Infographic marketing success doesn’t happen because you publish an infographic. It doesn’t even start when you publish that infographic. It starts before you even have an idea—and its success hinges on every step of the process, from brainstorming and copywriting to design and distribution.
Infographic marketing is still relevant today (67% of marketers use infographics, according to Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing Report 2016.) But if you want to do it better than your competitors, you need to make sure your process is locked and your people are clued in on the best tips to make your infographics as effective as they can be.
19 Tips to Improve Your Infographic Marketing
Luckily, we’ve made thousands of infographics—and a few mistakes along the way—so we know just about everything that can make your infographic marketing shine and what can make it sink. And since we know you’re probably too busy to create a primer for your team, we went ahead and did it for you. Here are our tried and true tricks to upgrade your infographics at every stage of the process. We hope you’ll put them to the test.
Tips to Ideate
1) Ask the Right Questions Before You Start
To make sure you’re not wasting your time creating something that won’t move the needle, make sure you have everyone on the same page from the get-go. This includes preliminary questions that will inform your objectives and how you accomplish them. A few things to consider:
- Ask “Why?” instead of “how”? Identify the purpose of this project.
- How people are getting there? Consider who will access it and how.
- Where will it live? The platform will greatly influence what you create.
- How can you measure its success? Know your metrics before you go into production.
For a more in-depth set of questions, use our infographic marketing brief template to outline every aspect of the project.
2) Think Campaign vs. Infographic Project
It’s super tempting to break into a brainstorm the minute you have a bolt of inspiration, but a strong content strategy is based on just that—a strategy. That usually includes a larger campaign, in which an infographic is just one piece of the puzzle. Before you pursue that piece, consider how it fits into your larger campaign. How does it support the story? It is just one extension, or can the topic be spun into a larger series? This thinking will help you hone in on your story—and may even inspire several new pieces of content.
3) Make Sure an Infographic Is the Right Choice
Infographic marketing is great, but an infographic might not be what you need. We have this conversation with partners over and over again. The format you choose is as important as the story, but sometimes people get hung up on the one they want. (This goes for all sorts of formats: videos, interactives, etc.) The format should be informed by your communication goals, not by what you feel like making.
Not sure if an infographic is the right choice? Here are 6 ways to know an infographic is the wrong format for your story. You can also check out our guide to choosing the right format.
Also, if you do choose an infographic, be detailed about what kind you’re making: static, HTML, animated? Definitely make sure you know your specs, resolution, and other info before you go into design.
4) Ideate with Your Personas
We’ll say it a million more times: Ideas are only great if people care about them. You can’t come up with content that will resonate with people if you don’t know who your “people” are, what they’re interested in, and how you can solve their problems. If you don’t know the answer to these things, you need to craft marketing personas. (And if your personas could use a major refresh, now’s the time to improve them.)
Personas are a composite of the people you’re trying to reach. They tell you everything you need to know, from what podcasts people enjoy to what frustrates them at their workplace. If you haven’t made them, here’s an easy template/exercise to do them in under an hour.
Any idea you have should be vetted through these personas, as well as your strategy. Ask yourself:
- Will it be interesting to them?
- Can it be distributed effectively to reach them?
- Does it align with your engagement goals?
- Does it fit your brand?
5) Consider Newsjacking
Newsjacking has got a bad wrap in recent years, thanks to a few epic fails by corporations. But it’s not always a bad tactic. As long as you can contribute something fresh and turn it around quickly, it can be a great way to get a big hit with fairly low stakes. For more tips on how to do it the right way, find out how to newsjack in an infographic without being a jackass.
6) Find Stories In Your Own Data
Data storytelling is one of the best ways to create engaging content. And infographic marketing is the perfect medium for it. It allows you to tell visual stories that are interesting to both the general public and publishers. But the absolute best data storytelling comes from your own proprietary data. It’s the best way to create unique, original, fresh content that no other competitor can match.
Data storytelling can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. You just need to know where to look (here are 9 sources of data that are right in front of you) and how to find the story (here’s a step-by-step guide to dig into your data).
7) Beat Your Creative Blocks
Sometimes a brainstorm just isn’t working and you find yourself in a creative desert. If you just can’t think of any good infographic marketing ideas, here are some ways to reframe your thinking.
- Do something someone did before—better. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. If you can give new life to an old idea, people will still find it valuable.
- Improve something you’ve already done. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”—but sometimes you can fix it up and get even more mileage. Maybe you can revamp an old infographic with fresh data or additional info.
- Experiment, experiment, experiment. If you’re in a rut, churning out the same stuff over and over, maybe it’s time to do something totally different. Marketers are often afraid to fail, but you can’t learn or grow if you don’t. (LinkedIn calls this taking an “intelligent risk.”)
If you’re still feeling stuck, here are 16 easy ways to think of amazing infographic ideas, our best tips to get creatively unstuck, and a few tips to run better brainstorms.
Tips to Tell Your Story
8) Use the Right Research
No matter what story you’re telling, using the right sources is vital not just to shape a strong narrative but to maintain your credibility. This is especially important for data storytelling. You need accurate, non-biased, complete data sets to support your narrative. (On that note, make sure you’re not citing a competitor!)
Data literacy is more important than ever, so make sure you or someone on your team can clearly interpret the data, clarify any confusing points, and craft a narrative with a strong takeaway.
If you need some guidance, check out 100+ free data sources, follow these tips to accurately source the data, and take a look at our data visualization 101 guide, which breaks down the most common charts and graphs.
