I’m going to do my best to ensure this post is non-bias, because the fact remains that Killer Infographics is an infographic design agency. That said, we are aware that some clients have needs beyond what we can provide while other clients are getting over charged for exactly what we provide. Because of this, I felt the need to write a very thorough post about what to expect from an infographic design agency.
Before I dive in too deep, let’s first discuss the point of infographics. Infographics have become very popular as of late. There are a large number of infographics posted online every single day, most of which are so-so and a special few that are amazing. Infographics are a great tool for online marketing, but they also provide an easy way to get large amounts of information across to your end user in a fun and easy way. Companies that have adopted infographics do so to better connect with their target audience, build their brand, drive traffic to their website, and gain inbound links. In the end, the ROI of any infographic is measured through traffic gained, shares on social sites, and inbound links. That said, not all infographics have large amounts of all 3. Some infographics may only result in 2 inbound links while still getting thousands of shares on Facebook. Other infographics might drive thousands of visitors to your site, but will be so niche that other webmasters will not re-post the design, leaving you with zero inbound links. Any company wanting to enter the infographic space for their online marketing should accept these facts and know that a proper infographic campaign has its ups and downs and should therefor not be measured by infographic, but instead measured by overall traffic, links, social shares, and brand recognition once the campaign is completed.
To run a thorough infographic campaign, a company should commit to producing at least 1 infographic every 2 weeks over the course of a quarter. This is our advice, but not something we require of our clients. This is because the founders of Killer Infographics have been on marketing teams for large companies. We know that in most companies, there are many stake holders to convince when investing in any marketing campaign. And sometimes this means that a marketing campaign might be a little slow to take off at first.
Now that I’ve explained infographics and their ROI, let’s dive into what this post is all about: finding the best infographic design agency.
There are a some key factors that one should consider when looking for an infographic design firm:
- Price & Value for the Money
- Design Quality/Aesthetic
- Turn Around Time, Process & Track Record
- Clients, Service, and Accountability
- Hidden Costs?
Let’s dive into these one by one.
How Much Do Infographics Cost?
Very few companies (especially in this economy) can say that price is no option. The fact is, price is a very important factor of any new marketing campaign, especially with so many companies keeping strict budgets. Infographics fall into the realm of SEO in many ways since they are a tool for link building. The problem here is that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an ever changing space where up means down one day and down may mean up another. I should know, I’ve been in the SEO business for many, many years now. Of course, the problem here is that at most companies, SEO is the hardest thing to get any money for. This is why price is definitely an important factor in infographic designs.
Still, good designers aren’t cheap, especially those based in the U.S. Luckily, there are a few infographic design firms out there that are able to produce very high quality designs for very reasonable prices. In my opinion, an infographic should not cost over $1000 (which is much higher than we have every charged a client). That said, there are infographic design firms out there that charge this high price tag, and sometimes the price is reasonable given what they offer.
So with that, you have to ask yourself: What am I getting for the money?
The answer is different with every design firm. If the design firm is offering to market your infographics for you, then they might be worth that $1000 price tag (provided their designs and service are good). The fact is, not all companies can do this on their own. To keep our costs low, we supply our clients with a guide to marketing their own infographics with a list of steps that are easy enough for any intern to take on. That said, some clients want their infographic campaign to be as turnkey as possible. When we get clients requesting that we market their infographics as well, we connect them with a trusted SEO firm that will take on the marketing side of things. Of course, this will double (if not triple) prices pretty fast, so it’s never our first suggestion. Other infographic design agencies offer the entire package with marketing infographics just one of the many perks you may get if you sign up for a retainer with them.
Some key things that will impact the price of any infographic design include the following:
- Research – will you supply research, or do you want the agency to do that for you?
- Brainstorming – will you supply ideas for your infographics, or do you want the agency to do that for you?
- Wire Framing – do you want to sign off on a wire frame before getting your first draft?
- Source Files – do you want the layered source file with your infographic (the PSD/AI files)?
- Edits – what kind of edits do you want for your infographics?
- Promotion – do you want the agency to also market your infographic online?
- Reporting – do you want the agency to create detailed reports regarding the success of your infographic?
I’m not going to give away our special sauce, but will say that with each bullet point any firm will likely add more costs to the final product, and other firms only provide you with the all or nothing option. To really find a great agency, start doing some price comparisons. Ask each agency what they cost for all the features above, or pick out the features you must have from an agency, and ask them to setup pricing just based on those.
Value for the money is also very important to consider. For instance, how much is the firm charging to research the topic? Is this something you can do yourself? The answer to this is maybe. Researching for an infographic takes a certain mindset, because you have to be sure to find enough data to drive an entire design. That said, if you’re a data company, this shouldn’t be hard at all, so why pay for it?
If the company offers to market your infographic, what are they promising with that marketing? Are they guaranteeing a certain number of tweets, stumbles, and Facebook shares? Are they promising a certain number of inbound links? And if they are promising links, what is the quality of those links? Will those links be from social media sites, or high PageRank blogs? These are all very important things to ask. The fact is, these are also very hard things to promise so be weary of agencies the make promises that are too good to be true, because they likely are.
Make sure you’re not paying too much for a sub-par service. If the design agency makes mediocre designs, but markets them so well that you end up with hundreds of high quality inbound links, is it worth it? Or would you prefer a company that makes amazing designs and markets them wonderfully?
