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How to level up your content marketing using Infographics




Farzad: Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Happy Tuesday, everybody. Thank you so much for taking the time to attend this webinar. My name is Farzad. I'm the director of marketing at Visme. I here have my boss, Payman, the founder and CEO of Visme, the all-in-one visual communication tool. He's going to take over right after Randy's presentation and basically show you guys some cool stuff inside Visme, so definitely hang around with us.

And of course, the one and only Randy. Randy is the data visualization expert. Pretty much if there was one person, an expert on infographics, that'd be Randy. He's actually the author of the very popular book “Cool Infographics”. The full title's Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design. Definitely go check it out on Amazon.

He's also the owner of the website coolinfographics.com. If you guys haven't checked it out, check it. I check it on a weekly basis because I'm obsessed with infographics but definitely pretty cool stuff there. 

I know you guys are here to learn some awesome stuff from Randy to learn how to level up your content marketing using infographics and being able to actually stand out from the rest of the noise.

As you guys know, 90% of the content on the internet gets about zero traffic. These infographics are an awesome way to actually make your content unique in a way that people actually spend more time in aside from and obviously the aspect of being able to digest the material faster. 

They can also basically stick around the website a little more, increase your time on site, and also help with SEO. Of course, the viral aspect of things on social which I'm sure Randy's going to dive in and give you guys a lot more info.

Without further ado, I want to hand this stage off to Randy everybody. 

What Are Infographics and Why Should You Be Using Them in Your Content?

Randy: All right. Let's dive into one of my favorite topics which is infographics and we're going to run through this pretty quick. We're going to talk about using infographics and content marketing which is not the only use but is the primary use of infographics.

Infographics in the last few years have become what I would call a staple of content marketing along with blog posts and guest blog posts and photos and videos and publishing white papers or eBooks. Infographics have really become a common piece of a content strategy that people use in content marketing. What do I mean by an infographic?

An infographic is one of these really all-encompassing storytelling vehicles, this format, that includes some data visualizations, sometimes multiple data visualizations, along with text and icons in a cohesive format that tells a good story and it's all put together in one infographic. I think this one has 25 different data visualizations in it from bar charts to grids and pie charts along with icons and illustrations and text just to tell this cohesive story and we can publish this one JPEG image which is the infographic.

We know how popular infographics have really grown into as part of content marketing. This is Google Trends data. Google publishes how frequently people use certain keywords in their search box when they enter search terms. You can see back in, say, 2011 to 2013, 2014, the use of the word infographic, when people were searching for data they would throw in the word infographic because they really, really liked to find visual references for whatever content they're searching for, was really on an upswing.

Between 2015 all the way through 2019, it has just been this really strong staple, this consistent use in content marketing and as we all know this year has been an unusual year with coronavirus and because of it a huge year in data visualization.

We've all talked about flattening the curve and visualizing the data about COVID-19 and stuff like that. You can see here, infographics have also enjoyed a brand new spike in 2020 that we have increased yet again another 20% in the number of people that are searching for infographics. They're just craving that information and they wanted visually. They want it in an easy to digest infographic.

The best types of infographics that companies can use for their content marketing, the most popular to read, the most popular to like or to share, or popular, interesting topics but specifically they really need to be related to your business.

I've seen a lot of companies attempt to create infographics that are just whatever the hot topic is that may or may not be related to the business they're in and that doesn't help them strategically from content marketing. You really want the infographic to be related to the business that you're in, related to your industry because those keywords and the title or the keywords that people use to search and find your infographic you want that to be related to your business. 

The most popular types of infographics are what I call informative infographics and how-to is one aspect of those where it's valuable content, informative content for the audience. This one is showing how to bake an apple pie or how to match a shirt and a tie or how to tell if you have the cold or a flu, where it's valuable to your audience.

They're interested to read it. They're interested to share it because it doesn't feel like an advertisement. It doesn't feel like a heavy sales pitch. It does have the company logo and the contact information and sometimes a call to action at the bottom but it's not something that's really pushing, say, a company's products or services. It's just really commonly informative and valuable information to your audience.

The Main Infographic Formats

The most common format for infographics online is what I call a tall format. Some people call it long format. It's really easy for web browsers to scroll up and down. It's really easy, literally, physically for your finger to work on your mouse to scroll up and down. It's harder for you to scroll side to side. This works really well if online, on your website or your blog, is the primary place you're going to be sharing your information but they don't work so well if you're going to use them in, say, sales presentations or something like that.

