Sponsored Content: Ads That Get Read

If you’re not doing content marketing yet, you’re thinking about it. This study reports that 86% of North American B2B businesses are using content marketing in 2015. Sponsored content, also called “native advertising” is a form of content advertising.

In a sense it’s the successor to old-style magazine advertorials. But where advertorials — I’ve written more than a few in my time — plugged the advertiser’s product, sponsored content doesn’t. It’s going for the click, and aims to look innocuous, to blend in to its surroundings. That’s where the “native” comes in. It’s advertising designed not to look like advertising.

Let’s look at an example, clipped from News.com.au.

Sponsored content appears on News.com.au as it does on many news sites; in this instance, it’s called “News From Around the Web”.

Sponsored content is all about the headline, and history junkie that I am, I couldn’t resist a click on the Titanic mystery article, sponsored by Ancestry, via Outbrain. The article’s 400 words, and it’s an article, rather than an ad. The only clue you get that it’s advertising is the website on which it appears, and the final sentence.

Sponsored content’s replacing banner advertising

With straight banner advertising dead, sponsored content is its replacement. Unfortunately, as Mashable points out, marketers lose the plot. They get hypnotized by clicks, and a lot of sponsored content is just click-bait. Where’s the return on investment?

Making sense of sponsored content

Sponsored content can be hugely valuable. Your content appears on a heavily-trafficked website, and you’ll get clicks. However, there are challenges, because this is a new area of advertising.

Inc.com reports:

“Sponsored content represents a burgeoning opportunity for brands to connect with consumers in the comfort of their most trusted environments–the publications they go to for information and entertainment. Yet, as a relatively new form of advertising, the realm of sponsored content is largely unexplored and unknown. This will be the year that brands come to know sponsored content intimately–and embrace it wholeheartedly.”

Yes, sponsored content is a growing opportunity. If you’re using content marketing, sponsored content is your next step. It’s advertising, but it’s ads that get read.

Want more info? Contact me if you’re wondering whether sponsored content could enhance your marketing this year.

 

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

Productivity in 2015: Save Your Sanity

We’re barely two weeks into 2015, and if you’re anything like me, you’re exhausted already. I just realized that I spent the entire working day being hugely productive. But I didn’t do my most important task. Productivity isn’t easy. You can be immensely productive, doing things that while important, aren’t essential.

My solution: My 1-3-5 List

I LOVE my bullet journal, but its tasks exist as lists, and it’s all too easy to migrate tasks. You jot tasks down as you think of them. You can prioritize, but you get used to glancing at the day’s list, and are lulled into complacency. You’re aware that you should be doing your Priority One task, but you get caught up in less important tasks, and before you know it, the day’s over. I’ll be implementing the 1-3-5 rule from now on.

If you haven’t heard of the 1-3-5 rule, basically, it’s this:

Complete One Significant Task Before Lunch (Your Least Favorite One, if Possible)

Here’s a website where you can list your tasks.

I’ll keep using my bullet journal, but I’m making sure that my main BIG task for the day gets done. Before lunch. I’m listing it right beside the day’s date, and am drawing a frame around it in red ink. If that doesn’t help me to remember, I’ll write the task on my hand.

If your task has many tasks, it’s a project

I made a fatal error with the big task I didn’t get done; I wrote it down as a task, without thinking about it. Since it’s comprised of many tasks, it’s a project. I should have created a plan for it, and then itemized the tasks. Obviously. Now I can see that. :-)

So that’s my next task: turn the “task” into a project. Then… create a plan for the project. And put a big red frame around it for tomorrow.

NEW — Copywriting Beginners’ Creative Gold Rush

Check out the exciting new program we’ve developed for newbie copywriters, Copywriting Beginners’ Creative Gold Rush. I love it, because it’s working so well for students.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

5 Ways to Energize Content Marketing in 2015

2015 is a bright new year. Will this be the year that you make content marketing work for your business? If you feel that your strategies aren’t working as well as they should, let’s look at some ways you can energize your efforts.

1. Consider your readers: your ideal customers

Too many companies try to create “viral” content which goes nowhere. Or, even worse, becomes wildly successful… but your sales results are a big fat zero. To add insult to injury, your viral content increases the cost of your bandwidth.

