How to Create an Infographic with a Storyline

Contrary to general misconception, infographics should be more than pretty pictures. They should vehicles for visual storytelling. They should tweak viewers’ curiosity, peak their interest, encourage them to care, show them the opportunity, and then drive them to take action.

Even the simplest of educational infographics can encourage action in the viewer.

To achieve this goal, you need a plan, a formula if you will, for effectively creating story arcs that sell that action. Here’s the formula I like to use as illustrated with an infographic (I know, how meta), from the master of inbound marketing–Neil Patel of QuickSprout.com.

Headline

Infographic headlines are one of the most underutilized elements within most designs. This is your opening opportunity to make the view care about the story you want to tell.

Make sure that your headline delivers a clear benefit to scrolling through the rest of your infographic.

What will your viewer learn if they invest the time in your data visualization?

source: QuickSprout.com
source: QuickSprout.com

Why Should They Care?

Benefits are compelling, but to really hook a viewer, you need to show them data that proves this information is legitimately important. Why should I care about what this infographic promises to teach me? Even more important, why is this data significant to me and my objectives?

This is where you begin to showcase the data that makes your case. This portion of the infographic should build a clear argument and present an opportunity to the reader to consider the concept you are presenting.

In this example, QuickSprout is setting the foundation that Facebook has over a billion users and is an integral part of the majority of those user’s daily lives.

source: QuickSprout.com
source: QuickSprout.com

Best Practices to Consider

Now you have the viewer’s attention. It’s time to show them how to realize the benefit.

Are there any best practices to implement? How do you turn the why into a how with executable tactics?

Unlike the average “feel good” marketing article with their hypothetical outcomes, your infographic needs to be supported by firm data. Like the example below, the tips and techniques need to showcase the positive outcomes they can yield.

source: QuickSprout.com
source: QuickSprout.com

Tactical Idea/Example

As you move down the landscape of your infographic, the viewer is going to want an increasing amount of pertinent details. If your story is moving forward appropriately, viewers will buy into the concept and want further examples.

The next few sections should be tangible demonstrations of your concept in action. Include ideas, examples, techniques, and strategies as they should be executed.

Like the example below, these are often behaviors or characteristics that can be exploited to move audiences toward a specific objective.

source: QuickSprout.com
source: QuickSprout.com

Another Tactical Idea/Example

One example is never enough. Add two or three examples to give your infographic weight in executable value. Again, ensuring that all of your examples are supported by data and empirical evidence gives credibility to your opening premise–in this case, that you can dramatically increase Facebook engagement.

source: QuickSprout.com
source: QuickSprout.com

Strategic Data to Consider in Tactics

Having provided a few examples, now it’s time to give the viewer some data that will give them confidence in using their own creativity.

In every infographic, you should provide the viewer with some slightly broader or more esoteric data. That kind of thing makes the reader feel like an insider–a burgeoning expert. This is the kind of data that will get them thinking deeper and provide the inspiration to use the newfound knowledge you have provided.

source: QuickSprout.com
source: QuickSprout.com

Why Do This?

If you’re getting this infographic stuff right, you’ve:

  • Grabbed your viewers attention,
  • Made them care about the data you’re sharing,
  • Showed them a few real examples, and,
  • Given them some confidence on the topic

The next step is to start influencing them to take action.

In my experience, the best way to do that is through peer or social influence. Give them facts, like our example here, that suggest if they’re not heeding your words, they’ll get left behind; the “everyone’s doing it” marketing pitch.

source: QuickSprout.com
source: QuickSprout.com

Call to Action

As you head into the closing argument, don’t forget a strong call to action. This can be as straightforward as your brand, like the example here, or a stronger appeal to ask more questions or engage you for even more education or expertise on the topic.

Your call to action will vary widely depending on the objective of your infographic. But regardless of your marketing goals, remember infographics are marketing tools–don’t invest in infographics without a clear intent to gain a positive return.

References

Finally, include sources and references.

This used to be a core element, almost a defining element, in every infographic. However, I’m starting to notice them fading from the landscape.

Personally, I think that this section adds an air of credibility, trust, and value to the viewer. It demonstrates that you did your research and you are providing well-researched data. It gives me the confidence to use and make decisions with the data presented in the infographic. This makes it easier to activate your viewer.

source: QuickSprout.com
source: QuickSprout.com

Conclusion

That’s how you make infographics that tell strong stories and trigger your audience to take action. What questions do you have about making infographics? What story are you trying to tell with data visualizations and infographics?

P.S., Here’s the complete infographic that we used in this example:

How to Increase Your Facebook Engagement by 275%
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout