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Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing are the most efficient tools in increasing website traffic. As your potential clients search for solutions to their problems, sponsored content ensures that your product is that solution. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at what sponsored content is and how it can help online businesses thrive in the current state of the market.
What exactly is sponsored content?
Digital marketing is a rapidly evolving field, with rising demand and more tools and strategies developed with each new year. Sponsored content is one of those tools, and includes a variety of promotional content published under another brand, publisher, or influencer. The sponsored content can include articles, video content, infographics, podcasts, even books - sky is the limit in digital marketing. The advertiser pays the publisher for uploading content with valuable backlinks that benefit the brand.
Internet users are exposed to sponsored content wherever they go - from major social media platforms, to youtube videos and sponsored posts in internet journals. This exposure makes content marketing an extremely efficient form of digital advertising, bringing benefits to both the brand and the publisher. Creating high-quality, engaging sponsored content is the key to building a target audience and establishing your website as a trusted place that will be ranked highly on Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).
Sponsored content vs. Native Advertising: are they different?
Another popular form of digital marketing is native advertising. Using a variety of paid ads, native advertising aims to adapt to the platform they appear on, creating native ads that are non-disruptive to the user, but still expose them to advertising content.
Sponsored content is a type of native advertising, in which two separate entities cooperate to create and publish audience-building digital content. There are many other forms of native advertising as well, including in-feed ads, promoted listings, content recommendations, banner ads, paid search ads, and more.
Creating content is one of the most advanced native advertising strategies. It requires a lot of creativity, skill, and experience to create meaningful, informative, and interesting sponsored content that will not only increase traffic, but also build a positive relationship with the target audience. Not all native advertising methods are that complicated, but few can bring as many potential benefits without being a paid promotion.
Types of sponsored content
Sponsored content can take all shapes and forms, and varies in both the type of branded content and the type of publisher. Let’s inspect some of the most examples of sponsored content formats:
Social media content
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram gather millions of people from all around the world, creating a vast audience with many niches for online businesses to connect with. Content posted on social media, even a simple sponsored post, can build customer engagement and redirect viewers to key web pages, effectively generating leads.
Sponsored articles are one of the most commonly published forms of sponsored content and can generate a lot of exposure for online businesses. They're one of the most affordable and effective types of native advertising. A brand can hire an in-house creative team to design high-quality sponsored content, or hire a professional copywriter to prepare engaging and interesting sponsored posts that can generate traffic, contribute to link building, improve key SEO indicators that dictate SERP position, and connect with potential customers.
According to Statista, in 2019 there were over 700 million internet users around the world using ad-blocking software, preventing many native ads from reaching the viewers. In 2022 over 42% of internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 were said to be using some sort of ad-blocking tool. Sponsored articles are not considered ads by ad-blockers - they are valuable content that users actively search for and want to engage with, making them an incredibly effective digital marketing tool that can reach much more viewers than most regular native ads.
Sponsored content is often closely connected with influencer marketing. It’s now common for Youtube videos and Instagram posts to feature sponsored segments, showcasing another brand’s product or service by an influential internet persona. This cooperation between a brand and a social media influencer can be brief, with only a small portion of the content talking about the product, or extensive sponsored content created together with the brand.
There are many other types of sponsored content, including photos and images, infographics, sponsored podcasts, sponsored tweets, e-books, even movies - it would be difficult to fit them all in a single article, and there’s so much more to cover!
3 key aspects of sponsored content
When planning a content marketing strategy, there are three aspects of sponsored content you’ll need to focus on if you want your campaign to be successful.
Sponsored content should be, above all else, reader-focused. Internet users hate intrusive ads, and won’t be likely to follow your web page if the content isn’t up to their standards. Before you begin creating sponsored content, you should always perform extensive market and audience research to establish your niche and who your potential customers are. Look for problems they might be facing - how can your product or services be described as a solution to these problems?
Effective sponsored content also needs to be highly engaging. Boring content that doesn’t hold the readers’ attention will generate high bounce rate, and will ultimately prove to be ineffective. The most successful sponsored content combines up-to-date SEO practices with high-quality writing and storytelling to create meaningful and informative messages that build a positive brand image and help maintain good relations with your audience.
