Now that online advertising has matured, grabbing a customer’s attention can be challenging. In fact, 42.7% of individuals actively engage with ads, and desktop ad blocking is utilized by more than 290 million monthly active users.
Content marketing emerges as a solution. However, to attract attention to your content, playing the SEO game is essential. If your site doesn’t appear in search results, it’s challenging to get people to read your blog.
While SEO is undoubtedly valuable, the payoff can be time-consuming. On the other hand, ads can provide an almost instant boost but come with a hefty price tag.
Native content offers a resolution by combining the strengths of both approaches. It functions as a form of paid advertising, presenting genuinely high-quality content on platforms with a well-established readership, avoiding the pitfalls of a blatant sales pitch.
In this article, we’ll explore the advantages of native content and provide practical tips on crafting compelling native content.
What is Native Content?
Native content, also referred to as branded or sponsored content, functions as a form of advertising seamlessly integrated into a website, resembling genuine and valuable organic material.
This category encompasses various formats, such as articles, case studies, videos, and diverse informational pieces. The key distinguishing factor is their ability to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding content while providing actual value.
However, maintaining transparency and ensuring consumers are not misled is crucial. To distinguish between native content and authentic organic material, consider the following indicators:
- The inclusion of phrases like “branded content” or “sponsored content” within the piece.
- The usage of terms such as “recommended” or “suggested.”
- Presence of small symbols that viewers can hover over to ascertain if it’s an advertisement and, if desired, close it.
Organic content seamlessly integrates with traditional material, boosting click-through rates.
Businesses are increasingly acknowledging the significance of this marketing approach.
Insider Intelligence forecasts that the expenditure on social media native display ads is expected to reach $68.17 billion in 2023, while nonsocial native display ads will receive a more modest allocation of under $30 billion.
Creating well-crafted native content is genuinely informative and engaging. Even if the reader notices, there’s little concern that it’s a promotional piece.
Native content vs. native advertising: Is there a difference?
Native content and native advertising are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct paid marketing approaches.
Native advertisements are easily recognizable as website ads, leading users to a specific landing page, with payment based on clicks or impressions.
In contrast, native content is strategically crafted to mimic organic blog articles, videos, case studies, or similar materials. Tailored seamlessly to the publication, it captivates readers through compelling storytelling, thorough research, and other familiar content elements.
Moreover, instead of handling the writing internally, you often compensate the publication’s editorial team to create the content. This ensures that it aligns with the voice and preferences of the readers.
Benefits of Native Content
Native content proves to be a powerful marketing strategy as it seamlessly blends with authentic material, mirroring its appearance and behavior.
Let’s explore the advantages it brings to brands and marketers:
Helps fight ad fatigue
We’ve come across various statistics highlighting the overwhelming number of advertisements people encounter and their growing discontent with them.
Native content serves as a remedy. This type of content not only presents an authentic appearance but also provides equivalent value akin to top-notch information.
Many buyers easily identify native content as an advertisement. In 2018, Stanford conducted research revealing that customers weren’t deceived by native content.
Despite the awareness that it’s an ad, native content continues to thrive, attracting billions of dollars in advertiser spending each year. Why? Simply put, it’s effective.
The format enables the creation of ads that readers can genuinely relate to, moving beyond a brief “buy our product” pitch. Even with the recognition that it’s promotional material, the appeal lies in constructing content that establishes a connection with the audience.
Effective native content is informative and supportive without being overly promotional. This quality distinguishes it from conventional advertisements and resonates better with the audience.
Readers don’t feel like they’re being subjected to a blatant advertisement; instead, they sense a sincere desire to help them address their concerns.
Furthermore, there’s an opportunity for readers to gain insights from your content. It allows you to showcase your expertise and credibility, establishing a lasting impression. Even if immediate purchases don’t occur, your brand remains in their memory, increasing the likelihood of future conversions.
Can fill Funnel Gaps
Native content plays a pivotal role in bridging gaps within the customer journey and marketing funnels.
Consider a potential customer who recognizes they have an issue but is unaware of a viable solution—a state we refer to as “problem-aware.”
This is where your native content steps in. Craft a headline that addresses their problem, then delve into the content to showcase the solution. Gradually, you transition them into the “solution-aware” stage.
Now armed with the awareness of a service that addresses their needs, you can seamlessly employ implicit calls-to-action to guide them to your website or the next funnel stage. Intrigued, they might click to explore and, in the process, discover your brand.
Alternatively, you can clearly state that your brand provides the solution customers need. Since they’re on your page seeking to address their issue, they’re more inclined to click through rather than going to your competitors.
If executed effectively, this approach has the potential to generate a significant return on investment.
How to Make Native Content That Works
Creating top-notch, authentic content demands time and effort. It’s crucial to grasp and address your clients’ questions. Clickbait articles or movies lacking substantial information won’t meet the mark.
Now, let’s delve into the strategies for crafting effective content.
Understand and answer a pressing customer problem
Start by examining and recording your clients’ most crucial issues, as mentioned before. Surveys provide an excellent starting point, although clients may not always express their concerns entirely, unintentionally.
In addition to surveys, explore forums or Facebook groups frequented by your target audience. People tend to be more candid about their challenges in these spaces.
To pinpoint common queries in your field, leverage Google’s related searches and the “people also ask” feature.
Once you’ve recognized a recurring theme in consumer issues, select one that you can tackle through your content.
Know your customer’s stage of awareness
The awareness stage gauges the level of understanding people have about their problem, potential solutions, and your brand.
There are five.
- Stage 1 — Unaware: At this point, individuals have yet to realize they have a problem.
