Now, more than ever before, brands are on constant lookout for content integration opportunities. Advertisers have learned that it’s no longer enough to educate the content consumer. They have realized that it pays to educate consumers with a sound and well-projected intention.
Through branded content, advertisers have the opportunity to really engage with their audience in a new and better way while maintaining the purity of content marketing.
Speaking on the findings of his company in 2016, Unmetric co-founder and CEO Lux Narayan told Adweek, “this year really showed that there is an appetite and attention span for longer branded content if it’s authentic and tells a story that resonates well with people, not merely as consumers but universally as humans.”
Bottom line: Branded content is working and it’s no longer limited to 30-second videos and few-hundred-words blog posts.
So, how can you make it work for you? Below are five tips on how to boost your advertising programs with content:
1. Incorporate an interactive format.
Creating your content in an interactive format allows you to speak more directly and start a conversation with your audience by, for example, asking questions and giving them room to give their opinion or voice preference.
An interactive format also goes well with your CTA. For instance, quizzical posts like, “What kind of home best suits your lifestyle?” or “Do you need to switch banks?” may revolve around results that suggest certain brands are best positioned for specific audiences. With such a title, you can even go deeper with micro-questions that lead the customer on without aggressively advertising your brand.
If you know your audience well, this approach can help you better retarget since you can aim to go for specific reader segments and nudge them to look up your brand.
2. Leverage testimonials.
It’s a known fact that people will buy from brands they trust and can identify with. They are even more drawn to buy if they see relatable accounts by other customers. This is why using real stories by real people can be so effective.
These characters should not only relate to the audience but also be able to personify your brand’s core values. With this approach, you’re not just telling people about what your products can do. You’re actually showing them what the products have done. It makes them want to be in a similar position as the customer giving the testimonial.
In an excerpt from her book, Ultimate Guide to Platform Building, Wendy Keller explains how to get and use testimonials, referrals and reviews.
3. Don’t neglect SEO.
Remember that the goal is to get your readers so intrigued they click a link in the article or look up your brand. Therefore, you want to make sure that you don’t lead them to a competitor’s website by not appearing on the first page of Google’s SERP. Your search marketing efforts should, therefore, match your content marketing efforts.
4. Include an appropriate CTA.
Most advertisers assume the branded piece speaks for itself so they don’t need a CTA. The idea is usually to create a piece of content that clearly positions them as a thought leader in their field, leaving the potential customer to figure out the next step — to buy. Others would rather not screw up everything by coming out too direct on the CTA and turning off the readers. With this group, the intention is also to tell the reader what to do without actually telling them in order to maintain credibility.
Both of these groups make a mistake that could end up costing them easy business. Readers want to be told what to do. Otherwise, they could finish reading your article and move on to something else. A subtle but effective CTA that not only boosts your brand recognition but also maintains transparency and credibility is necessary.
5. Consider outsourcing.
How do you know if your content is performing? Better yet, how do you know that your content will perform well in the sea of similar content out there? The truth is, content marketing is much more than just churning out great pieces. It’s also about gathering relevant data that will help you decide on your next move. Sometimes this can be really hard and time-consuming. Thus, it would be smarter to invest in a dedicated expert.
Brian Zweig, one of the first Facebook marketing partners and current SVP of partnerships at Social Native says in a recent press release, “technology has evolved to a point where brands can deliver personalized advertising experiences to all consumer segments. However, brands have been ill-equipped to create the necessary content required to fuel those ads.” Further stressing the need to outsource.
As Grady Burnett, a former ad sales executive for Facebook, puts it, “the next evolution of advertising lies within content optimization.” While banner ads may still work, it’s undeniable that content optimization is taking over as the more effective advertising medium. It’s time to learn how to create branded content and direct it to the right demographics.