What are sponsored articles?
Sponsored articles, sometimes called native articles, are long-form articles a brand or advertiser pays to place, whether on an online platform or media outlet, such as inforum.com, Us Weekly, or in a print publication like Prairie Business Magazine.
On digital platforms, image thumbnails and headlines with links to the full native articles are shown within the media outlet’s content. And because the formatting is often the same as other content on the page, aside from the notation “sponsored”, it feels natural, authentic and, well, native to the page. The same goes for print. As the reader turns the page, they may not even realize it’s an ad, creating a seamless experience from organic to paid content.
Why should you consider sponsored articles to promote your products/services?
The great thing about these types of articles is that they’re a subtle, non-intrusive approach to reaching a wider audience and most importantly, increasing engagement. While their ultimate purpose is to promote products or services and generate brand awareness, when done well they shouldn’t feel that way. Sponsored articles should provide value or entertainment to the audience.
Here are a few other reasons native articles can be effective at promoting your message.
- They allow you to say more. The extra real estate for text means you can provide more value to readers by detailing practical advice, tips or other information that they can use in their daily lives. And when you provide more value, that reader is more likely to become a brand follower.
- Articles drive traffic to your website. You not only get to share valuable content with your audience, but you also get to direct them to where to get more; your website! In addition, those who click through to your site are more likely to be higher-quality visitors. In one case study from Nativo, a sponsored content placement platform, Explore Georgia, saw a 54% increase in time spent on their site along with a 25% decrease in bounce rate.
- Native articles can help position your company as the expert in your field. By giving your audience informative and educational content, they’ll trust your brand when it comes to needing the product or service you provide. Plus your business will more likely be top of mind.
- You can build awareness in a more authentic way than other types of advertising. Native articles are designed to align with the editorial style of the publishing platform in which they are distributed. This can increase engagement and reduce the chances of consumers feeling as though they are being sold to.
- You’re getting an audience that’s in the right mindset. They came to that webpage or picked up that magazine with the intent to read and learn something, which is great because you wrote something they’ll want to know more about!
- It’s targeted. Digital sponsored content isn’t just placed on random sites. It operates in a similar way to digital ads in that you can target audiences based on keywords they’ve used as well as categories or demographics they fall into. Your sponsored content shows up on the pages that are relevant to users, across different platforms and sites within the content network. Plus, your sponsored article can be placed within content that covers similar topics, such as lifestyle or sports, further enhancing its “nativeness”.
Want to get started on sponsored content? Let’s dig into some best practices for crafting high-quality content.
How to write sponsored articles
Choose the right topics
How do you know what topics to cover? Do some research and get to know your audience. This can be done through Q&As, utilizing personas you’ve put together or simply speaking with your sales team to understand what questions they’re getting asked most often.
SEO tools such as Google keywords and Semrush work great to help understand what people are searching for online. Researching forums like Reddit and comments on social media are also a good way to understand what’s on people’s minds.
Use existing content
If you have existing educational and informative articles on your website’s blog those can work great for a sponsored article. Be sure to edit and tame down any sales speak as well as add additional details you think may be beneficial to your audience. If your website doesn’t have a blog, repurposing your sponsored content is a great way to get one started!
Keep it authentic
The most important thing to keep in mind when putting together a sponsored article is to keep it informative, educational or entertaining. This is not the time to highlight how great your product or service is, but rather how your audiences’ lives can be changed when they choose a product/service that offers x, y and z, which just so happen to be the same benefits you offer! Some generic examples include “choosing the best _______”, or “how do you know when you need ______”.
Use a variety of headlines (digital)
This is a good time to test which headlines resonate with your audience so you can fine-tune your messaging, whether for future articles or other marketing materials/ads.
Link text within your article to your website. Like your article, these too shouldn’t feel forced or out of place. The content you’re taking the reader to should make sense and be what they expect.
Incorporate a variety of media
Enhance your story’s message through relevant images, graphics, charts and videos. This not only helps appeal to a variety of folks but also helps to keep them engaged.
While sponsored content is an excellent way to reach your audience in an authentic and non-intrusive way, it shouldn’t be your only way. Repurpose the content for use in other marketing and advertising, including social media posts or ads, other print or digital ads, streaming audio, etc.