- Stage 2 — Pain Aware: Now, they acknowledge the existence of a problem but are still in the dark about potential solutions.
- Stage 3 — Solution Aware: These individuals know solutions are out there but might not be familiar with your brand yet.
- Stage 4 — Product Aware: They’ve heard of your brand’s solutions but are uncertain if they’re the optimal choice compared to other alternatives.
- Stage 5 — Most Aware: Finally, they’re on the verge of making a purchase but need that last nudge.
Native content typically focuses on the initial three stages, aiming to guide users to at least the level of being aware of potential solutions.
Your content will be crafted to match the customer’s awareness level. For instance, if addressing a customer aware of a problem, you’ll pinpoint the issue and suggest potential solutions.
Alternatively, if they already recognize the solution, you’ll work on persuading them about the benefits of your product – possibly using a case study to illustrate.
For those who are not yet aware, your task is to inform them that a problem exists.
Imagine you’re a marketing agency targeting small businesses unfamiliar with marketing, lacking awareness that web marketing campaigns can significantly boost their growth.
Writing an article on the primary error many business owners make, leading to stagnation, brings our focus to digital marketing.
By shedding light on this issue, we open the door to guiding them through the next steps in the process.
Don’t be too “salesy”
The primary goal of this article is to guide the reader to the next stage of the funnel, offering value along the way. Steer clear of employing aggressive selling language, with the exception of a gentle Call-to-Action (CTA) button towards the conclusion.
Consider using subtle CTAs that align with the reader’s awareness level. You can use your brand name as anchor text, incorporating links to the next segment of your funnel or the specific solution you provide, based on the reader’s understanding at the end of the article.
For example, if a financial advisor shares insights on various retirement accounts, they might link the phrase “saving for retirement” to their page.
Add Visual Elements
If you’re composing a local article, incorporate images and other creative design elements. These grab attention and enhance the content’s overall appeal.
In certain cases, complete videos might be more impactful, depending on the problem you’re addressing, your solution, and the platform for sharing the original content. Certain concepts are simpler to convey through video rather than text.
Target the right websites
Effective outreach for your content is crucial to reaching your target audience. Identify the websites and blogs your audience frequents, then strategically publish your material there.
This approach ensures not only visibility among your ideal customers but also relevance to the broader readership. For instance, a financial advisor might opt for publishing original content on a personal finance blog instead of a fitness blog.
The key is to align your content with platforms your clients engage with, whether directly related to your niche or in adjacent areas. Supporting this decision with statistics adds credibility and enhances the impact of your outreach efforts.
To reveal data-driven creative goals similar to this, utilize Facebook’s Audience Insights to explore the pages your audience appreciates.
3 Awesome Native Content Examples to Help You Get Started
Let’s look at a few examples of high-quality native content:
1. New York Times and Allbirds
Allbirds, the shoe manufacturer, prioritizes environmental sustainability. Instead of employing forceful tactics, they have crafted a native essay that takes a deep dive into the ways in which birds contribute to the environment.
This unique perspective sheds light on the significant impact various bird species have on the environment, offering valuable insights to the environmentally conscious readers of the New York Times.
The content takes the form of a listicle, exploring different bird species and presenting statistics on their global significance.
What stands out, though, are the captivating visuals. Rich in color, these images allow for interactive engagement – simply hover your mouse over them to explore further.
The entire article centers around Allbirds’ core values. The call to action (CTA) urges readers to explore further into Allbirds’ sustainable business practices. Readers are prompted to visit the brand’s website to delve into its principles and make a purchase for shoes.
While it’s labeled as a “Paid Post” at the top, readers are unlikely to mind, as the content is visually appealing and includes compelling material.
2. New York Times and Adobe
Here’s another insightful article from the New York Times, highlighting Adobe’s take on a significant trend in the retail sector: the impact of technology on the consumer experience.
Adobe delves into various aspects of the retail IT revolution, weaving a compelling narrative that incorporates storytelling, clear explanations, relevant statistics, and insights from industry leaders. The inclusion of images and color throughout the article not only enhances visual appeal but also effectively breaks up the text, guiding readers to key points.
This piece offers valuable insights for merchants, positioning Adobe as a credible authority in the ever-evolving retail landscape. While there is a call-to-action (CTA) at the end, it doesn’t employ a hard-sell approach, maintaining a more informative and reader-friendly tone throughout.
3. NowThis and Blackrock
Native content extends beyond written articles; it encompasses various mediums, including video. Recognizing the potency of video, BlackRock joined forces with the social media-oriented news group NowThis to craft the Invest in Yourself video series.
This collection comprises personal finance videos that delve into the realm of investing in oneself—allocating resources towards acquiring new skills, advancing in one’s career, enhancing financial acumen, and addressing related matters.
The videos are categorized into three groups:
- Full-length features
Additionally, the pages effectively utilize NowThis’s vibrant colors and captivating images.
BlackRock seems to aim at engaging a younger audience, specifically millennial professionals who are advancing in their careers, earning well, and seeking expert guidance to manage and grow their investments. The company’s strategic move to start advertising aligns perfectly with this goal, especially when targeting a younger demographic.
The introduction of informative personal finance videos not only enhances BlackRock’s brand visibility but also strengthens its perceived expertise.
These videos hold the potential to influence a significant number of young professionals, encouraging them to consider utilizing BlackRock’s wealth management services—whether it happens immediately or in the future.
Creating content in a native style can ease the consumer’s skepticism about advertisements. Additionally, crafting content that is not only informative but also enjoyable to read can foster trust and build consumer loyalty.
Explore the suggestions provided in this article and draw inspiration from the examples shared.
If you require support in crafting compelling, conversion-focused sponsored content, our team is ready to assist.