Sponsored content and native content campaigns have many similarities, which can make it easy to lump the two together. However, there are some key differences between the two strategies that content creators must take into account. To get both types of content to align, you need to recognize how they are different and how that helps them work in tandem.
For starters, a native ad is a type of advertising that looks like it belongs. For example, when you do a Google search, you might notice that the first few results are listed as advertisements, even though the results themselves look similar to the others. The same goes for online shopping listings and the social media ads you often scroll past. This is also known as paid advertising, as the advertiser must pay based on metrics such as cost-per-click to have their ad show up.
Sponsored content is a type of native content, but it has its own unique features. It takes a sponsorship role over an advertising one and is presented in the form of more in-depth content. Sponsored content can be found on the site of the publisher, whether that be a blog page or an influencer’s social media portfolio.
So when dabbling in both of these marketing styles, how do you strike a balance? If you can get your sponsored and native content campaigns to work in conjunction with each other, you can get a lot more bang for your buck. Here’s how you can start the alignment process:
Establish Your Goals
Before starting any marketing campaign, set some goals. What do you hope to accomplish with your marketing spend? This should directly influence the decisions you make and will be much more effective than tossing a bunch of ideas at the wall and hoping one sticks.
Is your goal to increase brand recognition? Your focus might turn toward sponsored content with native advertising as a funnel to the content displaying your brand. Want to use marketing to increase sales? Paid advertising will be the way to go, with sponsored content funneling new consumers to your website to browse your wares.
In the case of these two goals, both sponsored and native content campaigns are being implemented. The difference lies in how each one is emphasized to achieve different ends. Both campaigns will work well together when they’re calibrated toward the same goal.
Create a Brand Voice
One thing you want to keep constant is your brand voice. This is the “personality” your brand has, so to speak, when consumers interact with it. Television ads, social media accounts, website landing pages, and marketing campaigns should all contain elements of this voice. With it, customers will be able to draw correlations, retain key brand information, and build a relationship with your brand.
The development of sponsored content and native content will differ, but the brand voice should remain the same. Start by reviewing all your past content and seeing whether you can discern a distinct voice. If the answer is yes, use that as a base to build a more sustainable and recognizable brand voice for future pieces of content. If not, you’ll be starting from scratch.
Try this exercise the next time you’re working on your native advertising. Define your brand in three simple words. Those three words could be anything, but here we’ll use reliable, authentic, and instructive. How can you display those traits in your brand voice? As you craft your content, keep those words in mind. You’ll have an identifiable voice in no time.
Think About Your Audience
The key to any successful marketing campaign is focusing on your target audience. This tells you where to find likely customers, what they’re probably most interested in, and what their needs are. By tailoring your content to this specific audience, you increase your conversion rates and overall marketing success.
To align your sponsored and native content campaigns, you should focus on a single target audience. If you try to pursue different demographics, your content will be conflicting in nature. You can end up getting in your own way instead of focusing your efforts in one place.
Your target audience will influence how you publish your content as well. If you’re trying to reach Gen Zers, you’ll have more luck placing native advertisements on social media and partnering with influencers. For older demographics, search engine ads and sponsored blog posts will be more effective.
Consider the Journey
Just as you want to visualize the individual you are trying to reach through your marketing, you should picture their customer journey. Understanding the sales funnel and the steps consumers need to take to get to a sale will help mold your sponsored and native content campaigns.
Think about how you can direct consumers from their web browsing to your site and eventually to your shop, where they will make their first purchase. Perhaps native advertising can be used to link browsers to more specific sponsored content pieces to give them an idea of what your brand is about. Follow up with another native advertising campaign that prompts these people to make purchases based on the knowledge they’ve gained.
Combining sponsored and native content is like having both wheels of a bicycle intact and in sync. Sure, people can get around on a unicycle, but they won’t go nearly as far or as fast as when they have two wheels working together.