Pretty and Useful Infographics

In the last few years, infographics have taken off, fueled by the increasing availability of large datasets and the social web’s hunger for compelling images. It is no wonder more marketers are using this tool in their campaigns, since infographics can concisely convey crucial information in an appealing and shareable form.

Pretty colors and creative visuals aren’t enough to make an infographic useful.

But pretty colors and creative visuals aren’t enough to make an infographic useful. For their infographics to stand out, CMOs and their marketing teams need to carefully plan how to develop and use them.

If you’ve ever thought about creating an infographic — or if you’re already using infographics in your marketing campaigns but want to use them more effectively — here’s what you need to know.

Types of Infographics

If you want your infographic to be both effective and widely distributed, you need to create the right type of infographic for your particular purpose. The major types are: Data visualization, Narrative infographics, and Information design.

Infographic Benefits

guide_to_infographicJust like any marketing asset, an infographic has its time and place. They work well for the following:

Driving traffic. Infographics can boost SEO and help drive traffic to your site.

Increasing brand awareness. Because of their potential to go viral on social media, infographics can help spread buzz about your brand. When done right, they can help get the attention of potential customers. As they are not primarily sales tools, infographics are better used for campaigns meant to fill the top of the marketing funnel.

Communicating results externally. Infographics can be a great alternative to your typical PowerPoint presentations. We work with a lot of clients who use infographics to summarize study results.

Communicating results internally: Internally, infographics can also be used to summarize team achievements after each quarter or after a campaign. Some insight teams use infographics to showcase their achievements and increase their value to other internal stakeholders.

Characteristics of Great Infographics

Proper planning and thoughtful design are keys to standing out in the crowded infographic market. Here are key considerations on how to do that:

Keep a specific audience in mind.  An infographic needs to be relevant to a specific audience. Photos and images have a universal appeal, but some audiences are naturally more visual than others. If you have an insight community of consumers, ask them about their media habits. This will give you an idea on how receptive they’ll be to visual content.

Start with data, and then provide valuable, interesting information.  While infographics can be sexy, will creating one add value to your story or message? Infographics can only be effective if you bring something original to the table. Data is the foundation of many of the most interesting infographics, so work with your research team to study your dataset and learn where it’s from, how it was collected, and what makes it unique.

Be realistic about your resources. Infographics don’t go viral by accident. In fact, the research and design resources required to create a useful infographic are enormous. Be prepared to put a lot of effort into the project to avoid producing a mediocre infographic.

Maximize your use of external sources. Make sure your sources tell a story—that the combination of all the data forms a compelling narrative. For a consistent narrative, use a limited number of sources. Be picky: use only relevant and trustworthy sources.

Great Infographics Design

While amazing design is always a plus, it’s even more important for infographics. Check out a few tips on the Vision Critical blog for designing infographics that perform.

The Future of Infographics?

To continue to be useful, infographics must evolve. Many companies are already staring to play with interactive infographics, data visualizations made with HTML5 that show data based on what the viewer does. (Vision Critical recently released its first interactive infographic, which talks about the history of market research.) Some are even playing around with the idea of presenting information as animated GIFs, which may work well for newer social networks such as Tumblr. Some are pushing the boundaries even more, experimenting with video, quiz and other infographic formats.

Most experts agree infographics will continue to be part of the content marketing ecosystem in the future. Regardless of changes in technology or the format in which they are presented, one thing will remain the same: infographics need to address the needs of their target audience and provide relevant, accurate, timely, and interesting information.

When done right, infographics can help people remember or understand the story you are trying to tell. They can be an effective way of sharing your findings with various stakeholders, including people in your company, the media, consumers, or people in your community. Just remember that infographics are only one of the tools at your disposal: to provide value, infographics should be crafted with careful consideration of your audience and what you’re trying to achieve.

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Pretty and Useful Infographics
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Vision Critical
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At Vision Critical we build insight communities that facilitate two-way communications with customers, employees and citizens in contexts ranging from market research to civic engagement. We help our clients ask better questions, listen more intently and learn what the people they care about think and feel.
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