Infographics—in their nicely wrapped up presentation of worthwhile information—are the most linked to pieces of content. They can spread a message to people who want to read with pictures, they shine the brand who creates it in a light of authority and they provide some very juicy link backs.
While I will start with the basics for those of you who are new to using infographics as a marketing tool, in this post I am going to focus on is how you can take your awesome infographic, optimize it for success and provide you with strategies on how to market it and promote it so thoroughly that it just may go viral…
What Exactly Constitutes an Infographic
Not to be confused with a clever meme, an infographic contains depth. It’s a combination of information that people genuinely want to consume. Instead of stringing words together for a blog post—information in an infographic is presented colorfully and visually.
A well put together infographic must contain two very important components—worthwhile information and a stunning visual presentation. For the sake of this post, we are only talking about infographics that contain these elements. We are talking about great infographics or the ones that people took time to create and are full of words that mean something and have great graphics and an understanding of color theory. If an infographic lacks these elements, it’s not worth spending time and money to promote it. And yes, there are some horrid infographics out there.
The best way to get inspired, educated and figure out what you actually want out of your infographic is to actually view other infographics and save the ones that you like. Google for infographics that pertain to your topic or brand. Or if you simply want to check out random infographics, Google for something that interests you and you’ll be surprised at the massive amount of infographcis that will surface for you.
You can also check out the portfolios of infographic marketing agencies. Like this one from NeoMam in the UK. That way you can look at what visually strikes you about an infographic even if the content has nothing to do with the infographic that you are about to create.
To get you started here is a small infographic on infographics.
And this humorous infographic on ecommerce.
Or how about this infographic on how much it costs to be Batman then and now, purely entertaining.
How Infographics Make Your Marketing Better
Inbound links: Infographics are very easy to link to or embed in to a blog post. And every blogger knows that something visual in their post that is relevant to their topic just makes it a more rounded out and better post. So, bloggers are eager to find good infographics to include in their posts. This means some pretty easy inbound links for your brand.
SEO Ranking: With all of the inbound links and the blog posts and social media shares pointing to your infographic, your SEO ranking can go up rather quickly depending on how competitive your brand’s vertical is.
Visually appealing content: Consumers, viewers and readers have the attention spans of gnats it seems. Think about how Vine is killing it because someone only has to commit 6 second of their life to watching a video. Think about how the average blog post is 500 words because people get bored after that.
People want content that sparks their attention. Something shiny that looks pretty right away. And then you throw in all of your valuable research, opinions, facts or creative outlook and readers are in heaven. They don’t have to follow strings of words from left to right. They don’t have to process a lot of information at once and create the accompanying visual images for themselves in their head.
Instead, the information is painfully easy to digest, it’s spread out and it’s accompanied with colors and pictures. Charts and timelines. All things that allow the viewer to digest the awesome information that you are portraying in a fun and easy way.
Most shareable form of content: Infographics are the number one most shared types of content. Whether the goal and ultimate result of your infographic is to accrue some juicy inbound links or it’s to market something with the infographic’s content or both—the fact that inforaphics are so vastly shared will benefit your brand greatly. With the right promotion and marketing plan of course. But we’ll get to that in a second!
Brand Awareness: Though a vague and unmeasurable component, brand awareness, as you know is crucial for a brand’s success. So the fact that consumers simply see something awesome put out by your brand sheds a favorable light on you in which case consumers will remember you and come back for a later purchase if they’re not quite ready now.
Components to Put in Place before Creation
First and foremost you need to decide if you’re going to hire an agency to create your infographic or if you’ve got the skill, you might want to attempt it yourself.
If you work with an agency make sure you review them ask for references and examples of their past work. Their portfolio is especially important because you want to make sure their work lines up with what you’re looking for. An agency might not do a bad job by any means but their artistic style might not fit your brand’s persona. So, shop around!
If you are going to take on the task of creating the infographic on your own. Make sure you grasp color theory and pick three colors to use. If you’re infographic looks like a rainbow threw up on the screen, it may distract the viewer, no matter how cool your information is.
Luckily there is this collection of infographics to explain color theory and which colors go together and which ones don’t.
No matter if you are creating an infographic yourself or hiring an agency, it’s your job to make sure you have some amazing information that holds value. This could be statistics, a new way of looking at research, entertainment or something that brings together research in one place.