I've had to shrink down so far to fit on this presentation slide that you can even hardly read any of the text. If you're going to print them out or you're going to use them in presentations, you may want to try a different type of format and not the tall format. But if online, if that is your primary vehicle for your content marketing publishing strategy, then these tall formats work fabulously when you design them.

You can use a different format. This one uses more of a wide format. It's informative. It's showing how affiliate marketing works but it's more of a wide format and was actually designed to not only be shared online as a graphic but has been printed as posters or printed out as handouts to give out in a sales presentation or a meeting, that type of thing.

Companies also use infographics not only for content marketing to, say, consumers or end-users but also to the press. This was a design from Honda when they released the 2013 Honda Accord which is a whole brand new redesign of the Honda Accord and it was an infographic totally designed to be released to the members of the press.

They turned it into one of these tall retractable banners that they displayed during these press events around the country where they were revealing the new design of a Honda Accord and they handed it out on a USB drive and in print form in the press kit to the members of the press that came to these events. It was only months later that they threw the image up on their Flickr feed, I think is where they put it, and it was available to the public. But really the whole design, in this case, was driven towards designing information for the press.

We also see a lot of infographics about very serious topics. Humanitarian organizations, charities, nonprofits, they all have some very serious messages that are data-driven and that they're also trying to get their message out as to why they need resources, why they need people to volunteer, why they need people to donate money, why they're trying to encourage changes to laws and stuff like that. They use infographics quite heavily and quite effectively in their marketing campaigns as well.

Facebook even put out some infographics. This was an infographic about what happens when you report a post. It was like a spam type report and you hit the Report button. They put out a series of infographics about what happens in the background when you report a post and that was really meant to not only inform consumers but also to inform the news in the press about what's going on.

Characteristics of a Good Infographic

As we get more and more advanced in the design of infographics, whether they're interactive or animated like these infographics, there are a lot of tools you can use to create some really interesting engaging features in infographics that really will engage your users and make them not only more attractive for viewers and readers but also shareable.

Three key points that I really push whether we're designing an infographic or whether I'm teaching people to design infographics are that a good infographic is understood fairly quickly. Usually, people are only reading infographics somewhere between five and 10 seconds. It's not long-form for content. You want it to be something quick and easy to digest. Don't try to put all of your content from a long-form post into an infographic itself. 

We want our infographics to be memorable and that's a big reason why we use visuals. We use charts, we use icons, we use illustrations that help make our information and our infographics very memorable.

Ideally, we want them to be actionable. We're not just putting information out there for the sake of, "Here's some information." We want to drive our readers to do something. It might be a visit to our website. It might be signing up for our email list. It might be buying our product or might be something informative or healthy, eat healthier, work out more, call your mother, whatever it might be, we're trying to encourage them to do something because of the information that we're sharing in that infographic.

We do have an infographic design process and it always starts with a creative brief.  The simple document has about 15 or 17 questions that we try to ask clients upfront about what they want out of an infographic and it asks about how are you going to publish it? What's your key message? What's the deadline? Is the data available? Where's the data coming from?

If you're designing infographics for an internal clientele and you're an internal design team, feel free to take this infographic creative brief, I'm happy to share it with anybody, and build your own depending on what your audience is and who you're designing infographics for.

A Five-Step Process for Designing Infographics

Our infographic design process is really a five-step process that once we have that creative brief, we start with the data and make sure that we can get our hands on the data. The data says what we think it does. It's current, it's shareable, and it's valuable, good, believable data that we want to build into that infographic.

We then build a wireframe which is a storyboard of what is the story that we want to tell and that wireframe helps our customers understand that this is how that story is going to progress from a foundation and some introductory information to a main key message all the way up to that call to action at the end. 

That's where we jump into the concept phase. The concept phase is pretty quick but it's meant to be visualizing the data in a couple of different ways, even designing a couple of different ways that the overall feel and design style of the infographic might look. Might be different color palettes. It might be a fun light-hearted design versus a more serious design. And then we iterate and get to a final design. That usually takes a handful of rounds of iteration and review and approvals and that type of thing.

Most infographic designers that I know have some type of vector graphics tool that's their favorite and that's basically their home base where the entire infographic is going to be built. They may visualize the data and a charting tool and bring that in. They may edit some photos or some logos and bring that in. 

But basically they have some type of vector graphics application or tool that is that home base to completely build their infographic. It might be something big like Adobe Illustrator, maybe an online tool like Visme. Some people I've even seen build infographics in PowerPoint. 

Once you have a good design that you're ready to publish, it's really important to set it up to be a successful part of your content marketing strategy. We need to talk about real quickly how do you strategize the release of an infographic to be effective with search engine optimization. 

Publishing and Promoting Infographics

There’s over 200 things that Google uses in their algorithm but really the goal of an infographic in content marketing is to drive backlinks. Links from other high ranking sites back to your infographic on your company web page. That's really the root of what you're after.

You want to have content that's shareable and you want to get the word out so that other people link back to it. One thing that a lot of people don't understand is that social media, for the most part, doesn't count. It's great for awareness and getting the word out but social signals are not a big factor in Google's algorithm and drawing traffic to your website. 

When we publish it, what Google sees is this is nothing. All they can see is that, "Hey, this JPEG is going to be displayed when somebody opens up this page in their browser." They can't read the text in the JPEG. They don't know what that infographic is about. They don't have any idea why they would display this in search engine results. This is why we really got to prep and be ready to publish your infographic.

I love this quote from Ben Franklin or it's attributed to Ben Franklin that by failing to prepare, you're actually preparing to fail. You've really got to think about it. I've seen so many companies just flop because all they do is throw their infographic out there on the company blog or on their Facebook page and just expect miracles to happen. 

We have four phases when we publish and promote infographics. We start with a landing page. We've got to make sure that that's crafted and ready to go. We help a company go through their self-promotion efforts where you do your own posts in your own social media and then ultimately, you get to the fun part which a lot of companies just jump to too quickly which is the outreach to influencers or to people in the industry and websites in the industry. The last part is super important which is tracking.

Your landing page is probably the most important thing you can focus on. You need to have a structured landing page and spend some time auditing it, making sure that you've done everything correctly on the landing page so that when your readers get there everything's in place. There are sharing buttons that they can use to share it with Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and wherever you want them to share it. The image is displayed properly. There's embed code if you want them to grab that embed code and share it.

Things like the title tag on the page or the ALT text attribute for the JPEG image of the infographic itself, even the file name of the infographic that you display is important and what words you use in that file name are important These are the 11 things that we would audit with a client's landing page to make sure that it's going to be successful when they launch an infographic.

The second phase is self-promotion. Once you have that landing page, from a self-promotion standpoint, put it on the company page, put it on the company blog, the social media accounts, email it and email that link to all your customers or your email list of prospective customers. You want to broadcast this infographic to as wide an audience as possible through all of your company channels and you want all of those links to point to that one infographic landing page that you have carefully crafted and set up to accept all these viewers so that it's ready for viewing. 

You also want to create shareable thumbnails. If you've created one of these tall infographics like the one here on the left, what you don't want to do is try and share that really big infographic in all the social media accounts. We generally create manually these differently formatted thumbnails that are carefully crafted for the different social media accounts. 

We'll create images either from the header or from a section of the infographic that's particularly interesting and we think is going to draw people in because it's a key focus of the infographic, something like that.

Then you finally get into outreach. You've got your landing page crafted, you've already put your message out as a company, now it's time to do some outreach to whether they're industry influencers, whether they're industry blogs, there might be blogs that follow your industry or industry websites and try and get them to post links and encourage them to share that infographic with their audiences. There are so many sites like mine, like cool infographics, that do nothing but highlight good infographic designs that can reach a whole new audience that you may never have thought of before.

When you do your outreach, there's just some common mistakes that I just see all the time so I get somewhere between 100 and 200 submissions every week for coolinfographics.com. Don't get the influencer or the web name wrong. If you're using a form and you're copying and pasting... I can't tell you how many emails I get that it's actually to the wrong person to the wrong website because they just pasted it in and send it to me.

You really don't want to include the full JPEG image of your infographic in your communication because you want them to link to your landing page. Give the influencer a link to your landing page and let them grab that link or that embed code and that text so that you really want that connection created onto the landing page. That's really what you want to encourage in your communication.

Finally, do some tracking. Look at your website statistics. Look at your social media statistics. Use a tool that your SEO team may be using like Moz or Majestic or something like that to look at backlinks. How many websites have linked back to your infographic landing page, that carefully crafted page you created?

Use a reverse image search tool because you can find sites that have grabbed the image of your infographic but forgot to or just neglected to link back to your homepage. You may find a whole bunch of sites that shared your infographic but didn't actually link back to your homepage. Reverse image search is a fantastic way to do that. 

That's my rundown of infographics. You can download the first chapter of cool infographics at the website, coolinfographics.com, and then you can always reach me through Twitter and the website and through email and then Farzad, I will throw it back to you.

