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.

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.

Content Bonanza: 4 Ways to Create “Instant” Content

Content Bonanza: 4 Ways to Create "Instant" Content

Everyone’s touting the benefits of “content“.  Marvelous. Just how are you supposed to find time to create content? You’re running a business, not a media company.

However… You’ve just spent your monthly marketing budget on an ad which didn’t work. Now what? The world’s changed. You used to be able to advertise and predict roughly how well you’d do, and you could set your marketing budget with confidence.

Maybe you are a media company, and you’d better find ways of creating content fast. Luckily, there are ways you can create content, almost instantly.

1. Snap a Pic, and Post It

Instagram’s hugely popular. It may be an excellent marketing venue for you. Not for me, sadly. I snap images on my phone which are interesting only to me — whiteboards in meetings, pages from my paper notebooks, and ideas for my Christmas list when I’m at the mall.

Instagram

If you’re selling stuff — anything from houses to your crafts on Easy — Instagram is a no-brainer. Be there. Snap images as you go through your day.

As you can see from the image, Goulet Pens does a great job on Instagram.

Don’t forget Pinterest. Publish your images to Pinterest too. I created a slide  deck (see below), on Pinterest tips for bloggers.

 

2. See It, Say It

Love to chat? Share your thoughts and insights on SoundCloud. Podcasts are popular, and Soundcloud gives you a simple way to get your podcast onto iTunes.

Keep your podcasts short. Skip the long chatty intro: get to the meat, and get out.

3. You May Quote Me

If you’ve said it before, say it better, in a tweet, or in an image. There are dozens of apps to turn your quotes into images, so that you can post them on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, et al.

Tip: create 20 or 30 at a time; and repost them again and again, especially on networks like Twitter, where people can easily miss a single tweet,

4. Share Great Stuff

In How to Repurpose Campaign Content for Different Channels (And Never Waste the Leftovers), Kevin Barber suggests:

You can easily curate great content from around the web and repurpose it through your channels. Write a review of a relevant book, blog about a really cool infographic, create a video covering the main points in a webinar you listened to.

When you find great stuff, share it with your audience.

Bonus Tip: Reprise Great Stuff From Your Blog

Blogging’s wonderful, but once a blog disappears into your archives, it’s out of sight, out of mind. Reprise evergreen content, and content which is relevant to your audience today.

If your blog’s been active for a few years, it’s simple to write a “this time last year” post. Extract snippets from the article, or republish as-is, with a couple of paragraphs about what’s changed, and what hasn’t.

Make Content Part of Your Marketing Funnel

Pull all the pieces of your content together for your marketing funnel — whether you consider yourself a writer or not, you need a content strategy.

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

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

Improve Your Writing: The Free Content Library

Writing Genii Free Ebooks
New Writing Genii is finally relaunched, and with it, our Free Content Library. If you want to improve your writing, check it out. Currently, we have three free ebooks for you to download, with many more coming.

In the press release, I said:

Over time, Writing Genii’s Free Content Library will develop into a powerful resource for both new writers, and established writers. New writers will discover how to develop a professional career. Established writers can build skills in an area which is new to them.

Please tell me what you need

Everyone’s a writer today, so please tell me what you need. Of course we’ll have ebooks for professional writers, but there will be ebooks on creativity, developing your writing skills, productivity, and much more.

I’d love to hear what YOU want to know more about. Over the years, I’ve learned many tricks to help me to write, and enjoy writing. Believe me, I didn’t start out as a confident writer. Although I loved to read (and still do, of course) I HATED writing with a passion. it took years to get over my fear.

My perfectionism got into the way, which meant that I was the queen of procrastination. When I did sit down to write at my IBM Selectric, I wept. Seriously. I’ve no idea why I kept going with writing. Sheer masochism. So, if I got over my abject terror about writing — and endless procrastination, YOU can too. :-)

Here’s how I got over my fear of writing, in a nutshell: I focused on the words. Only on the words. A seminar with Larry Block at the Vista Hotel in New York in 1985 helped too: Larry encouraged meditation. Larry’s book of the seminar is available; check it out.

Who’s Writing Genii for?

Anyone who wants to write. Anyone who has to write. Anyone who wants to use writing to improve their business. Or write a book.

Business is all about communication. Essentially, I hope that Writing Genii will grow into a resource which will help you to communicate, even if you think you can’t write. Even if you think that, remember that I started out with tears rolling down my face. You’re not that bad, are you? ;-)

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

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