“There’s something almost quite magical about visual information. It’s effortless. It literally pours in. If you’re navigating a dense information jungle, coming across a beautiful graphic or lovely data visualization is a relief. It’s like coming across a clearing in the jungle.”
– David McCandless, writer and designer in a TED talk on beauty of data visualization
You’ve probably heard the oft-repeated expression “Content is King”. And so far, not many in the marketing world have challenged its reign.
But while content may be king, infographics and data visualization are clearly the crown.
It is no surprise that websites featuring visually-rich infographics are recording a traffic increase 12% above websites without them. The Google search rate for “infographic”, at practically zero prior to 2010, is now well north of 1,000,000 searches a month. Searching the term as of September 2018 kicks up dozens of examples, everything from “The Decline in Adoption Rates” to “America’s Most Pest-Infested Cities” to “The Science Behind Writing Drunk”. One need only take a look at our daily routines to see how data visualization is already all around us in the form of road signs, schedules, instructions, maps and more.
It makes sense, then, that more and more companies are actively budgeting and incorporating infographics into their content marketing strategy. According to market research, the number of marketers using infographics increased over 5 years from 57% in 2013 to 84% in 2018. Many have harnessed the power of data visualization for their own successful content marketing campaigns, like we see in these infographic-like microsites from The World Bank.
Infographics are easier to understand
If you’ve ever identified as a “visual learner”, you’re not alone. Studies show that humans process visual information 60,000 times faster than text. This is because 90% of the information our brain receives is transmitted visually. Real life example: People following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustration.
This has wide repercussions for marketers, who by definition seek to communicate and shape the perspectives of their customers. Infographics help you tell specific stories through imagery and minimalist content. Often, infographics take complex data and break it down into an easy to assimilate visual messages. Other times, infographics are very simple representations of a particular idea, function or instructions.
Infographics are easier to remember
Do you remember what gifts you received for your last birthday? Now do you remember what your birthday cards said? If not, don’t blame your shoddy memory. Humans remember only 20% of what they read compared to 80% of what they see and do.
Infographics are not only easier to assimilate and comprehend, they’re simply easier to remember, thanks to the picture superiority effect. In psychology, the picture superiority effect cites the fact that people will likely remember concepts when they are presented as pictures over just text. Research has shown that when a person hears information, they are likely to remember roughly 10% of that information 3 days later. On the other hand, if that same information is paired with relevant imagery, people retained 65% of the information in the same time period of 3 days.
Infographics are more likely to be read
Between our computers, smart phones, tablets, and televisions, we are literally bombarded with information. 95% of the world’s data was produced in the last two years alone; our brains are experiencing sensory overload and are exhausted. A clear sign of this: studies show that visitors read less than 28% of the words on a given web page.
So how do you make your message stand out? Using an infographic makes it 30 times more likely that your audience will read your content. Incorporate color and your audience will be 80% more willing to take a good look. Dr. Friedrich Schwandt, reports that publishers observe an opening rate 4-times higher when an infographic is in the preview.
Infographics improve your SEO and Backlink Profile
First of all, including an image of any sort will cause your page to appear on Google’s “image search” results on top of the standard text search. As explained by the experts at Seochat, the Google image database is smaller than the text database, giving your page a better shot at climbing to the top ranks and thus driving traffic to your site. Research shows that the first five search results on Google receive 67.6% of all clicks on average, so ranking well is vital to getting your content in front of your target audience.
Getting other sites to link to yours–or backlinks–is key for SEO success. Because people are so much more likely to socialize visual content, you can boost your backlinks (and your website’s overall SEO) by producing more infographics and other types of visuals.
All of the above shows that infographics and data visualization have become a pillar of smart content marketing strategy. They have a wide-reaching relevance that can be critical to a successful marketing effort. For a lesson of what not to do, make sure you read: 5 Common Sins of a Bad Infographic