9) Tell a Single Story
Great infographic marketing requires a great story. (Many infographics try to do too much, while some have no story at all.) The key to a successful infographic is telling one story and using copy and design to tell it. That said, make sure you are telling a story that people are actually interested in. (Remember those personas!) For more tips on doing this effectively, find out how to craft an effective narrative.
10) Get the Bullshit Out of Your Infographic
We are facing a major bullshit epidemic in all of content marketing, but infographic marketing is plenty guilty. Buzzwords, irrelevant topics, confusing design, and more will turn readers off in a second. As you move through each stage of production, turn your bullshit meter on to make sure you’re not falling into common traps. Follow these 5 tips to create bullshit-free content marketing and you’ll be safe.
Tips for a Smooth Process
11) Create a Timeline
Lots of marketers struggle to produce quality content consistently because they don’t have the infrastructure or resources set up to support content creation. But we can tell you from personal experience that the most important document you need for any infographic marketing project is a timeline—and a team that can stick to it. It is way too easy for infographics to get perpetually backburnered or bottlenecked. This is frustrating, but it can also be damaging if you’re working with timely content or trying to maintain a steady cadence.
12) Know Your Stakeholders
It’s unlikely you’re a marketing department of one. There are probably a ton of people on your team who have input on your creative projects, especially if you’re working with an infographic marketing agency. Know who needs to offer input and give approvals before you enter production. (There is nothing more frustrating than getting derailed by someone who chimes in last minute.) Consider higher-ups, legal teams, creative directors, or anyone else who may need to be informed.
13) Give Notes Early and Get Signoff At Every Stage
Another awesome way to totally derail things is to give late-stage notes that require a full redesign or totally change the content. To avoid this type of frustration, have all your stakeholders (you know them, right?) give their approvals at every stage in production. This makes edits more efficient and keeps the process moving effectively. The major stages to get approval at:
- Content document: This should include all the text you plan to put into the graphic. Ask for all feedback and tweaks that need to be made before you move into design. Content should not be changed once it is designed, with the exception of minor grammatical changes or word substitutions.
- Wireframe: This is the skeleton of the infographic. The designer should take approved content and build out a wireframe, which is essentially a rough draft of design. This will have placeholders for illustrations and will likely be grayscale, but the rest of the graphic, fonts, text hierarchy, and data visualization will be built out. The feedback should relate to the fonts, text hierarchy, and overall layout of the infographic.
- Full design: After getting wireframe approval, the designer will flesh out the full design. There may be multiple drafts here, but your team should provide feedback for each, usually relating to the illustrations or colors that are incorporated into the existing wireframe.
Tips for Design
14) Follow Design Best Practices
There are major mistakes that most designers will avoid, but when it comes to infographic design, there are a lot of little tips and tweaks that can greatly improve your viewer’s experience. Make sure your designer is educated on the latest best practices. To start, here are 25 data visualization design tips to follow, as well as 15 common infographic design mistakes to avoid.
15) Diversify Your Styles
As much as marketers should experiment with the stories they tell, designers need to mix it up, too. You can easily experiment with your design style and still adhere to your brand style guide. In fact, it’s a fun creative challenge to play with. If you don’t know where to start, here are 7 Infographic design styles to try and 10 examples of minimal but effective infographic design.
Tips for Distribution
16) Have Assets on Hand for Promo
If your distribution team is doing things right (they better have a distribution strategy in place), there will be lots of ways to promote your infographic. Your infographic will likely go out via your social, newsletter, and blog, and it may be featured in an industry publication (find out how to make that happen). Wherever you plan to place it, make sure you have the appropriate assets on hand to promo. This usually includes images in appropriate sizes (think blog banners, Twitter, etc.), visual teasers to entice journalists, etc. These should already be on hand by the time you push live so you don’t leave someone waiting. For more tips on successful distribution, check out The Ultimate Guide to Content Distribution e-book.
17) Optimize Your Infographics
Infographic marketing is especially awesome for SEO (according to Hoosh Technology and ISDIA research, 63% of all visitors who click on a Google image will go to the website). But we can’t tell you how many marketers totally fail to optimize their graphics for it. Things like appropriate filenames, keywords, blog titles, and copy go a long way to get you the ranking you want. For a complete SEO checklist, follow our guide to optimize your infographic the right way.
18) Repurpose Your Infographic
Infographic marketing takes a lot of energy, time, money, and resources. Don’t let it go to waste by pushing it live once and leaving it forever. There are lots of ways to get more mileage from it, whether you create additional microcontent for social, use it to enhance e-books, or use it in blog posts. Try a divisible content strategy to get more ideas on how to reuse your infographics.
19) Have a Postmortem
Like we said in the beginning, infographic marketing success doesn’t start or end once you push it live. There are always ways to improve your content, your process, and your distribution. Encourage and push your team to grow and experiment by having regular meetings to review the content you’ve created, critique, and suggest ways to improve.
For more ways to improve, find out what 7 traits a great marketer must have, learn how to work with the 4 creative personality types, and try these 101+ infographic tools and resources to help your team. Above all, continue to educate yourself about all aspects of content marketing:
- Find out how empathy helps you make more effective content.
- Learn how to start thinking like a designer to solve your communication problems.
- Focus on telling your brand story in every single piece of content you make.
And if you still need a little help with your infographic marketing or any other type of content, we’d love to talk about it.