Finally, high-quality sponsored content must be relevant and trustworthy. Always create content that is closely related to the scope of your business, so that it can be relevant to potential clients. The sponsored content should also be believable to the readers, providing sources when necessary and sharing actual industry insights, and not useless rambling.
Sponsored articles: the key to content marketing
We have already mentioned sponsored articles, but their advertising potential calls for a separate paragraph that delves a little deeper. While an in-feed ad might be seen as an invasive paid advertising, sponsored articles and sponsored posts focus on quality and engagement first. They provide an extremely effective way of communicating with your audience, gently recommending your services to them as the solution to their problems.
Since sponsored articles are uploaded online by the publisher, marketers don’t have to worry about finding a trustworthy and profitable website to publish their sponsored content. These articles are prepared to fit the editorial content of the page they’re posted on to fit in and not appear intrusive to the reader. Each sponsored article should also feature one or more backlinks - links that take readers back to a specific website specified by the marketer, usually a purchase page or an offer page.
The most effective way of publishing sponsored articles online is through a reputable content marketing platform, with access to thousands of trustworthy websites that generate high traffic and display your content to wide audiences.
Who can benefit from sponsored content?
Content marketing brings a wide range of benefits to all types of online businesses, both large and small, and to self-employed entrepreneurs as well. All industries need advertising in one way or another to reach clients and generate leads, and sponsored content is one of the most efficient ways of doing so in the digital world.
The ultimate goal of sponsored content is increasing sales, which leads to increased profits. Obvious traditional advertising appears as insincere and immediately tells the reader its ulterior motive. Sponsored content, on the other hand, tries to become exactly what the readers are looking for - an answer and solution to their query. If the readers are convinced by the article or blog post that your product or service is the solution they need, they might turn into loyal customers.
In comparison to many other native ads, sponsored content receives much higher engagement rates. High-quality sponsored content can be personalized to a very specific market group - never aim too wide with your digital marketing strategies, as you might end up not attracting anyone.
While it is harder to measure the performance of sponsored content than with simpler native ads, there are professional tools in place for marketers to track their content and audience engagement. When you publish your articles with WhitePress, you receive free access to performance analysis tools that provide useful insight, based on which you can adequately adjust your digital strategy for maximizing profits.
How to order sponsored content through the WhitePress® Content Marketing Platform
To facilitate the creation and publication of sponsored content, WhitePress® has prepared an intuitive and user-friendly panel with which you can easily improve your SEO activities.
To gain access to over 45,000 websites to publish on, register for free here:
After registering and logging into your new WhitePress® account, pay attention to the side menu on the left.
The most important tabs for the start are "My projects" and "My content".
- The "My projects" tab allows you to create and manage individual projects, sorted by language and the page they refer to.
- The "My content" tab allows you to manage articles and content - here you can add your own posts for future publication, or order articles and/or infographics in any of the languages offered by WhitePress.
Once you have a properly optimised article, you can easily publish it through the project that you previously prepared. Simply click on the project of your choice you will be transferred to the browser of websites you can publish on, with all the important SEO factors and prices.
Don’t worry if you find any of the above steps confusing – if you need help at any step of the process, the WhitePress® regional managers are always available and eager to assist, so don’t be afraid to contact us!
The Dos and Don’ts of Digital Content
To make sure your sponsored content is successful, it will have to follow a couple of ground rules. Let’s start with the things sponsored content should not be:
First of all, the main priority of your content should not be to sell your product. This is a trap that many marketers fall into, creating sponsored content that’s primarily focused on selling. This immediately makes the audience realize they’re reading a simple ad, reducing their trust and the chance of them becoming a customer. You should also never hide the fact that the content has been paid for. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission is the governing body on regulating digital advertising - take a look at their Native Advertising Guide for more information.
Another important thing to avoid when creating digital content is focusing on the volume instead of the quality. Don’t simply think that longer articles will perform better simply because of their length - even if certain SEO tools would make you believe so. Instead of pumping the word count, focus on making your content informative - if there’s enough source material and the issue is interesting enough to create a longer piece, that’s perfect, but if not, there’s nothing wrong in publishing shorter forms of content.