This is where you squeeze out the creative juices. Or do some of your own research. Or interview influential people. You’ve got to have information and content that is unique, original and new. If you are creative and can put together old information with a new spin, that works too but something about the information you publish should be brand new. I can’t emphasize this enough.
Consider timing when deciding on a topic. There are two routes you can go here.
Evergreen Content: A piece that has nothing to do with when it’s published and will hold its relevance for a long time. It doesn’t jump on to the bandwagon of a trend or holiday. It’ doesn’t reference something that will be moot in a year. It’s something that someone should be able to come across a year or two from publication and appreciate.
Trendy piece: Just because this type of infographic may have a shelf life, doesn’t mean that there aren’t positive outcomes to doing an infographic that encompasses a trend, holiday or news. These pieces tend to get a lot of clicks and links right away which may make up for the fact that it may fizzle out in a few weeks.
For example this infographic is interesting and entertaining on the history of Halloween costumes. But obviously it’s only relevant once a year.
Are there any charts and or graphs that you want to include in your infographic? Gather the information for these if you’re using a designer or start pumping away at creating them yourself. Charts and graphs are great things to weave in to an overall infographic to present the more complex pieces of your puzzle.
Figuring out the Hook
Just like a blog posts opens with something that holds on to your reader’s attention and doesn’t let it go and just like a song has a hook that gets stuck in everyone’s head, your infographic needs a hook. It needs to contain that “wow” fact or opinion.
When you’ve got your awesome infographic subject in mind and you have either done the research or have it planned, use the following questions to brainstorm the infographic’s hook.
What would intrigue your buyer personas? An infographic is meant to grab the attention of your target demographic so this is first and foremost the most important thing to consider when choosing a topic. Put yourself in their shoes and determine what topics they would seek out and Google. What tid bits of information would they be excited to come across?
New research: Have you done or come across any brand new research? Has your company done any research or surveying of your own? Can you? How boring is it to read research in a white paper?
Take a look at this infographic from HubSpot. They do an amazing job presenting research in a very colorful, interesting and fun way to view.
Entertainment: An infographic doesn’t simply need to present research and facts it can also entertain by combining information together in a new way. Or it can present research in an entertaining way. It can present a fact and then connect this fact to a funny or ironic “dot.”
A very entertaining infographic displays drinking culture in the US as well as tax revenue in the US and around the world.
Helpful resource on a major pain point: Is there a pain point that you know your target consumer experiences? Then create an infographic that addresses this pain point and educated them on a solution. Give them a thorough plan and the knowledge to overcome this pain point. Create an inforaphic that is a “go-to resource.”
A major pain point for many people on this planet is staying healthy. Don’t you think this infographic does a better job of offer health tips and reasons than a blog post or boring white paper would do?
Give your readers what you promised—no “bait and hook”: A bait and hook in the content marketing world is when someone gives a piece of content an epic title but the content is just mediocre. It doesn’t deliver the epic information that the title promised. Don’t do this with your infographic.
Once you’ve figured out your hook, this is going to be incorporated in to the infographic title and it’s going to be the focus of luring your audience in. The hook can be a fact you tweet often and link to your infographic, etc.
Social Sharing and Linking Basics
The bottom line, when you’re putting your finishing touches on your infographic, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to share it. Make the act of social sharing mindless, make it just part of the infographic process. The following are musts not suggestions that your infographic should contain before publication.
Social share buttons: Make sure your infographic is accompanied by some very obvious social share buttons. Or you will miss some really valuable social media sharing of your content.
An embed code: At the bottom of your infographic, provide the embed code so that bloggers and writers can embed your infographic in to their post.
Call to action for sharing: At the bottom of the infographic, have a call to action for both sharing socially and embedding in to a post. Some bloggers might be hesitant if you don’t clearly state that they have permission to “grab” it with the embed code and use it in their own post.
How to Promote an Infographic
Promoting, marketing and sharing your infographic is crucial. You could create the most awesome infographic in the world but if you don’t promote it and no one is able to see it, it’s kind of pointless…
It’s like the old saying of “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” If you create an infographic that contains fantastic information but no one gets to see it, does it really count as a fantastic asset for your brand? Nope.