In the end, you get what you pay for. If the infographic costs you $200, it’s not going to look that great, but this leads to the next point:
What is the Design Quality/Aesthetic of Infographics Produced?
Every infographic company you reach out to should be able to supply you with a portfolio of their work. Be weary of those that say they can’t provide a portfolio because their clients won’t let them. At Killer Infographics, we are mainly a white-label design firm. This means that the majority of our designs are ones that we don’t take credit for because our clients are larger agencies, selling our designs to their clients as their own. That said, we were still able to get client approval to compile a number of infographics that showcase our work while maintaining client confidence. All agencies should be able to do this, and those that can’t, should have designs of their own (non-client) infographics to showcase their work.
When looking at infographics produced by an agency, make sure they follow the guidelines of a quality infographic. Check to see if every infographic in their portfolio is unique. This ensures that they aren’t just reusing the same elements over and over again to cut time and costs. Most importantly, we all have our own definition of “eye candy.” Make sure the infographics supplied by the agency fit your definition of “eye candy,” otherwise you won’t be happy with the final outcome.
What’s the Infographic Design Firm’s Turn Around Time, Process & Track Record?
Some infographic design agencies take up to a month to turn around one infographic, while others can complete your infographic in just a few days. This all depends on their process of course, and their track record will tell you whether or not their projections are accurate.
Pretty much any agency can do a rush order, though they will likely charge you extra for that rush. Similarly, any agency can take their time with an order, depending on what the client needs. With all the variables impacting turn around time, what you should ask every agency is simple: What’s your average turn around time for an infographic? After they’ve told you that turn around time, ask them what’s included in that time frame. Are they suggesting that they will get you an infographic in 5 days with the research, wire frame, and all edits included in that time frame? Or, are they suggesting that the first draft will get to you in 5 days? This will help you set your expectations and your marketing plan.
Get details about the full process that each agency follows. For instance, how long will it take them to send you research and a wire frame, and how long do you have to approve that research and wire frame? How long will it take them to complete edits if requested? Will they charge you for those edits? The answer to each question will likely lead to a new one, but in the end you will have a very clear idea of their process and you will need to make sure it fits with your schedule.
Finally, ask about their track record. How many orders have they had that they never completed? How many orders have they had to completely redo because they missed the mark when producing the infographic? Did they charge for that? What parts of their process help to ensure exhaustive edits won’t be necessary? Finally, how many infographics have they completed for clients since they began designing infographics?
Who Are the Clients of Each Infographic Design Agency and What do They Think?
Not all infographic design firms are at liberty to disclose their clients, and many might be weary about providing this information out of fear their clients will be stolen from them. While these are valid concerns, every agency should have a handful of very loyal clients, and if they don’t, then you might be taking a risk working with them. Ask the infographic design firm about the clients they work with. They should be able to provide a few names, hopefully some of which you recognize. Ask them where the clients are located, since you’ll want to see whether the infographic design firm works with local clients, national clients, or even international.
Next, ask about regular clients. A lot of companies are just starting to test out infographics, and because of this they may not order more than one or two up front. Because of this, some agencies might have a lot of clients, but few ever come back for a second order. Try to get a list of regular clients and then don’t hesitate to reach out to those clients and get their take on the infographic design firm. This will help you determine whether the firm is actually everything they make themselves out to be.
When you talk with these clients, ask them about the customer service they receive, but be sure to also ask the infographic design agency if you hear about some poor service. There are 2 sides to every story and some clients may not voice their issues with the agency, making it hard for the agency to right any wrongs.
When you talk with other clients, you’ll also have the opportunity to determine how accountable the infographic design firm holds themselves for their designs. Some firms might bend over backwards to make a customer happy, while others might leave customers high and dry with poor work if the customer gets too hard to work with. Make sure you do your homework and find out what other client experiences were before choosing an infographic design agency.
Are There Any Hidden Costs?
We live in a world where, when the price seems too good to be true, there is often a bait and switch waiting for us around the corner. This is something everyone wants to avoid, but sometimes we can’t help but get lured in by an agency that under bids another. Because of this, it’s important to lay out your expectations up front and make sure that the infographic design agency is as open with you as possible about any hidden costs.
Some common hidden costs to look out for include:
- Minimum order commitments – Some design agencies won’t take on a client unless they agree to a minimum number of infographics per order. Costs might be cut when you agree to this, but if you aren’t happy with the designs produced, this might cost more. Make sure you’re confident with the company before making a commitment like this.
- Editing costs – It’s very rare that an infographic will be produced without needing at least one edit. Not all edits can be free, because sometimes you might approve a project and then your CEO asks for too many out of scope edits that were not requested in the original order. This just happens. All that said, there are a variety of simple edits that should just come standard with any infographic, so make sure you know what edits will cost money and what edits will be free. Next, find out how the infographic design firm charges for edits, because this is also a very important price tag to consider if you anticipate many edits.
- Retainers – Retainers are similar to minimum order requirements, but they mainly focus on how much money you have to spend with the infographic agency before your commitment is over. If you are going to sign up for a retainer, make sure there’s an easy out if you’re unhappy with the designs.
- Bulk Orders – While bulk orders should mean cheaper infographics, some design agencies charge more because it means that they might be at capacity with your orders and won’t be able to take orders from other clients. Ask about bulk orders up front so that you can determine whether there is an opportunity for money savings, or a possibility of extra costs should you decide to order a large amount of infographics up front.