If you follow news on any of the major news outlets, you may have come across articles like these.
These look like regular news stories, but as you can see, they are sponsored.
These are what you call advertorials – advertisements designed to look like editorials. Advertisers love them for the high click-through rates, and conversions too. But at the same time, depending on how you execute your campaign, they may not only seem sketchy, but could also bring down the overall trustworthiness of your business.
So, the question is; do advertorials work? How do you make sure you produce advertorials that bring in high conversions without compromising on your brand.
What is an Advertorial?
An advertorial reads like any editorial content, except it is an ad and is used to advertise a product or service. It’s a great tool to convert leads, create brand awareness, and retarget your existing customers. But because it’s very much like any blog post or article online, it’s often unclear in its intent to advertise the said product.
While it attempts to provide high-value information, users feel it’s intrusive, leading them to move on quickly from the advertorial or block it. That’s one reason there are certain challenges when you decide to use advertorials for your business.
Challenges with Advertorials
Before you spend your content marketing budget on an advertorial, note these challenges.
Advertorials are a grey area since it misleads readers into thinking it’s actual news. Because of this, it’s likely your readers will not appreciate being misled into reading something that’s not valuable to them.
It then creates distrust among regular website readers since they can’t make out which is real news and which is paid for by advertisers. As a result, click-through to conversion may not be great depending on how you nurture the reader toward sign up.
Also, consider that your advertorial will have to pass FTA guidelines for sponsored content, without which you’ll likely have to pull the plug or face penalties or legal discourse. This includes branding advertorials as such.
Consider ticking off these points as you follow these steps for your advertorial.
10 Steps to Get Advertorials Right
FTA guidelines–Make sure you adhere to FTA guidelines, including mentioning that the article is an advertorial. Failing to do so can land your business in legal trouble. It is also important if you use platforms like Taboola or Outbrain for native advertising (that gets shown on websites like CNN).
Solution Selling – Position your advertorial copy that solves the reader’s problem. By taking this customer-first approach, it’s easier to build trust. It’s also one way to do away with pushing your products and instead take a problem solution route. Here you identify the problem and suggest a solution.
Pick a Persona/Audience–Knowing your audience is the key to making the advertorial work for you. Depending on who your product is aimed at–draw a persona. If your advertorial is of a fitness product for a 45-year-old male in Engineering with kids, draw a persona that lists all details. So, narrow down on the likes, dislikes, platforms they consume content, daily workday, and other information.
News Story – Solution Selling Framework- Once you know your audience and their preferences, write the news story highlighting the problem with the help of the solution selling framework. Address their issues in the article opening. It could touch upon their hopes, dreams, pain, and fear. Also, ensure you address any barriers or uncertainties they may have to achieve the solution.
Solution to the Problem–Now that you have the reader’s attention, follow it with the answer to the problem. Take the above example of the persona. Here, focus on their desire to be fit while juggling their hectic work schedule. Remember to use their pain points and research the exact words they use to describe their problem. Then once your copy is polished, name drop the brand as a solution and hyperlink these to your landing page.
Landing Page–Let the landing page reiterate the problem and solution offered in the advertorial. This way, it helps in quick recall of the advertorial, ensuring the transition is seamless. Also, ensure the branding, copy, and landing page images are the same as the advertorial, so it’s easy to relate and build trust and credibility.
Live Chat–When the reader lands on the landing page, make it easy to address their queries. Include live chat options so prospects with questions can get them answered instantly. It also helps in lead capture. If your audience is in different time zones, clearly communicate your response time in case of a time lag.
Converting Leads to Customers–Prospects are primed to move onto the purchase stage with the live chat option. Here, use low ticket products to take them directly to the checkout page. With high-ticket products, capture email and phone numbers to nurture them for future purchases.
Non-Spammy Emails–Average person gets 99.7 emails a day on non-weekends, including spam. Make sure that your email does not look spammy. Also, verify the email addresses before sending since many messages sent to invalid addresses can push your messages to the spam folder.
Nurturing & Testing–Once the campaign is live, try out different strategies to increase conversions like personalization, following up with leads, multi-channel approach. Keep nurturing and testing processes to maximize conversions, create brand awareness, and retarget customers in your advertorials.
While advertorials seem to fall into a grey area, many businesses can successfully navigate this space and connect with their audience. The way to overcome these challenges lies in following the compliance guidelines, understanding your audience, their preference, and tailoring your message to address their needs.
Don’t forget to keep the customer at the core of your selling strategy and adopt the problem-solution approach for a better advertorial conversion. And when you position your emails as non-spammy, it makes it easy for your customers to trust you and move from prospects to customers even as you nurture and test new strategies.