing platform onsite, such as a blog, where the infographic can be published and marketed is imperative for driving increased traffic.
  2. Understanding the needs of your target audience and then providing valuable graphical content based on those needs helps build a brand and maximize traffic gains.
  3. When designing and gathering data for an infographic ask yourself, “is this information something that the primary customer type needs, would be searching for, and would take time out of their day to engage with? Or is is simply something that would get an “oh that’s cool shoulder shrug”.
  4. Infographics that contain at least 4 primary content areas have a much higher engagement than those that have only 1 or 2.
  5. Well done infographics + social media + SEO outreach programs can drive tons of targeted traffic.
  6. When done correctly Infographics increase users engagement metrics such as page views and time-on-site.
  7. When done correctly Infographics build brand awareness within a targeted audience or customer type.
  8. Infographics that include stats, as well as how-to’s or guides, do exponentially better than those that just include stats.

5 Places to Find Infographic Design Inspiration and Data

Identifying infographic ideas are sometimes the hardest part of creating a cool, interesting, and engaging infographic that is relevant to your local business. As we mentioned previously there are many benefits of infographics that include increasing brand awareness, building links to your website, and building social communities around your online property. All of these benefits help increase traffic and sales for your business through its online channel.

One of the primary questions we are getting from our community is “Where can I find the data to make my infographics?”. Coming up with the idea for the infographic for their campaign is sometimes the hardest part. The brainstorming sessions seem to be falling short on ideas about coming up with relevant data points in which to design around. So we can up with a few areas that businesses can look at when trying to come up with ideas for infographics along with how to get the data within each of these areas.

1. Survey Customers

Ask your customers what they want information about? IMO this is a no-brainer and is one thing that small businesses should do to help their customers and become a resource for them. There are two basic tactics for doing this.

1. Find out what your customers want to know by simply asking them.
2. Gather data from them at checkout or through email.

2. Use Data You Have

Think of all the data points you as a small business gathers about your customers and their buying habits. Utilize this data to create infographics about your business. Below are a couple types of data that you have, and may not even know it.

1. Product Based Data: best selling product, average sale, which gender buys which products, etc.
2. Shopping Habits: When do customers shop, what time of year, what time of day, when does your business get the most calls, etc.

A specific example of this might be if you were a dentist and were trying to increase links to your website and do SEO for your dental practice. You see 10 patients a day that comes in for basic cleanings, so keep a tally of the flavor of toothpaste each patient chose for their cleaning. Then create an infographic based on the trends over a month or 6 months and post it on your website or dental blog.

3. Partner With Another Relevant Company

There are many other businesses, most are usually in the same business park or building as you, that in some way compliment your products or offerings. Reach out to the business owners of these other local businesses, build a relationship with them, and partner with them to build data sets and create cool infographics.

4. Use Data That Is Already Out There

In many cases, there are scholars who have done the legwork already and created white papers that include data, statistics, and in-depth information about something related to your local business products or services.

Step 1. Find these reports in Google search for [your keyword] research filetype:pdf.

An example of this would be: dog research filetype:pdf

Step 2. Comb through the whitepaper and pull out key infographic data points

Step 3. Create your infographic

Step 4. This is the key to this tactic, email the original scholar who wrote the whitepaper and let them know that you loved their research so much that you make it into a cool infographic. In most cases they will link to you from their blog or even better from their page on their highly trusted .edu website.

5. Find Old Infographics and Redo Them

Infographics are a rather new way to showcase data online, but there are still great infographics from years ago (maybe even some from Edward Tufte, who some may consider the father of infographics), that can be reworked to represent new and updated data. Search Google for old infographics by searching for something like the [keyword] infographic.

An example of this would be dog infographic.

Finally, remember that creating your infographic is only half the battle. You next need to market your business infographic (by reaching out and building relationships with people with similar interests) to other blogs, websites, and through your social channels to drive awareness, links, and social mentions.

Content Strategy