Infographics continue to gain popularity as a form of content in the marketing and nonprofit realms. After all, these are two areas where it’s essential to communicate in timely and visually stimulating ways.
When created strategically, infographics have the power to spread awareness at a viral level and spur change.
They don’t require a lot of reading time and their visual nature makes them highly shareable and ideal for social media posts. When used for marketing campaigns, infographics can provide a condensed introduction to a cause, encourage people to spread the word, and prompt engagement.
To leverage infographics for your nonprofit’s marketing campaigns, your three main goals should be:
1) To educate. It’s important that readers understand your cause. What is the main message you want readers to walk away with after reading your infographic?
2) To convince. Along with understanding the cause, it’s important that readers care about it. They won’t want to take action unless you can appeal to them on an emotional level.
3) To convert. By convert, I mean to get readers to participate in some way. A consumer of your infographic could go on to follow you on social media, share your cause with their network, or make a contribution to your cause.
After you’ve considered the goals for your infographic, you’re ready to get to the creative work. To ensure your graphics educate, convince, and convert, here are five steps to build into your process.
1. Find an Emotional Touchpoint
Even though you have a very limited amount of space in an infographic, you should have a clear narrative in mind. You can communicate a surprisingly full story using strong visuals, statistics, and focused text. Most importantly, you want readers to connect emotionally with the information. An emotional connection is what will inspire them to take action.
One approach to connect with readers emotionally is to focus on an individual’s story. Use that story to drive the content of the infographic and if you can, include pictures of the individual. Take the example below, which follows a girl named Nirajan through her journey toward recovery.
Another approach is to challenge readers by taking them out of their comfort zone. This simple infographic by The Humane Society uses a combination of powerful imagery and a shocking statistic to confront readers with the reality behind fur clothing.
You can also establish an emotional connection with a success story. Focus on the success of your cause to show readers the work their contributions power. Take the example below, which looks at the progress that UNICEF has made in their clean water project over the last 15 years.
2. Highlight the Most Impactful Data
This will help give your infographic a narrative. Identify and emphasize the most impactful statistics. If one statistic is particularly shocking, make that the focus of your infographic. Ask yourself, which statistic or data point will best support the narrative?
For example, this simple infographic by The Humane Society International on the seal slaughter problem in Canada focuses on one shocking statistic at the top of the infographic. It then moves on to break down the topic with supplementary facts and figures.
3. Pick the Right Layout
When it comes to infographics, especially emotion-driven infographics, complex isn’t always better. What’s most important is that the information on your infographic is easy to understand. There are three basic layout styles you can use as a starting point for your design.
1) Problem and Pain
This template focuses on the central problem that your organization is trying to fix. This draws attention to the problem and asks readers to notice and care. A simple way to do this is to place a key statistic at the top of the infographic, either with words or in the form of a chart. You might also compare two sets of data to highlight a problem. Take the example below, which compares deaths by cancer in one region of England with another.
2) Unique Solution
Rather than focusing on the problem, this layout style focuses on the solution. This infographic about Movember is a good example of this—it uses a fun and creative campaign to raise awareness about men’s health issues.
The benefit of this style is that it focuses on the impact and results of your organization. Focus on one success story and then break down the different components (what you accomplished, how you did it, and how you plan to move forward). Take this example by Give Local America, which ends with a call to action for readers to participate in the same campaign next year.
4. Choose the Right Chart Types
Charts can make or break an infographic. When used effectively, charts present data in a way that is easy to understand. When used poorly, they obscure information and tarnish your credibility. As a general rule of thumb, you want your readers to be able to understand a chart in a matter of seconds.
The most common charts and graphs used are pie charts, bar graphs, column graphs, and line charts. These are all types of charts that most people will already know how to read easily. Take this simple but attractive bar graph below.
But you can also use pictograms—charts made of icons representing each unit, to display data. You’ve seen them already in a couple of the examples in this post. The example below uses icons of milk to show how much one goat can help feed a community.
Read more on how to choose the right charts.
5. Include a Strong Call to Action
As one of the goals of an infographic is for readers to convert, you’ll want to direct them to take a specific action. Point them to your site, where they can find more information, learn how to follow you on social media, and participate in the solution. Always be sure to include a call to action in your infographic—typically at the bottom. It can be something as simple as “Follow us on Twitter” or “Want to know more? Visit our site [link].” Make sure that your organization’s logo is also visible in the infographic, so that if your infographic is posted somewhere else, readers will still recognize that it was created for your organization.
The More Visual, the Better
Remember: people respond emotionally to images. Don’t rely on text alone to tell your narrative. Use high quality, emotionally impactful images. If you have a great statistic, use big, bold text. Images and shocking statistics are what will stick in the minds of readers, so make those the focus of your infographic.
Always ask yourself, “If I were to read this infographic, would I care about the cause and feel compelled to take action?”
Sara McGuire is a Creative Content Specialist at Venngage, an easy to use infographic software. In her free time, she enjoys baking, reading graphic novels and poetry, and hanging out with her cat.