Social Signals Are So Last Week – Use Infographics to Drive Real Leads

There is a lot of talk these days about social signals affecting Google Search Results, and many SEOs are feeling the effects for their clients, who are disconnected from the social world.

When it comes to infographics, you may find yourself scratching your head at the many conflicting claims out there from the marketers that be. “Infographics are dead,” they say, but you must have a content strategy to survive. “Infographics are dead,” they say, but Facebook and Google+ are putting more and more emphasis on visual content.

The complexity of marketing your business on Google is rising as search success becomes increasingly intertwined with your social media presence and how you interact with your customers. Your website content and external links are no longer enough to gain Google’s trust. Publishing fresh content on your site means nothing if no one is reading it — and it means even less if no one is sharing it to their social networks.

As a business, your primary marketing goal is always to generate leads. Leads are certainly generated from dominating search results — but what if I told you that a solid content marketing strategy could get you leads, even if it didn’t result in #1 rankings right away?

Infographics Drive Leads

For thousands of years, people have been creating “infographics.” From cave paintings to Egyptian hieroglyphics, visual representations of information (events, ideas, stories, etc.) have existed since the dawn of humanity.

Innovators of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as William Playfair and Florence Nightingale, began using charts, graphs and histograms to make things happen and influence change. As a content medium for online marketers, the modern infographic rose to popularity in 2009 and has continued to grow ever since. Today’s infographics are analogous to the posters you used to hang on the walls of your dorm room and college apartment — the ones with “Beers of the World” and “Ultimate Party Schools.”

As SEOs and online marketers have sought to keep up with the latest trends, infographics quickly became a new weapon in the content marketer’s arsenal. Infographics have also become a staple of publishers, thanks to their visual, easy-to-consume nature and virality.

Use Of Infographics For Social Sharing / Signals In Search

The purpose or goal of an infographic shapes the direction of the piece itself. Often, they’re used to visualize a concrete set of data or a new concept, present the findings of a study, or demonstrate a product or service.

As SEO professionals, our team’s main goal is usually to generate traffic, backlinks and social shares. When a client presented us with the idea of creating and publishing monthly infographics with the main intent of getting new leads, we made sure to reinforce the fact that  leads would likely be a secondary benefit after increased traffic and rankings.

Skeptics No More

The first infographic we created and published for our client, LocateADoc.com, was informational and illustrated how and why women should perform self-breast exams to prevent cancer. The audience ate it up — to date, it has accumulated over 3,000 unique pageviews and has been shared 2,506 times on various social networks. After launch, we excitedly reported on the 845 pageviews it received on launch day, but came up short when the client asked about leads.

Infographics Drive Leads

We started the next month’s project with leads in mind. This doctor directory receives more organic traffic on cosmetic surgery related keywords than dentistry, optometry and just about any other practice type combined. Thinking about what our target audience is most interested in, as well as what our client does best, the team created a piece using the ASAPS 2011 research (pdf) highlighting pricing and trends in the cosmetic surgery industry.

This infographic was published Nov.13, 2012, and generated a 2,100% increase in leads compared to the breast self exam piece. (A “lead” in this case is defined as a new patient contact form, submitted by a user who entered the site through the infographic’s hosting URL.) Month after month, this infographic continues to generate leads for the site, with a current Cost Per Lead (CPL) 77% below the target CPL.

The “cost” was calculated based on the total billed to the client for the ideation, research, creative content and graphics of the piece and initial syndication to social sharing sites.

To date, infographics published on LocateADoc’s site have continued to generate new patient leads with an overall CPL 14% lower than the target.

Infographics Drive Leads

Long Live The Infographic

Leveraging a content piece after its initial traffic spike has subsided also proves to be an effective means of continued lead generation and backlink creation. Continued creation and publication of infographics established LocateADoc as a source for great content, which has also improved the reach of each subsequent infographic.

Given the right content for an audience and a solid long-term marketing plan in place for the distribution of the piece, infographics can certainly generate leads for your business.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a plumber (history of toilets infographic!) or a lawyer (history of toilet related lawsuits infographic!), there is always a way to visually transmit information pertinent to your business. And, the current generation of Internet addicts gobble infographics up like candy.

