Chris Perry Director at Getfluence provides tips on how to make the biggest impact with a paid for campaign
Not long ago sponsored articles used to be the black sheep of the advertising and marketing world. You may remember those ‘puff’ pieces that would appear in newspapers with outlandish headlines and hyperbolic copy extolling the virtue of a product or service, all under the thin veneer of being ‘news’. They were adverts without the charm of snappy slogans or engaging visuals. Naturally, the positive impact of these campaigns was questionable. After all, who would take the time to read a long sales pitch seemingly masquerading as independent opinion? Thankfully, all of that has now changed. Like many aspects of the marketing world, technology, new channels and refined approaches have made advertorial more effective and engaging. Crucially, it is no longer solely the provenance of big corporations – paid media campaigns are open to businesses of all sizes.
However, although the paid media space has come on leaps and bounds in terms of effectiveness, creating an impactful campaign still requires careful planning and adhering to best practice. Here’s our top tips based on the thousands of campaigns we’ve enabled:
- Convince, don’t sell: As I’ve described above, long sales pitch articles are a very old school way of looking at paid media. The most effective campaigns provide useful, informative content to the reader. This could be by showcasing wider relatable factors that argue why your service is necessary or simply provide free advice which creates a positive impression of your brand in the reader. Whatever route you take, just remember you want the content to be something people actually want to read – if that means sacrificing some key sales messaging in favour of a softer approach – do it.
- Write like a human: Another trap is the belief that marketing copy has to sound a certain way. Usually this means using a lot of adjectives or emotional words to upsell what it is you do. However, paid media works best when it reads in a clear, concise and compelling way. The easiest way to do this is to actually speak like a human and use the weight of your ideas or product to sell the concept rather than relying on flowery language.
- Reach is only a number: Planning ‘where’ you will convey your message is just as important as determining ‘what’ you will say. Mistakes brands often make is placing too much weight on a publication’s circulation or unique visitors. What matters much more is who these readers are, how engaged they are, and how likely they are to trust the publication. It may be that more ‘unglamorous’ trade publications will actually help you reach your target customer base and cost significantly less than larger mainstream media outlets. Determining who you want to talk to and how many you believe you need to reach for your campaign to be a success is the best way to start identifying publication targets.
- Maximise the impact: On a more practical level, when you engage with a publication it’s essential to maximise the channels the content will be distributed through. In some instances a newsletter or social media channel may be much more effective then a standalone piece on a website. Each target audience will consume different content in different ways and each publication will be stronger on different channels. Understanding this will enable you to agree deals with media outlet that maximize the potential impact
- Creativity beats the hard sell: It’s natural to think that because you’re paying for the content you should be centre stage selling your brand or offering, however, in many instances a more creative and subtle approach can yield better results. This could involve offering to include companies that provide complementary services space in your content. It may mean not even mentioning your business at all but instead commissioning a third party to focus on an economic, technological, institutional or societal problem your company is solving.
- Look at the big picture: The media environment has changed to such an extent that opinion and thought leadership are now some of the main ways brands secure PR coverage. Similarly, the media outlets people consume content from has fractured so that, in many cases, it matters less where content originated from and matters much more how relevant it is to the trending topics of the week or month. Adapting your content campaign so that it is relevant to these issues can help to increase shares beyond the original paid post. This does not mean chasing irrelevant or fashionable stories but it does mean treating your paid campaign as part of wider conversations. Ideally, the campaign should develop over time, rather than be a one and done.
If all of this sounds like a lot to handle, remember technology is there to help lighten the load. Adtech has advanced at an astonishing rate and has enabled some of the time consuming aspects of paid campaigns – such as choosing outlets, negotiating contracts or tracking impact to be done automatically. This enables marketers to focus much more on the strategic elements of the paid campaign and how it can fit with wider communication activity.