Set some hype: About a week before you set your infographic to go live, create blog posts and tweets that tease your audience. That let them know it’s about to released. Maybe include an interesting fact from the infographic and leave them wanting more. This way they’ll be sure to check back for it!
Schedule out interesting tweets: Don’t trust yourself to remember to tweet regularly after your infogaphic is released. Schedule them out. I prefer HootSuite. It allows me, in one sitting, to write up my tweets and schedule them out.
I recommend scheduling them out for the next month. Don’t write things like “check out my infographic.” This is too boring. Compose tweets that make people want to know more, here are some examples.
- Ask a question that your infographic answers.
- Provide one interesting fact from your infographic per tweet and tell them to check out your link to learn even more fascinating information about your topic.
- Ask them a question they can weigh in on.
- Ask a question and encourage them to tweet the answer in which case you tweet back the link to the infographic.
- Get creative.
Guest post: Guest post like you’ve never guest posted before. In every post, write about a topic, subject, fact, etc pertaining to your infographic and embed the infographic.
Post on your own blog: Write a simple post for your own blog that introduces the infographic and then embed the infographic in to the post. Don’t write more than 200 words, allow the infographic to be the focus of the post.
Pinterest: Make sure that one of the first things you do is pin your infographic on to Pinterest.
Ask your network to share: This is a time to call and email people you haven’t talked to in ages. Ask everyone you know to share your infographic on their social media channels. Ask everyone who has a blog to incorporate it somehow.
Email signature: Under your name include a link to your infographic in your email signature.
LinkedIn Groups: Join a few LinkedIn groups if you haven’t already. Be conscious of tactful self-promotion. Don’t just link to your infographic in a group. This is looked down upon. Instead, write up a blurb that summarizes or highlights some information and link to your infographic after that. Make sure you also include a question, a request for feedback or opinion or for the audience to simply weigh in after they view it. The key—make your group post engaging.
Google Plus: There are a ton of Google plus communities, many of which should pertain to the topic of your infographic. Just like in the LinkedIn groups, don’t make your infographic share come across as self-promotional. Instead try to ease it in to other discussions and post it with a thought provoking question or ask for opinions from group members.
Blogger Outreach, the Best Way to Promote Your Infographic
As I mentioned earlier, the biggest component that makes infographics so valuable to a strategy is that they are heavily linked to. Primarily by bloggers. Thus, you want to focus the largest part of your infographic promotion strategy on bloggers.
Determine Which Bloggers to Contact: Now, keep in mind bloggers are very different than pitching traditional journalists. Depending on their reach, many will require payment for posting your infographic so be prepared for this and budget an amount to spend on blogger outreach.
Also keep in mind that bloggers write on very specific topics. For example, if your infographic uncovers and presents new research about the negative effects of dairy on the body and suggests a vegan diet, you might not want to pitch all nutrition and health bloggers. Some of these bloggers would have an affinity for more traditional diet that includes diary. Instead you’d want to pitch bloggers who had written about and explored the idea of veganism at some point. This way you won’t waste your time or the blogger’s time by pitching them. Not to mention, I’ve seen many bloggers get offended when they get pitched something that clearly doesn’t align with their content and using their social media channels, publically call out the brand or publicist who tried to pitch them.
Along the same lines, try to think outside of the box with which types of bloggers you pitch your infographic. Jumping off the same example of an infographic presenting new research about the positive effects a vegan diet would have on the body, you wouldn’t want to just reach out to health and nutritional bloggers. You’d want to think of other verticals who would be interested in such information. Such as cooking bloggers, allergy bloggers, fitness bloggers and maybe even green bloggers because your new research shows that the elimination of slaughterhouses and dairy farms is better for the planet as well.
Find the Bloggers: There are quite a few options here. There are some freelance marketers or even agencies who specialize in blogger outreach. They know the best practices like the back of their hand, already have relationships in place and probably have a database of bloggers to contact. If this is in the budget you might want to consider going the route of having a pro do it for you.
If you are going to do outreach yourself and don’t have the budget to hire a freelancer or marketer but have a little bit of budget and plan to implement blogger outreach in to your strategy long term, you may want to consider one of the many blogger outreach tools out there.
Here is a quick rundown on the most popular ones out there:
- Blog Dash connects you with bloggers who opt in to their service ensuring they are receptive to working with brands in the first place.