So, long live the infographic! Take a stab at creating a piece worthy of social sharing and you may even generate some new business along with your backlinks.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Infographics | Search & Social

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About The Author: is CEO of Search Influence, a national online marketing firm focused on small and medium-sized businesses, and white label online marketing products for publishers and media partners who serve them. Search Influence is the largest online marketing company on the Gulf Coast and New Orleans’ only Inc. 500 honoree in 2011.

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  • Charlie

    I’m going to be the first to call BS.. I’ve done fantastically ranking sites with social signals and community engagement – Infographics are great if you’re trying to market an SEO company on pinterest (to other SEOs) but most consumers don’t give a rats a$% about averages and visitor numbers, unless it’s in a properly formatted case study (which they’ll still only read the first 100 words, if that)

  • http://twitter.com/sharithurow sharithurow

    Hi Charlie and all-

    I don’t think this article is BS at all. Infographics are a valuable way to communicate as long as the context is right.

    I work on client sites in multiple industries where infographics are extremely helpful for social media distribution, (often corresponding) link development, and even direct sales.

    Graphs (pie, bar, line, etc.) are infographics. They are great for communicating data in a visual way that a table of data just doesn’t provide. The same is sometimes true with lists. The phrase “seeing is believing”? Humans are quite visual, and often providing a corresponding graphic with text (such as a caption) communicates an idea or concept better than text.

    I think Will said it best with, “…visually transmit information pertinent to your business.” The use of infographics is contextual–it depends on your business, industry, and target audience(s). I wouldn’t dismiss this article as BS. I would take it in the context in which, I believe, the author intended.

    I think Will did a good job and illustrated his points quite well.

    –Shari

  • Colin Guidi

    Why are you calling BS? Beyond the title (which I don’t agree with) the author is simply advocating for the usage of infographics as lead gen.

    Social signals are here to stay, and honestly, if you create an infographic which will likely be socially shared, those will inherently become social signals. So the two overlap. I’ve run infographic pushes for clients before, and seen solid success for traffic, backlinks, and social signals. Leads were not tracked, but I’m willing to bet they saw positive movement.

  • http://twitter.com/LOLatGOP LOLatGOP

    You’re thinking too narrow. Infographics aren’t limited to “averages” and other similar metrics. It can be a list of “interesting/important facts” and other unique ‘factoids’ that grab people’s attention.

  • http://www.searchinfluence.com/blog/ Will Scott

    Hey guys, thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

    Shari, I think you hit it on the head! A big takeaway should be “Good Content Converts”!

    The challenge is helping clients feel a return on their investment, right? A lot of ROI is either long-term or not completely tangible. So, when the main sales message for certain types of content is “social signals”, it’s a hard sell.

    Are Social Signals important for search? Yes, definitely. Is social engagement a factor in ranking? Probably so. But, when you get direct revenue as a bonus, that’s pretty fantastic too!

    And yes, Colin, the headline is a little incendiary :)

  • http://designhouseagency.com/ Liz

    This was great information, I mean let’s face it, it does not get any better then infographics a visually appealing design with juicy bits of valuable information served for our quick viewing and learning pleasure.

  • Colin Guidi

    haha, I’m ALL about leveraging any means for improved revenue. Almost always, they will overlap. Infographics are wonderful drivers of traffic, social signals, and as you’ve presented, lead gens. I definitely feel they’re underutilized (and for that matter, under optimized).

    Creative out of the box thinking, rather than spamming, is what it’s about. Nice post Will.

  • Charlie

    I agree that Infographics are good, but I’d prefer some great user engagement from social signals and social sharing. Look at SEOmoz posts, they get a ton of social engagement and tend to be indexed within 5 minutes because of that.

  • Christian Müller

    But lets face it: 90% of all infographics are a waste of time. It has been hyped too much, everyone is doing infographics right now without understanding anything about data visualisation. BIG problem that is. But I agree, they can be a real deal. “appealing design” thats exactly the problem, its about appealing data visualisation, not mainly design which alot of people think infographics are about (those who create them).

  • ronniesmustache

    Infographics, word clouds…blablah belch!

 

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