The idea of an advertorial is nothing new, since the early days of print advertising, publishers have used combinations of adverts and editorial content to help sell products and services. Done badly advertorials, or native ads as they are more commonly referred to now, will read like very long winded adverts with little editorial value or credibility but done well they can create valuable content which can be used to position your organisation as a thought leader.
Health brand Vitality has invested heavily in this type of content driven marketing in recent years. Their approach has been to position themselves as the experts in health and wellbeing through multichannel publication of articles and research covering topics ranging from employee wellbeing to health technology. Let’s decompose their approach to look at the important ingredients:
Editorial looks like editorial
Put very simply, if it looks like an ad it’s an ad! Vitality used very subtle design when featuring their branding, your native content needs to look native. The style must follow that of editorial content on the blog or website you are publishing on.
Provide valuable information
Vitality provided access to research relating to employee wellbeing which was extremely useful to employers. Personally I find the most value is derived from content I read when I feel I can use to provide valuable insight to help develop a strategy or build a business case for investment. When I quote research internally I always reference the source which for the publisher positions them as the expert in the field.
Talk benefits not features
Advertorials and native ads which talk about product or service features will not engage an audience. Talk about topics which relate to the benefits your product brings and the need it meets, this is much more interesting to those further up the sales funnel.
For Vitality this focused on the needs of employers, primarily keeping a workforce fit and healthy so that they are absent from work less. The company presents various examples of employers using technology to help employees track their fitness using equipment provided by Vitality.
Clear call to action
Ultimately your advertorial needs to do a job and elicit a response from the reader so include a clear call to action. So a company like Vitality which sells health insurance might make the call to action to download a research report online and gather leads from the resulting email list.
Coming soon, read the ‘B’ in the AtoZ of #contentmarketing - B is for Backlinks.
Paul Featherstone is founder of PartnerPages, dad, Internet nerd and learner of life.