Focus on your customers. Create a persona (an avatar if you like) who respresents your ideal customer. What are her likes and dislikes? What challenges does she have? Once you zero in on your ideal customer, not only does content creation become easier, it will also attract that customer.

2. Remember email: give it the attention it deserves

In the early days of the Web, email was all there was. Gradually, companies stopped paying attention to email. Consider this. It’s very easy to create a series of email messages. Add the messages to your autoresponder, and they go out to everyone who signs up for it.

Yes, it takes a little energy and creativity to create a series which is not only opened and read, but remembered — and which gets results. A successful series can keep working for you all through 2015.

3. Snap photos: use them everywhere

Politicians stroll around with a cameraman in tow, and there’s a good reason for that. Every company has more photo opportunities than they ever use. Unboxing videos are hugely popular on YouTube — they should be boring, but people love them. Make a list of photo opportunities and snap at least five photos every day. And use them.

4. Share and RESHARE your content

Share your content on social media more than once. People dip in and out of social media. No one sits and reads their Twitter feed. They dip in occasionally, and they glance at Pinterest, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn when they have a moment.

Use a scheduler like Buffer, and share your content more than once.

5. Add calls to action to everything

If you pay attention to nothing else, pay attention to this. Add calls to action to your content. When I do a marketing audit for a company, one of the first things I check is that calls to action are happening. Usually they’re not. It may seem obvious that your customers know what to do, but they don’t.

Tell people what you want them to do: call you, subscribe to your mailing list, visit a page on your website… Every piece of content needs a call to action. Adding them is the simplest way to energize your content marketing in 2015.

 

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

LinkedIn Strategy: 5 Steps to Get Started

LinkedIn Strategy: 5 Steps to Get Started

Should you be using LinkedIn? That depends on what you want to achieve. I’ve been helping a couple of clients to develop a LinkedIn strategy, and in the process, have been creating my own. To date, I’ve spent less time on LinkedIn to focus on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. LinkedIn is perfect for professional networking, so I’ll be more active there going forward.

LinkedIn shines in that it’s a network for business connections, rather than a purely social networking site; you won’t find the animated GIFs and cat videos that you find on the other sites.

Let’s look at how you could develop your own LinkedIn strategy.

1. Set Up Your Personal Profile

If you’re new to LinkedIn, here’s a good way to get started if you’re active on Twitter. Larry Kim suggests treating LinkedIn more like Twitter:

“… there was a huge opportunity there to network in more meaningful ways with a far larger group of people than those I’ve already met and connected with.”

Here’s an excellent video on setting up your profile page.

2. Set Up Your Company Page

Once you’ve established your profile, and have made some connections, it’s time to set up your company page. To set up a page, choose Companies from the Interests menu. On the left, you’ll see recent updates to company pages, and on the right, a button to create your own.

LinkedIn has a useful best practices page for company pages.

3. Join Relevant LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn has thousands of groups you can join, and allows you to join up to 50. If you don’t have time for even one group, let alone 50, consider that:

  • You can contact people directly in groups even if you’re not one of their connections; and
  • Groups help you to be found — if they’re open, you can be found on the Web too, so you might get a search rankings boost.

Groups can be members-only, or open. On an open group, you can share your updates to Twitter and Facebook. “Open” truly means open, because discussions can be viewed by anyone on the Web. This can benefit your search engine rankings.

4. Integrate LinkedIn With Your Marketing Activities

On LinkedIn, your options for marketing include:

  • Your profile page;
  • Your company page;
  • A blog (yes, you can blog on LinkedIn);
  • Groups.

Blogging on LinkedIn is simple. Go to your home feed, and click the pencil icon in the Share an Update field. You can add an image, and format your text as you can in any blog editor.

Tip: your LinkedIn blog is ideal for sharing and repurposing material you’ve posted on your own blog, or elsewhere.

Monitor LinkedIn Regularly

You can stay up to date with LinkedIn via the Pulse app, and can like and share content,  with your connections via LinkedIn Connected.

As with all social media networking you get out of it what you put into it.

So, is LinkedIn for you? If you’re a writer, certainly. the more contacts you have the better, and if you’re an author, ditto. LinkedIn offers many groups for self-publishers, so you can stay up to date with the latest news, and find connections for cover design, editing, and marketing your books.

Get started on LinkedIn, and check it out; you can form connections with past clients, and new ones.

Let’s connect on LinkedIn.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.