- GroupHigh is known as more of premium product and is for people who have a decent budget and plan to do blogger outreach as an ongoing strategy.
- InkyBee markets themselves as affordable for smaller businesses. They have a mid-size index of bloggers that you can search through.
- Buzz Stream appeals more to the SEO world with their features that focus on link building. Great one to check out for infographics because of this.
- Tap Influence: If you want someone to do the blogger outreach for you, Tap Influence is a great one to go to for this.
If a tool, agency or outsourcing someone for outreach isn’t in the budget, don’t stress because there are plenty of free ways to do it yourself.
While it may not cost you money, be prepared for this part of your strategy to cost you a lot of time and budget this time wisely.
- Google blog search: Did you know that Google has a blog search option? When you’re in Google and click on “more” you can click on “blogs” and only search blogs based on keyword. Pretty cool. And free…
- Google Alerts: Set up Google Alerts that encompass the genre or genres that fit with your infographic. You’ll get emails everyday of posts that go up that day so that you can reach out to them an reference that post in real time and insert the fact that you’ve also just created similar information—your infographic—that fits perfectly with what they write about!
- Blog rolls: Google for blog rolls on certain topics. I look at this as the blogger doing the work for you. FYI: a blog roll is a list of blogs on any given topic that the blogger puts together either in a post or on the side of their blog homepage. Their super easy to find and you can just copy each link in to your own list of blogs.
- Multi-channel approach: More times than not, bloggers aren’t just “bloggers.” They tend to be active on a plethora of social media channels so that they can maintain an active social presence and share their own work. Which means they’ll share yours too. So when you search for influencers across other channels like Followerwonk which helps you find Twitter influencers you are most likely uncovering new bloggers as well!
- Ask the bloggers for introductions: Ask bloggers that you are really friendly with to introduce you to other bloggers in their network. Bloggers tend to form tight knit groups who often write on the same topics so this can be a really helpful and streamlined tactic.
Whichever route you take, just make sure you’re keeping all of the bloggers updated in a spreadsheet. Include things like stats, (mozrank, traffic, etc), Twitter handles, blog URL’s, contact info (link to contact page or email address) and author name. Create columns to fill out when you start hearing back. Things like replied, post url, sentiment, etc.
Best Practices When Pitching: Like I mentioned before, reaching out to bloggers takes tact and respect. Some best practices when pitching bloggers includes:
- Keep the pitch short and sweet, many bloggers get bombarded with pitches and if they open a long one they may deem it too long to even consider.
- Write a creative but non gimmicky subject line. You need to get their attention before the pitch is even opened.
- While I advise to keep the pitch short and sweet, I also recommend providing the blogger with all the necessary information about your infographic. Give them a brief run down on what it’s about, what makes it link worthy, tell them why their audience would like it and of course include the embed code and link.
- Bloggers don’t like to feel like they are part of a “link bait” campaign so in your pitch state that you would like to continue collaborating with them and form an ongoing relationship.
- Tell the blogger exactly what it is they get out of working with you and posting your infographic. Are you willing to pay them? If you can’t pay them, emphasize something awesome about your infographic.
Now that you know how to craft a good pitch, you will need to decide whether or not you’re going to write personal pitches or if you’re going to do a mail merge. Both have pros and cons.
If you compose a personal pitch to each blogger, you will be able to reference actual pieces of their content that made you think that the infographic was a good fit and because you will prove to them that you actually read their blog, you will have higher response rates and more links. However, this approach is extremely time consuming.
If you do a mail merge, you can reach out to a lot more bloggers in a shorter amount of time. But without the “personalization” of the pitch, your response rates are lower.
In the end, it’s a numbers game and you have to decide what works better for yourself. Honestly, I tend to go somewhere in the middle of these two approaches. I segment bloggers in to two different lists. A “priority list” and a “good fit list.”
The priority list contains the bloggers who are the most influential according to traffic, MozRank and/or social following. Because I really want them to link to my infographic, I compose personal pitches to these bloggers.
For the bloggers who have great content and are a good fit in terms of affinity but don’t reach very far I put in a mail merge. Segmenting your bloggers can also help you determine what to offer them. Meaning, when you compose your pitch to your “priority list” you can offer payment for a post and when you compose your pitch to your “good fit list” you know they have less influence and may just emphasize how awesome your infographic is without offering payment because you’ve already determined that you don’t want to pay these bloggers or you want to pay them less than the “priority list.”