Farzad: Thank you so much, Randy. I think myself got a full-on overload of information. Thank you so much. That was very, very helpful.

Randy: That was the firehose of information about infographics.

Farzad: I want to introduce you guys to the founder and CEO of Visme. It's one of the top presentation and infographic tools in the market. Randy mentioned they run an agency to create professional-looking infographics. 

Creating Infographics Using Visme

What happens if you want to basically create an infographic by yourself? Let's say you run a blog or you have a company and want to pop out an infographic really quick that basically you want to only spend a few minutes on. That's where Visme comes in.

I'm not going to spoil anything. I want to go ahead and pass it on to Payman. He's going to show you guys how to be able to create an infographic in the first place in a matter of a few minutes. Payman, how's it going?

Payman: All right. Thanks everybody for joining. Great information from Randy as always. I've known him for a number of years and I always rely on him on tips when it comes to infographics. Infographics is one of the content types that people can create using Visme so that's what I'm going to focus on.

We are an all-in-one visual communication tool. People use us to create presentations, infographics, and now animated graphics, short videos, and so on. You think of Visme as, let's say, a PowerPoint married with a design tool.

The beauty of infographics created in Visme is that we give you all the assets and everything you can that you need from images to data widgets, even these little icons that are animated. If you need them, we, of course, have tons and tons of static ones as well, maps that are interactive you roll over.

Randy was talking about adding infographics and image to your webpage, which is great. That's a great way of doing it. In Visme, you also have an opportunity to actually embed it and if you embed it, it ends up being HTML text.

What you see here is an embedded infographic. These words are very similar to, let's say, words in your page so they could be indexed by Google. Now, I will also, for those that are very SEO savvy, say that when you embed something into your page it doesn't necessarily get the exact algorithm rankings as, let's say, regular text because it is embedded content. But there is that possibility versus an image. 

Anyway, this was created in Visme. I'm just going to show you a little bit as far as what if you wanted to create your own in Visme?

I'm in a dashboard here. To create mine, I can just click Create and then I decide and say what type of content I want to create. We have these really beautiful presentations but I'm going to focus on infographics here.

There's some templates but the way that we have it set up for creating infographics in Visme is just think about it as far as what is the structure of the content you want. What is it I'm trying to create? Am I trying to compare something? Then we have comparison templates. Am I trying to explain a process? Then we have process templates. You do not have to worry about the colors or continents on. It just gives you a starting point. If there's a timeline, I can do that.

I can go in and then maybe drag and drop something into the stage and then I can just start adjusting things. Or if I want to get graphics, I can go and we have tons and tons of graphics here. Visme infographics are like slides slacked on top of each other. Imagine a presentation, all you do is you just stacking little slides on top of each other.

I'm not worried about the infographic and I can go up and down the blocks. I can move them up and down and I can start adjusting, changing colors, and so on. That's another way you can go about it. You just create a structure and you keep going.

I'm going to go through a few different things right now in a moment so you can see how you can take your infographic to the next level versus it just being static. If you want to visualize data, this is huge. I want to do infographics you're dealing with a lot of little data. We have these little data widgets and all you do is just drag and drop them.

In charts, we have a very powerful charting mechanism. You can see there's all these different chart types here. I can click and I can go in and even copy paste data from outside. I could, by the way, even connect it to a live spreadsheet so it loads all the time and then I can adjust all the settings. 

Then I can keep going. If I want to bring in my own assets and images, I can actually drag and drop or upload it. I have a library so I can go ahead and add this to my canvas and use that in the future if I need to. 

Let me back up a second and say, "Hey, I'm done updating my infographic, I want to change the color theme and so on. I have to do a one by one." No, you do not. We have what's called theme colors. You can set up your branding colors or you can go down here. We've carefully selected these colors and you see what it's doing is changing the colors.

And then let's say I'm done, how do I share this, people? Well, A, you can share it as a link which I showed you earlier. You can publish it. You can make it private so only specific people can see it with a password if you need to. Here we are. Here's the embed code so you can embed it to your site.

Last but not least, you can also go in and download it. You can download as an image. You can also download as a PDF. Of course, the animation effects won't come through. If you want to take it completely and upload it to your website, you don't even want to embed it, you can. All righty, I think that covers it in about as little time as you could do. If you want to learn more, just go to visme.com or .co, same thing, and then maybe create yours.