Speaking about content formats - don’t just randomly select one type of content to publish. Instead, try to discover what your audience is most interested in through market research. If your potential customers are very active on TikTok, it might be a good idea to make a deal with a TikTok influencer to create sponsored content. The best strategies combine a variety of sponsored content formats, increasing audience exposure and delivering valuable insights through trial and error. Also, make sure your sponsored post follows the pattern of the other editorial content published by your publisher.
What you definitely SHOULD do when creating digital content is focus on delivering value that’s not limited to your product or service. The content itself should be helpful and not simply a facade for a backlink to your website. If it’s not, the readers will quickly realize that, making your follow-through rate plummet to the ground.
You should also have a clear-set goal for your publication. What are you trying to achieve with your sponsored content? Are you trying to educate, entertain, or engage your community in a conversation? All of these aspects should be considered when creating your content marketing strategy to make the writer’s and publisher’s job easier and the content itself much more effective.
Show the readers why your solution is unique! Digital markets are among the most competitive and require innovative solutions to break through the industry giants. Make the content highlight your strengths, but don’t forget about the potential weaknesses - trying to sweet-talk your readers into using your products or services without describing any potential shortcomings might appear as dishonest to your audience.
Examples of successful content marketing campaigns
Content marketing has advanced immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking into consideration consumer behavior and psychology to prepare effective digital marketing strategies that impact not only how users behave, but also how they look at a given brand. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most successful examples of sponsored content.
Many effective marketing strategies tackle serious issues with a respectful approach, like the 2021 “New Beginning” commercial by Indeed. The video content released by the employment company highlights an important issue that many employees on the job market face - lack of inclusiveness. Through this campaign, Indeed shows viewers that it’s important for the brand that everyone using their platform can express themselves freely and in an unobstructed way.
Educational content has extremely high marketing potential - it provides real, useful advice to your audience, directly proving to them your expertise through helpful material. A great example of this is the blog run by Mos - a banking app for students. On the brand’s blog, readers can find tons of useful advice for managing student finances, with each blog post filled with helpful material ranging from investing tips to student loan rehabilitation guides.
There are few better ways to connect with new and existing audiences than through social media posts. General Electric is the perfect example of this - the company combined an extremely effective #GEInstaWalk Instagram campaign with influencer marketing, hiring six internet celebrities to promote their content. While GE’s services might not appear exciting at first, their series of sponsored Instagram posts generated millions of views and thousands of new followers, taking the social media feed by storm - without any paid advertising, earning GE a spot as a Finalist in the 6th Annual Shorty Awards for effective use of social media.
Tips for creating successful sponsored content
The #1 tip for creating successful sponsored content is finding the right person to design it. While large companies often have an in-house marketing team with a creative division to come up with ideas and realize them, small businesses often choose to outsource this service. There are tons of skilled copywriters from all around the world writing sponsored articles about all kinds of topics - from steel roofing tiles to financial technology.
If you’re not creating the content yourself, make sure you go with someone trustworthy - when choosing a content marketing platform, always take your time to read the customer reviews. This way, you’ll have a better picture of how reliable the services of a given agency are, making sure the content that you receive is high-quality and optimized.
Don’t publish your content on any website you find - you should only aim to publish on sites that have a similar or higher domain authority in order to keep improving your SEO. Each backlink without the nofollow attribute transfers some of the trust indicators of the website it appears on. To avoid hurting your PageRank score, make sure all the links from suspicious sources are set as nofollow, or disavow them using the Google Search Console.
Remember that sponsored content involves a close cooperation between the creator and the publisher. Unless your publisher is also the creator of your content - which is one of the services offered by WhitePress - you’ll want to work closely together to pick an effective topic and create content that matches the target website on which it will be published, along with its audiences.
Finally, experiment with the types of content wherever you can. The more formats you’ll try, the more knowledge you’ll have about which ones work for your business and which ones don’t. Keep tracking your content’s performance to create valuable data, which can then be analyzed to design more efficient strategies. Sponsored content can help you reach many new audiences, build trust, and connect with your clients, but requires attention to detail and a lot of experience to be truly successful.
Want to find out more about measuring the performance of your content? Check out this ultimate guide to find out all about performance analysis!
Updated on: 2022-06-29