By Josh Ledgard
Advertising is all about building a relationship with your audience and then leveraging that relationship to sell more stuff. The only problem is: most people hate ads. That’s why we fast forward through commercials, go strategically blind whenever we see banner ads, and install ad blocks on our Internet browsers to avoid the hassle.
Ads suck… (At least they do most of the time.)
Aren’t you thankful you don’t have to rely solely on ads to advertise?
Through the power of content marketing, you can build awareness for your brand and your products or services without triggering a shutdown sequence.
Meet “sponsored content”. It’s been around for a while, but you’re still not using it and you definitely should be.
In addition to building a blog, posting on others’ blogs, creating case studies, sending off newsletters, writing eBooks, producing podcasts, making videos, and hosting webinars, sponsored content is an incredible way to expand your reach. Plus, you’ll be piggybacking off of influencers to do it.
In this post, let’s discuss what you need to know to create a sponsored content program of your very own. We’ll touch on how much to invest in sponsored content and what type of ROI to expect. You’ll also learn how to create an effective sponsored content strategy. To start things off, download this list of exceptional examples of sponsored content.
Sponsored posts are a type of native ad, although native ads encompass more than sponsored posts. Like all native ads, sponsored content is crafted to look like the environment in which they appear. They’re not jarring or disruptive.
Sponsored content, also known as advertorial, have been around traditional media for a while. For example, if you open a magazine, sponsored content often looks just like an article. You may not even realize that you’re reading sponsored material because it’s witty, entertaining, educational, or all of the above, and it definitely doesn’t drip with salesy “buy buy buy!” language.
On the web, a sponsored post rests somewhere between a blog post and traditional advertisement. A sponsored post is a lot more educational than a traditional ad and it carries extra weight because it’s coming from an influencer. That influencer can be an individual, or it can be respected blog or publication.
There are two ways to go about sponsored content: You can accept sponsored content on your site or you can work with influencers who are willing to publish your sponsored posts on their site. In this post, we’re focusing on the latter– how to work with influencers to get your brand, products, and services in front of more eyeballs.
Can I be honest with you?
Organic reach is down, especially with industry giants like Google and Facebook.
But, you have an incredible brand and you’ve got to get the message out somehow. So, you’ve invested in other forms of content marketing, such as blogging.
However, I don’t have to tell you that your market is already saturated with content. It’s getting harder to stand out from the crowd when every day more and more brands are creating blogs and competing with your content.
That’s not to suggest that there’s no value in content marketing. The reason people are investing in content marketing is precisely because content marketing works. But, you can’t just focus solely on building your blog if you want to reach to a wider audience.
You need to run contests, with an emphasis on “s”. Yep– run more than one contest.
You need to woo influencers.
And you need to seriously consider sponsored posts because they have the power to get you in front of your target audience– and not in their blind spot like a traditional ad.
Most people learn about your brand through content and context. Context is really important here because it matters how people are first introduced to your brand. If I, as a consumer, first learn about your brand through someone I trust (such as a friend, industry authority, or beloved brand), I’m more likely to transfer that trust over to you.
Plus, through sponsored posts, you’re able to go where your audience lives already, and not just wait for them to come to you– all the time hoping that they find you and not your competitor.
So, I’ve convinced you to get started with sponsored posts? Great. Now, how do you begin?
First, you’ll start by finding influencers who are willing to post or create sponsored content for you. You’ll be glad to know that there’s no shortage of services that connect you with influencers who are willing to promote you for a fee.
You can have the influencer create the content or you can create your own content and get an influencer to publish it as is.
Depending on the influencer, you can spend anywhere from $50 to $150,000 per campaign. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason behind pricing.
Maybe this will help:
According to Katie Clark at Blog Help, you should consider paying per page view. For example, if a blog has 100,000 page views, that’s worth paying at least $100 per sponsored post. But, page views aren’t the only thing to consider. An influencer can have a relatively small audience but one that’s engaged and highly motivated. So, someone with less than 10,000 page views can still command $100 per sponsored post.
My advice to you is to go with the influencer that serves the group that you’re targeting, even if the influencer isn’t as “prestigious” or well known. Having sponsored content in the Forbes may be an ego boost, but it may not do much to boost your incoming traffic.
If you want to make a marketer squirm, simply whisper the letters, “ROI”.
Measuring the return on investment is hard to do when you’re talking about content marketing in general. There are a ton of factors at play.
The two most important metrics you should consider with your sponsored posts are:
No matter what you do, be sure to include a call to action that links to an optimized landing page. Landing pages give you an opportunity to isolate and amplify your message, instead of confusing people with all of the shiny options on your home page.
For example, let’s say you sell dog products and you’ve scored a sponsored post on the topic of dog food (with a soft sell towards your new organic product line). The last thing you want to do is send interested leads to your home page where there’s a deluge of information on all things dog-related. It’s overwhelming, and they’re interested in dog food at this present moment. So, it makes sense to create a landing page that zooms in on the topic they’re searching for.
You get the idea.
Remember to start small with sponsored posts, and give it a chance to succeed. Target the influencers who are already speaking to your target audience, and then strike up a strategic partnership. By this time next year, you’ll be happy that you did.
Here are a few other resources to check out before you go: