Did you know that there are roughly 2.73 million blog posts written and published every day?
Wrap your head around that.
Clearly, standing out is hard. Especially for content. That’s why new techniques and tactics are being adopted by marketers to increase their brand’s visibility.
But the trend is moving away from traditional ads. Search engines like Google and social media sites like Facebook are tweaking their algorithms to ensure brands don’t get as much organic visibility this way.
On top of that, traditional banner ads simply don’t work. With an average click through rate across of just 0.06 percent, you could say display ads are failing miserably.
So, what’s the solution? Enter sponsored content, articles in major publications like the New York Times and Buzzfeed that are sponsored by major brands.
Considering that 70 percent of consumers want to learn about brands through content, it only make sense that companies rely on educational and entertaining content to attract customers.
Use of sponsored content looks to rise consistently for years to come. A study by Hexagram and Spada found that 62 percent of publishers are already embracing native advertising, and that many brands plan to increase use of sponsored and native content.
Yet you have to do more than just produce sponsored content. You need to know how to get the most out of it. Here’s how.
Demand Clear Labeling
Trust is the lifeblood of any transaction. For any business to get business, trust must be established with the customer.
Unfortunately, when sponsored content isn’t labeled as sponsored content, it can create a trust issue. In fact, two-thirds of consumers report feeling deceived upon realizing that the content they just read or viewed was branded content.
You certainly don’t want that to happen with a potential buyer. Luckily, there is an easy way around this: label your content as sponsored content.
You may think that this will turn people off from even reading the article, but that’s not the case. If your content is informational, unique and/or funny, it will be well-received.
Research shows that consumers first want their problems solved. If your sponsored content does that in some way, your audience won’t care that it’s branded.
Just look at this brilliant piece of content. It was published by the New York Times, and paid for by Shell. It’s captivating and unique, and provides insights into the massive urban migration happening across the globe. Before you even go through the content, you know it’s a paid post. It says right at the top.
Don’t Promote Your Product or Company
There are times when you push for a sale. This is not the time. Sponsored content is all about connecting with potential clients — not promotion. Awareness of your product will come naturally if you create quality content that educates and engages.
The good news is that content is usually trusted by readers, even if it comes from a company. According to a study by Kentico Software, 74 percent of people trust educational content from a brand.
But the moment you start pushing for a sale, you lose that trust. Even just ending with a little self-promotion in a blog post cuts down your credibility by 29 percent.
The lesson here is simple: don’t self-promote. No matter how tempting it may be, it will cost you.
Trust the Writers
The writers at the publication you’re hiring know their audience better than you. Which means they know more about creating content that will attract that audience.
The success of paid posts shows that those writing and creating sponsored content are doing a great job. For example, readers of the New York Times spend about the same amount of time reading branded content as they do news stories.
Additionally, writers are extremely familiar with the form and function of the publication’s platform (which you may not be yet). This makes it easier for them than you to create content that will attract readers.
David Ogilvy, “The Father of Advertising,” said that the more an advertisement looks like an editorial, “the more readers stop, look and read.” Writers are in the best position to accomplish this. Trust them to do the job.
Sponsored content is not all about writing. To have the most success, mix in other content.
Research on what kind of content brands want shows a variety of formats. Articles are the most preferred, at 35 percent. But other formats are quite popular, too. For instance, 24 percent of brands prefer infographics, while 7 percent like videos most.
In the digital age, it’s probably crucial that you have visual content — regardless of what kind of business you have. After all, content with relevant images achieves 94 percent more views than content without images.
What you choose in your content mix is ultimately up to you. But do take into account your industry and the preferences of your customers. Evaluating the success of each type of sponsored content should help you determine the best possible content recipe.
Use Sponsored Content as Part of a Larger Campaign
Understand that sponsored content is all part of your larger marketing funnel. That funnel guides the buyer through the purchasing journey, which consists of product awareness and consideration, a purchasing decision, and ideally promotion of your product.
The goal of sponsored content should be to attract through education, inspiration or humor. This is how you turn strangers into visitors and then leads.
Sponsored content drives people to your website or store, and ultimately to a purchase. So, paid posts must be supported by landing pages, email marketing, social engagement and other content marketing strategies.
If you execute your sponsored content campaign correctly, your entire marketing campaign will benefit. In the end, that gives your business a much greater chance at success.