ROI of Infographics
Determining the ROI of an infographic is like trying to kiss your own elbow (I dare you to try it). It’s almost impossible.
The formula for determining ROI is simple enough. You take your monetary gain from your infographic and subtract what you spent creating and promoting the infographic. Then you divide that number by the cost of your investment to get the percentage.
The part that is not simple, however, is determining how much money your infographic made your brand. Obviously you can’t but an exact value on the traffic it brought your site, the links you acquired, how often it was blogged about, how many social shares it accrued, etc.
But, what you can do, is before you publish your infographic, give all of these elements a monetary value. Decide how much a link, share, increase in SEO ranking etc. is worth and use this for your formula once the infographic has been live for a while.
Keep in mind the things that are worth more than others when giving each component a value. For example a link in a blog post is way more effective than a tweet.
Another reason why a lot of weight shouldn’t be put in infographic ROI is because there are a lot of intangible benefits that your infographic will bring to your brand such as brand awareness and you have no way of knowing how many people saw your infographic, decide in their mind they are going to check out your brand in a month and because of it make a purchase but your infographic doesn’t get any of the credit. Building relationships and credibility fall under the “intangible benefit” category as well but are great bonuses derived from the publication of your infographic.
Speaking of ROI of infographics, check out this infographic about the ROI of infographics. This marketer increased traffic to their site by over 400% and increased leads by almost 4500%!
Advanced Tips to Make Your Infographic go Viral
Zemanta: Zemanta is a plug-in that suggests content to bloggers and content creators. You can submit your infographic and acquire links. You pay per link so it’s a little different than hiring someone to do your blogger outreach for you.
Outbrain: Outbrain is a similar tool to Zemanta that offers suggestions of content to link to for content creators. You can submit your infographic to them and they’ll help acquire links for you.
LinkSmart: Along the same lines of Outbrain and Zemanta is a newer company called LinkSmart.
Think Big: It’s worth a try to contact major sites like Techcruch and Mashable and propose your infographic. It can’t hurt anything and these links would be worth a lot. When contacting bigger publications, don’t email the site, look at some of their frequent authors or posters and try to get in touch with the authors directly, even if they are guest authors and not directly affiliated with the site.
Turn it in to a White Paper: We already talked about writing blog posts about your infographic but you should also turn it in to a white paper that links to the infographic at the end. You don’t always know how consumers prefer to digest their content so it’s worth the time to turn it in to other forms.
SlideShare: Upload your infographic to SlideShare. Many people search this platform often for pieces of visually driven content on a topic. Makes your easy to find with an awesome but “findable” title.
Wrapping It Up (Or the Spark Notes Version of This Post)
Because this post contains so much information and may be a lot to take in, I’ll leave you with a checklist of your infographic creation and promotion process from start to finish.
- Get inspired by checking out other infographics. Either Google for them or check out the portfolios of infographic agencies.
- Determine what topic would spark the interest of your target consumer.
- Determine the “hook” by making your infographic entertaining, educational, provide new research, a problem solver or it could put a creative spin or provide a new perspective on something old.
- Weigh the pros and cons of doing the infographic yourself or hiring an agency. Decide which route to take.
- Plan the timing of publication and whether or not the infographic will be full of evergreen content or encompass something trendy.
- Promote your infographic on ever social media channel in existence.
- Guest post and write a post on your own blog that pertains to your infographic.
- Ask your friends, family and coworkers to share it on their own channels.
- Email a link to all of the influencers you’ve worked with before.
- Execute a thorough blogger outreach campaign and reach out to bloggers in your vertical and send them your infographic.
- Track how well your infographic does.
- Give it an ROI so you can brag to your boss, coworkers, Mom, clients, etc.
- Upload it to SlideShare.
- Reward yourself with a beer or extra special cup of coffee that was a lot of work!
Bottom line, infographics appeal to people in all stages of your sales funnel. Or all segments of your buyer spectrum. They are worth the time and money to make sure the creation process is epic and the promotion process is extensive.
Do you have any additional tips to share about infographic creation and promotion? Please share in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!