Sponsored content is when you pay a publication or website to run an article. It differs from guest posting because money changes hands. It’s a type of native advertising that is designed to look at home on the publication, and it could be the key to turbocharging your content marketing campaign.
It is often seen as a clever alternative to banner adverts because, let’s face it, banner ads are dead. More and more people are using ad-blocking software, and a 2015 study by Nielsen showed that only 42% of internet users don’t trust online banner ads. In the modern world, your content marketing strategy needs to look and feel natural.
Types of sponsored content campaigns
For newspapers and websites, more traditional forms of content are the most popular; that means articles and maybe the odd infographic if we’re dealing with HR publications. When it comes to bloggers, we can be a little more adventurous. Sometimes, you can just provide a theme and let them run with it!
Big news websites
Old-school content is still king when it comes to online newspapers like the Guardian and Huffington Post. Valuable backlinks can still be acquired from these guys, but we advise clients to network with journalists in order to achieve this, rather than trying to pay for links.
It is possible to pay for a sponsored post on one of these websites, but expect to pay thousands (or even tens of thousands) to be able to do so.
Sponsored content with bloggers
Bloggers aren’t always keen on guest posting because there’s very little in it for them. As such, they may need a little bit of an incentive to make publishing content from a company worthwhile. This is where the money comes in.
Big-name bloggers often have astronomical rates, but many excellent bloggers have reasonable rates — you just need to find them. Check a blogger’s “Work with Me” page (or similar) to find press kits and rates. If you can’t find one, your best bet is to ask the blogger straight up. Always include info about your company when contacting a blogger, as this may affect the rate.
A thematic approach
When American fast food chain Wendy’s introduced their “frosty” (ice cream sludge) in a cone, they asked mummy and family bloggers to write about a memory of them and their families eating frosty ice creams. Bloggers were paid for the post and got some free ice cream, while Wendy’s got some great nostalgic promotion for their new product.
There’s no reason why you can’t do this as well. Rather than simply paying one blogger to do one post, set up a budget to run a campaign based on a new product, a new service, or a new idea. It’ll generate backlinks but, more than that, it generates a buzz and an excitement around your business and links it to a positive idea or experience.
Shareable, delectable infographics
Pitching infographics to bloggers usually means parting with cash. In certain cases, people are just happy to have such killer content, so don’t require a fee. As such, an infographic is only ever a sponsored post some of the time.
The reason for infographics’ popularity is that they are highly clickable and shareable, which means they’re great for promoting your business. If you create an infographic, start by posting it on your business’ own blog. Be sure to Include an embed code into each infographic, so other bloggers and websites can feature the infographic if they’d like to.
The more times it gets published on other websites, the more backlinks you will get. If an infographic gets shared a few times and starts to gain traction, reach out to bigger publications to see if they’re interested in publishing it, too.
Should you be using sponsored content?
When money is involved, editors and blog owners might be more eager to work with you. This means that sponsored content is great for quickly building backlinks and reaching audiences that were out of bounds with guest posting.
Not everyone has the budget for a spot on BuzzFeed’s homepage, but there are some cheaper options for your content marketing campaign. Find bloggers in your niche with a good following and a high Domain Authority, and you could get a big SEO boost for a modest investment. Offer to write the post yourself and your costs will be even lower.
How to use sponsored content in your content marketing strategy
The secret to effective sponsored post outreach is keeping it natural. Like guest posting, it shouldn’t scream “advert”. It should be a genuinely informative and helpful piece of writing that people will actually want to read.
Some publications will write the post themselves — usually for a higher fee — so this is often out of your control. If you are called into action, make sure you’re adding value to their readers’ lives. People want to learn and be entertained; they don’t like being patronised by obvious advertorials.
Mixing up your content marketing strategy by using sponsored content is a great idea. Not only will you build backlinks quickly, but you’ll also get your brand name into the public consciousness. That’s a solid win in our books.
If you think one or more of your marketing channels needs a little work, let Exposure Ninja give you a content marketing health check. We offer a free website and marketing review, where we can tell you which aspects of your campaign need work.