Last week, Rand Fishkin produced a fairly disparaging video on Moz.com about infographics and why they should be replaced with on-page visual elements.
While I agree that in 90% of cases infographics are poorly researched and designed, it’s unfair to write off such a valuable media type. A good infographic empowers reader understanding by breaking down complex information into digestible, visual chunks.
In this article, I’m going to explain why high-quality infographics remain an important weapon in the inbound marketer’s arsenal.
1. Infographics are Shareable, Linkable and Evergreen Assets
The infographic has jumped on the visual bandwagon, exploding as a form of shareable content and guaranteeing marketers measurable results.
Infographics also provide evergreen content. A controversial news story or survey might gain you a spike of social shares if it reaches the ”right audience” at the ”right time”, but from my experience this type of PR is a lot more hit and miss. With an infographic, you have a permanent linkable asset that retains relevancy and will get shares months after it’s published on your website.
2. Infographic Research can be Recycled into a White Paper or Press Releases
This is where most people completely miss the boat with infographics. They’re not just about making stand-a-lone visual assets. A clever marketer will re-apply the same research and data for a white paper, press release or investigative piece. If your editors and content marketers have spent days undertaking research for an infographic then they should re-apply that knowledge elsewhere to create additional inbound marketing opportunities.
3. Infographics Enables Brands to Gain Traction and Links in Difficult, Complex Industries
One of my favourite things about infographics is that they can penetrate industries where the traditional barriers for content and guest posts is set very high.
For example, high frequency trading (HFT) is a technologically complex industry that revolves around microwave transmission cables, exchange internalization, microchips and more. There’s no way our team would’ve been able to write an article to a high enough standard in this industry.
However, when we launched a really simple infographic showing a time-line for the history of HFT, it was picked up and published by half a dozen reporters and bloggers in this market. In this example, our infographic gave us a way of cracking into the complex world of HFT that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do.
4. Earn Links form Outside your Industry
Following on from the above, infographics also allow sites in niche, difficult industries with little natural linkage (e.g. gambling) to earn links from other markets. This is because editors will often credit you for the infographic regardless of the contextual relevance or credibility of your site.
I developed an infographic on RightCasino.com that used the luck element in gambling as a springboard to examine the chances of arriving at any single piece of web content. This earned links from authority sites such as Cheezburger.com and Business2Community.com.
5. Help Build Editorial links in Guest Posts
The world of guest posting is changing and it’s becoming harder to acquire natural, editorially sanctioned links to your content. Webmasters are adopting stricter external linking policies. Infographics help provide an excuse to link back to your site whist providing value to the reader.
The strategy for promoting infographics via content marketing largely depends on the contact method. For example, on Twitter you need to keep messages short and simple – just ask for RT if someone has lots of followers. When you’re sending out press releases to journalists you don’t really need to personalize it since it’s all about the headline. If you’re reaching out to bloggers or looking to do a write-up however, you should personalize emails and say you’re happy to get one of your researchers to contribute an accompanying article with some additional ”unseen data”. This gives them an extra incentive to publish your work.
Never ask for a link, it should be naturally embedded into the content anyway. Given Google’s recent stance towards devaluing auto-embed links, it’s the editorial links in content that you’re after.
6. It’s Easier to Explain Complex Data, Facts and Figures through Visual Form
The human brain has a hard time processing large numbers and information. However, psychologyexperts have proven that visual aids have massive pedagogic and mnemonic value. Infographics condense important tables, charts and data into a single canvas. It’s more user-friendly to show the odds of winning the lottery on an infographic than publish a rambling page of charts, illustrations and tables. Information has to be digestible for it to go viral.
7. ”Stat-Jacking”: Journalists will often give you Link Credit for the Stats
This may be cheeky – but you’re not to blame. Many journalists will give you link credit for stats in your infographic even though the stats are from elsewhere (as noted in your references). Incidentally, the references in your infographic represent important linking leads.
8. Infographics don’t have to be Expensive
I know that 90% of infographics look rubbish; therefore I don’t want to extol the virtues of a one-hour infographic from fiverr. However, this doesn’t mean you need to fork out thousands on an infographic design agency either. For example, you can find plenty of high-quality freelance graphic designers from sites such as PeopleperHour.com and Microlance.com for as little as $500 if you’re willing to spend the time looking for them and organize your own research and briefs.
9. Infographics are Great Tools for News-jacking
News-jacking is the art of taking news events or stories and turning them into major marketing opportunities for your brand.
Infographics are good for news-jacking because they offer something to editors when they’re reporting on news stories. They’re particular useful for data release and analysis since they help convey figures more effectively. For example, imagine if Congress suddenly announced that the US had a trade deficit of $5 trillion. You could then use this data to create an infographic that shows what you could buy with this money e.g. $5 trillion equals ”50 private islands in the pacific” or ”a Ferrari for every citizen in the US”.
Another good news-jack example is CNBS’s infographic, which compared social chatter of Twitter’s IPO to Facebook’s IPO shortly after Twitter went public.
10. Infographics have Measurable Results and ROI
In Rand’s white-board Friday, he argued how on-page visual elements provide more value to marketers than infographics. The problem with his argument however is that they’re two separate things – visual elements are a form of content development; infographics are a form of PR and marketing.
The advantage of infographics is that they offer quick measurable results such as social shares, backlinks, citations and traffic. These results allow SEOs to create a comprehensive ROI report for their clients. It’s much harder on the other hand to measure the results of dozens of individual visual elements and justify the content spend.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.