Here’s what Neil Patel has to say about infographics and how huge they’ve been for KISSmetrics (a customer intelligence tool and one of Neil’s businesses):
Within 2 years, we were able to generate 2,512,596 visitors and 41,142 backlinks from 3,741 unique domains from 47 infographics.
Does this sound like a good enough reason to perhaps test what infographics can do for your brand?
We’d surely all like to be able to experience results like that, too and have literally millions of visitors all flocking to consume our visual content.
However, behind every success story, there are tens of failure stories, so here’s the main question we should ask: Are infographics really that great as a content marketing tool in general, and if so, how to make use of them properly?
How big the infographic craze is
The growth rate of infographics as a “thing” is quite remarkable. For instance, it’s reported that in just over two years, the search volumes on Google for infographic-related terms have increased by over 800 percent.
And if that’s not enough to get you excited, the usage of visual data on the web has grown by 9900 percent since 2007 in total.
However, even despite those numbers, not everyone is entirely happy with this current trend and there are some loud voices of criticism towards the idea of infographics as a whole.
For instance, in an interesting article about the state of the infographic world at Forbes.com, Ross Crooks recalls opinions from Yale professor Edward Tufte and business intelligence author Stephen Few, who are not very fond of the frequent data visualization abuses seen in some infographics and even call them abhorring.
In the same article, Crooks also raises a valid point:
At the forefront of this debate is the question of whether novelty is the sole driver of the rise of infographics or if there is, in fact, an inherent utility to the medium.
So, is there?
Let’s take a look at the science.
What makes infographics effective – the science of infographics
Some of the studies (or experiments) done on infographics are truly fascinating, and especially the ones that explain the effectiveness and the appeal of infographics in relation to the way the human brain works.
For instance, 90 percent of information transmitted to the human brain is visual.
What this means in plain English, is that whether you – as the author – like it or not, whatever you create, the reader/audience will most likely translate into images before understanding the meaning.
Think of it as reading a book. You don’t remember individual words. What you do remember are the scenes that those words created in your brain.
But there’s more. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text, and people following directions with text and illustrations do 323 percent better than people following directions without illustrations.
And last but not least, it’s reported that people remember 80 percent of what they see and do, but only 20 percent of what they read.
If those numbers are accurate, what this means is that we – humans – are naturally predisposed to resonate with infographics better than we do with text.
It’s partly for that reason that infographics have become such a hit on the web and that publishers who use infographics grow their traffic 12 percent faster that those that don’t.
Ultimately, the story is this – and sorry if the statement doesn’t sit well with you (feel free to disagree in the comments). The people who are on the receiving end of the effects that infographics can bring generally love them – e.g. web publishers, marketers. People whose life work is to make data accurate, on the other hand, generally hate them – e.g. people of science (the aforementioned data visualization abuse seen in some infographics).
So how to make use of infographics to your brand’s benefit?
The elements of a successful infographic
There are three main elements of a quality infographic:
- Compelling data.
- Good design.
- Engaging story.
(There’s also the fourth element that takes this step up and turns a quality infographic into a successful one – marketing.)
Let’s discuss the three one by one:
One of the main advantages of infographics from a content consumption point of view is that they can take a complex idea and simplify it a great deal.
In order to pull this off, the data needs to be compelling in itself. However, at the same time, there needs to be a certain level of complexity, which allows you to draw conclusions and leaves room for interpretation.
In other words, your audience should experience an “a-ha!” moment when they see the infographic.
Every book is judged by its cover. That’s just the way it is. But that’s perhaps a good thing because it allows you to get ahead of the competition purely due to good design. Having this in mind, you can just hire someone who’s skilled at designing infographics.
One of the things that Neil Patel points out as the crucial element in a quality infographic is turning the individual data points into a story.
The goal is to make each data point flow neatly into the next one. This will give your infographic a good structure and prevent it from being just a set of loosely connected facts.
Are infographics great as a content marketing tool? In a word, yes.
But only if you have enough resources and skill to (1) craft a great infographic, and (2) promote it towards the right audience.
What’s your take on the topic of infographics and their effectiveness as a content marketing tool? Have you tested them in your business?
— References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
Header image by Martijn-Konijn on flickr. Embedded images from Evolution Evidence and London Cyclist.
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