Farzad: Thank you so much, Payman. We have a ton of questions from the audience which is awesome. Steve Watts is asking, "Would you comment on including the word infographic in the alternative text or elsewhere to tell the search engines that you have an infographic or that's not necessary?"

Randy: Yes. I think it's very necessary. Like I said, I didn't go into the details. There's best practices for every one of those 11 points and one of them is the naming and the ALT text of your infographic and the sequence of words matters. I usually put “infographic” at the end. Your keywords of your title are more important than the fact that it's an infographic. 

Getting Backlinks to Your Infographics

Farzad: Got you. We also got another question asking, "How can we use infographics to get backlinks?" Normally, there's three types of people that we reach out to Visme. We use what we call the 80/20 rule so we spent about four times the amount of time we spent creating a piece of content or an infographic actually promoting that to get a positive ROI.

The three groups of people that we reach out to as far as infographics go is basically whenever we write a blog post, we're creating an infographic for it, and then we go out on Google and some other search engines and actually look for opportunities that some blogs have written about a similar topic and we reach out to the authors of those content and be like, "Hey, we just created this infographic about this topic. Let me know if you'd like to include this infographic on your site just to make it a little more appealing, make it look more visual, and more snackable."

Other ways to reach out to people that are writing a lot of content and basically ask these guys like, "Hey, I noticed your guest posting on a lot of other blogs. I'm more than happy to use tools like Visme to actually create an infographic for blog posts that you're writing." And just include a link to my own resource etc., in the infographic itself.

Last one, and this is what you mentioned, is basically doing the reverse search image. Whenever you put out a piece of content especially for a well-established blog and it only gets picked up by a lot of other resources, lots of people forget to link back or just they mention it, but they don't link back to you exactly.

It's a good opportunity to reach out to these guys and be like, "Hey, can I make that link clickable? So people can find it." Now, we're getting backlinks.

Connie is asking, "Do you have any opinions on using Canva for infographics? Why would someone use Visme instead of other tools like Canva or Piktochart, etc.?"

How Much Text Should an Infographic Have?

Farzad: Amy's asking, "Is there a rule of thumb for the ratio of text versus image on an infographic?" 

Randy: There's a general rule which is too much text will turn people away. We have in the design and it's in the book which is the five-second rule for infographics that you need to be able to communicate your key message in about five seconds because people aren't going to read every single word top to bottom in your infographic like a news article. You need to be able to get your message across that quickly.

In our design process, in that review phase, when we're doing the iterations, we actually go find somebody who hasn't been part of the design process and have them look at the infographic and only give them about 10 seconds to look at it and then take it away and see if they got our key message. That's usually our judge whether we've got too much or too little text in there. 

Farzad: Got you. Thank you. I think it's more of a subject that matter, people have to use their best judgment in terms of basically this ratio.

Randy: We do find people that just paste in paragraphs of text and save it as a JPEG and call it an infographic. People just walk away. They don't even bother reading it when they see that much text on an infographic.

Farzad: Absolutely. Payman, do you have anything to add on to that?

Payman: I do. Yes. The tip will be is it's not for you to narrate off of. It's for the audience to just be able to get snippets of things. It's a snackable content. That's what it's supposed to be. Just little bits and pieces, focus on the key points. Just keep it to the minimum. Get rid of the clutter and focus on the key points and that's how it is. I almost say like half-sentences, not full ones.

Farzad: Got you. Thanks, Payman. Let me see here. Randy, Diva Dental Clinics is asking, "Is infographics in Pinterest advised?"

Randy: The short answer is yes. Pinterest is a great scrolling interface where you can see the full infographic. I've got a cool infographics page on Pinterest where I post everything there that I post on the blog and there's a whole different audience that just likes to look through the visuals. They don't want to read all the commentary and the stuff I like and the stuff I post on Cool Infographics. They just want to skim through and just look at infographics about a category or a topic.

here are thousands and thousands of people that subscribe on Pinterest. It's a whole different audience. Yeah, I think Pinterest is a fantastic venue to publish your infographics as well.

Farzad: All right folks. That's pretty much it. We're getting very close to the one hour mark here and I know you're tired and also we've been taking our special guests, Randy's time. I think this is about time to wrap things up.

I wanted to thank you, everybody, for attending this live event. In case you guys are interested in Cool Infographics, visit Randy's website coolinfographics.com in case you need his help to create a professional-looking and custom made infographics for you guys, definitely visit his agency InfoNewt, is that infonewt.com as well?

Randy: Yeah. Thanks, guys.

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