Here at Reason, we’ve been part of many fantastic projects, including some that pull sponsored content as a lever to get users to site as part of a broader campaign. Over the years, we’ve picked up a few tricks to not only ensure content is engaging but, more importantly, gets readers to take the desired next step of clicking through to your landing page. We’ve put together our top words of wisdom so that you can get better results from your next digital marketing campaign.
As the name suggests, sponsored content is simply a type of content creation that is paid for by a sponsor. It’s a win, win really. The readers or viewers get a highly informative or thought-provoking piece of content to consume. The sponsor gets their name attached to a piece of valuable content, putting their business front of mind to the reader.
Sponsored content is sometimes called native advertising, especially in New Zealand. Although sponsored content and native advertising are sometimes two terms for the same thing, many advertisers view them as two different things. Some say that sponsored content is more out of a box and accessible for advertisers, for example, an editorial. Whereas some say native advertising is more bespoke with keen consideration towards the content feeling like the platform itself has created it.
Whether you think sponsored content and native advertising are the same or not, the goal is usually identical; get the advertiser's message across in a natural and less ‘addy’ way. Sponsored content can either educate, entertain or encourage.
While blog content creation holds more value for overall website SEO, sponsored content comes into its own, more specifically, at the top of the marketing funnel. With that in mind, including sponsored content in your digital marketing mix has plenty of benefits.
Yes, blogging is still well worthwhile in today’s day and age (even with advancements in AI). Sponsored content or native advertising shouldn’t be a replacement for that. However, if you’re considering why you shouldn’t just host an editorial on your own site vs on a separate news outlet, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, the goal of traditional SEO and sponsored content are different. Secondly, one of the big benefits of sponsored content is how it will immediately drive traffic to your website. In contrast, a traditional piece of SEO content on your site may take upwards of three months to index on Google. Of course, you can still post it on your own channels to give it a headstart.
Now we’ve compared sponsored content to traditional SEO-driven blogs, let’s compare it to other forms of traditional marketing. Generally, when you’re served an ad, whether an in-feed Facebook ad or driving past a billboard, you know it’s an ad. As such, you may feel like you’re being sold something and feel less engaged. With sponsored content, the interaction feels far more natural, organic, and, therefore, is more engaging.
Readers feel they’ve learnt something or been entertained when content is engaging. This makes for a fond brand association and ensures the interaction is more memorable. Ultimately building trust, more clicks to site and a high ROI.
If you’re looking to establish yourself as a thought leader in your given industry, backlinks are an essential component for any wider digital marketing strategy. You want as many other relevant websites to backlink to your content as possible. Sponsored content is a fantastic way to do this (so long as it provides value).
Sponsored content is flexible and has fantastic value. Many brands utilise their sponsored content for various formats and channels, providing an even stronger ROI. You can push a sponsored article out on your own social channels, email marketing and other comms. You may as well squeeze everything you can out of it!
On to the main point of this digital marketing blog. How do you get more traffic to site from your sponsored content? With these tips, not only will your sponsored content not suck to read, but readers will feel more inclined to click through to learn more about your business or offering.
Before you even think about what you want your sponsored content to be about, you want to get your foundation right. A big part of this is taking the time to research and choose the best fit to partner with.
Many advertisers will take the shortcut of just considering the channel with the largest audience as the best option for sponsor content. This may make sense for some clients if they want the largest possible reach. But if your sponsored content isn’t being presented where your target audience is consuming content, your clicks to site, and ROI, may be smaller than you’d hoped. This is also because sites with the largest followings will generally be more expensive.
After all, if the right people aren’t seeing your sponsored content, what’s the point? It’s not optimal to have a lot of people read your sponsored content and not take the desired next step. You need to ensure what you’re putting out is highly relevant to your audience.
As with any digital marketing or content creation, it's important to establish a clear and realistic goal to optimise and funnel your efforts towards. There are many different goals and challenges that digital marketers across the globe may consider. Understanding what you’re trying to achieve will direct how you optimise your sponsored content.
Is your overall goal with your sponsored content just to add to your overall brand awareness efforts? In which case, your sponsored content may only need to focus on a general topic related to your industry. Are you looking to drive sales or increase leads? You’ll want to ensure your sponsored content is highly relevant to the product or service you’re selling, with an overtone of why readers should act now. When your content is optimised for your goal, readers will be more likely to take the desired next step.
Marketing 101 generally involves ensuring you have a clear and strong call to action. This is no different regarding sponsored content or native advertising. Although, your call to action needs to be woven in more subtly to fit the style of the article and to ensure a natural feel to the content. When you find this perfect balance, you should get higher click-through rates through your website landing page.
In most cases, with sponsored content and native advertising, you may not actually be writing the article yourself. So, it’s important to specify how you’d like your call to action presented in the content and where the desired next step is for readers. Consider that the benefit of sponsored content is that readers feel they’re not being sold anything. Ways you can do this may include:
Top tip: We’ve got a fantastic guide on writing customer centric copy. Have a read for general pointers on engaging content creation.
Solving a problem for your target market should be the general goal of any digital marketing. This ethos also applies to sponsored content. Look at any successful sponsored content examples, and you’ll notice that many of them are focused on making life better for the consumer.
When deciding on a topic or focus for your sponsored content, put yourself in your target audience's shoes. Try to be as single minded as possible and imagine one person that you’re trying to speak to. What are their habits? What are their interests? What problems can we solve with this article? If you want to solve a problem or educate the reader, at least try to provide some entertainment.
Ultimately, when the readers see value in your sponsored content, they’re far more likely to read to the end and click through to your website for further information or to take you up on your services.
In an ideal world, you pump out a piece of sponsored content or native advertising, and it becomes the next viral sensation. Realistically, this often isn’t the case. If it is, it will usually be a while before it takes off. To ensure you’re getting as much traffic to your site from your sponsored article, you’ve got to do a bit of the leg work to get it out there.
There are many considerations when it comes to getting more eyes on your sponsored content. Of course, it helps if you’re partnering with a channel or brand that has a large following. But other ways you can go about promoting your sponsored content or native advertising include:
One of the benefits of sponsored content is utilising another brand's audience. However, teamwork makes the dream work. At the end of the day, the more eyes on your sponsored content (ideally your target market), the more traffic will be going through to your site.
Top tip: Speaking of social media, check out our guide on combatting drops in organic social performance. It features a few gems you can use for your own social strategy.
Sponsored content is a strong weapon in any marketer's arsenal. Using it as part of a wider marketing strategy can be a great way to create interest at the top of the marketing funnel and drive traffic to your site. However, you must go about it correctly to get the best possible result.
Luckily, your pals at Reason are more than happy to point you in the right direction with sponsored content and native advertising, from ideating and liaising with influencers to writing optimised articles from scratch that will cut through the clutter. Reach out today to start the conversation or to see case studies. For some other reading that may be beneficial to your business, read our guides: